I started playing Overwatch this week. This probably isn’t exciting news to anyone else, it’s one of the most popular games on the market so it’s kind of hard to escape.
For me, though, it’s something weird: It’s an FPS.
I haven’t played a first person shooter for years. Probably not since a sad short bout of Halo with my older cousins where I ran around like a 9-year-old spaz, before making some excuse about how my mom didn’t want me playing M-rated games and going home. And yes, that would have been the first Halo. The closest I’ve even gotten has been the 3rd person shooting of Mass Effect. (Before you unsubscribe from our podcast, please know that our other hosts are much more experienced FPS players and big fans of Master Chief).
I don’t know if it was mechanically and visually diverse characters, cool skins, or realizing I had no understanding of what my friends were talking about that made me decide to try to take on Overwatch, but this weekend, I took the leap.
I tried three modes of Overwatch: Quick play against random humans, AI matches and “Junkenstein’s Revenge” — the Halloween horde mode.
Each one was, um, interesting in its own way.
I tried quickplay first. I probably only have myself to blame for how badly it went, since–by playing Lucio, a healer who provides value to the team just by existing–I made myself an easy target. As far as I was able to determine, Quick Play in Overwatch is a running sim, where me reaching the point celebrated by the other team by a 21 gun salute, pointed firmly in the center of my chest. I gave up on this fairly quickly, and decided to try something a little easier to practice.
I tried again playing as the turret building Torbjorn. His gameplay, as far as I can figure out, has a very different strategy from Lucio. To play as Torbjorn, you build a turret, get shot, run to the point, learn your turret has been destroyed, then get shot while trying to rebuild it. This diversity of play styles is really Overwatch’s greatest strength.
Practicing with AIs was when I realized how weird playing an FPS on easy with random players can be.
I was attracted to Overwatch because of its bright colors and fun style, but apparently so was every kid who only just learned how to talk. Joining AI matches was like going to Thanksgiving in my Grandparent’s house– I was sitting at the kiddie table.
Me and my team of equally unskilled players shot at robots who kindly ignored the existence of tactics. The kids and I (who were sadly at pretty equivalent skill levels) could kill them without needing to pretend we knew what we were doing.
Saying that they were kids isn’t just a guess. Most people tend to leave their mics off, but when you’re playing with kids who haven’t heard the “don’t talk to strangers spiel” yet, the audio channel usually had at least one young voice shouting “HELLO!” repeatedly, until they are entirely sure no one is going to respond.
As soon as I started one AI match, I realized I forgot to turn off voice chat .For the rest of the game, I heard the voice of a prepubescent boy insisting that red (the enemy team’s color) was usually his favorite color, but right now blue (our team’s color) was his favorite color. He pouted when he didn’t get play of the game, but let loose a long, enthusiastic “yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay” when his end of game stats came up, so it must not have gone too badly for him.
The next morning, I decided to get some “Junkenstein’s Revenge” in before I headed off for church (the Halloween stuff was a major part of my decision to start playing). Somehow, the children playing Overwatch had gotten even younger overnight.
If the kids I’d heard on mic the day before were still just getting to know the English language, today’s teammates were drunkenly flirting at it a bar.
I’ve heard horror stories about shooters being full of children who swear they just slept with your mother and they’re going to commit unspeakable crimes on your corpse if you don’t cover the point, but I’ve never heard of anyone offering the incredibly sound battle strategy of “baaaaaaaaaaaaabaaaaaaaaababababa.”
The sound drowned on for most of the battle before the player somehow figured out how to leave the game altogether I still haven’t decided if this was actually a toddler who’s misguided parent bought them the game, or a cat who stepped on a controller and accidentally picked Hanzo while its child drooled near the microphone.
I ended up playing a few rounds of “Junkenstein’s Revenge.” For those who haven’t played, “Junkenstien’s Revenge” is a match where four players defend a door from a constant stream of robots who are trying to damage it–interspersed with special enemies. The theoretical correct approach is for the offensive members of the team to balance fighting enemies as they come, while the team’s designated healer keeps everyone going. In the rare matches I’ve played with people who know what they’re doing, we’ve made a great push working together and victory is sweet.
But, in way more cases, the way it ends up going is that anyone who plays offense rushes the enemies as soon as they come in, leaving streams of enemies free to attack the door, meanwhile the designated healer (who might not even realize she’s supposed to be healing in the first place) tries to be the heavy hitter with a dinky sniper rifle made for support. Meanwhile, at least one person out of the four didn’t get the character they wanted, so they decided to take their ball and go home, leaving the team one man short and wide open. We usually lose about halfway through the match.
As I tried to pick between being slaughtered in Quick Play, pandered to in AI matches, or watching the antithesis of coordination in “Junkenstein’s Revenge,” I realized. I am an adult playing an FPS at the 3rd grade level. But I’m going to keep trying. I’m going to wade through the children and until Overwatch implements Quick Play for dummies, I’m going to alternate shooting AI’s and getting shot by everyone else. If I keep trying, maybe one day I’ll get kinda sorta good.
This might be a stupid plan, but Mercy’s witch skin is really pretty, and I can’t get it unless I keep grinding loot boxes.
Do you have FPS nightmare stories or Overwatch tips to make Paige feel better? She accepts both in the comments.