Blizzard is adding something amazing to Overwatch. We are used to this being a competitive game. Players have always been pitted against other players. Which is fantastic! We love that. We are also used to this being a game where the story tends to be told via the comics, with the in-game focus on matches, ranking up and occasionally enjoying goofy events like Lucioball. Which again, is fantastic. But with the Retribution Event, the game is taking steps into uncharted territory. We are experimenting with new sorts of gameplay and actually injecting story into our affairs.
See, Retribution is the first players versus environment event for Overwatch. Instead of being put on a team and sent against other players, you are put on a smaller than usual team and sent against AI opponents. You are all working together toward a common goal, as usual, but are re-experiencing an old mission through the eyes of the four characters who experienced it. It is quite a change and offers a bit more structure and definition than normal. Both of which are things that some people have claimed the game could use and may improve the experience.
Let’s start with player versus environment gameplay. It is a different sort of gameplay, since you are not dividing and conquering to maintain an advantage on the field. Perhaps sticking together and being more cohesive to target the AI opponents will be a better option. People have Gabriel Reyes (Reaper), Genji, McCree and Moira as possible characters to use. This means we have three offensive heroes and a healer. It is a setup that would work for PvE gameplay, since we would have the Moira user who can heal others and herself with Biotic Grasp and Orb, while also dealing damage. I would imagine there would be less concern about lag, since fewer people are playing, and a more even balance where you aren’t worrying about an opposing team being made up of godlike players.
This more regimented opportunity adds a structure that has been lacking in Overwatch. The whole Retribution event is recreating a declassified Blackwatch mission against Overwatch. For those who have not been following the free comics Blizzard released, about eight years ago when Overwatch was active, Gabriel, Genji, McCree and Moira were part of a black-ops division called Blackwatch. They would carry out more secretive missions, with this particular one being “off the books.” As of the events of Overwatch, both Gabriel (as Reaper) and Moira are part of Talon. So this gives us a chance to see two villains as heroes and experience an actual story in the game for the first time, a story which the “Retribution” comic only hints at by setting the stage for its events.
But what both of these show a willingness to have Overwatch evolve. Since its launch, we have seen this as a competitive game with a focus on cool characters that fill different roles. We have always been working against one another. The joy as come from learning how to master a specific character, then use that to our advantage in standard and occasional events. Now, with Retribution, the world is expanding. We are getting to enjoy an entirely new game type that focuses on a specific sort of gameplay that is far different. Having a story is also giving these characters more weight and meaning. Someone who normally does not care for Reaper might be more inclined to test him out after seeing what his life as Gabriel was like. People who typically avoid support roles might shift to Moira to see how far she sinks.
It is that sense of evolution and willing to fill in the gaps that could end up leading Overwatch to become the perfect game. Already, it had a lot going for itself. The gameplay is solid. The characters are amazing. There are plenty of roles for people to fill, allowing everyone to find a niche for themselves. Also, it receives frequent updates. By adding in PvE for the first time and starting to incorporate the lore that has building outside the game via free comics, Blizzard seems to be on track to making this something even more incredible.
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