What is Overwatch?
Overwatch is the latest game to come from Blizzard Entertainment (the same folks who gave us games like World of Warcraft and Hearthstone) and it is currently the gaming world’s biggest obsession. It was recently announced that the game possesses over ten million active users. Overwatch is a game belonging to a genre that many of us are already familiar with — it’s a team-based, objective-based first-person shooter. Players select from a variety of heroes, with each hero playing a specific role in the team’s overall offensive or defensive scheme. Two teams (consisting of six heroes each) face off against each other in an effort to capture certain objectives and win the match. With a fun artstyle, a diverse cast of characters, and familar yet refreshing gameplay, Overwatch has turned a lot of heads.
They’re not the only game that is able to succeed in the team-based shooter space, however. If you’re looking for a game similar to this, there’s no shortage of options to choose from.
This may seem like kind of an unusual pick, but hear me out for a second. Splatoon is a third-person shooter that stole the world’s heart upon its release in May 2015. The game allows the user to create their own character and play through either competitive multiplayer lobbies or a single player campaign. Right off the bat, if you’re looking for a game that offers some form of campaign mode (which Overwatch does not have) then I think this is a great pick. Splatoon’s gameplay involves shooting enemies and turf with different ink, utilizing different weapons and abilities to hone your strategy in a deceptively complicated online environment. Like Overwatch, this game can be easily picked up and learned, but it can take years to master.
Not only that, but Splatoon also boasts a colorful and creative art style that has been met with a tremendous amount of praise. It’s fun to play, fun to look at, and fun to involve yourself with. However, there are a few key factors that keep this game from being a more ideal Overwatch alternative. To begin with, the game is exclusive to the Wii U platform. This limitation makes the less accessible, and it also limits the size of the online community. Although it’s considered one of the “must-haves” of the console, it’s still disappointing that such a fun game will probably be limited (and eventually culled) due to its exclusivity to a platform that a lot of people think is on the verge of death.
Lawbreakers is a pretty hot game right now, largely due to the fact that the game was showcased during the PC Gaming Show at E3 this year. The free-to-play game is directed by Cliff Bleszinski, who is known for his work in games like Gears of War and Infinity Blade. People are only just able to get their hands on this game, and some are already calling it a potential competitor to Overwatch. From a gameplay standpoint, they’re really similar. You choose from an assortment of characters (many of which have some kind of mysterious backstory) and each character belongs to a certain class. You have your heavies, you have your assassins, you have your traditional foot soldiers, and so on.
I really wish that I could place this promising title a little higher on this list, but it’s hard to justify it without having played the game myself. However, like I mentioned, I think that this game has a lot of potential. Within the next couple of years, it could become a major player in the team-based shooter space, and I highly recommend that you try to get your foot in the door before it blows up. Because I’m sure it will.
2018 Update: You can now play the lawbreakers alpha by signing up at lawbreakers.com for the Alpha testing which will be taking place throughout the summer!
Battleborn is a game from Gearbox Software, the creators of the highly-praised Borderlands franchise. Battleborn has sort of become a meme over the last couple of months, and it’s kind of sad. The game hit the market just a couple of weeks prior to Overwatch, and it has kind of flopped, to put it mildly. On the surface, it has all of the elements that you would want from a team-based shooter. The character design is fun, there are plenty of playing styles to choose from, there’s a lot of humor, and there’s a fairly active player base. To be honest, it’s a game that just drew the short straw. I’m confident in saying that, were it released a couple of months ago, it would have done a lot better than it’s currently doing.
Battleborn’s gameplay is a little unusual, in that it’s not entirely a shooter. The game also integrates a lot of mechanics from MOBA-style games, which is a hit-or-miss thing for a lot of people. Personally, I think that Overwatch, with its plethora of characters and abilities, is also kind of MOBA-inspired. However, Battleborn is definitely a little more blatant about it. If you’re looking for a game that isn’t afraid to take risks, I think that you should give this game a try. Ignore all of the negativity that’s surrounding it right now, and just try to enjoy it for what it is — a fun, inoffensive, slightly above-average team-based shooter.
2. Dirty Bomb
Dirty Bomb has only been out for a little over a year, but it’s already made a pretty large impression as being one of the best team-based competitive shooters available. And guess what? It’s entirely free-to-play. Not only that, but it’s free-to-play without offering any sort of micro-transaction system that makes it pay-to-win. In terms of art style, Dirty Bomb strikes a balance between Lawbreakers’s grit and Splatoon’s color. Even though this may make the game seem kind of “boring”, it definitely does serve to make a little more accessible to people who may dislike either side of the spectrum.
The game’s developers make a conscious effort to ensure that the game is as well-balanced and fresh as possible. Frequent updates add new heroes, maps, and events. I think that the death of a lot of these free-to-play shooters is that infrequent (or inconsistent) updates result in a stagnating player community. This fast-paced shooter has no problem avoiding this pitfall, and it has developed a very loyal player base because of it. However, optimization issues have plagued this game for quite some time, and many of its players complain that the game’s finer details (like lag, cheaters, and balance) aren’t paid enough attention to.
1. Team Fortress 2
I debated on this point for quite some time, but I think it’s only right to say that Team Fortress 2 is, without question, the best game like Overwatch. I think that it’s telling enough that, upon Overwatch’s reveal in 2014, people immediately started talking about how similar it was to Team Fortress 2. That’s an entirely fair assessment, too — Team Fortress 2 was team-based shooter before it was cool. It defined its very genre. For those who are unfamiliar, the game involves choosing a player on a team to serve a certain role on offense or defense. It’s all very self-explanatory and almost bare bones in nature, but you’d be surprised by how well this title has held up over the years.
As arguably the most popular free-to-play shooter on Steam, Team Fortress 2 has an enormous player base that shows no signs of shrinking anytime soon. Semi-regular updates and events keep the community interested, and the game is constantly introducing new gameplay mechanics to give players a certain sense of progression in an otherwise goal-less game. Whether you’re looking to play casually or competitively, there will always be people who are on the same level as you in the game. This is a game that thousands of players have logged thousands of hours into, and that’s with good reason. Team Fortress 2 essentially created a formula that would be effectively used over the course of years of game development, and if you can’t play Overwatch right now for whatever reason, you might as well take a look at where it all started.