Overwatch, Blizzard’s newest game in development, is primarily a player versus player (PVP) game, involving first-person shooting and controlling objectives. For people experienced with the genre of multi-player shooting games, it takes little time to be ready to jump into PVP matches. For people newer to this type of game, jumping straight into PVP matches can often come across pretty intimidating. While the game is still in beta, I thought I would provide a preview of some of the tools new players can use to learn the game.
The first tool available to new players is a basic tutorial. This involves learning the movement controls and the basics of how to shoot a weapon. This is helpful to run once (or maybe twice at most if you are super new to video games). However, this limits you to only learning the spells of one character and is a linear experience where you don’t have much freedom to explore. While this is a helpful first step for getting the very basics, this is really only a first introduction and not somewhere you spend any significant amount of time.
A much more flexible place to learn each of the heroes is the new Practice Range. This range is a fairly open map with several types of AI bots: Some stand still and do nothing, others move around, and some even shoot back. You can climb up ontop of things to practice sniping or grappling. You can practice jumping around and using all your mobility tools (you can die if you fall off the side of the map!).
Want to practice on a support hero? There are some friendly bots that allow you to target them with heals, shields, and buffs (some even conveniently take damage and die, allowing you to test out Mercy’s resurrection ultimate to bring them back to life).
Overall, this practice arena gives you the opportunity to train your skills and learn the hero abilities before you embarrass yourself in public. Given that the game rewards split-second decisions, and swapping characters in the heat of battle, this chance to hone your skills is definitely something new players should take advantage of! My aim has definitely improved and my confidence has increased by the addition of this game mode.
Play Versus AI
When you understand the basics of how the characters work, you can progress your characters by playing PVE style games against a team controlled by the game’s artificial intelligence (AI). This is a cooperative mode where your team consists of real people, playing against the AI characters. While the difficulty level of this experience is still being worked out, these AI matches are much more forgiving than PVP for new players. You are able to gain experience and rewards in these AI matches, though you will progress more slowly than when you battle in PVP.
The benefit of these AI games is that the games are typically more forgiving of mistakes. You still get the full team experience, with people to back you up. It’s a good way to practice any of the heroes you aren’t comfortable on in an environment that simulates what real battle will feel like. This allows you to get good at scanning the environment for threats, learning map layouts and objectives, learning how to aim at moving targets, and learning how to play as a team.
Once you have mastered the Play versus AI mode, you are then ready to take on real PVP matches where you can go up against other players and be provided with much more difficult challenges. You are always welcome to come back to the practice grounds or AI matches any time you want! I look forward to seeing how these new player features grow and improve across Beta!