In collaboration with the Games Rating Authority, here’s our parent’s guide to Overwatch.Genre
Overwatch is a multiplayer shooting game in which two teams of six players compete to capture and defend various objectives. Set in the near future in exotic arenas around the world, Overwatch is notable for its clean, heroic aesthetic and its emphasis on accessibility and providing a level playing field for players of different ability and experience levels. Gameplay is online only, and there is no single player option.
The game is played from a first person perspective and the many characters are divided into four classes, each of which provide different functions in the game, including offensive attacks and healing. Characters have different skills including an ‘ultimate’, a powerful skill that can only be used after filling a meter over time.
While experience points are gained at the end of matches, levelling up is reward with purely cosmetic items such as colour changes and victory poses, which do not provide an in-game advantage. These cosmetic items can also be bought either with in-game or real world currency.
As a first person shooter with a cartoonish look and class-based competitive play, Overwatch is most comparable to the Team Fortress games, though it also draws influence from multiplayer online games like League of Legends.PEGI Rating
In the UK and Europe, PEGI rates Overwatch as PEGI 12, suitable for ages 12 and up, for non realistic looking violence towards human characters.
The GRA expand on their PEGI details by saying Overwatch features ‘frequent scenes of mild violence’ and that ‘violence consists of human and fantasy characters attacking each other with a variety of weaponry.’ The GRA also states that ‘while blood is shown, there are no visible injury details and the violence itself is fairly mild.’Story
In the near future Earth is recovering from a robot war, the crisis having been ended by Overwatch, an international peacekeeping agency which was subsequently disbanded. Some years later, a new crisis encourages the former members of Overwatch to reform the agency.Developer
Overwatch was developed by Blizzard, who you may know from the Warcraft and Starcraft franchises.Format
Overwatch is available for PS4, XBox One and PC, for around £45 or $60. DLC updates will be made to the game, and to maintain parity between players all gameplay altering updates will be free, with only cosmetic items requiring payment.Duration and Difficulty
As a multiplayer game Overwatch lasts as long as it remains fun, and Blizzard promises updates to the title and in-game competitions to maintain interest. Expect to take over twenty hours to explore all the games possibilities. The game continues to be supported with free updates to adjust the balance and add new characters.Themes
Overwatch is a shooting game, which comes with violent baggage as the genre dictates. However, as gun-based gaming goes Overwatch is, if not quite Nintendo’s kid-friendly Splatoon, a bright friendly and optimistic take on online shootouts. There’s a bit of blood and flying cartridges but the weapons and characters are fantastical, and the even the real world locations are futuristic takes on those places that are full of busy SF details.
The increasing fidelity of modern gaming has pushed in-game violence into more graphic, realistic territory, but Overwatch’s comic strip look and feel is much less intense, action and excitement rather than gore and grit.Conclusion
Online multiplayer shooting games can be very exciting, but they’re also often bleak and unfriendly, with experienced players picking on newcomers for cheap kills, and players with hours to spare levelling up so that they’re indestructible compared to those who might only be able to play once a week. Add in the general grey and gore of many military and SF shooters and they can be quite forbidding.
Overwatch is much more welcoming, full of bold charming characters, cool locations and mechanics to ensure a level playing field. It’s a game where everyone can contribute and have fun, but which has depth and cosmetic perks for those who want to really get into it. There’s already plenty in the game, with characters and their different powers interacting in surprising ways, and with Blizzard promising future updates for all players Overwatch should remain fresh for quite a while to come.Alternative Games
Parents looking for alternatives to Overwatch can consider the following games that offer similar game-making options without masses of online strangers could consider.
Minecraft (PEGI 7+)
Roblox (PEGI 7+)
Stardew Valley (PEGI 7+)
Lovers In a Dangerous Space Time (PEGI 7+)
Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 (PEGI 12+)
Fortnite (PEGI 12+)