At times, it feels like Overwatch has been in beta for as long as gamers have known about it.
Blizzard clearly wants to make sure its first new IP in more than 15 years knocks it out of the park: not only have select fans been able to test the game out a number of times over the past year, but the Overwatch team has been quick to incorporate and respond to feedback. Long story short, you simply don't see this sort of long-term, hands-on development cycle very often.
Then again, that last statement really only applies to the PC side of things. Obviously, Blizzard is making sure that the game is the same across all three platforms, but until the recent open beta, console players never had a chance to play Overwatch. PC players knew that the game would be good going in ... but what about fans with an Xbox One or PlayStation 4?
Let's be honest: there's a very good chance that Overwatch will be remembered as a PC game more than anything else. Blizzard is a company that was defined by its library of amazing PC games, and it wasn't until recently that the studio's games even appeared on consoles at all. Thankfully, Overwatch is just as strong on consoles as it is on PC - though fans should expect to see a few differences between the platforms.
If you've played Overwatch on more than one platform, then chances are the first thing you noticed were the differences in presentation. With a decently powerful rig, Overwatch looks absolutely gorgeous: effects and explosions are particularly impressive, though the high-res textures and lighting systems deserve mention as well. It may feature a stylized presentation, but that hasn't stopped Blizzard from making yet another stunning game.
For the most part, the same could be said of the console versions. Both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One manage to hit the 60 fps benchmark and hold it, only dropping a few frames when explosions and Ultimates start flooding the screen. Even then, the frame drops are small and inconsistent - unless you're looking back through recorded footage, chances are you'll never notice it.
The only thing that doesn't seem to hold up is the anti-aliasing: while PC players can choose which settings work best for their system, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions suffer from a bit of aliasing. Again, you won't really notice it if you're not looking for it, though it does stick out as the only notable visual difference.
To this day, the debate between using a mouse-and-keyboard versus playing with a controller still rages on. Some will still say that PC hardware provides the most accurate aiming possible, while others prefer the comfort and simplicity provided by a controller.
Overwatch fans using a mouse-and-keyboard setup probably won't notice anything out of the ordinary. Overwatch plays like any other FPS out there: point, click and hope that your opponent drops before you do. The control scheme may be different than others in the genre, but the actual mechanics of aiming remain the same.
Thankfully, the same could be said when using a controller. While you may have to tweak the sensitivity to your liking, Overwatch still plays beautifully with a pair of analog sticks. It does give the game a slightly different feel, and auto-aim may rub a few people the wrong way, but Blizzard has done a great job of giving console players the same level of control (no pun intended) as PC players.
In most console shooters, players are basically locked into a control scheme - Blizzard, on the other hand, has given console users the ability to completely customize their controls. It may sound simple, but the fact that players can set up separate horizontal and vertical look sensitivities is a big deal - and it could go a long way toward making the game that much more accessible for new players.
It should come as no surprise that Overwatch is a great game. This is Blizzard we're talking about, a company that's willing to completely cancel a game and scrap years of work before releasing a bad game. On top of that, PC players have known that the game was fun ever since the first beta dropped late last year.
However, console players have been burned before.
Overwatch has garnered more than a few comparisons to Team Fortress 2, and for good reason. However, while Team Fortress 2 is still a staple of PC gaming, the sub-par console version died a quick, painful death. There are plenty of players who worry that the same would happen to Overwatch.
While it's still too early to tell what the future holds for Blizzard's new shooter, console fans can rest assured that the game is definitely worth playing on their platform of choice. Overwatch may be known as a PC-centric title now, but we wouldn't be surprised if a dedicated console community popped up, too.
For the time being, we'll just have to wait and see: Overwatch is set for release on May 24.