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Games of the Decade: Overwatch shows how fun lore can enrich a competitive shooter

Our world is worth fighting for.

To mark the end of the 2010s, we're celebrating 30 games that defined the last 10 years. You can find all the articles as they're published in the Games of the Decade archive, and read about our thinking about it in an editor's blog.

Overwatch is the first competitive FPS I ever played on PC. This was a mistake. It's far too fast-paced for someone who has never used a keyboard and mouse to play games in their life, but I loved it so much I outright refused to be defeated by my poor technical skill. After playing for hundreds of hours on PS4, my brain knew exactly what it wanted to do, but my hands just couldn't perform the actions to get me there. I've never felt so frustrated in my entire life, yet I persisted, because Overwatch was worth it.

In so many other popular team-based shooters you fundamentally play each class or character in the same way, with slight variation in weapons or abilities. Overwatch turns that on its head completely - every character moves differently, shoots differently and has vastly different play styles. The game has balance problems, of course, like every other FPS, but even with all this variation Overwatch still works well. No two heroes feel the same to play, and this allows players of all skill levels to find characters they understand and enjoy playing.

When I first started playing Overwatch I almost always played as McCree. This wasn't because I particularly enjoyed the DPS play style (though his ultimate is incredibly satisfying when you get it just right), I played him because he was a futuristic cowboy. He has awesome lore, a wonderful voice actor and absolutely no reason to be dressed like that 60 years in the future.

The excellent world building of this game has given us some absolutely wild character backgrounds too. Not one, not two, but three military commanders who all faked their own deaths and came back as masked vigilantes. The daughter of one of those commanders who has a bad-ass Egyptian eye tattoo, flies and shoots rockets at people. A robot with PTSD who lives with the dwarf engineer who has, like, 50 children and a smoking hot wife. If you know nothing about how all these people are involved together, you'd think I was writing about some strange fever dream - and I haven't even mentioned the genetically enhanced gorilla or hamster.

You don't need to care about Overwatch's lore (though, I'd be baffled if you didn't at least want to learn more about the hamster - did I mention he was raised on the moon?), but the fact that it's there enriches the game for so many fans - from the maps to the voice lines, almost everything is linked to some part of the game's story that's told through the comics, short stories and beautiful animated shorts designed to expand upon its universe.

There's something to be said for games that create characters players can truly invest in, and a competitive FPS is the last place most would look to find them. Even if you don't care about any of this, Overwatch is simply a fun shooter with tight game play that's constantly evolving. It's not perfect - these sorts of games rarely are - but since its release, Overwatch has been a prime example of what games of this genre are capable of, and with a sequel on the way it'll be interesting to see what its future holds.

About the Author
Imogen Beckhelling avatar

Imogen Beckhelling


Imogen was Eurogamer's reporter intern for 2019. She has an unhealthy obsession with indie roguelikes and has a cat named after her favourite animal crossing villager.

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