Opinion: Overwatch events are a shell of their former selves

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I’ve taken a large break from Overwatch, a quite sizable one in fact. What was once my shooter of choice back when it launched has become a mild distraction for me. I repeatedly jump back in for a few hours when a new character or map appears, or play to gather a few skins when an event releases, but that’s about it. Recently, I’ve started my reign of being horrendously inept at the game again, but this time on PC so I’m even worse at the game than I was before. One thing is very apparent this time around, though; the events that would occasionally lasso me back into the game have become painfully dull.

Events in Overwatch used to be huge. I can still fondly recall the introduction of the first Summer Games event back in 2016. It was a time when Overwatch and I had our first falling out, back when the game had a severe lack of content and suffered from next-to-no additions to its base content. Back then, a wealth of new skins, emotes, sprays and voice lines were a huge boost to both the enjoyability of the game and the game’s player count. That was not what got everyone invested though. The most important addition to the original Summer Games event was the first new game mode available for players: Lucioball.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Lucioball wasn’t what I’d call a great addition to Overwatch. I wouldn’t even say it’s been that improved upon in the past two years, just fixed. The mode’s first appearance was even laughably, horrendously broken for the first new game mode in a Blizzard title.

The mode was supposed to be locked so that only the Brazillian DJ support hero Lucio was playable, hence the name. Teams of Lucios would face off against each other, utilizing their unique powers to play a game of football/soccer. Now, as you can guess, a mode designed around Lucio and balanced for Lucio would be a bit broken if you could play as someone who wasn’t Lucio. Well, in the original Lucioball, just hammering on the “Change Hero” button would do just that.

[shunno-quote align = “left”]Released yesterday, Overwatch’s Halloween Terror event feels like nothing more than a regurgitation of what came before[/shunno-quote]

Torbjorn, Reinhardt, Tracer and Pharah are not Lucio. You can attempt to argue with me, but that’s a fact. In a mode limited to Lucio and balanced around the fact that players should only be able to play as Lucio, the ability for players in the know to decide to just not play as him during a match is quite a problem. This didn’t stop it from being incredibly fun. The overwhelming sense of terror I felt from looking across the pitch and seeing a Reinhardt standing there when I was expecting a team of Lucios might be my favourite memory of my Overwatch career: it was terrifying!

It was truly a magical moment and many events that followed it did feel unique and worth the time investment. Overwatch Uprising and Overwatch Retribution are both beloved events that do more than offer a seasonal twist on maps and characters. They were events that had emotional weight to them as fans got to see what their favourite heroes looked like before the team disbanded. The first told the story of Tracer’s first mission and the second sees you play as Blackwatch members avenging the death of their teammate Antonio.

Uprising and Retribution have never been topped, I think it’s fair to say that. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that outside of these there’s very little soul left in Overwatch’s seasonal event game modes, and nothing proves that as well as the current Halloween event.

Released yesterday, Overwatch’s Halloween Terror event feels like nothing more than a regurgitation of what came before albeit with a few new cosmetic additions to unlock through your regularly scheduled Loot Boxes.

The big meaty dish of the event is the additional Arcade game mode, Junkenstein’s Revenge, a mode which has existed now for three Halloween’s. I don’t want to beat around the bush: it’s bad. It tasks you with taking on waves of Zomboids that flood into the map from three entry points. Every now and again, you’ll fight a boss in the form of a playable hero with their Halloween skin. It drags, it’s dull, it’s oh-so-monotonous. It doesn’t feel fun or engaging; Junkenstein’s Revenge isn’t even balanced.

Bugs and exploits are also far too common in the newest iteration of the game mode, too. The recent changes to Torbjorn’s Ult, which allows him to place down molten lava, isn’t accounted for meaning enemies (including bosses) have no idea how to deal with it. The enemy AI doesn’t even account for changes in their own movesets meaning that you are facing a foe that knows how to play a version of itself that isn’t even available anymore. It’s currently desperately unentertaining and only exists for you to get a free loot box out of it.

I don’t want to say that Blizzard isn’t putting enough effort in, of course they are, but something needs to be done. When a mode is as uninteresting as this it isn’t fair on the most loyal of players to be consistently fed the same bland mode.

The skins are great, the emotes are good, the voice lines are funny and the sprays are all I get in the loot boxes, but Overwatch’s events really need to be jolted back to life. That was a Frankenstein reference. Happy Halloween.

More about the topics: Opinion Piece, Overwatch, Overwatch Halloween Event