Overwatch beta weekend Impressions from a Joburg gamer. 2

It looks great but can I play it with our Ping?

Over the past weekend I was lucky enough to get into the stress test beta for Overwatch. Being a bit dubious about the game’s release considering that no localised servers had been announced, I seized on to the opportunity to see if our local internet, and the greatly increased pings that come with it, would make Overwatch playable or not. Having played games like Planet Side I have to say my hopes were not high that a fast paced close quarter game like Overwatch would be enjoyable at our latency, but having spent vast quantities of the weekend in matches, I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised to find that was not the case.

Sniping is never forgiving on a South African Ping

Sniping is never forgiving on a South African Ping

It seems that the team from Blizzard have worked their net code to a pretty perfect state, as apart from the two sniper characters, Hanzo and Widowmaker, I could play any of the other characters well enough to get my fair share of “moment of the matches” and “commendations”. Blizzard have also been quite smart in their character design as several characters have play styles that mitigate lag.

Characters like Symmetra and Tjorborn place down turrets that auto track enemies, with Symmetra’s primary gun tracking targets at close range itself. While other characters like Bastion and the oh-so-Australian, and by far the character with my favourite oneliners, Junkrat having kits that are designed more to suppress an area and keep the opponents at bay. The support characters are all quite forgiving to higher pings as well with either area of effect heals or heals that track or attach to your team mates.

So it’s playable, but how does it play?

During the weekend it seems that they only had three of the maps available to be played on. The push the payload oriented Gibraltar, the domination based Hanamura, and the mixture of the two in King’s Row. Each map took us to a different region of the futuristic world of Overwatch with each one bristling with Blizzard’s usual attention to detail and characteristic nods to fans of their various games.

I found the maps to be quite balanced and the mechanics of each lead to games that lasted on average about 10 minutes each, barring the occasional stomping where the defence managed to hold the first point or checkpoint for the first 4 minute or so time limit. It was interesting to see across the weekend as strategies were formed and tested. The usual choke-points and turret placements seen so many times on streams leading up to the weekend being used over and over until someone worked out which character to pick to counter it.

Healers like the omnic monk Zenyatta are always needed!

Healers like the omnic monk Zenyatta are always needed!

From what I saw it seems that teams that communicate the best and are able to adapt to their opponents choices the quickest that will win. In that way it seems Overwatch suffers a similar problem that MOBAs seem to have in the player who instantly locks a character at the team selection phase and refuses to change when the team is being made, even in spite of the helpful yellow and red warnings on the screen telling everyone that there isn’t a support or that you are clearly lacking a tank or enough defence characters. It seems like in WoW no one really wants to play the Tank or Healer in the group.

With that said without those key roles filled winning can be rough, but not doable. I often found that we’d struggle to get onto as point for quite a few minutes before someone decided to try something new like a second healer or tank and we’d sweep through the point very quickly after that.


Seeing as the game is in beta there were still the occasional bugs, like when my Junkrat ultimate fell out of the world at one point, but I never encountered anything game breaking. My rig at home isn’t top of the range but still packs quite a punch and I was able to play with most of the settings on high with no graphics problems rearing their ugly head. There was the occasional lag spike but I think the large thunderstorms we had over the weekend were more to blame for that than the actual game or networks. Hopefully if there are more stress test weekends that I can get involved in I’ll be able to confirm that.


On the whole Overwatch is a very polished product that I am certain could be released tomorrow and still perform well. It’s still a great game even without a group of friends to play along with, but I am sure that with a group of mates you’ll get the most enjoyment out of it. I’m definitely looking forward to the game’s release and I think I may even have been convinced to pre-order now when the next pay day rolls round.




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2 thoughts on “Overwatch beta weekend Impressions from a Joburg gamer.

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    Douw Pretorius

    The beta was really good, though I suppose now I can chat about the game itself which has been much of the same experience just with quicker queues and more opponents that both know what they are doing or completely don’t understand the game.

    I was and am now playing on PC, though I’ve heard only good things from players playing on PS4.