The best game I’ve played in 2018, and the best game I played last year, are the same as the best game I played way back in 2016.
That game, of course, is Blizzard Entertainment’s masterpiece “Overwatch.”
As Business Insider’s only reporter wholly focused on video games, I play as many as I can — but I always make time for “Overwatch.” It’s been the one constant in my gaming habit since it arrived back in May 2016.
Here are just a few of the reasons why, after literally hundreds of hours playing “Overwatch,” I keep coming back for more:
1. The core of “Overwatch” is immensely enjoyable and well-designed.
In case you’re totally unfamiliar, here’s a quick primer on “Overwatch”:
It’s a so-called “class-based first-person shooter,” which means it’s like “Call of Duty” (a first-person shooter) except you play as one of 26 unique characters. Each of those characters is part of a “class” — healers can heal themselves and/or teammates, defense characters are built for defending, etc. Playing on a team of six unique characters, your goal is to complete one of several objectives before the other team can.
It’s a simple concept that Blizzard meticulously crafted into something magical. There are loads of online, multiplayer-focused first-person shooters out there, from “Call of Duty” to “Battlefield” to “Star Wars Battlefront.” But “Overwatch” stands out because of its tremendous attention to detail.
Take just the game’s controls, for example: There is one set of controls across all 26 characters, yet each character is remarkably different and nuanced. No two characters play the same, yet all of them are controlled using the same easy-to-understand layout.
At once, the game is superficially accessible and tremendously deep. That’s “Overwatch” in a nutshell.
2. “Overwatch” is always growing.
Since the game’s launch, “Overwatch” has grown significantly.
It started with 21 characters, and has since added five entirely new ones. The same can be said for maps and game modes, to say nothing of the ongoing ranked “seasons” of the game (which add a layer of sports-like ranking to the game’s online modes).
Tired of playing the game’s standard capture the objective mode? Jump into the Arcade section and play Deathmatch, or one-on-one, or Capture the Flag.
It’s standard shooter stuff, don’t get me wrong — what makes “Overwatch” stand out is how completely different each character is.
3. “Overwatch” is built on variety.
“Overwatch” is largely praised by critics and fans for its broad representation of the world’s cultures and different people. On a gameplay level, though, “Overwatch” is similarly varied. With 26 characters, you might think one or two play similarly — and you’d be wrong.
What makes “Overwatch” so enticing for me is thinking about all the characters I’ve yet to even try playing. For the most part, I focus on one or two main characters as my standards: Pharah and Torbjörn.
Since each character feels so distinct, and comes with so much nuance to learn, there’s a tremendous depth to “Overwatch” that gives it endless replayability. It’s so easy to come back to, over and over and over, for precisely this reason