This is partially because I generally don’t become a “fan” of studios and companies until they’ve produced a great deal of “great” – not just “good” – merchandise, and proven they can do so consistently. In that regard, it often feels like Blizzard has left their heyday far, far behind. Not only have they been known for only three major franchises – Starcraft, Warcraft, and Diablo – for awhile, but if the decisions which blasted the quality of Starcraft 2, particularly compared to the original, have had a similar, detrimental effect on their other two major franchises, then it stands to reason that they’re going the way of Greece in the face of Rome: great in their time, because of their pioneering innovations, but going downhill.
Granted, there’s a lot of downhill for them to go, as they have dominated the online gaming experience for so long, and I don’t even know who would be “Rome” in this analogy, but it’s been my thinking that unless they get back to the “pioneering innovation” and do something new, then it’s only a matter of time before they implode.
So, when I heard that Blizzard was trying something new, after growing noticeably stagnant, you’d think I’d be just a little excited. Not so.
Allow me to explain.
First, I watched this trailer…
…and I was intrigued. This looked like an exciting movie, if also a flagrant attempt to cash in the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it occurred to me that if Universal Studios were to try and either create new superheroes, like these, or at least purchase the rights to unclaimed comic book heroes, they’d have a much firmer ground to stand on. But who was producing this Overwatch anyway? And I look down, and see “Blizzard.”
I immediately rolled my eyes and groaned. “Blizzard… Blizzard is trying to copycat the MCU?!” I thought.
I have since realized that, while they are tapping into the superhero rage of today, they are not just copycatting the MCU. They are also copycatting League of Legends and Smite. Or, at least, they’re trying to. Overwatch has only a dozen characters to play, as of yet, while both of their competitors boast over three dozen or, in LoL’s case, over one hundred and twenty. Of course, as Overwatch is a first-person shooter, that’s more in line with Halo and its ilk.
So, while I say “kudos” for trying something new, at long last, I also see only a mishmash hodgepodge of copycatted ideas. Nothing really original. Sure, the cinematic trailer was good, but that’s one area where I like Blizzard, because I enjoy their cinematic work. The actual games? Not so much.
And then there’s the premise. When you think about it, we have this league of superheroes, who brought order and peace to the world. Then they were shut down, rather quickly, victim of their own success. Now “half of them are mercenaries.” And we see the mercenaries clash with those who are still heroes. Which means, we are watching former comrades and teammates trying to kill each other. Or, at least, one side is trying to kill the other. While that can be compelling if the storytelling is done right, Blizzard has blown its former track record for such storytelling, so it’s just some twisted mess. How did these people ever work together in the first place? What drove them apart? What are they fighting each other over now? No idea!
Another reason why this would be better as a movie than a game: these questions could be answered.
That speaks to me of what has made Starcraft 2 so much less than the original: the original story was crafted by a professional storyteller, while the latter “story” was thrown together by a marketing department. It’s a bit like comparing a master of drunken boxing with an actual drunk.
So, my hopes for Overwatch? Very, very small. Which is a crying shame when the cast looks this awesome.