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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Overwatch is an online multiplayer team-based first-person shooter. Two teams of six players fight against each other in a number of game types; while kids can play with people they know, it's also possible for them to play with strangers -- that, plus the unmoderated chat (which means all bets are off in terms of what kids can hear), is the main reason for our 13+ age rating. Characters fight with a variety of weapons, ranging from more realistic handguns and melee weapons to over-the-top futuristic weapons. Although the violence is a big part of the relatively nonstop action, there's very little in the way of blood. The basics are easy to learn, though the game's large roster of unique characters and abilities adds an extra layer of complexity to the experience. While there's no profanity in the actual game, the online matches could expose players to offensive language from other players. Finally, with Overwatch launching as a brand-new franchise from Blizzard, there's no shortage of tie-in merchandise available, including toys, clothes, books, and more. Some female characters wear revealing outfits, while one character is regularly shown smoking a cigar.
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What's it about?
In OVERWATCH, it's been 30 years since humanity fought against artificial intelligence in the global war known as the "Omnic Crisis." Overwatch was the international task force formed by the United Nations to keep the peace between humans and AI. The heroes of Overwatch continued to protect the world for years, becoming a beacon of hope to the people. Then things began to change. Accusations of corruption and criminal activity began to tarnish the reputation of Overwatch, leading to the unexplained destruction of the team's headquarters. Branded as criminals, traitors, and even worse, Overwatch was officially disbanded. With no one to stand against the forces of evil, peace is being threatened once again. Despite being divided, disgraced, and disavowed, the world needs the heroes of Overwatch now more than ever -- but who will answer the call?
Is it any good?
This first-person shooter is a Pixar-esque sci-fi wonderland built on an amazing world full of entertaining heroes and villains. As fantastic as the Overwatch universe is, though, it's strange that so little of the story unfolds over the course of the actual game. Outside of the game's cinematic opening and some occasional in-match dialogue among certain characters, there's not much character or plot development. The characters don't even have a bio in the gallery, only customization options and a list of their abilities. To get the full Overwatch experience, you'll have to look outside the game, to tie-ins such as websites, books, animated shorts, and more.
Luckily, what Overwatch lacks in story development, it more than makes up for in gameplay. Each of the game's more-than-20-strong roster feels like a complete and unique character. Plus, by allowing you (and even encouraging you) to swap out characters mid-match, there's more than enough opportunity to find the heroes or villains who fit your particular style of play. The basic controls are easy to pick up and quick to learn, but figuring out the best tactics to use, both for your character and as a part of a team, adds a layer of complexity that will take plenty of time to master. There are plenty of reasons to keep coming back to Overwatch as well. Outside of the main 6-vs.-6 multiplayer matches, you can test your skills in the Practice Range or solo against AI-controlled heroes. There are also weekly "Brawl Modes," which add a host of special rules to matches that guarantee to mix things up. One week you might only be able to play as Tank-class characters, and the next you might only be able to use headshots against the competition. While some fans might be upset that there's no offline component in Overwatch, the game isn't the first to require an always on-connection to the internet. The upside of this is that it gives Blizzard more flexibility when it comes to updating the game on the fly and dealing with any toxic players roaming around because of its unmoderated play.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about communication and teamwork. How can strong communication skills help when working with others to accomplish a goal?
Talk about violence in gaming. How does the violence in a game such as Overwatch compare to other games in the same genre? Does the violence change the way you view the story?
- Platforms: Mac, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
- Release date: May 24, 2016
- Genre: First-Person Shooter
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Superheroes, Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs, Robots
- ESRB rating: T for Blood, Violence, Use of Tobacco
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.