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Should 'Overwatch' Be A GOTY Contender This Early?

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# 1Onyx Jan 16 2016, 18:30 PM

YouTuber John ‘TotalBiscuit’ Bain released his top ten GOTY list this week, and unsurprisingly, given his large viewerbase, his picks generated quite a bit of controversy. His top two games, depending on how you read his list which is sort of an ARG, are Undertale and Overwatch. One, an indie darling, the other, a game that’s been in closed beta for a few months this year.

Many fans are yelling about how he left off games like Metal Gear Solid V and The Witcher 3 (the latter of which he didn’t play yet), but I’m more interested in his pick of Overwatch in one of the top slots. Most other top ten lists seemed to have left the game off entirely, presumably disqualifying it because of its closed beta status.

Should Overwatch be a GOTY contender? I suppose that depends on how you look at it, and top ten lists in general.

This age of betas we now live in is a tricky thing. Some games are in permanent beta for months or even years, but they’re essentially “released” for all intents and purposes. But with Overwatch, beta invites were pretty strict, given out to only a small number of players, streamers and press members during the closed session. Overwatch opened itself up for public play briefly, but only for a very, very short window of time.

Still, despite this limited access, for me personally, Overwatch was easily one of the best games I played all year. I could even see TotalBiscuit’s argument for putting it one of the top spots. I won’t rehash all my praise for the game, as you can read more about that here and here, but suffice to say I’m more than a little excited about Blizzard’s new shooter, when if you asked me six months ago, it would have probably not even registered on my radar. They took a scrapped MMO and turned it into an arena shooter? No thank you.

But the end result just…works. In an age when I shy away from both A) competitive multiplayer in games and B) games that are only competitive multiplayer with no campaign, Overwatch hooked me. I wanted to play it just to play it. Not to increase my ladder rank or to grind for unlocks, but because the physical act of playing the game was fun. Literally no other reason than that. The characters are diverse and gorgeous and creative. Gameplay is fast and fun and exhilarating. It gets almost everything right, right out of the gate.

And yet, the Overwatch I played this year is going to be different than what we see in final release next spring (or fall, if it gets delayed). There is going to be a progression system. Heroes are going to be dramatically tweaked and reworked. There will be new gameplay modes, possibly new levels. And of course the game is going to be $60, as we now know, not free, and out on consoles as well as PC.

In short, the version of Overwatch that could be on my GOTY list this year might be dramatically different than the version we see hit the market next year. And this is a game that only a select handful of people got to play, and only for a brief period of time. Does that disqualify it from making lists like mine and TotalBiscuit’s?

To me, no. The fact remains that Overwatch is one of the best games I played all year, so I don’t see a reason it can’t be on my personal list. This is not like the Destiny alpha where I had access to about 10% of the game ahead of launch. This was all of Overwatch, at least as it existed at the time. I was playing a full game for dozens of hours.

I think is the difference between “Paul’s Top Ten Games of the Year” and a more generic “The Ten Best Games of the Year” list. The latter is probably more of a buying guide for gamers as to what the best releases were, while the former is a more personal take on what I personally experienced through my playtime this year. I might even put a game like Diablo 3 on my list, for example, because I’m still playing it, while that’s something that wouldn’t go on a more general list. For me personally, Overwatch was easily one of the most fun I played this year, if not the best (I’m still mulling its place alongside Bloodborne and The Witcher 3), so I think it’s fair to put on my list, and it’s fair that it’s on TotalBiscuit’s list.

This whole debate should delight Blizzard, that I’m wondering if the early access version of their game should be a GOTY contender or not. I assume Overwatch will only get more refined in time, though I hope character tweaks and the introduction of a progression system don’t taint the experience. But I have faith in Blizzard after what I’ve seen so far. Even if Overwatch is only on a few personal GOTY lists this year, I have a hunch we’ll be seeing it on a hell of a lot more of them next year.

Source: Official Forbes Website

This post has been edited by Onyx: Jan 16 2016, 18:39 PM

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