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Is Jeff Kaplan’s Plan Ruining Overwatch?

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Blizzard Entertainment

Overwatch has changed considerably since its release 4 years ago. But Jeff Kaplan’s latest suggestion may be a step too far for many Overwatch fans, is he ruining it?


Overwatch has secured scores of die-hard followers since its release in 2016. And, like all games, it’s had its fair share of updates over the years. Some for the better. Some… not so much…

Longtime fans have lived through metas like Moth, then GOATS, and now Double Shield. But it’s Jeff Kaplan’s latest plans that’ve really divided the Overwatch community.

Overwatch’s diversity could be under threat

For many, one of the biggest draws of Overwatch is the diversity of the characters. Within the tank, DPS, and healing classes, you have multiple heroes, all with their own unique skills. Some excel in crowd control, others are more burst-fire. Either way, there’s usually a character to suit all gaming personalities.

But Kaplan – game director and vice president at Blizzard Entertainment – wants to change all that.

Kaplan prefers FPS over MOBA?

Recently, Blizzard’s Overwatch development team hosted a large “Ask Me Anything” thread on the Overwatch subreddit. Within this, Kaplan’s Overwatch comments gave a few clues as to where they might take the direction of the game (if it were up to just him).

“My personal feeling is that I would like to see less barriers and cc and see the game trend slightly more in the fps direction than the moba direction,” Kaplan said.

This is a pretty big deal since a shift of this magnitude could change the entire feel of the game.

The blend of FPS and MOBA is Overwatch’s niche

Although Overwatch is labeled as a first-person shooter, it does also have some MOBA traits. Each player controls a single character, and that character has their own set of abilities. The major deviance from a MOBA is that the character’s abilities don’t improve over the course of the game.

But it’s this amalgamation of FPS and MOBA that makes Overwatch such a distinctive game.

The gaming world is littered with first-person shooters – Call of Duty, Battlefield, Counter-Strike, Doom, Halo to name just a few. So moving more towards a pure FPS style is only going to turn Overwatch into a small fish within a big pond. Right now, Overwatch almost has its own unique niche.

Valorant competition

I say almost. Overwatch’s competition has heated up this year. Rival developer, Riot Games, released their take on the genre, Valorant, in mid-2020. Obvious comparisons were made between the two games, and some streamers even quit playing Overwatch to try out Riot’s new offering.


But barely any of the characters in Riot’s hero-based shooter have hard crowd control or damage abilities like in Overwatch. This gives it a more precision shooter feel, one more akin to Counter-Strike than a MOBA like League of Legends.


The problem is that, if this is what Kaplan wants to directly compete with, Overwatch is in for a major overhaul. Not only will Overwatch have to compete with established first-person shooters like CoD, Battlefield, and Counter-Strike. Kaplan also risks alienating those fans who enjoy the game as it is now.

Will Blizzard listen to players?

Kaplan has been under fire from community members before for previous changes to Overwatch. But in this pivotal point in Overwatch’s history, Kaplan and the team need to think long and hard before committing to such a drastic change.

As well as considering Overwatch’s place in the wider market, they really need to contemplate whether these changes will be a hit with players. Or if they will simply drive away what true fans Overwatch has left.


What did you think about Kaplan’s comments? Should Overwatch change or stay the same? Leave your thoughts in the comment box below.


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Animal Crossing 2.0 – Review

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Nintendo

On November 5th, Animal Crossing 2.0 alongside the DLC Happy Home Paradise was released. It was the last major free update to hit the latest game in the franchise and added a host of new features to the game. After almost a month of playing it, here’s our review and everything new in Animal Crossing 2.0 from Nintendo.

Background

Animal Crossing has been around for 20 years, with its first release on 14th April 2001. Since then it’s released several versions of the game for the DS, Wii, and so on.

The latest version, New Horizons, came to the Nintendo Switch at just the right time; at the very beginning of Quarantine. It was easily the most popular Nintendo game last year. But it had a fatal flaw; rather than including everything upfront, Nintendo would release periodic updates where they would add to the game. The goal was to keep the game feeling fresh, but the result was that New Horizons felt unfinished. The game was bare-bones compared to past versions of Animal Crossing and didn’t have half as much to do. With the release of the last free update, New Horizons finally feels like a complete game. So what’s new? While there were a lot of things added and small things fixed, we’re just going to focus on the major gameplay changes and additions.

Brewster

The beloved pigeon, Brewster, has been in Animal Crossing since 2005. He runs a cosy coffee shop, The Roost, usually located in the Museum. But he has been missing from New Horizons. A fan favourite, his absence has definitely been felt. Brewster is one of the most demanded additions to New Horizons. With the update, you can find him gyroid hunting on one of Kapp’n’s Islands and invite him to your island, where he will set up the Roost once more. You will also find some of your residents and NPCs there and can invite current and past Animal Crossing characters to the Roost via Amiibo card.

Kapp’n

Speaking of Kapp’n, the turtle is back. In past versions of the game, Kapp’n is usually the one taking you to your new village at the start of every game. Whether it be by taxi, bus, or train, Animal Crossing typically kicks off with the retired seafarer. But New Horizons didn’t feature Kapp’n at all; until now. Now you can have him take you on island tours via his little boat off your dock. Some of these islands are extremely rare and feature exclusive items. He also sings you a little song while you make the journey..

Gyroids

Gyroids have, once again, been a part of every Animal Crossing game until New Horizons. They are little singing things that can be placed like furniture. In New Horizons, you can find a fragment on Kapp’n’s islands, bury it, water it, and a gyroid will grow the next day. Or some may be buried on your island after a rainy day. While past versions of gyroids have been annoying, the New Horizon’s gyroids are adorable and delightful. In New Horizons, Brewster is an avid collector. You’ll even get a Brewster gyroid after drinking enough coffee.

Cooking / Farming

Cooking has also been added to the game, something entirely unique to New Horizons. You can purchase crop starts from Leif, start a farm, and then cook the produce you grow. This opens up a whole host of fun recipes, and you can gift your creations to your residents. Eating a meal will make your villager stronger for longer, the same effect eating fruit previously had.

Group Stretching

You can also host a group stretching event in the plaza. Random villagers and NPCs will join you. You can use your controllers to actually stretch with them, or use the joysticks if you’re stuck with a Lite or don’t feel like standing up.

Harv’s Island

Harv’s Island was previously… pretty useless. There was really nothing to do there aside from taking pictures, which is fun once. Now you can help him build an open-air Farmers Market/Commune. For 100,000 bells each, you can invite NPCs to set up a permanent shop. Among these are Leif, Redd, Kicks, Saharah, Reese, and Cyrus, who have all been seen in New Horizons. But it also introduces the return of Tortimer, the mayor from past games. (Who some fans theorized was dead until now). Harriet, a hairdresser who introduces a ton of new hairstyles to the game. And the fortune-teller Katrina. This expansion to Harv’s island is a huge resource.

You no longer have to wait for these NPCs to come to your island to purchase goods from them. It also opens up more customization for previously uncustomisable items. And it’s another goal to work towards after you pay off your home loans.

Ordinances

You can now issue Ordinances through Isabelle in the town hall. These include things like adding a Bell Boom so that you find more bells and goods are worth more, but things also cost more. Or the Beautiful Island ordinance, which will have your villagers pick up weeds and trash and will cause your flowers to grow faster. You can also issue that your villagers wake up earlier or go to bed later.

Happy Home Paradise

In addition to 2.0, a DLC was added to the Nintendo Store. Happy Home Paradise allows you to “get a job” building vacation homes. You report to your boss Lottie for work, alongside your coworkers Niko and Wardell. From there, you choose a character and build a home for them. They will give you a theme and some items they want to see in their home. You can also design facilities, like a cafe or school and assign characters to work in them. Using an amiibo card, you can also design homes for NPCs like Isabelle or Tom Nook, where you will have free reign over the design.

Happy Home Paradise also introduces partition walls which allow for more design options in your house. It also includes a lot of new furniture. When you’ve designed enough vacation homes, you are able to then redesign the houses on your island.

HHP adds a lot to the game. Animal Crossing’s flaw has always been that it gets too repetitive. HHP adds some flavour and a lot more to do. So even long after you’ve paid off your home loan and made your island pretty, you can still really engage with the game. It adds to and boosts life on the island, but also extends the world a bit. You can interact with more characters beyond just your residents and have more interaction with NPCs beyond purchasing goods from them.

Overall

All in all, the 2.0 update and Happy Home Paradise have elevated New Horizons. It makes the game feel new and adds what many fans have been asking for. While they are both great, it’s hard to shake the feeling that this all should have been included from the get-go like past versions of the game. After playing a skeleton of a game for a year, we now truly have a new Animal Crossing game.


Do you like Animal Crossing 2.0? Do you agree with our Animal Crossing review? Let us know in the comments below.


We compare Animal Crossing with Stardew Valley HERE.

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