Overwatch: Orisa Goes LIVE! Thoughts and Opinions

Yesterday (21st of March), the 24th character to join the Overwatch roster was made live. She’s the third new character to be added to the game since launch. She’s a large, omnic quadraped armed with a gatling gun and a robotic Nigerian accent, which is as amazing as it sounds. She champions justice and protecting the public, giving off serious RoboCop vibes. She was built by eleven-year-old Efi Oladele, as an almost immediate response to an attack on Numbani by Doomfist (who we’re bound to see introduced to the game soon). She plays the tank role and comes equipped with 200 health, 200 armour. That’s the lowest of the tanks, and on par with Zarya. Zarya’s shields DO regenerate, however, meaning Orisa has lower survivability than her counterparts.

I spend most of my time playing tanks or supports on Overwatch, and so I was excited to get to grips with this new character. These are my thoughts on how she plays:

Pros:

Her kit borrows from the kits of other heroes, and so is quite easy to get used to. Her E ability is a deploy-able barrier with 900 health, not unlike Reinhardt’s shield. Her shift ability fortifies her and protects her from crowd control abilities such as Pharah’s concussive blast, or Lucio’s “boop”, among others. Her right-click is a mini-graviton surge which pulls enemies together and groups them up. Her ultimate, a “supercharger”, is dropped into the heat of battle to power up the damage output of her nearby allies. The damage increase is seemingly comparable to Mercy’s. Overall, her kit makes few unique strides in terms of gameplay changes, but is also incredibly useful to have in one character.

Her gun is a joy to use. It has a clip of 150, and fires from three barrels, making it feel like a death machine when used appropriately. Not only that, but I couldn’t help smiling with glee at the sound the gun makes. It’s a joy to listen to it while you mow your enemies down. The damage output isn’t ridiculously high, but you can still leave a noticeable mark on your opponents.

Her ultimate is probably the best thing about her. If you place it strategically, it can provide an insane amount of support to your team-mates, and can shift the tide of battles in your favour. The only downside is that it can be destroyed easier than Symmetra’s ultimates, so you’ll have be careful where you place it. I find myself thinking back to the last game I played as Orisa. We had a Bastion on top of the payload, being boosted by the supercharger AND a nano boost from Ana. The results were predictably chaotic and joyful.

Cons:

She has very low mobility, and no abilities to counteract that. If you’re going to play Orisa, you have to be absolutely certain to put yourself in positions where you’ll have an escape route, or you’ll find yourself dead more often than not.

Her health isn’t very high for a tank. She can easily be targeted and taken out by some offensive characters, and has no healing properties of her own. It is paramount to her survival to make good use of her barrier and to stay with team-mates. You cannot solo-tank as Orisa. It is not an option.

Her head is an easy target. I found that characters such as Reaper or Tracer were really enjoying getting in behind me, and picking me off before I could even think about trying to get away. Flankers will rejoice at this news.

Fortify is incredibly difficult to time properly. I have only used it successfully a handful of times at this stage.

Conclusion:

Above all, Orisa is fun to play, but she is not without her weaknesses. I find that without adequate protection from others, she struggles to survive. She cannot easily disengage from a combat scenario, so to use her properly, you need to stay as a group.

Her kit is incredibly useful and enjoyable to use, and she definitely has a place in the meta. To me, however, she seems like a complementary character. Her place is beside other tanks, rather than as a tank on her own. It feels like she could have been put in the support category just as easily.

In any case, I’m enjoying my time with her so far and I can’t wait to see how she’s used when she’s finally enabled in competitive play. She’s certain to shake up the meta for better or for worse.

Thanks for reading.

 

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Mass Effect Andromeda: First Impressions

The original Mass Effect trilogy was a grand space opera, brimming with interesting characters, engaging quest lines and unrivalled character development. It gave players the opportunity to carve their own narrative over the course of hundreds of hours of enthralling game play which improved with each new instalment.

It’s for these reasons, then, that the announcement of Andromeda was met with high levels of expectation and hope. It’s also for these reasons, however, that many people might be left disappointed.

While I don’t necessarily agree with the idea behind it, I stumped up the £4 subscription fee to EA’s early access service in order to play the ‘trial’ version of the game. At the time of writing, I’ve played just over four hours.

I wanted to personalise my experience and as such, I was incredibly excited to make use of the character creator in the perhaps vain hope that it

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You can make your character look like a clown with ease, but you’ll struggle to make them look realistic.

would be an improvement on the last Mass Effect. What I got, instead, was a barely serviceable tool that feels like it was added in as an afterthought. It both looks and feels like a step backwards. I decided to try and create a custom male Ryder character because the default female character looks like she was handmade out of clay by an infant, and I didn’t think I was up to the task of salvaging her. My attempts to make something semi-decent were thwarted by a severe lack of options and a clunky interface. I ended up reverting back to the default male Ryder and moving on.

 

Story-wise, what I’ve gathered in the very limited amount of time that I’ve spent playing the actual game is that Andromeda definitely has potential. From the offset, the player is met with that sense of grandeur and danger that is so familiar to the series. The task at hand is gargantuan. You play as either Scott or Sara Ryder, the son/daughter of ‘The Pathfinder’ – Alec Ryder. Your role is to find a new home world for humanity in the Andromeda galaxy. The opening sequences are exciting and captivating as you are made aware of the challenge ahead, and it definitely feels like you’re about to go on a great adventure.

These opening sequences and later cut-scenes, however, are frequently undermined by shoddy animation and sub-par writing. I found myself regularly failing to understand what had been said in a conversation because I was transfixed by how bad some of the facial animations are. It’s particularly noticeable in human characters. As mentioned previously, they often look like they’re made out of clay. Eyes look like they’re trying to escape from their sockets. Eyelashes look glued to the face. Some of the characters walk as if they’ve made a mess in their underwear. There are a few moments where I was convinced Alec Ryder was trying to talk with a mouth full of coins. I don’t believe it’s bad enough to completely break the game, but it’s immersion-breaking and if, like me, you play RPGs to immerse yourself in another world, you’ll find yourself struggling.

One of the redeemable qualities of the game is the combat. The original trilogy was a transition over time from a pure RPG to an action game with RPG elements, and Andromeda has made further strides towards getting the balance right. Engaging the enemy gives you an opportunity to make use of a very wide range of abilities and weapons, and you can gradually build your version of Ryder to fight in the way that you want. It seems fleshed out and tactical, and enemies adapt appropriately. I was playing on the second highest difficulty and had to make sure to approach battles with care or I’d find myself dead pretty quickly. The Kett, the main ‘antagonists’, are a worthy adversary and it’s not a case of ‘good vs. evil’ but rather a power struggle which is packed with moral grey areas. Their approach to combat is challenging and it keeps you on your toes. Outside of combat, you have access to a plethora of upgrades and a wide range of weapons to keep your experience fresh.

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The Ryder twins have a big job on their hands if they’re ever going to live up to the late, great Commander Shepard. From what I’ve gathered so far, whomever you may choose is vastly different to our hero from the original trilogy. I’ve been playing as Scott. He’s younger, more naive and less prepared than Shepard was, and as such, is quite endearing. He’s not the typical space cowboy that you might expect, and so far he’s had plenty of redeemable moments. As it stands, I don’t know if he’ll be as memorable as Shepard, but there’s a lot to like about him. The only criticism that I do have about the new approach to the protagonists is that they seem to be much less flexible. Instead of Paragon/Neutral/Renegade dialogue options, you can now respond with different styles of conversation including ’emotional’, ‘logical’ or even ‘professional’. While that sounds like it’s a big improvement, at the moment it seems to me like multiple paths to the same destination. It doesn’t seem like it matters what you say, it always comes around to the same conclusion. Again, I’ve only played four hours, so can’t be certain if this is true, but there are worrying signs. You may have to do some of your own role-playing in your head to see some proper character development, and I’m not totally prepared to do that. The game seems to have taken some lessons from Fallout 4’s dialogue system, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Furthermore, you seem unable to be as ruthless as you could be in the previous games. Whether that’s an oversight or a deliberate choice, I find it sad that I won’t be able to punch any reporters in the face.

Four hours is never enough time to judge an entire game, but from what I’ve seen so far, Mass Effect: Andromeda has the potential to be a fun experience, but it’s somewhat held back by graphical errors and glitches, and poor writing. It remains to be seen whether or not it will live up to the hype of its predecessors, but from what I can tell, it will at the very least be an enjoyable game, but not one of the greats.