Plenty to choose from
This would have been a good weekly Destructoid Discusses topic three weeks ago. Three weeks ago, we were in the throes of the Overwatch second anniversary celebration. Three weeks ago, I was sitting squarely at level 10. Today, I’m level 55 and counting. Overwatch is one addictive-ass game. Still, this would have been a good topic three weeks ago.
Coulda, woulda, shoulda. Either way, I can’t get this game out of my head. I also can’t get over the fact less than a third of PS4 owners of it have reached level 50, but that’s neither here nor there. Overwatch is standing tall as one of my favorite games of this generation and it’s all because of the wildly diverse cast of characters. Somewhat through the game but mostly through the comics, Blizzard has brought these heroes to life with colorful illustrations and backstories that give them purpose, motivation, and personalities. Sure, the game could do a lot better explaining just why it is we’re all fighting in the first place, but that doesn’t really matter when I’m having such great fun studying the ins and outs of every hero and map. The characters are so dynamic and unique, I think any of them could break out into their own, stand-alone game.
Of course, none of them are more perfect for an adventure built around their skills than Sombra.
This Mexican hacker with the ability to make herself invisible is the most recent addition to my arsenal of heroes. She’s fast, crafty, and can totally disable the strongest attacks of her opponents. I’m still wrapping my head around her total skillset, but if you’ve played as her, surely you’d agree a stealth shooter starring Sombra would be the perfect stand-alone spin-off. Take the slow, methodical pacing of Metal Gear Solid and speed that shit up with drone hacking and surprise attacks as you completely fuck over enemy surveillance equipment. Sombra could be like Aiden Pearce meets Solid Snake but with a less nice ass.
I know this will never happen. Blizzard doesn’t really do single-player, stand-alone games *cough* Starcraft: Ghost *cough*, but if any employees there get bored of just working on the same game day after day, maybe they could sneak something like this into development in their free time.
There’s always room for edgelord games — I bet you (a very small amount of something) if Shadow the Hedgehog 2 came out this week some people would buy it.
Because of our general fascination with those who don the dark cloak, a Reaper game wouldn’t be very hard to pull off. Make it 10-15 bucks, slap some flippy gunplay on there and call it a day. It wouldn’t necessarily be deep from a narrative standpoint, but we could get a decent look at part of the Talon organization and what makes it tick.
If someone actually tried, they could make a decent shooter out of Reaper’s tragic backstory. Humanize him. Get at the root of what made him feel marginalized and why he became the way he is today, dispelling his one-note veneer. It would take some legwork but a crack writing team could transform Soldier: 76, the core reason for Reaper’s fall, from beloved Overwatch Dad to flawed hero.
I’m a sucker for tanking. Maybe it’s because I’m such a dork when it comes to history that I’ve been fascinated by grim men striding lockstep while holding a shield. They could wear a full suit of armor, have horned helms like Teutonic Knights, or just wade into battle in their loincloths like in 300. If they have a one-handed weapon and a shield, they look awesome in my book.
So it goes without saying whenever I play video games, the “tanking class” is always my go-to. In a local MMO called Ran Online, I was a Swordsman, avoiding a ton of damage while allies lured mobs towards me. In World of Warcraft, I mained a Paladin, happily throwing my shield to pull adds and smashing my righteous hammer down to hold aggro. I even made one-button tanking macros to make life easier. Even in single-player games such as The Elder Scrolls series, the one-handed/blunt, block, and heavy armor skills were the first ones I leveled up. That’s pretty much why Overwatch’s Reinhardt made my eyes open wide in awe. He’s fully encased in armor, he’s got a ton of health, and the dude has a big ass shield. He’s a rocket-propelled tank and a lynchpin of the team’s strategy.
The solo outing I envision for Reinhardt would be a single player FPS/FPM game like Vermintide. Similar to Vermintide characters Kruber and Bardin, Reinhardt already has the “melee weapon plus shield” combo down pat for tanking enemies. His normal attack cleaves through multiple trash mobs, and his Fire Strike can help with “elites.” Meanwhile, a Charge + Earthshatter combo is a given for his “career skill” or ultimate. Think of gameplay like this, except that instead of fighting filthy Skaven or berserk Norsca, Reinhardt would be smashing into hordes of Omnics. Oh, and rather than hearing war cries about Warhammer’s The End Times, you’d simply hear of how the old man has a few tricks up his armored sleeve and that he is your shield.
Remember that Overwatch animated trailer, the one where Tracer fought Widowmaker to protect that Omnic monk who died at the end? Yeah, Tekhartha Mondatta, that’s the guy. He deserves his own game way more than anyone else in Overwatch.
Obviously, he’s not an action hero, or else he wouldn’t have died as easily as he did. But his political and social influence was powerful enough to broker for peace between two entire species. When was the last time you played a hero-driven political strategy game, or a monastery simulator? For me, it was last never. That’s pretty much the biggest reason I want Mondatta to get his own game. He’s a prime fit for an unusual genre that most big developers never even consider touching. I like unusual ideas, okay? I like magic robot monks. I like robots.
I’d also be down for Zenyatta getting a game for similar reasons, but I think there’s a rare potential in a story based on Mondatta. I enjoy seeing small background characters elevated to the status of heroes, similar to how I like rooting for the underdog. I see the fact that we know so little about him and the monastery he founded as an opportunity to reach deeper into Overwatch’s lore and expand it. Besides, I doubt Widowmaker puts nobodies on her hit list, especially if she has to go through Overwatch to cross them out. I think there’s a lot of room to flesh out every Omnic character through a character whose vocation centers around understanding the meaning of robotic life.
Occams Electric Toothbrush
I’m quite partial to Junkrat. There’s a really satisfying Pavlovian response to the gentle “thunk thunk” sound as you lob grenades all over the map. He feels chaotic and fun to play as. Extrapolating out that simple joy of chaotic destruction, I think he would excel at a game where its kind of Sunset Overdrive meets Red Faction Guerrilla. I’m vaguely aware of Junkrat’s backstory. I know he’s friends with Roadhog and I think they rob banks or something? I imagine a kind of sandbox game where it’s you and Roadhog as this Laurel-and-Hardy type adventure where your goal is to rob banks and cause a lot of mischief. It would be fun and silly and have a detailed building destruction mechanic.
I sent an email via Gmail to my 14-year-old cousin Toby to ask him who Overwatch is and which Overwatch should get their own video game. He said he didn’t know exactly who Overwatch was either because that was a game for old people who didn’t play PUBG or Fortnite, but he Googled it for me and his research showed that the coolest Overwatch is a “Muff Diva”.
Sounds cool to me!
So I choose Diesel Dyke the Muff Diva, and I want her game to be an arcade-only six player 2D beat ’em up. Other playable characters include Tingle, Sloth from The Goonies, Lola Lasagne (AKA The She-Penguin), Falco, and Chow Daddy. Morton Downey Jr. is the last boss, smoking a cigarette and constantly screaming his signature catch phrase “If there is ever a milk strike I’ll know where to go!” while attempting to land a belly bump.
He deserves a beating for sure.
If anyone in Overwatch should get a game, why not the gamer’s gamer, D.Va? It’s a bit weird, but the lead characters in a lot of games don’t actually play games all that much, or at least not as much as some people, yours truly included, play. Obviously, most games feature a narrative that doesn’t make a lot of room for games, but even then the characters who do have games as a notable part of their identity tend to conform to hoary old stereotypes of nerds and the like.
This isn’t to imply that D.Va herself is exempt from this treatment – on the contrary, she’s a pretty “typical” mass-market image of a gamer, but she’s also an expert pilot, social media celebrity, and formerly a soldier in the South Korean military. There’s a lot to mine for a variety of game designs featuring D.Va as lead.
You could make a tactical game featuring squads of MEKA units during the Omnic Crisis, or a simulator-style game with more emphasis on the mech-piloting. For less combat-heavy fare, a social-life game, visual novel, or RPG featuring Hana Song in her celebrity gamer role could be one to explore, as well. And you’d even be able to tick the box of having an explicitly Korean character lead their own game, which is oddly rare, even coming from games made in Korea.
Basically, I’m saying she’s the complete package.
Let’s play one of my favorite thought exercises: is it a character-action game? Bayonetta is obvious, Devil May Cry is the grandpa, people argue about God of War but the discourse exists, and God Hand needs more exposure. Think about how each game has a strong focus on one signature weapon, some emphasis on agility in the environment, and a powerful rival-type enemy who reminds you they’re ahead of you. Now let’s double back on Overwatch.
Genji is a cyber ninja with enhanced reflexes and cyber agility. He is skilled with a katana, the Dragonblade, and he is almost constantly at odds with his brother Hanzo.
Just ask Hideki Kamiya if he has an interest at all or see if Itsuno wants something to do after Devil May Cry 5. I mean, Hanzo is just Vergil with a bow, Genji can already double jump, and Dragonblade is just Rebellion. You can even put it any time frame you want and it’d still make sense with the context of the Shimada’s brother’s relationship. Have it take place in the past when Genji was still with Blackwatch and Hanzo was handling his criminal legacy? The brothers hated each other. Have it take place in the present where both are on a more noble arc? They still have a large amount of disdain for each other. At least regardless of how much Genji learns to be at peace, Hanzo never seems to miss a chance to talk smack at Genji.
If the brothers Shimada aren’t just a perfect analogue for Dante and Vergil for their own character-action game, then truly I still don’t understand what a character-action game is.
Amazing artwork by Hooksnfangs on DeviantArt
Lucio-OH! It’s basically Jet Grind Radio and that’s all you need to know.
That’s a mighty fine list. Runner-up for me was Pharah, my original bae. starring in her own shmup. However, as I’ve come to realize just how weak she is in Overwatch, she’s fallen out of favor with me.