Few games like Overwatch have captured the essence of what has driven the immense success of Blizzard Entertainment’s recent cash cow. Overwatch is an undeniable esports sensation. The dedicated fans of this first person shooter adore their favorite heroes when they cosplay, and the fans crave any kind of news about new heroes.
Overwatch is technically a team based multiplayer first person shooter. Developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment, Overwatch is affectionately called a ‘hero based shooter’ by its fans. The matches are split into two teams of six. Each player selects from a roster of over 30 characters called heroes. With primary, ultimate, and passive attacks and skills, each hero has a unique and cartoon-like appearance that has drawn in more than 40 million players. Released in 2016, Blizzard saw $1 billion in profits during the first year of its release.
In Overwatch, the playing field is level for all players since there’s no loot or power ups to be obtained to improve the effectiveness of the heroes’ weapons or skills. Players must rely on each other for healing, defense, and achieving the goal of the match. Each hero is classified in a particular role for the team. The roles defined are Offense, Defense, Tank, and Healer. These roles are very similar to those defined in the MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) genre of games. The main difference between Overwatch and a MOBA game is that Overwatch doesn’t have computer controlled units to assist you.
The success of each match is highly dependent on both the makeup of the team as well as the skill of the player. Watching Overwatch League is proof of the tactical ability, maneuvering, and aiming required to be a pro esports player in Overwatch. The fast paced nature of Overwatch is without a doubt a big part of its appeal. Tight controls, an extremely polished presentation, and colorful and vibrant characters also top the list for why Overwatch is so popular.
To keep things fresh, Blizzard has even added limited edition cosmetic changes for each of the heroes. These skins, emotes, and other additions are earned through loot boxes and gameplay keep the community interested in playing. Blizzard also carefully tests and introduces new heroes to counter any imbalance that community favorites may reveal.
In this list of games like Overwatch, you will find various likenesses. Some games provide the hero based team aspect of Overwatch’s gameplay. Other games like Overwatch provide the first person shooter aspect with a level playing field each match. While they all have attempted to capture the magic that is Overwatch, none foresee-ably will. Until the next revolutionary game comes along, these games like Overwatch should provide the variation gamers need in their gaming library.
Without a doubt, one of the best spiritual successors to Overwatch is Hi-Rez Studios’ fantasy themed shooter called Paladins: Champions of the Realm. Defined in the same genre as Overwatch, this team based multiplayer first person shooter features heroes in defined roles battling it out. With a core mode of five players per team, Paladins: Champions of the Realm separates itself from just being one of the games like Overwatch by being free to play and having a talent system that adjusts each hero’s playstyle.
Each of the 30 plus heroes have tons of visual customization as well as an ability altering talent system. This system allows each character to be played in different ways. This flexibility makes for a ton of tactical decisions to be made from match to match. These gameplay features along with Paladin’s cartoon style graphics, excellent polish, and fast pacing make it one of the best games like Overwatch to try out.
Team Fortress 2 was developed by Valve back in 2006 and has a huge following. The passionate community that has kept this game alive for over a decade knows that it is one of the oldest games like Overwatch. In fact, many might call Team Fortress 2 the granddaddy of Overwatch. The appearance of the game alone left the door open for a shooter like Overwatch to use light hearted graphics instead of the high definition realism of shooters like Call of Duty.
As a team based multiplayer first person shooter, Team Fortress 2 uses classes instead of heroes to fill out its roster of 9. Weapons and cosmetics can be earned and purchased. While the different weapons do affect the gameplay with different stats and bonuses, few are overpowered enough to unbalance the game.
Respawn Entertainment flew in under the radar at the beginning of 2019 with the release of Apex Legends. Labeled as another hero shooter, Apex Legends decided to take the path of evolving the battle royale scene rather than the objective based shooter. Sixty players split into teams of three drop onto an island ‘arena’ and battle it out for the last team standing.
Players select from about 10 different heroes each equipped with two unique skills and one ultimate ability. The abilities and skills refresh on a timer just as the abilities do in Overwatch. While the heroes in Apex Legends do not fall into defined roles like in Overwatch, the abilities tied to the ‘class’ that defines them gives you an idea of how to use them. Apex Legends differs itself from Overwatch by requiring the players to drop into the map (as most battle royale games do) and search for their equipment. Different tier guns, armor, grenades, and healing are scattered about the map and players race to acquire them. The players can also take the gear of downed enemies.
Respawn Entertainment is better known for their futuristic mech shooter Titanfall. The speed and maneuverability of the characters in Titanfall led the way for the game engine used in Apex Legends. Still, the hero based focus of Apex Legends is the main similarity it has to Overwatch.
Brink shares only a few similarities with Overwatch. Brink came and went back in 2011 and was developed by Splash Damage (Return To Wolfenstein, Batman Arkham Origins). As a team based multiplayer first person shooter, Brink had a unique graphical style and a standout maneuverability system for its characters. Named S.M.A.R.T. (Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain), this system basically was parkour in a first person shooter. This allowed for a lot of verticality in the usage of each map.
Brink stressed team based tactics in its gameplay with four classes (Soldiers, Medics, Engineers, and Operatives). Since most matches had objectives requiring a specific class, there was always a need for a diverse team. A match was typically 8 versus 8 players. Some players could also be AI controlled bots if there were not enough players.
Ultimately the drab variation of missions and maps led to the relatively quick decrease in player interest. Still, the focus on players being able to boost and assist other players paved the way for game mechanics seen in games like Overwatch.
Parents looking for a light hearted alternative to all of the other games like Overwatch will love Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare. This game franchise released in 2011 and had a sequel released in 2016. As one of the only kid friendly games on the list, it makes its name as a third person shooter using cartoony plant and zombie hero characters. Each hero is equipped with special attacks and abilities that refresh just as is done with Overwatch heroes. While the ‘team’ portion of the gameplay does exist, it isn’t as prevalent as in other games like Overwatch. Instead, Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare excels at just being a hero based shooter that is light on the tactics and heavy on the action!
Players will also love that Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare features many different modes. There is a robust single player mode and it plays extremely well as a split screen coop shooter as well. With tons of unlockables, Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare is filled with great content for on and offline play.
Splash Damage took another stab at the hero shooter market in 2015 with their free to play objective based first person shooter called Dirty Bomb. With play mechanics very similar to their former game Brink, Dirty Bomb drops the class structure for heroes named mercenaries. Each merc has special abilities, skills, and equipment that place them in roles similar to Brink and Overwatch.
Dirty Bomb has great gameplay, but has struggled to keep player interest in today’s market.
Probably the best of the games like Overwatch is Rainbow Six Siege. Rainbow Six Siege takes the hero shooter genre to all knew levels with intriguing and realistic tactical gameplay. Rainbow Six Siege leans heavily upon players communicating with each other just as much as good aiming and reflexes. Released in 2015 by Ubisoft, the game is structured as a ‘service’. Each season packed with content updates and new heroes called ‘operators’ to use.
Each operator has their own gear and abilities that can be used to help the team. Some can build walls. Some can destroy them. Some have recon equipment. Some have silent movement. None of the operators are overpowered allowing for supreme balance in gameplay. The highly destructible environments and realistic setting set Rainbow Six Siege apart from other games like Overwatch. With operators as the heroes, Rainbow Six Siege fits well in the hero shooter genre.