Overwatch is still one of the best multiplayer shooters out there, but 4 years later, there are still problems since the game first launched.
Since the release of Overwatch, it has become one of the biggest multiplayer titles of this generation with Blizzard bringing more and more content to the game every year. There is so much to love about the hero shooter, but despite all the great support it has been getting throughout the years, there are features that we have seen in other popular multiplayer shooters that are still nowhere to be found. Even since Overwatch launched back in 2016, I have grown frustrated at playing the game on more than one platform due to one major omission: cross-progression.
I always thought that the lack of cross-progression in Overwatch was a problem even when I was playing solely on Xbox. But in the past year, I got my first gaming PC and naturally, I wanted to get my favorite multiplayer title on it. It was a begrudging purchase knowing that all of the awesome skins that I’ve unlocked throughout the years would be gone and I had to start fresh. It has gotten to the point now where every time I play Overwatch on anywhere but Xbox, I groan.
One of the biggest issues that I have with this is that there are specific event-themed skins that you can only get during a certain time of the year. There is even a skin that no one can get anymore which I have, but it is stuck on my Xbox. In 2018, Blizzard participated in a charity event where you could purchase a “Pink” skin for Mercy, with all proceeds going to charity for breast cancer research. That event took place for only three weeks and unless you bought it at that time, you can never get it again. I’m happy that I purchased the skin in hindsight–especially because it went to a good cause–but these situations push the idea forward that cross-progression should be added to the game.
Blizzard is seemingly optimistic when it comes to the subject. Last year alongside the release of Overwatch on Switch, Game Director Jeff Kaplan said that he hopes there will be a day where it does have cross-progression. “I think we would love to have crossplay and cross-progression between the Nintendo Switch and other platforms. It’s obviously extremely challenging in many different ways. And we hope that someday we can work through those challenges.” Kaplan explained.
Being partnered with Activision, we have already seen that Call of Duty: Warzone uses cross-progression, and other popular multiplayer games in general like Fortnite also incorporate it. For those with Blizzard accounts, there are options to link your other gaming profiles like Xbox and PlayStation as well. While I’m not going to pretend that I know the direct ins and outs of game development, it feels like they have the tools and resources to make cross-progression a reality.
If Blizzard were to incorporate cross-progression on all their platforms then I would buy every version of Overwatch without hesitation, and I know that I am not alone. There are so many unlockables on top of getting the chance of duplicates that I can’t see Blizzard being worried about lack of content, even though I think that is a major factor in their headspace. If this one thing was implemented, then Overwatch would have everything that I want personally from a multiplayer title. That being said, it isn’t the only issue with the game that I still see, personally.
Cross-play is another key feature that Overwatch is extremely late and currently absent on. Fortnite, Call of Duty: Warzone and PUBG all have cross-play, and Apex Legends is getting it later this year. Overwatch is the only significant multiplayer title without it. The Principal Producer for the game, Wes Yanagi, spoke on the topic last year and said that “implementing cross-play for Overwatch is more difficult than people realize,” along with confirming that the team is working on making it a reality. Jeff Kaplan doubled down on the statement last month during a Reddit AMA as well, so hopefully, it will come to fruition sometime down the line.
Overwatch is a fantastic game that I hope continues to have a prosperous future, but in 2020 it needs to get with the times. All of their competitors are on top of the ball with them being dragged behind. Blizzard is a renowned studio with a lot of loyal fans, but that is only going to take them so far if they continue to under-deliver.