Overwatch is Blizzard’s first new IP in 17 years so it goes without saying that the company has a lot riding on it, especially given how the team worked seven years on the now canceled Titan. However, some of the assets such as maps which were originally developed for Titan were used in Overwatch.
With Overwatch now available, how does Blizzard’s new IP performs on the industry’s modern platforms? Let us find out.
As usual, let us tackle the PC version first. The developers recommend an Intel Core i5 or AMD Phenom II X3 and Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 or ATI Radeon HD 7950 along with 6GB of memory. In this day and age those are pretty modest requirements and to be honest, any gaming rig from the last two years should ideally have no problems in running this game at 60fps but we will get to that in a bit. Blizzard have also provided a decent number of graphical settings including but not limited to local fog detail, refraction quality, ambient occlusion, field of view, shadow detail, texture quality, texture filtering quality and AA quality. The game also provides an option to limit FPS but we strongly recommend disabling this given the competitive nature of the game. The settings also provides four AA options which strongly resemble FXAA, SMAA 2x, SMAA 4x and SMAA 8x.
We first tested the game on an Nvidia 980ti and i7 5960x and ran the game at Epic settings and had no issues reaching 60 frames per second. We were actually clocking close to an average of 130fps and if you want higher frame rates, you can switch down to High settings to achieve frame rates over 200. Switching over to GTX 970 and i5-3570k, and running the game at 1080p once again delivered a silky smooth 90+ frames per second experience. And lastly when we changed over to R9 290x, once again we saw great performance with the frame rate never dropping below 75 and staying largely in the high 80s. Overall, Overwatch is amazingly optimized across a large range of modern GPUs and we expected nothing less given that Blizzard is at the helm.
If the PC version was anything to go by, Overwatch on consoles is a treat. The PS4 and Xbox One versions both target a 60fps frame rate cap and for the most part, Blizzard has managed to deliver on their promise. We witnessed extremely minimal frame rate drops and screen tearing on both consoles so the good news is that we are largely looking at a locked 60fps experience on both consoles. Both versions also come very close to delivering a 1080p resolution representation with minimum scaling in between, although it’s the PS4 version which closely sticks to a 1080p resolution at most times. A decent AA solution in the form of a post process SMAA is in place for consoles which does a decent job in reducing shimmering and aliasing, two things which are extremely important in a fast paced competitive game like Overwatch.
Interestingly, there are minimum differences between the console versions and the PC build. Most of the differences are something that players usually expect from the PC version. The first obvious improvement is the AA solution implemented on the PC version. A higher quality SMAA solution results into better looking edges and object detail compared to the console versions which further results into a slightly better image quality which is more or less free from jaggies. Further differences include slightly higher quality shadows, screen space reflections and better anisotropic filtering on surfaces compared to the console versions. Other than these differences, all three platforms use the same core assets from character models to environment objects. Overall, console players won’t be missing much compared to their PC counterparts, other than the usual higher refresh rates and rendering resolutions.
So overall speaking, where do we stand regarding Overwatch? Blizzard’s competitive shooter isn’t necessarily pushing any visual boundaries but what we have is a very competent shooter with extremely good performance across all three platforms, something which is a rarity these days. Overwatch comes very close to hitting the golden standard of 1080p and 60fps on consoles so kudos to Blizzard for almost delivering the “technical” goods with the game. The PC versions still remains the best way to play Overwatch but both console versions come in at a close second. Regardless of whatever platform you own, if you are interested in a fast paced competitive shooter which is full of thoughtful level design, excellent gameplay, interesting characters and abilities backed up by a solid technical performance, Overwatch is the game you need to play.