An Overwatch fanboy’s thoughts on Destiny 2 and Quake Champions

Overwatch is the 800 pound moon gorilla in the shooter arena. Now if you’re like me, with an unhealthy amount of time invested in Overwatch on PC (level 300+ and climbing), the big question is always: should I ever play any other shooter?

I know, Blizzard sucked me in (again), Overwatch is just too polished, too addicting. But I’ve never purchased a loot box, so I still have some sense of dignity.

In Overwatch, I main Zenyatta, McCree, Torbjorn, D.Va and clutch Lucio or Soldier. But the Destiny 2 PC Beta and Quake Champions Early Access just landed. And these are two games that have been on my radar for serious shooter time. These are two games that could actually weaken the hold Overwatch has on me. 

If you’ve been in an Overwatch bubble, let’s dive into the details and see if these two shooters are right for you.

Destiny 2

Unlike Overwatch, Destiny 2 has extensive solo or co-op story missions. And on the PC, it’s fun in a wild way that's too rare in shooters these days. 

The story and setting moth Destiny 2 engaging right away. But its' Destiny 2’s classes and weapon styles make the game really compelling for the Overwatch player. Basically, Destiny is Overwatch’s Omnic Crisis with tons of crazy weapons. And on attack. And no Torb. And it’s a blast.

You’ll notice is some basic similarities: classes, abilities and skins. Destiny 2 offers three character classes which are ultimately more alike than different.

The Titan class is basically a lite-tank/DPS. It throws down a shield like Orisa and can take and dish out tons of damage.

Hunter is your McCree, Widow, 76, or Genji class. Double jumping around, single-shotting alien faces, and, with the ultimate, going all Genji Dragon Blade style or McCree High Noon. The mechanics are very similar, and a ton of fun.

Finally, the Warlock is the closest you'll get to a Support class, boosting damage or life regeneration. Ther eare elements of Mercy, Torb, and Symmtera to be found.

That said, all classes are universally playable by anyone. You don’t have niche characters like Lucio or Winston or Sombra or Junkrat who have a single, specialized weapon/ability that must be mastered.

You pick up new weapons as you play, with some exclusive to your class but most widely available. The weapons look and feel great. Destiny is sci-fi weapon porn.

One bit you'll need to get used to with Destiny is the jumping. There's a lot of floating around involved, and at times it can feel like an Overwatch, low-gravity game. In Destiny you can double jump and get serious hang time. So there's no constant jump-jump-jump like Overwatch (or most other shooters).

In PvE it’s really fun to float through the air, side strafe double jump and land some hand cannon shots to the enemy's dome. Or you can Widow-snipe from a mile away, getting kills before your feet hit the floor.

But PvP, on the other hand, feels like it needs serious work on PC, at least in my opinion as an Overwatch player trying to get into the game. With the amount of jumping hang time you’re often just a floating sniper target. Once again it feels like an Overwatch low grav match, in that if your your feet leave the ground you are dead.

Also, with 4v4 PvP, the games are really fast and don’t seem to benefit from team tactics the way Overwatch does. Maybe this is Overwatch’s incredibly strong balancing act, but with Destiny and three kinda-similar classes and a whole bunch of completely unbalanced weapons, any sort of team comp seems to be secondary. Sure, someone will master the Orisa shield in Destiny and stop opponents, but the game isn’t inherently built to be a team shooter like Overwatch is. 

Destiny 2 is basically non-stop Soldiers. And some of the weapons that are lots of fun in the solo modes are just worthless in PvP. Knockback and stun effects seem to be nonexistant in this mode, and deaths are frequent (and feel in part due to the power of mouse aim in a game originally build for consoles).

At times the game's console roots show through in negative ways. I didn’t die once in the early demos, save for falling off stuff or standing in space lava (!?) The enemies generally stand around, shoot a burst of fire, grunt about humans sucking, and repeat.You won't see intelligent enemies that will pop off a couple shots, run a half-mile to get on your flank and then crouch in the bushes to slowly take you out. Destiny 2 really does show the gulf between PC and console play, and it will be interesting to see the differences that crop up once both versions of the game are fully released. 

Overall, the Destiny 2 Beta left me wanting a whole lot more. Think of it this way: Destiny 2 is Overwatch meets Diablo -- a diet hero shooter with weapon upgrades and a buckets of lore to enjoy

Regardless of any shortcomings, it's clear Destiny 2 on PC is going to be a blast. It's worth a purchase when it releases for PC on October 24.

Quake Champions

Quake Champions is, first, free to play (or at least it will be when the game leaves Early Access, presumably later this year). Second, it’s just like old Quake with the addition of cosmetic Loot Boxes (yup, same name), skins, snarky voice lines, and an eye for e-sports. It’s just pure PvP like Overwatch. No story, just death.

If you didn’t play any of the old rocket shooters like Quake or Unreal Tournament, the best way to think about Quake Champions is Lucio Speed Boost with Overwatch weapons sprinkled around the map: Pharah’s rockets, Soldier’s rifle, Widow’s sniper, Zarya’s beam cannon, and Roadhog’s shotgun. There’s a sort-of grenade launcher thing, but it isn't quite Junkrat's fun cannon.

It’s fast and insane, and it rewards people skilled in traditional twitch shooting arts. Of course, many of the mechanics in Overwatch are pulled right from Quake, Unreal and the like, so you won't be starting totally from scratch with Quake Champions, but there will be a learning curve. 

Once again we find classes in this shooter, but they’re all variations on the basic mechanics. Some have more health, some have more shield, some move faster, etc.

The real differences come down to the special abilities. Most have cooldowns in the range of 30 seconds, they’re not once or twice a match events like in Overwatch.

Each character has one active and one passive ability. The vast majority of abilities are simply damage-based -- Doom Guy’s Berserk ability kicks off a punch festival, for example. Others charge forward like Reinhart, or dual-wield weapons, or shoot acid.

Some abilities are more strategic. Galena drops health beacons that can heal her and her allies or explode and hurt enemies.They're a bit like Torb’s shield packs, if those also exploded like Junkrat mines.

Visor’s special is Widow’s infra-vision. Nyx has Sombra’s invisibility. Ranger shoots a teleporting bomb. But every character has just one active ability, not the complete stack like Overwatch.

Using these abilities is secondary to the basic mechanics that are true for all characters: get caffeinated, run like hell, kill everything. There really isn’t much teamplay, other than high level strategy. A Galena is good on every team, Visor can call out enemies, etc. But it’s not the true teamwork of Overwatch, mostly because it’s just so damn fast. Boom, dead, respawn in two seconds, sprint, die, do it again.

Also, Quake is less about mastering the mechanics of each character like, say, an excellent Zarya who knows when to shield or drop the grav for a massive team kill. Instead, Quake is built around deathmatch, map memorization, item cooldowns, and longer term logic. Because you can pick up serious armor boosts and big weapons like the rocket launcher or railgun, memorizing their locations is paramount. Also, memorizing the respawn times of weapons and power-ups separates men from boys. Otherwise, you’ll always have lower life and weaker weapons than your enemies.

It does lead to frustrating moments where I know I outplayed a competitor, but because they focus on running around the map and grabbing health/shields/weapons instead of fighting, they’re able to simply outlast and outgun me. It’s counterintuitive that, for such a fast-paced shooter, the winner is often the one who runs from fights to build their buffs.

All that said, Quake is a hell of a lot of fun. If you’re all about insane speed with rockets and non-stop death, Quake is worth checking out. But if you’re into the strategy or team comps or mastering character strategies, Quake will seem like madness. Because it is madness. But it's going to be totally free-to-play madness. 

Any challengers for Overwatch?

Is Overwatch dethroned by these new competitors? Of course not. Only LawBreakers can do that (joking, of course). I’ll play Destiny 2’s solo and co-op missions without hesitation. Quake will get regular playtime. But Overwatch will still be my go-to shooter.

Get them all. It’s good to be a PC gamer.

For more, read our look at how shooters are trying (and failing) to compete with Overwatch