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Tycho / on Mon, May 24 2021 at 12:01 am

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I haven't played Overwatch in years, I don't think; it's been two, maybe. I don't have any particular enmity for it, I'm just profligate and I comport myself in a Caligulan manner. It's never even been installed on the machine I'm typing this on because I would rather engage in 24/7 dalliances with Deckbuilter Roguelites. Gabe still plays this game with his entire family in tow, so I think he was more attuned to the announcement that even in the original Overwatch, they're moving to 5v5.

It's a pretty fundamental change, but they've made all kinds of changes essentially the whole time - that's something we call out in the strip. They used to let you stack as many of the same character as you wanted! They were hedy days. But this is the most I've thought about Overwatch in a long time, so maybe that fulfils some objective they had?

I basically spent the weekend playing Knockout City, and I consider the investment optimal. As soon as I'm done with this post I'm probably going to play another round. It's beyond excellent. It's on Game Pass, even on PC, but there's a couple scenarios on Windows where your linked accounts can paint you into a corner that require something akin to Divine Intervention in order to resolve. After I figured out how to fix it - what you might call the Metagame - I bought it anyway, just so it would materialize somewhere on the spreadsheet Electronic Arts looks at to determine if they made a good call. Because they did.

Ultimately, Knockout City is about throwing and catching - and it has done this, perfectly. It feels good to do it. And when you or an enemy catches the ball, it gains "charge," which means it goes faster, which means it's harder to catch. By the time you've dueled someone to five or six catches, it's like trying to catch the slug from an orbital railgun. So far, I've only talked about regular tosses - but I can also lob it at you to hit you behind cover, or spin and toss it around cover. In every case, the game's bedrock insistence on the physicality of the whole things holds sway: these arcs need clean approaches, but you don't need any special skill to interpret them. You just look around, and the game behaves the way you expect. I like games where, when I lose, I know why. I trust what this game is telling me when I lose and I use it to win next time.

There is a special kind of ball called a Multiball whose use is accompanied by incredible pinball sounds; essentially, it lets you throw three balls one after the other. That means you can also catch them one after the other if they're being directed at you. When you do this, you feel like fuckin' Daigo. The special balls in general just change how the game works. Because any ball can be caught, they aren't like Power Weapons in Halo or something - ways to get back on top. They just change the rhythm of the game. Like I said, you can catch any ball. But you might not want to catch a Bomb Ball. Except… you might catch it anyway, because your every instinct is tuned to that response. You want to dodge here. But not into it, like you might ordinarily, to bounce it away. You want to avoid it, because it's a bomb.

Or maybe you throw a ball that puts an enemy into a small, ball shaped cage they can't get out of. It can be real bad, especially if one of their friends then picks you up and throws you into a chasm. This is probably the biggest "fuck you" since chainsawing an opponent from behind in Gears. But it is just as likely that one of your allies picks you up and uses you as a ball - such balls knock out an opponent in one hit, where it usually takes two. Shit, for that matter, you can just roll up into a ball Samus style any time you want and your friends can use you like this. Risky, though; and getting knocked out by having your own ally thrown back at you definitely has a palpable shame to it. You can also charge your friend up by holding the throw button, and then they fly into the air and land like artillery? I can't stress this enough: the game is free to play right now, and you should play it.

Like Demeo, the fundamentals are so considered and so robust that in a world where quality and execution matters at all we'll get the chance to see them investigate the incredible work they've done here. The game is on PC, Switch, Playstation, and Xbox and it's all crossplay.

(CW)TB out.

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