There's not much to Overwatch's new horde mode, but it's still fun

Our thoughts on Junkenstein's Revenge, the first PvE brawl for Overwatch.

"I beheld the wretch—the miserable monster whom I had created."

If there was any doubt that Blizzard is a big fan of the Team Fortress 2 playbook, the Overwatch Halloween Terror update has eliminated it. Rolled out with a companion comic, new cosmetic loot, and a four-player, wave-based PvE mode against robots that's punctuated by original voice-over work, the whole package resembles the time-limited Halloween events that TF2 has run since 2009.

Is it fun? Yes, but it's also sort of shallow. The Halloween spirit suits Overwatch, and fighting under an excessively full moon in a ruined, rejiggered piece of Eichenwalde is pleasant. But the flow of the map is very simple: zomnic enemies pour from three or four different holes, with short paths to the castle door you're protecting. Your back is against this wall from the get-go, and apart from a couple elevated areas the map does little to encourage you to roam, chase, or move much at all. Where you defend also doesn't feel like a significant decision on anything but the highest difficulty setting, unlike TF2's Mann vs. Machine mode.

What's best about Junkenstein's Revenge is feeling of mowing down enemies by the handful. The mad scientist Junkrat (one of the best new skins, for my credits) throws a few tiers of enemy at you: mindless zomnic drones, projectile-lobbing zombardiers, the occasional Junkrat tire, and costumed versions of Roadhog, Mercy, Reaper, and Junkrat (as Dr. Junkenstein himself). You'll easily put up 100 eliminations in a match. Spitting Soldier: 76's Helix Rockets into a cluster of zomnics or retiring a whole wave with McCree's ult feels great.

But ultimately, like Lúcioball, this is more of a multiplayer carnival game than a fleshed-out, standalone mode. That's due in part to the limited roster: you can only play as Soldier: 76, Ana, McCree, or Hanzo. That limits what strategies you're able to employ (already limited by the map), but it also kind of sucks because these heroes fight in a similar style: auto or semiauto guns (or arrows) aimed at individual enemies. I can understand why Bastion or Torbjörn aren't playable, but Zarya, Winston, Symmetra, Zenyatta, and even Pharah feel like they could've been a part of this.

TF2 certainly doesn't have a patent on horde mode, and I admire how quickly Blizzard continues to crank out seasonal updates in Overwatch's first year. But a few rounds Junkenstein's Revenge reminds you of the better, deeper horde modes and games that have existed for years. Hopefully this seasonal diversion will be the prototype for a more elaborate take on wave-based PvE in the future.


Raised by a Team Fortress Classic clan, Evan can only communicate using multiplayer FPS jargon, sort of like that Star Trek: TNG "Darmok" episode. 2fort, when the walls fell...


We recommend