This article was originally published at the start of Overwatch's closed beta. Since then, more levels and more silly phyics objects have been introduced, like the Control maps' basketball and hoop!
Overwatch has been in closed beta for a couple of days now, and lots has been said about its guns and abilities. Our very own Chris Thursten talked about his disappointment with the support heroes—a stance I somewhat agree with—but today we’re going to talk about the real star of Overwatch: its ridiculous physics objects.
Overwatch is littered with destructible physics objects ranging from books and chairs to pinatas and fire extinguishers, just there to distract you in the moments before a match. In fact, on the attacking side you spend most of your pre-match time locked in a room shooting everything that’s not nailed to the ground. They're small distractions, but they really do help make the world feel more alive—and in some cases can become a game all on their own.
We went through the seven levels currently available in the Overwatch beta to showcase the best shootable props so far, in all their gif-y glory.
The soda machines
There are soda machines like this scattered throughout a couple of levels, though the first half of Hanamura has the most of them. Break them open and the cans go flying, becoming shootable objects themselves. There are a few other types of vending machines as well, but nothing beats the chaos of cans scattering all over the floor.
Dorado is by far the most imbalanced map in the Overwatch, clearly favoring the defending team. This is solely because they have free reign to destroy all the Pinatas hanging in the town square before the attacking team is even allowed to leave their starting area. I hope it's not too long before Blizzard recognizes this awful imbalance and adds some Pinatas around the attacker's spawn.
Gas canisters and fire extinguishers
The most comical physics object in the game can also potentially be the most disappointing. Shoot any of the gas canisters or fire extinguishers found in most levels and they will zip around like Wile E. Coyote on an Acme rocket—as in the clip above—or they can shoot straight into a corner and slowly drain out their air. But when they do go crazy, it's a wonderful sight.
The Hanamura arcade
Every game as the attackers on Hanamura begins with the all out destruction of the arcade that makes up your spawn area. It's an absolute free for all, as all six players shoot up anything that will explode, which is most things around. The arcade is also full of references to other Blizzard games, including an arcade cabinet for Lost Vikings and Starcraft.
The claw machines are my personal favorite, as the plushies that spill out will bounce and squeak as you shoot them, soullessly smiling the whole time.
So far I've only been able to find two soccer balls: one in Dorado and another at the Attacker's spawn on Temple of Anubis. They are another of my favorite things to knock around, as they can pick up a considerable amount of speed and start bouncing off the walls. The soccer balls are even more fun when teammates join in and start defending doorways as goals. You can easily forget there's a war just outside.
Winston's chalkboard in the attacker spawn on Watchpoint: Gibraltar is one of the heavier objects you can play with, meaning some hero's weapons won't move it nearly at all. I had to pull out an automatic weapon and time my shots well to get it spinning as fast as possible, which you can see above. It doesn't actually help you in the match, but this is probably the most productive I've been with Widowmaker so far. My sniping skills leave something to be desired, but I showed that chalkboard who's boss.
Volskaya Industries' library
Once again, the attacker's spawn (this time on Volskaya Industries) is a heck of a lot more fun than having to frantically set up your defenses on the other side of the door. Grab Road Hog, Reaper, or any other character with splash damage and watch as you send books flying and make chairs crumble like gingerbread houses. There is something incredible satisfying about destroying an entire table worth of chairs in one shot.
Basically anything with Symmetra’s gun
Symmetra's primary fire requires her to get up close and personal with enemies, meaning you don't usually have a chance to use it much during an actual game. Fortunately, this is balanced by it being the absolute best weapon with which to mess with physics objects. It's essentially a force field that instantly sends anything not tied down flying away, no matter how heavy. Basically it's a laser-powered leaf blower, and is by far the best way to cause havoc.
These little destructible details are a fantastic touch. They remind me of the clickables around a Hearthstone board—tiny, inconsequential distractions that are made with all the attention and care we expect from any part of a Blizzard game, ensuring that we're never just waiting around idly. They're always there for you if you have to let off some steam after a bad game, or want a distraction before the next match, or just need to go all John Belushi on a guitar: