Face-Off: Overwatch

Overwatch’s recent open beta was quite unlike any other. Barring the inclusion of competitive play, users were actually sampling the game in its entirety, with any improvements or alterations set to arrive via future updates. As Blizzard said, aside from some bug-fixes, “the version you are playing now is what will go live at launch.”

The bottom line: while we will revisit the final game to cross any Is and dot any Ts, we can be confident that this is essentially the same technical experience as the May 24th launch code.

We’ve already sampled the PS4 and Xbox One versions in the previous beta and little has changed there from a technical perspective. However, the open beta gave us an opportunity to see the online infrastructure given a genuine stress test. The good news is that the experience looks and feels polished with no unexpected issues cropping up during our time with the beta, a state of affairs replicated across all three platforms.

The open beta also gave us a chance to fully experience the PC code, which offers up a more refined experience with improved effects. It’s not a revelatory leap over the PS4 and Xbox One versions, but the ability to play at higher frame-rates and resolutions beyond console limits is a worthy improvement. Naturally, we’re running at 1080p with our assets in order to match the consoles, but moving up to higher resolutions – like 1440p and 4K – delivers an extra level of sharpness to the presentation that suits the game’s clean, arcade-style aesthetic.

The console builds also utilise dynamic resolution scaling to help stabilise frame-rates, but PC image quality at 1080p is also boosted, as the resolution stays locked at whatever setting you choose. This is backed up by the ability to use a higher level of post-process anti-aliasing. SMAA High is the top-level setting here, providing better coverage than the console versions with fewer stair-steps across sub-pixel elements.