Ahead of his induction into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame, Bethesda director Todd Howard has been giving a lot of interviews lately concerning his career in the video game industry as well as the games his studio has planned for the coming years. Not one to only beat his own drum, however, Howard joined tech luminaries like Elon Musk and admitted that he plays a lot of Overwatch, the hit MMO from competitor Blizzard, saying that the game is “phenomenal,” but also, contrary to what one would expect, has a “compelling” story.
Howard talked for a bit about Overwatch during an interview with Gamespot, saying not only that he plays it a lot, but also that it’s an “interesting” game. As befits the director from a company like Bethesda, a studio which generally places a strong emphasis on storytelling in its games, he didn’t talk about the action-packed gameplay or the cool “play of the game” moments as much as he commended Blizzard for the job they did on developing the backstory.
“I think Blizzard has done a masterful job with how they’ve given you the characters in this world that you love through their short videos and in the game,” Howard said, continuing that “Overwatch is a game [that] shouldn’t have a good story. But it does. And it’s very compelling.” It’s hard to disagree with Howard on this point as Blizzard has put a lot more effort into putting a good story into FPS Overwatch than some studios put into their single-player, story-driven games through videos and other material.
This emphasis on telling a tale, as well as the excellent action, is probably why Overwatch has made it onto so many best games of 2016 lists and it’s no wonder like Howard sounds like he would agree with that judgment. Though less involved than the story of games like Skyrim or Fallout 4, the fact that gamers seem genuinely interested in the history of the characters they have control over in Overwatch shows that, in the end, many people turn to video games as a storytelling medium as much as anything else.
That Blizzard has realized this, too, is evident in the fact that, even over a year after the game’s release, the studio is still hard at work on new Overwatch heroes and events. Whether Howard will be playing with the new hero lineup is unknown, but considering Bethesda is working on seven new games over the next few years, it’s unlikely he’ll have the time.
Overwatch is now available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.