Overwatch turned four this past June, and despite attempts to keep the game fresh with new events, skins, and game modes, there’s only so many times one can tell a teammate to get on the damn payload. But one way players are keeping the game fresh and exciting is through experimenting in Overwatch’s Workshop, a place where anything is possible and the skybox is the limit.
The Workshop is a place where players can tool around with Overwatch’s many unique game modes or create their own to play with friends or alone. While I imagine the Workshop was a function Blizzard always planned to add to Overwatch, I like to think the inspiration came from seeing fan signs in Overwatch League broadcasts: Back in the halcyon days of live League games in the Blizzard Arena, fans would bring homemade signs, sometimes to cheer on their favorite teams or players, other times to directly entreat Blizzard to add certain quirks to the game. For example:
The way I imagine it, rather than entertain every request, Blizzard decided to just let us do for ourselves, and the Workshop was born.
I never understood the impetus to create a game within a game. It takes specific knowledge of script writing and coding to make the Workshop work. It’s a twisted labyrinth of if/then statements, conditions, and strings that I’ll never be able to decipher for myself. Nevertheless, I’m in awe of the sheer creativity of folks who have put their wares up on the Workshop for the rest of us non-coding types to enjoy.
I find the best place to find a game worth trying is through the website workshop.codes. There, instead of fighting through pages and pages of workshop codes in Overwatch’s game client, you can find a curated list of codes organized by popularity, recency, and codes you can play while you wait in the queue.
Depending on the role you choose, your time in the queue can last a while, so it’s nice to have something to do while you wait. Bejeweled instantly became my favorite “waiting in the queue” game. It’s a simple and elegant Bejeweled clone recreated in the Overwatch engine, perfect for wasting time. In fact, when my queue popped and it was time to play, I immediately left the queue to play more (apologies to my team). I was way more enamored with Bejeweled than the possibility of having 19-year-olds yell slurs at me over team chat.
Another favorite is Overwatch Fight Club, a Smash Brothers/Street Fighter/Marvel vs. Capcom clone. In Overwatch Fight Club you can choose from a number of heroes, each with a move set (and a handy list of commands for each move) and fight against another opponent 2D Street Fighter style. I had a hard time learning the controls for this one, but the gameplay video creator QTPi made for this game is bar none.
As the Overwatch League begins their playoff season, I am directly confronted with the eventuality of having no more competitive Overwatch to look forward to (at least until next season...hopefully). Overwatch 2 looms but likely won’t be seen for a while. With the base game no longer holding the same place in my heart it did four years ago, I’m looking forward to diving into the wide world of the Workshop to find new treasures to keep me going.