Play of the Fortnight: The Differences Between Console Overwatch and PC

I have always been a PC gamer but recently picked up the PS4 version of Overwatch to play with friends. I expected it to be different, but just how different was a bit of a surprise to me. The playstyle, the meta, even the way players communicate; all of these things felt vastly different on console Overwatch.

In this Play of the Fortnight, we’re going to go over the major differences between console Overwatch and its counterpart on the PC. Trying to decide between the two? Or maybe you’re thinking of making the switch like I did? Either way, here’s what you can expect.

Aim “Assist” on Console

Console Overwatch vs PC - Aim Assist

First, let’s address the elephant in the room. Aim assist is probably the first thing a PC gamer thinks of when they think of an FPS on a console. I have never had any experience with it before now. I was honestly expecting it to be much worse. There’s a certain amount of “smoothing” which can be tweaked through various settings in Overwatch. With the “assist” mechanic at 100%, your aim doesn’t automatically lock-on to enemies like I thought it would.

The way aim assist on console Overwatch works is the crosshair will slow down as it moves over an opponent, so if you’re spinning around or on the move, you’ll have an easier time of shooting at an enemy purely because your sensitivity kind of drops on the fly. It helps, but isn’t the miracle worker I was expecting. The crosshair will, however, move around a little when you’re moving or your enemy is moving. I honestly find this hinders me more than helps, but it’s worth noting that it exists.

A mouse and keyboard is still far more accurate and feels much pacier than on console. With a mouse, I don’t miss not having the assist features, as they don’t feel as necessary. With a controller, it’s harder to be precise, so the little extra help is definitely appreciated.

Communication on Console Overwatch vs PC

One of the first things I noticed after jumping into a game is that I automatically joined team voice chat by default. However, no one spoke. The people who had left automatic joining on were completely silent, possibly because they didn’t have a microphone. After several hours of playing, I finally had someone with a microphone…but all I could hear was their TV loudly blasting in the background. With no push-to-talk option, you get to hear everything going on in the player’s house.

Console Overwatch vs PC - Communication

I can’t confirm whether this same experience happens in competitive play yet, as I’ve just reached level 20. However, everything I’ve read online seems to suggest that the lack of voice communication persists. Most people seem to prefer to join a group and use group voice chat rather than just talking in team chat.

It’s not overly surprising that there are fewer people joining team chats, especially if they’ve turned the option to join automatically off (or are already in a group chat). Without text chat, there’s no way to ask your teammates to join you on voice like you can on PC.

Flanking is Easier

Console Overwatch vs PC - Flanking

I love Reaper. He’s one of my favorite heroes — his aesthetic, his voice, his playstyle, all appeal to me. I tried him out on console Overwatch and immediately saw a massive difference. Flanking felt a lot easier. As smoothing is on by default, and is set to 100%, turning is quite a slow experience. Also, not everyone will have a headset, so they’re restricted to their TV’s non-positional audio to hear when someone is nearby. I was able to sneak up on Bastions in sentry mode and get behind enemy lines much easier on console Overwatch than on PC.

At first, I blamed this on being a new account and being matched against people who were in the first 10 levels. But even when in a group with my much higher leveled friends, I was encountering players with hundreds of hours of playtime who didn’t seem to notice flanking enemies. Or if they did, they had a harder time just whipping around and taking me out.

On the flipside of this, being flanked by an enemy is quite frustrating as well. If you keep aim smoothing on, turning around to deal with someone behind you is quite slow, and you will probably be dead before you can manage it. The community has requested a Quick 180 button to allow players to immediately turn on enemies behind them, which would certainly counter this. However, Blizzard has yet to add the option.

Balance Differences on Console vs PC

The PS4/Xbox versions of the game are balanced differently compared to PC. This is pretty much a requirement, as there are two heroes with auto-aiming turrets — Torbjorn and Symmetra. Both of these heroes caused massive frustration on console Overwatch, as players had lower accuracy due to using a gamepad instead of a keyboard and mouse. This made it harder to aim for the turrets to destroy them, for example.

Console Overwatch vs PC - Torbjorn Turret Nerf

In response, Blizzard nerfed the damage of both heroes’ turrets by 30% on console. This is a huge nerf, but seems fair. Now players have more of a chance of destroying the turrets before they’re completely obliterated by them.

PTR Access on Console Overwatch

One unfortunate downside to console Overwatch is that there is no PTR access. PC players get to play updates long before they go live. This gives PC players an opportunity to test out new heroes, balance changes, and new maps or game modes long before console players. For those who enjoy testing features before they’re live, this is quite frustrating.

Console Overwatch vs PC - No Console PTR

The reason for this is the console certification process. This is the same for any game that exists on both PC and console. Jeff Kaplan explained, “A big reason we PTR is to pass the console certification process… We’re not in a position currently to pass cert, put a PTR up and then re-cert.” Basically, they need to meet certain requirements for a patch to go live on console. Unfortunately, the way they make sure they meet these requirements is by using the PTR on PC to test.

With that in mind, it’s likely we won’t see PTR access on console Overwatch for the foreseeable future.

Player Toxicity on Console Overwatch vs PC

Console Overwatch vs PC - Less Player Toxicity

Players on PC Overwatch often complain about the toxicity in the game. Flaming happens frequently both on voice and in the text chat. Whether it’s over your hero of choice or because your team is losing, people seem to get angry and take it out on each other. On PS4 so far I have yet to encounter any flaming.

Now, there are two major reasons for this, and we’ve already talked about them a little bit. First of all, no text chat means there’s no room for insults when you’re not on voice chat. It does make for a bit of a lonely experience, but at least it’s always a positive one. And secondly, with fewer players having microphones or joining voice chat at all, there’s nowhere for anyone to be screaming at you.

Closing Thoughts

So should you get Overwatch on console or PC? It comes down to two things: your preferred platform for shooter games, and whether you have people you want to play with on either platform. I own Overwatch on both now, and while I still prefer it on PC, I play it more often on my PS4. This is because I have a group of friends who play console Overwatch and we try to play together a few nights a week.

If you’re used to FPS games on one of the two platforms, switching to the other will feel vastly different. As long as you keep this in mind, both can still be fun in their own right, and here we have covered all of the major differences you might notice.

Do you prefer Overwatch on console or PC? Let us know in the comments!

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About Psyche

Psyche is a loud, obnoxious gamer, streamer and writer from Northern Ireland. She formerly worked in the games industry as a community manager and eventually project manager. When she's not writing about games, or playing them, she's working on her first novel. RPGs, books, a cup of tea, and talking about outer space are the ways to her heart.