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Game News |

Star Wars: Hunters is free-to-play junk food, but I wish it would come to PC just because I miss hero shooters

The halcyon days of Overwatch feel like they took place a thousand years ago, though I can remember them clear as day. Rolling my eyes at people ignoring the objective, nuking whole teams with a well-timed D.VA ult, regretting picking Widowmaker because I will never not suck at sniping. Playing the finest hero shooter ever made used to be a nightly ritual. And I desperately miss it. 

Overwatch was murdered by Blizzard and nothing replaced it. Overwatch 2? Never heard of it. Other hero shooters tried to keep the lights on, like Paladins, and one of them is even coming back from the dead, albeit only for three days. But there's no way around it: the hero shooter is largely a thing of the past. Sure, Valorant is still doing its thing, but it lacks the playfulness and fun that made the early hero shooters such a joy to play. It's Overwatch for Counter-Strike nuts, and I can think of few things less appealing. 

(Image credit: Zynga)

So when Star Wars: Hunters launched on Switch and mobile, I felt compelled to check it out. I'm exhausted by Star Wars, but still ultimately love it. So Star Wars x Overwatch? Yeah, of course I was going to download it. Not one part of me was surprised, however, to discover that it's basic junk food, wrapped up in a grotty free-to-play mobile business model. 

It's constantly trying to sell me shite, and reminding me how many more funky skins or characters I'd have instant access to if I shelled out a few bucks. The battle pass and slew of challenges are gussied up grinds, and navigating the menu just depresses me with its endless mix of tasks and appeals to my wallet. 

But when I'm in a match, it's undeniably fun in short bursts. The map and character designs—both visually and mechanically—are quite a bit simpler than anything Overwatch gave us, but that's less of an issue in what is ultimately a mobile game (though I'm playing it on Switch because I despise playing anything on my phone, unless it's Teamfight Tactics). 

(Image credit: Zynga)

What it nails, like the best hero shooters, is creating a roster of distinct heroes. You've got a huge wookie who can charge at enemies Reinhardt-style, as well as chucking boulders and smashing the ground to stun; a bounty hunter who can use her grappling hook to quickly escape foes or spit out a barrage of missiles to wipe out teams; there's even a wee lad hiding inside a droideka, blasting players from behind his protective shield.

What it nails, like the best hero shooters, is creating a roster of distinct heroes.

Each offers a radically different way to play Hunters, and that's what's missing from Valorant, where characters have unique abilities, sure, but share the same arsenal and adhere to a standard size. The same goes for the slew of battle royales that took the hero shooter's crown. Apex Legends might have lots of hero shooter DNA, but the shooter part feels so much more important than the hero part.

So I ended up playing Hunters into the wee hours of the morning after launch, even though it can't hold a candle to the greats that came before it. But I really don't want to play it on my Switch. There are a lot of games that Nintendo's magical console is perfect for, but PvP shooters aren't among them. I mean, it's fine? It looks OK, there aren't any performance issues, but it just feels wrong to use a controller. I want my mouse and keyboard. But it does seem like Zynga is aiming for a more casual crowd.

(Image credit: Zynga)

Hunters is light, compact and MTX heavy, so it doesn't scream "PC shooter". The expectations would be different if it launched on other platforms. A visual upgrade would also likely be called for. On small screens, it looks fine, with a bog standard cartoon aesthetic making it easy to ignore the lack of bells and whistles. What it's lacking would be a lot more noticeable on PC. So I don't see it making the move, or Zynga being up for overhauling it when there are so many more whales playing it on phones. 

But there's got to be more people like me, who became absolutely smitten with hero shooters years ago, and now have few outlets. Maybe you've begrudgingly moved over to battle royales, but you know you'd come back at the drop of a hat if you could. You don't want to spend 20 minutes just picking up weapons in the same map over and over again. You want over-the-top characters with ridiculous powers, and fast-paced shootouts in tightly-designed maps. 

Star Wars: Hunters is barely scratching the itch, but it's reignited something in me. I need another hero shooter. 

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