Cosplay outside the 2018 Sakura-Con

Sakura Con 2018, Overwatch

This weekend, I spent some time around but not inside the 2018 Sakura-Con, an annual event for the fandom of Japanese style of anime, manga, gaming and its cultural influences on related modern pop-culture, held in downtown Seattle.

I sadly did not attend this year, not having enough time for the membership purchase this time. But, I did have some hours to spend outside the show, among the beautifully fresh bloomed sakura trees and colorfully dressed people.

Out of the many conventions and fandoms, the cosplay representation at the Sakura-Con (among other big anime cons) remains among the best. I took some pics of the many displaying their well-crafted attire present, with some notes below:

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The main area throughout the day held impromptu dancing set to J-Pop, along with glomp circles, meet-ups, games, and other fun.

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Cosplaying is still the big thing here as usual, always fun for geek fans of the related pop-culture varieties to express their love and appreciation by dressing in elaborate costumes.

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Group meetups among the cosplayers are often planned. Not sure, which property this is above.

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One of my favorite anime/manga series that I have been following for over 20 years now is Berserk. Not a big gathering, but wonderful to share in-jokes and discuss developments among each other.

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A group shot of the Berserk gathering here.

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Usagi Yojimbo, the samurai rabbit is ready for this Easter Weekend.

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Batman!!

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Pokemon strike a pose.

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A group of Marvelous people, ready for the Infinity War.

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Not the Pikachu, but Mimikyu, who according to Wikipedia is “dreadfully lonely and in an effort to emulate the popularity of Pikachu, wears the Pikachu-like costume in order to make friends.”

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Overwatch character Zenyatta, levitating before your very eyes.

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More Overwatch cosplay as some Junkrats and a Roadhog get together.

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Lots more Overwatch cosplay, with more than my camera can handle.

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hell yeah to the Dragonball Z cosplay

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From Voltron, Haggar the Witch

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Kairi from Kingdom Hearts.

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Deadpool seeks to blend in.

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I was told this costume is from Bendy and the Ink Machine, a cult indie game that I should check out.

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Not sure on this anime property, but her staff and pose style is awesome.

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And there was a lot of Final Fantasy game cosplay around, with a heavy focus on XV. There were two gatherings, of which I took many pictures. I personally love the Final Fantasy games, as I will dedicate the next cosplay installment to the local meetups here, soon.

Overwatch – First Impressions

Overwatch (Closed Beta)

These are interesting times we live in.

For nearly the last 20 years, Blizzard Entertainment has relied on the Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo trinity to entertain fans and generate revenueand who could blame them? From Warcraft spawned the perennial best seller World of Warcraft, and lore infused Warcraft trading card game Hearthstone. Their latest fully released game Heroes of the Storm also draws from that trinity, clashing heroes from all three game worlds against each other in a multiplayer online battle arena.

While Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm branched out from their core list of games genre-wise, their legitimacy was safely backed with successful content from Blizzard’s big three titles. Now that Blizzard is breaking away from the holy grail and developing an entirely new game world in an entirely new genre (First Person Shooter), it wouldn’t be an understatement to say that everyone is watching.

First Impressions: Feels good, man.

ScreenShot_15-11-06_11-09-12-000For a company who is new to the genre, Overwatch feels like the efforts of an experienced FPS team who know exactly what they are doing. The aiming and shooting are both tight and responsive, and the game just feels solid. If you’re wondering what engine Overwatch runs on, it is actually powered by Blizzard’s own proprietary engine, and it feels fantastic.

zenyatta-screenshot-001.3n2TNIt’s in this “feeling” that Overwatch begins to come into its own. Each character feels dynamically different, not only with their individualized skill sets and weapons, but most particularly in the way they move about the map. Reinhardt the tank plods along with big heavy footsteps, while Zenyatta, well, he doesn’t even touch the ground at all and silently floats around in his zen-like trance.

ScreenShot_15-11-06_11-55-28-000Most characters also have some sort of secondary movement mechanic that allow them to quickly traverse obstacles around the map. From grappling hooks and wall running, to flying in the air with jet packs and short distance time traveling, characters can appear from just about anywhere if you aren’t vigilant enough.

The action is always moving at a frenetic pace, but it is a beautifully controlled chaos.

Who put the MOBA in my FPS?

ScreenShot_15-11-06_11-10-41-000As far as comparisons go, the general consensus is that the game is similar to Team Fortress 2 because of the ability to choose from different classes, but that comparison is superficial at best. A more telling description of Overwatch would be that it feels like a FPS injected with every fun element from a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) game.

Each character has a signature weapon, as well as additional battle abilities that have their own separate cool-downs, and an ultimate ability. Like MOBA games, team compositions and hero synergies are definitely a thing, and using your ultimate at a timely juncture in a team-fight can be the difference between winning and losing a match.

Overwatch 1Another MOBA-esque feature of Overwatch is the inclusion of “tank” type characters in the game. These are characters that have big health pools and low damage output, but can protect other allies and draw enemy attention disrupting their formations. While they aren’t traditionally seen in FPS games, this type of character thrives in Overwatch and adds an extra layer of complexity in a straight shootout.

Unlike MOBAs however, is the fact that Overwatch does not require the same type of time investment per game, though it’s not to say you’ll spend any less time playing. The 10 minute match time is just the right bite sized treat to keep players coming back for more, making “This is my last game” a phrase that will lose all meaning after saying it for the umpteenth time.

A quality challenge

ScreenShot_15-11-08_14-34-41-000It may take new players some time to feel comfortable and confident in Overwatch, especially if they are new to the FPS genre.

Each character moves differently, shoots differently, and may have up to three different abilities not counting their ultimate. This depth makes learning any character a very rewarding experience, but learning only one character is not the meta of this game.

Instead, this a game where team compositions matter and character fluidity is a necessary skill to win matches. Attacking and defending as a team are completely different scenarios, and require different tools to get the job done. There is no one character that can do it all, so players must be able to play at least a few characters per class to have the right answer for any given situation.

Closing Comments

dva-screenshot-001.4TARvIn a relatively short time, Overwatch has made a big splash.

Blizzard has combined the genres of FPS and MOBA in a seamless way, with characters that are both diverse and memorable. I am personally not a heavy FPS player, but even I was drawn in to this incredibly unique experience. With each character playstyle being so different from the standard FPS archetype, I guarantee there is something in Overwatch for everyone.

As of December 10th, the closed beta will be on a break until mid-late January. If you aren’t in the Beta already, make sure to sign up and give yourself a chance to get in once the action resumes! Overwatch is a must play for fans of Blizzard, FPS, and gaming enthusiasts period.

– Brian F
Contributing Editor