Frame Analysis — Overwatch

Overwatch is a game that focuses on teamwork. As a team you need to work together to wrestle control of a portion of the map from the enemy team by directing aggression and protect teammates as in the Tank role, hitting weak points in the enemy’s defenses in the Damage Role, and improving your team’s performance by healing your team as well as increasing their damage, speed, and keeping them alive when they’re in danger with the support role.

What’s Fun

Overwatch is a shooter, so those familiar with this genre will find themselves right at home here. That being said, this game is much more creative than other shooters with unique weapons and abilities on top of the usual shotgun, sniper, or rifle.

  • Damage — Which can also be subdivided into specialists in Sniping (Widow, Ashe, Hanzo, McCree, Soldier), Demolition (Junkrat, Pharah, Reaper), Flanking (Genji, Tracer, Doomfist, Sombra), or Utility (Torbjorn, Symetra, Mei).
  • Healer — Which again can be subdivided into Ult Protectors (Lucio, Zenyatta) that protect their team in the event of a powerful attack from the enemy, Damage Boosters (Ana, Baptiste) that can help with damage dealing, and Midfight Boosters (Moira, Mercy) where their contribution is enough to tip the scale of a midfight in favor of their team.
  • Long Range — Kill off far away targets before their team has a chance to protect them. These can come in 2 variants, Poke, where the constant damage pressure overwhelms supports and tanks, and Snipers where a peaking player would instantly be picked off from long range.
  • Bunker — Hold a position outright, and try to prevent the enemy team from taking it. This can also come in two variants, Firepower where there’s extreme damage pressure from the bunker, and Cow where the bunker is isolated in a contested position such as a choke or area with clear line of sight on the objective.

What’s not Fun

Overwatch is a very social game, and is also a game that offers internet anonymity, as a result there can be some aspects of the community that aren’t sportsperson like.

  • Hackers — They’re extremely rare, especially with a game that has so much social credit, where players with a lot of experience tend to play together, reducing the likelihood of running into one of these people considerably.
  • Experienced Players targeting Newcomers — A copy of the game isn’t too much money for someone determined to do this, so it’s become somewhat common for people to have multiple accounts, and the matchmaker sometimes has trouble detecting these individuals and matching them with their skill tier (known colloquially as smurfs). Odds are most folks that are presumed as smurfs just happen to play well at that moment.
  • Losing — This game involves a lot of team work, and should your team lack that, or make decisions on their own that lead to their isolated death, it will lead to your loss.

Rendering Architecture

So let’s review how Overwatch renders a single frame.

Shadow Depth Passes


Ambient Occlusion


Diffuse Lighting

Specular Lighting


The bloom pass here is pretty standard across the gaming industry, the same scaling-bluring-compositing effect that can be found everywhere from Unreal to Unity to everything in-between.


In the mask pass, Overwatch renders out allies, then enemies. First they render the mask, then grow the mask, then apply a sobol operator to the mask to get the final outline.

UI Pass

Conclusion | Graphics Software Engineer @ Guest lecturer talking about 🛆 Computer Graphics, ✍ tech author.

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