There’s a new smartphone app that is being promoted at the moment for airsoft and paint-ball that could change both sports immensely. It’s called Overwatch and allows you to have Call of Duty style radars, perks, and communications on your smartphone, in game, with the addition of a commander mode. So, good or bad idea? Let’s take a look!
Overwatch is an iOS and Android based smartphone app that allows players to add a somewhat unrealistic, digital, aspect to their airsoft game. It works by giving you control of a sort of Head Up Display (HUD) on your smart phone which you can then attach to your rifle (using their custom mount) or on your arm, etc. On your HUD, you can display a real-time GPS map with your location and the location of your team mates. Along with that you can also mark yourself as hit, and when combined your team mates can see exactly where you are, allowing for them to send a medic if the game rules allow. You can also activate a panic button, allowing your team mates to receive an instant real-time notification that you need help. The software also allows for Call of Duty style perks too, such as UAV, which highlights your enemies position. Now, this is not my sort of thing at all, but I can see there will definitely be some of you out there who are thinking “brilliant, take my money!”. So lets look at some of those features a little more in-depth.
Real Time GPS Mapping
Firstly. Have you ever wondered why real world infantry soldiers don’t use this technology?! Well I can tell you why. It’s because systems like this use so much power that front-line troops wouldn’t be able to carry all the batteries they needed. And I can give a real life example of the same thing but on a different platform. While serving in Afghanistan in 2007 our Mortar Fire Controllers opted to use an old portable computer system that calculated trajectories etc, over the modern all singing, all dancing mini computer version. Why? Because we couldn’t recharge the batteries on the front-line for the modern kit. They needed to be plugged into a specific charging unit, normally hooked up to vehicle and you can’t get vehicles into most of the area’s that we were fighting in. So why am I telling you this? Well, because this app will have the same issues. Running constant GPS tracking, having your screen constantly on (and as bright as it can be if playing in the day), and using communications is going to drain any smartphone battery pretty quickly. Hell, my iPhone 5 uses 50% battery in 1 hour from just using the GPS to track my run or TAB and play some music, with the screen locked! I would willingly place a hefty bet on my iPhone 5 not lasting the day using this app. Now, these questions have been raised on the YouTube promo video’s but they haven’t been answered, which leads me to believe that the app developers know the battery will be an issue. Now, having said all that. I think the ability to have a real time GPS map at your fingertips could be a good idea, especially for big MilSim events. I’ve played at Longmoor FIBUA village and as someone who can map read and earns a living from being situationally aware, it was a little frustrating at times when trying to link up with other members of my team who had no idea where they were within the village. This app would make it far easier for players to get involved and become more effective without having to learn how to read a map, which is a difficult skill to learn effectively and takes time. Another aspect that the GPS mapping will provide is that a commander will be able to provide objectives during the game making it easier for your airsoft team to stay on task.
Call of Duty Style Perks
This is the part of the app which puts me off. At the moment they developers of Overwatch plan on releasing the app with UAV, radar jammer, and counter UAV perks, with plans in the future to release care packages and decoys. Focusing on the release perk of UAV, what this does is allows you to see the GPS location of all of the enemy team players that are using the app. The counter UAV will block an enemy from using their UAV and the radar jammer will block an enemy’s radar who is within your vicinity. These types of perks will, in my opinion divide the airsoft community opinion on this app. The Call of Duty fans who like the whole run and gun aspects and in-game perk aspect will probably love this. Those that play airsoft for the simulation aspect of it and who prefer the more realistic strategic style computer games will probably not welcome it so much. Below you can see a promo video of the app.
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Personally, this will not be on my list of things to buy for airsoft. Yes the mapping aspect will be helpful to those who struggle with situational awareness and map reading, and although you can turn off all of the settings and customise your game, the perk aspect detracts from what airsoft is for me. Also, with the amount of power that this will use, I don’t think it will be very efficient for a full days gaming. One other concern I have is over the protection of your device. You’ll see in the video above that one of the players is shot in the back. From that angle, especially in a game where full auto is allowed, it is quite likely that the screen of your device will be hit when using the rail mounting system. The screen protectors for touch screen devices are not really designed for impacts of this nature. They still need to be thin enough to relay your touch through them onto the screen to keep your device’s touch screen features. If you’re not careful you could have the screen on your expensive smart phone smashed, which could be a costly accident. Having said that, I have no doubt that there are many, many airsofters out there who will be getting excited about the prospect of this and that’s great. As I always say, the good thing about airsoft is that it caters for everyone. As I’ve said though, this isn’t for me.
Comment below on your opinions of this app and let me know what you think.
Also, I will be doing a quick video shortly on whether or not an iPhone can withstand a bb strike so keep an eye!