After the surprise extension that absolutely nobody saw coming, the Overwatch open beta has finally ended. And from all accounts it's been a smashing success — the servers didn't collapse, the performance was solid on consoles and most people had fun.
So now that everyone's had the chance to spend at least a few — if not a few hundred — hours with the game, let's talk about the heroes. Here's my favourites.
Mei's listed as a defensive character. She should really be in a separate section for "bloody annoying" though: her ice wall is ridiculously versatile, her secondary attack provides reasonable damage at long range and her base health of 250 HP allows her to poke in and out of firefights long enough without collapsing in a heartbeat.
In a lot of ways, Mei fills the role of a super aggressive support. Freezing an enemy with the primary fire and then launching an ice shard into the head kills just about every hero minus the most powerful tanks. Her self-healing and ice wall can be deployed almost instantly, so if you're caught out of position you'll often be able to fashion an opportunity to escape.
Her ultimate can be pretty handy, but it's also the least versatile of her abilities. It doesn't instantly freeze opponents, although a cleverly placed wall — behind a moving payload, say — can impede enemies long enough for you to put a few players on ice.
The ability to zone enemies out with the ice wall alone is powerful though. It's especially valuable for separating healers from their target whenever they're careless with their movement, and its generous range makes it one of the most versatile tools in the game. Mei's ridiculously good, and with a shred of awareness you shouldn't have any troubles staying alive for long stretches. She'll probably get nerfed at some point, so enjoy her while she's OP.
Let's get real for a second: McCree needs a nerf.
Every single one of his abilities has an incredible amount of power, and his burst combo — stunning an enemy with the flashbang, followed by his revolver's secondary fire — will kill just about every hero instantly. If it doesn't, a follow-up punch to the face often does the trick (with a handy backdash to get out of trouble afterwards).
There's a reason why people wander around pretending they only main McCree or Reaper: their damage output is ridiculous, and their ultimates are infinitely more versatile than Hanzo's or Widowmaker's. Reaper's shotguns are horrendous at long range, however, while McCree can be a pest at distance until an opportunity arises to close the distance.
These kind of ridiculous plays are a dime a dozen, and the minimal amount of skill for the raw power is something that will inevitably get addressed. It's not limited to the PC either; with sniping a far harder prospect on console, keeping McCree at bay is a far trickier task. Until then, however, I'll happily keep the peace with the cowboy's revolver.
When is Reinhardt not useful? His shield makes him the most versatile tank in the game, allowing for weaker characters like Tracer or Genji to minimise the amount of time they're exposed in an open area.
He'd be worth a mention for that alone, simply because the shield is one of the few abilities that's consistently useful for pushing a payload forward or moving through chokepoints. Bastion's shield is a touch too small and too fragile, while Zarya's utility is vastly minimised without another body to act as a bullet sponge. Roadhog and D.Va are better distractions than they are protectors, although D.Va's booster rockets can be an exceptionally good for harassment and pushing people off edges in a pinch.
But using the former South Korean pro-gamer to send people flying isn't anywhere as fun as going on a suicide charge off the cliff. And the armoured beast's ranged attack has a quick enough cooldown that to buy a few seconds against snipers and targets at longer ranges. His ultimate has its limitations, but it sounds and feels good — even if I always end up wasting it with a follow-up charge, breaking the other characters out of their stun.
The support for people who don't play support. That's how people describe Lucio.
I like him because I can run on walls all day. Or around opponents all day. Pop the speed boost and just fly past people to be annoying. It's not quite as effective as Tracer's blink, but there's no cooldown on the charge. And Tracer can't run on the edge of the map if she accidentally goes flying.
Lucio's movement reminds me of ridiculously one-sided duels in Quake 3, where one player has just started learning the ropes and the other is flying around at hyperspeed, picking up every weapon and armour power-up on the map. Lucio's more of an annoyance than someone rocking a railgun with 200 health and 100 armour, mind you, but that doesn't make the Brazilian rollerblading DJ any less fun.
Zarya's characterisation is fantastic. She's like a Russian bodybuilder: she can absorb damage for days, has a fairly generous pool of shields that regenerates quickly and her ultimate has unparalleled game-changing potential. It's literally the black hole of Overwatch.
But like any good character, it takes some skill and coordination before all the pieces come together. She's not a natural bullet sponge and without a Roadhog or a Winston to take direct hits, she'll never do the maximum amount of damage. Until then, you've got to play patiently — and when that particle cannon is charged up, you can scythe through weaker characters in seconds.
The Russian soldier is a character that rewards awareness and coordination; she's not the kind of character suited to any type of situation. But she's destructive when used correctly. The fact that her primary fire goes through Genji's deflect is a massive bonus right now, given the popularity of the cyberninja, and I wouldn't be surprised if she finds more popularity in competitive play than she does in public matches.
What have been your favourite heroes in Overwatch so far?