Part of the fun with Overwatch is picking a character and sticking with them through thick and thin, never leaving their side. But not all characters are equally loved.
Some Overwatch characters are so interwoven into the fabric of the game that they'll never not be popular. Tracer, for instance, might find herself in a position where her guns aren't effective enough or something. But as the hero of the game's box art, one of the most popular characters for cosplayers and shippers, and a character with a high skill ceiling, she'll always have a strong fan base.
But some heroes are universally unpopular, irrespective of what platform you're playing on. With the game almost a year old and using figures from the Quick Play and competitive modes across all servers and platforms on from Overbuff and Master Overwatch, here's the five most unpopular choices in the game.
Whether it's quick play or competitive, PC, PS4 or Xbox One, people do not like playing as Sombra. The hacker whose ARG went on for far, far too long seemingly doesn't last long enough in the heat of a fight, and gamers have responded by leaving the hacker on the sidelines.
According to from Overbuff and Master Overwatch, Sombra is the most unpopular character on any platform, across Quick Play and Competitive. The exact number varies depending on what site and setting you pick - Sombra's a smidge more popular than Bastion on the Korean servers in competitive play, but vastly less so in regular matchmaking - but across the board, Sombra comes out last.
It's not particularly hard to see why. The agile hacker at first appears to be a defensive spin on Tracer, with her capacity for shutting heroes down. But the nature of her abilities lead her to end up in situations without support, without the requisite agility to survive like Tracer does. There's also an ongoing argument that Sombra can't deal damage effectively enough. That might be true, but the latest PTR update showed that Sombra's situation won't change at least for a little while.
Symmetra finds herself in a similar situation as Sombra, but for very different reasons. The recent buff to her auto-aim beam has made her slightly more popular in competitive play, but there's still a host of issues that make the light-bending Indian architect an unpopular pick.
Perhaps the biggest reason for her lack of popularity, especially in quick play, is that most of the other supports are simply better choices. Symmetra doesn't have a heal and doesn't have any buff until her teleport comes online. Her sentry turrets have plenty of utility, but it's more practical on defence than attack. That makes Symmetra less appealing on certain maps too, especially ones like Ilios where her sentries don't have the ability to cover the majority of the point, or maps where they're easily removed.
What really kills Symmetra, though, is the presence of better options. Mercy's a more efficient healer. Lucio's more versatile, and both Zenyatta and Ana can deal damage and heal effectively without the risk of close-range combat. Symmetra can't avoid that if she ever wants to get in the fight; her long-range blob, sadly, moves far too slowly to be a consistent threat.
The leader of Overwatch left a mark when Blizzard announced their shooter series, but almost a year after release the Beast-like character is the least loved among all the tanks, despite a competitive meta favouring two or three tanks a round.
Winston's abilities get a little more love in competitive play than they do regular matchmaking. Console players aren't big fans of Winston either: he's the second least played hero in Quick Play across PS4 and Xbox One.
Part of the problem could be an issue with surviving. Winston's leap lets him vault beyond encamped positions to harass squishier targets, but too often he's a bullet magnet and dies before getting a chance to leap out again. The long cooldown on the bubble could also partially be a factor: in general, people like heroes whose abilities they can use more often, versus ones they can't.
There is some small hope for Winston, though. He fits in compositions designed to dive right into the enemy, but that's a very specific choice that requires co-ordination from an entire team. You're certainly never going to see that in Quick Play and you'll rarely see it in regular competitive matchmaking, unless you're playing with a group of four or five friends all the time. And in those situations, people will go with a tank that stays alive a lot longer - and that's always going to be Zarya, Reinhardt, Roadhog or D.Va.
Once Bastion's planned changes roll out to all players, this situation will probably change pretty rapidly. For now, however, it's easy to see why the bird-friendly robot is one of the least popular picks: a lack of mobility, a self-heal that stops whenever damage is sustained, and a standard rifle that isn't anything special (although it's not awful either).
There are some fun uses for Bastion, like going into turret mode on the payload while Reinhardt covers you with a shield, but it's more of a cheese strategy or a troll pick. That will probably change in the short term after Bastion's buffs go live, although we'll have to see whether the changes are enough to increase its popularity in the longer-term. So far though, things are looking up if Heather's experience is any guide:
Messing with Bastion on the Overwatch PTR. 1st match:
19 elimations, 14 in recon mode
9 player kill streak
— Heather Alexandra (@transgamerthink) February 16, 2017
Much for the same reasons as before, Torbjorn's lack of mobility gets him into trouble. It's all well and good having a high powered turret, but it's also easy for a couple of teammates to coordinate to blow it out of the sky with no trouble. And while Torbjorn can do plenty of damage without a well-positioned level 2 death machine, he's not particularly fast, his projectiles drop off at range and he doesn't have that extra buffer of health like Mei does.
There's plenty of fun to be had with Torbjorn, but there's also plenty of better options. Other defenders are more versatile, and there's plenty of other options that can match the turret's damage output. Junkrat is an alternative that can wear down shields while helping to lockdown chokepoints with grenade spam, and his trap acts as a useful defensive measure for flanking enemies. Pharah can also hover out of range while adding AOE damage, and the downsides of being exposed in the air is usually preferable to being caught flat-footed.
And there's not much hope on the horizon for Torbjorn either. When Overwatch first came out, Blizzard admitted it was tough trying to find a solution that would make Torbjorn - along with Bastion - viable at the high end of competitive play, without becoming a nightmare at the bottom skill tiers. That's a question that still hasn't been answered, but it's also possible to make an argument that it never should be.
Something worth noting amongst all of this is that not every hero needs to have the versatility to survive in any situation. From a balance perspective, it makes sense to have some characters - Soldier 76 is a perfect example - that are good for all seasons, while having others that only excel in certain scenarios.
But players don't always switch as much as they should, irrespective of the situation. Not wanting to lose the charge on your ultimate is a factor in that, but people also like things that are familiar, that are comfortable. In any case, all of that factors into why the Overwatch community gravitates towards some heroes - and, more specifically, why the above five aren't so popular.
What Overwatch heroes do you love to avoid?