Re-Thinking Hero Classes
One of the best things about Overwatch is the quantity and variety of heroes with varied stats and abilities, making each a unique play experience. Not only does this ensure that there’s something for everyone across all ranges of skill and preferred playstyles, but it also keeps the gameplay experience fresh and varied in a way that isn’t forced like a stealth mission in the first act of a Legend of Zelda game.
To help players find the hero that was right for them, Blizzard organized them loosely into different classes based on their roles and characteristics. Some, like Zenyatta and Winston, stretch the definition of the class they belong to, while others like Symmetra and Roadhog break away from it altogether. The classifications in the game are thus incomplete. This is further evidenced by the implied sub-classes already mentioned to in the game’s hints such as builders and snipers. What other hero sub-classes go beyond the defined structure within the game to fulfill similar roles in different ways?
Here are a few examples I thought of.
This one is for the player who revels in being a thorn in the enemy’s side. Darting in, doing damage, and using superior mobility to get out of dodge before getting killed is the name of the game for these. The rule of thumb I go with for this role is whenever any opponents make me their sole focus, I retreat. They are then forced to choose between continuing their pursuit, which takes away from their team’s primary efforts, or they take the hits, which eventually adds up to enough damage to swing any engagements, or if ignored long enough can build up to a crippling ult. While dueling or securing kills shouldn’t be your main focus, finishing off weak or escaping opponents is an important part of your job.
Essentially being good in this role means the enemy heroes never quite feel safe and must constantly spend more effort either chasing you down, or at least keeping you at bay. Chipping away at enemies behind a Reinhardt shield forces enemy damage dealers to move to safer and less effective vantage points. Back line supports must abandon their healing duties to save their own skins or move up to the front lines where they’ll be vulnerable to the your teammates. Any pesky snipers or turrets in otherwise hard to reach spots can be effectively neutralized. The enemy team’s overall sense of cohesion and tactics is what you’re out to undermine.
Examples: Tracer, Sombra, Genji
Think of this class as legitimized griefing. The distractions take the idea of the marauder and shoves it even harder in the enemy's face. Although each of these can be deadly in their own right (yes, even Lucio), their greater value comes from their ability to dodge, block, and otherwise frustrate any attempt to take them out while dancing in their midst. The enemy’s attention span and patience are your playthings.
Lucio in particular doesn’t get enough credit for his ability to draw enemy fire. With some practice and a little creativity, you can use his mobility and sustain tools to be very difficult to kill (in addition to having a ridiculously shifty hitbox), while still being an asset to the rest of your team through your passive buffs.
Examples: Lucio, Winston, Mei
Fairly often there may be one particular player on the enemy team that either by virtue of their superior skill, cohesion with the rest of their team, or your own team’s absence of a particular counter, is just having a devastating effect on your team’s efforts. Anyone who’s played against a skilled Pharah with no good allied hit-scan characters to offset them knows this frustration. The assassin’s job is to single out this player and make the game a living Hell for them.
Depending on what player on the opposing team is giving your team difficulty, how exactly to counter them specifically will vary. Roadhog will have a hard time working around shields. Pharah as always is susceptible to a well played hit-scan or savvy positioning. Widowmaker has some solid counters to look out for in addition to requiring more of a time investment to be proficient. The examples below should come with an asterisk to include the specific hard-counter for whatever enemy hero is giving your team a difficult time.
Examples: Roadhog, Pharah, Widowmaker
That’s just three, but I’m sure as the game and the meta continue to evolve, new and creative ways to apply each hero’s kit and apply them to a greater team effort will be discovered. What roles can you think of not explicitly in the current class descriptions?
Happy hunting in season 4!