Overwatch is finally here!
I honestly can’t remember the last time I was this excited about a game. I played stupid amounts of the beta, and I’ve spent most of this week playing the full game. I love it! I initially wanted to sit down and write a review but I realised what I like about the game is actually quite simple; it plays brilliantly, it’s colourful aesthetically and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The absolute best thing about Overwatch however is its character design – which is just fabulous. So in lieu of a full review, I’ve instead decided to discuss what I consider to be my three favourite characters and why I enjoy them so much. It was extremely hard to cut the roster down to just three – sorry D.Va and Roadhog – but eventually I settled on the characters who combined brilliant designs with abilities, that are in my mind, are the most fun to use.
Let’s kick this off with the character I expected to hate. As someone born and raised in South East London, I’m always wary at any attempt to represent my accent or background within the media. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it can be achieved perfectly, which the film Snatch is a perfect example of. However, Tracer is one of those obnoxious Americanised representations of the chipper, cheeky cockney. She is currently the only British character in the Overwatch roster, and as such is reduced down to the sort of derivative, “happy-go-lucky” cockney stereotype that as an East Londoner I normally hate.
But I don’t hate Tracer, I adore her. Don’t get me wrong, she is one of the least realistic Cockney characters in all media. Her accent is more Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins and less “I’m so London, I’m so saaaaaf” Stormzy; in other words, it’s fucking awful. But Tracer is just so endearing that I can’t hate her. I have a constant smile on my face every time I play her, because she is the antithesis of the usual fps character. She’s so relentlessly happy and witty that the you just can’t find her as obnoxious as you probably should. Besides, as awful as that accent is, I just can’t stop trying to copy it. Ironically my actual accent is much less fun than my attempts at a chipper “cheers luvs, the cavalry’s here!”
Another reason to love Tracer – I’m absolutely awful at playing as her. She has an incredibly high skill cap. It only takes a single second to empty her 40 round magazine, therefore demanding accuracy. Also she’s tied for the lowest health character in the game; a single headshot from most characters will kill her. You therefore have to keep moving, keep teleporting about making yourself hard to hit. The role of tracer is to essentially be an annoying little shit, harassing the other team and killing their supports – and this is just stupid amounts of fun.
The outlaw of the Overwatch roster. Clearly designed on Eastwood’s “The Man With No Name”, McCree is perhaps the most boring aesthetically in the entire game (which is a compliment in of itself, as he still looks pretty cool).
This cowboy is my most played character thus far. When the team comp will allow me, he’s my go to. I love how satisfying his kit is to play. McCree has methods of attack using his revolver: the normal attack is slow, hyper accurate shots that are devastating at long range if you can hit the head; or, you can fan the hammer and discharge all of your bullets rapidly, but inaccurately. This is balanced by respective reload speeds of the different fire types – the alternate mode takes much longer to rechamber your gun.
McCree’s basic abilities are also very flexible. He has a flashbang grenade that stuns an enemy for a short time, and a combat roll which also instantly reloads your revolver. Whilst these are simple, the options they give the player are staggering. Do you use the flashbang to set up a kill, or save it to retreat from a bad situation? Do you use your combat roll to get around the map quicker, or double your burst damage?
Finally, lets talk about Mei. All three of my favourite characters are wildly different from each other, and it’s an absolute testament to Blizzard that they all believably exist organically within the same world.
I adore Mei’s design because it’s not sexualised in any way. She’s a scientist who specialises in the study of climate change. Much has been said in recent times about how female characters are objectified within the video game industry. Mei seems to be a suggestion that character designs are going in a more progressive direction. For one, she’s dressed appropriately for her work and situation for once! It would be very easy to adapt the “ice researcher” theme into a sexy costume, but Mei is not an object. She’s cute-ified, not sexualised.
Also, Mei is the one close-range defensive character. Therefore she has a really fascinating counter play with many of the attacking characters. Mei has made this list because of the 1v1 battles I’ve undertaken with her against Tracer. Both characters have to get in close to the majority of their damage. Tracer can ping about, teleporting all over the map creating mind games. Whereas Mei can freeze characters after prolonged damage, setting up for a headshot. This makes this match up fascinating and ultimately falls to what player makes the first mistake; if the tracer is clever with it’s teleports, she’ll melt Mei down but if the Mei can keep on top on her cockney enemy, she’ll win the fight. In a game where some characters have an advantage over another, I love these little battles that are surprisingly completely even