I've been infatuated with Overwatch since it was announced, but only this weekend did I get a chance to play it. Overwatch is just as fun as I imagined it to be, but what really struck me was how interesting some of the character play as. I knew it was more than just a shooter, and it would play similarly to TeamFortress 2 (which it absolutely does), but I didn't truly grasp how unique characters in Overwatch are. I don't mean in terms of their personality, or the story behind them, but more so about how they play in regards to typical classes in a game like this. So after my brief time playing Overwatch in the beta, here are five of the most unique and interesting characters to play as in Overwatch!
Lots of class based shooters have an engineer class, one where you can build a turret to defend areas. But how many games let you play AS the turret? That's exactly what Bastion is. He's a very average character in his normal form, with a small assault rifle for a weapon. But the first of his 3 abilities allows him to transform into a stationary chain gun, and this is where he really shines. As a gun, he can fire a barrage of bullets at once, more so than any other character in the game that I've found. On top of this he can hit enemies from an incredibly far distance, as long as they are in front of him (though he can turn 360 degrees while stationary). The biggest fault is that you can't move while doing this, which makes you a pretty big target. Thankfully he comes with the power to repair himself very quickly, so he can maintain his position for a very long time.
Bastion's ultimate ability lets him turn into a tank and fire explosive cannon shots while driving around. It doesn't last for a very long time, but if there's a huge wave of enemies coming in at once, it can easily wipe out most of the team.
I used to love playing the Engineer in TF2, but to play as the actual turret is way more fun! Bastion can be used offensively or defensively, but be careful how you use him because he's not able to carry a team by himself. Hanzo and Widowmaker, snipers, are very effective at taking him out, and characters like Tracer would move too fast for him to take them out.
There's usually one character who is more annoying to play against than anything else. Mei is that character; she is the troll of Overwatch. Mei is a scientist who harnesses ice and frost weapons to crowd control the enemy. Outside of her gun, she has a frost gun which can slow an opponent to the point of being completely still, leaving more than enough time to eliminate the target. But the real reason she's annoying to play against, or what makes her a troll character, is her Ice Wall ability. Mei can summon a wall of ice that can be used to lift enemies or teammates into the air, but a lot of the time it's used to block the opposing team from leaving their base in attack/defend games. The wall can be broken after heavy fire, but by that point it's easy to rebuild the ice wall.
Mei is best at close range. Even if she's in danger, she can encase herself in ice to heal. Fragile characters like Reaper and Soldier 76 will be easily frozen by her, so it's best to take her out from far away.
Do you like rockets? How much do you like rockets? Pharah is equipped with a rocket launcher and can deal a lot of splash damage just by hitting near the opponent. Aside from that she has a shot that can be fired that blasts enemies away from a certain point—very helpful for disorienting a lot of opponents at once.
But what makes Pharah really special is her ability to fly! She can launch herself into the air with one ability, and then use a jet-pack to maintain the height or travel across distances, as long as you pace the use of fuel in the jet-pack. This gives Pharah an enormous strategic advantage, being able to attack from higher than any other character, and be in constant motion. Not to mention, if the opponent is looking up at you, they're not paying attention to the battlefield.
Pharah's ultimate unleashes a barrage of rockets in front of her. Combo this with her launch ability to use it in the air, and you can hit a lot of opponents all at once. Pharah is great for avoiding characters like Junkrat who launch grenades, but she's very vulnerable in the air, so snipers can take her out if she's not careful.
D.Va reminds me a lot of Samus from Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Part of the time she fights in her powerful mech suit, and when she's exhausted her suit, she jumps out of it and fights more swiftly. That being said, unlike Zero-Suit Samus, Zero Suit D.Va is pretty useless. Lets look at them both individually.
In her mech suit, D.Va can project shields out in front of her, and she can activate jets on her suit to fly into the air for a short period of time. It's less controlled than Pharah's flight—it's better for covering gaps or reaching high places than taking a position in the air. Her suit also has continuous gunfire—she can move (slowly) and keep shooting her enemies without every needing to reload—something no other character can do.
Here's what makes D.Va special: when the tank is destroyed, D.Va doesn't die. She hops out of her suit and runs more swiftly with a single energy pistol. For what it's worth, the pistol is a good weapon, long range, good damage, but it's her only ability.
D.Va also has 2 ultimate abilities, one in each form. In her out of suit form, she can respawn her mech suit, which is incredibly handy. When she's in her mech suit, she hops out of her suit and sets it to explode—which CAN damage her so you better book it! The explosion has a huge radius and can at the very least get enemies off a specific point. A good strategy for this is to launch yourself forward with your flight ability, and then activate your ultimate mid flight. It will launch your suit forward, leaving you at a safe distance, and catching your opponents by surprise!
I remember thinking Lucio was cool when I saw his trailer, but I had no idea how much fun I would have playing as him! Lucio is a support character with a wide variety of abilities. What I love most about him is his passive ability, which can either heal teammates nearby or increase their movement speed. He can blast enemies away with one ability and amplify the effects of his healing/speed boost with another. Lucio can also wall run and jump from wall to wall, but I've yet to find a map where I can use this effectively.
I love using his speed boost right out the gate, helping my entire team get to the capture point really early in the game. It gives the team a chance to set up or prepare before the enemy gets there. And then as soon as we do get there, switch to healing so nearby teammates get a little extra health. Lucio is the kind of support character I like to play as, one that can help a lot of teammates at once. Other support characters like Zenyata or Mercy can only help one character at a time for the most part, but Lucio can heal everyone around him!
That being said, his fault is that he can't focus on healing a single person, so if one person really needs healing, you can't focus on them specifically outside of standing near them. Lucio also has a very poor attack, and shouldn't focus on taking out any enemies. Lucio's Ultimate unleashes an enormous area of effect healing wave, like a lot of other support characters, but this can easily keep your team alive in a make or break situation.
I've only scratched the surface of what Overwatch has to offer in terms of unique characters and gameplay. I didn't even talk about how Mercy can revive dead players or how Tracer can rewind herself to a previous point in the game! I'm so excited that Overwatch has such a unique twist on a classic game, and I can't wait to see what kinds of heroes they release in the months after the game's release!
Overwatch releases on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, on May 24, 2016.