Overwatch Lucio Gameplay Analysis Essay

35 answers to make you better at Overwatch

Yesterday I arranged an AMA on /r/Overwatch where I encouraged new people to Overwatch to ask questions related to playing the game and how to become better at it. With the surge of new players coming in with Overwatch moving into open beta, I figured I’d do my best to help new players get a grip and understand the game better. Down below you’ll find over 35 replies to questions asked yesterday, that hopefully make you better at Overwatch.

Gameplay Questions

1. Is there ever a time where I would get yelled at for playing a support character? I know that people can sometimes resent teammates who don’t switch heroes.
2. Which support character(s) would you say is the best for some of the most common scenarios (defence, regular attack and “struggling to break through a sieged defence” attack, or any other really common scenarios you can think of)?

1. I think in general people appreciate people who play support unless you have too many of them. Mercy and Lucio are almost always useful in some way, however, it’s when you start doubling them where it can get rough in matchmaking.

If you’re playing Zenyatta you should consider swapping of if they have flankers such as Genji or Tracer, or even Widow or Winston, or something that kills you relatively easy in general.

Symmetra is a very niche pick, and you should really only play her on first point defenses, maybe occasionally on 2nd point defenses depending on the spawn point distance.

2. Mercy and Lucio are almost always beneficial and used. In the top tier of Overwatch, Lucio has had a 100% pickrate among teams the recent few weeks, and he’s here to stay.

When playing support just make sure you manage to use your abilities as much and effectively as possible while knowing your limits. Don’t put yourself in open space too much, make use of objects to hide around, for example if you’re Mercy your beam stays on your target for a short duration after losing LoS so you can continously peak around a corner to hide from some incoming damage.

If you have a Mercy ress sometimes it can beneficial to hide around the corner and then fly in and ress if the enemy team has momentum, if you have momentum it can sometimes be worth it so ress individual impactful characters such as Reinhardt and McCree.

If you’re playing Lucio make sure you synergize your speed-boost and ultimate usage, and make sure your teammates are ready to fight alongside you and engage.

Specifically for Lucio, would you say he’s more of a front line support? I realise that tactics in pleb tier matchmaking is different from top tier competitive or even just regular ranked play, but he seems like he has more offensive capabilities due to his healing being passive.

Front line support is a weird way of saying it. It’s pretty obvious that you should never run into a damage class in close-combat and try to deal damage. I would advise stay on a medium to long range and knock back enemies close.

You can try finishing someone very low off with a few hits and a melee hit, but be wary of potential CC’s such as flashbang.

Is Genji useful on defense? I love him on offense but defense I feel a bit useless sometimes

The job of a Genji doesn’t really change much regardless if you’re attacking or defending.

Your goal is to kill off weak characters such as supports, or Widowmakers, and then maybe go ham with your ultimate, which is also viable on most maps on defense (NOT FIRST POINT DEFENSES THOUGH)

Just make sure you pick Genji when there is vertical space allowing you to abuse, and that you control yourself and don’t go too close to their spawnpoint. Know your limits and play patient and you’ll win.

What’s your role? What are the best heroes in your opinion for Damagers? Also, how many people should a good damage kill per game and how much damage should he deal?

I’m a Tank player.

Best heroes for dealing damage is generally McCree, Soldier, Junkrat or Pharah.

Damage is a number that doesn’t really say much, so I wouldn’t rely on those numbers too many. The best damage players usually pull out anything inbetween 1250–2500 damage per minute depending on their characters and how much shield spam they do, but disregarding that, Overwatch is about killing people, not damaging them.

Remember to spam shields when you have no other target though!

Who deals more damage when ur aim is good Soldier or Tracer? Also i feel like I get randomly oneshot left and right as tracer especially against Torbjörn or Bastion any tips?

The best Soldiers currently deal roughly 1500 damage per minute, with accuracy between 50–60%

A Tracer is not necessarily about dealing damage, but getting kills. Damage as a stat should not be overrated, it’s very good to always spam shields if you have nothing to shoot on, and I always recommend shooting shields if you have no other targets, for example Reinhardt shields. But apart from that you shouldn’t care too much about damage, as long as you’re getting eliminations.

The best thing you can do as Tracer is flank around the enemy team and get kills on snipers or Mercy’s and Lucio’s, and from there your team should have the upperhand in what is about to unfold. So in that sense it doesn’t matter what your damage stat is as Tracer, as long as you’re getting kills.

How do I deal with McCree’s that constantly spam fan the hammer and get 2–3 head shots every time? I get that they’re just praying to RNGesus but is there any way to maybe make him not listen?

Snipers! And even Soldier if you’re skillful

Reinhardt vs. Reinhardt fights. What should I do?

If you get charged first, charge away, because you’ve already essentially lost.

If you’re even, swing and hope for the best.

If you get the charge on him, move to the side ASAP when the pin is over so you don’t get charged by him afterwards.

Use fire strike when he has his shield up far away, close-range you can still melee him through the shield so it doesn’t matter.

Position yourself smart so whenever you can get a good charge on Reinhardt you don’t charge him through the enemy team but on a wall that’s fairly close and you don’t have to risk your life or getting flashed by a McCree mid-charge.

My question is a two-parter:
Why is Mei pure AIDS?
Why is Roadhog undeniably the best hero?

Mei can be hard to deal with, you just have to play rather bursty or play a hero that excels in long-range.

If you get a McCree flash of and two right-clicks you should be good. Reaper can survive long enough that you can beat him down, and besides maybe you can get by picking a sniper if you’re efficient enough.

It’s all about hitting your shots when you play vs. Mei to be honest.

Roadhog is not the best hero

How do you use Roadhog’s ultimate effectively? ;_;

Find immobile heroes such as tanks -> destruction

Any tips on playing Winston? I’m still new to the game, but I can’t figure out a strategy, once I jump to the back line to try and kill someone like tracer, I end up dying pretty quickly.

Look for opportunities! Don’t blindly jump in and hope for the best, scout beforehand, where are the supports or Widow positioned? Is there a threat to you if you jump in and if so can you survive it?

Winston has a relatively easy way to get around, you just need to make sure you don’t jump into heroes that can actually kill you (McCree, Reaper, Tracer).

What do you think about Mercy specifically ? Is the hero I most like to play.

Mercy is an amazing support. Feel free to play her a lot and you’ll help your team a lot of the time. Try to play with a Pharah a lot while trying to dodge incoming shots, and when you have your ultimate, play passively, hiding, and use it trying to resurrect as many heroes as possible.

Sometimes if it’s very early in the fight and you lose a crucial hero like McCree or Reinhardt, it’s sometimes even worth reviving them alone to make sure your team doesn’t lose momentum.

Which support character(s) would you say is the best for some of the most common scenarios (defence, regular attack and “struggling to break through a sieged defence” attack, or any other really common scenarios you can think of)?

Any other general tips regarding playing as support would also be very much appreciated.

Strategy Questions

In pub games at what point is it worth walking into a counter? For example I’ve had games where a Widowmaker (or 2) was really messing us up, and I’ll want to go in with Winston, but they’ll have a reaper and a McCree as well. Since Winston takes so long to kill I feel like I’d struggle to harass Widowmaker reliably. If I’m potentially only trading on what I’m supposed to counter is it worth it?

It’s a judgement call for sure. Most of the time a Widowmaker or even Mercy in the back-line doesn’t play together with their Reaper and so you can get by picking a Winston and getting rid of them. The job of a Winston isn’t necessarily to guarantee yourself kills but to zone enemies off, rendering them useless, and thus allowing your team to win fights. Getting kills is just a bonus.

Look at the killfeed a lot and see who’s getting the kills in the enemy team, a lot of the time it’s 1 or 2 heroes that get most kills themselves and have the biggest impact on the game, and counter accordingly to any of those heroes and you should be able to really increase your chances at winning.

I created a quick sheet for me to look at whenever I switch heroes in game. The idea is to remind myself of non-obvious concepts that are different between heroes to prevent me from playing the next hero like the last one. So for example when switching between 76 and Genji as a new player it’s easy to forget that Genji should be a lot more vertical. Or that I should look out for clearing allied discord orbs if I switch from Roadhog to Zarya
Anyway if you’d be willing to take a peek (tanks are on the second page), I’d appreciate any feedback if I’m wrong about something or should be mindful of certain playstyle changes when jumping between heroes in the same role.
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1m7yi1DupRu3uF0cDWudASMf3tytFkrSQslCGoLrOLGo/edit?usp=sharing

Looks good! I’d recommend a lot of new players to read something like this.

A few notes is that a McCree should look to flash charging Reinhardt’s. The flashbang range might be low, but you can still with some practice flash Reinhardts with shield up by flashing above their head close-range. Reminder to actively use your roll to reload your gun instantly, so you do a RM2 -> roll -> RM2 burst of TONS of damage if used in quick succession.

As for Torbjörn, trying have a level 2 turret up at all time so you can Molten Core and get the level 3 ult. I see a lot of new Torbjörns repairing or upgrading their turret while in ultimate mode, this is SUPER INEFFICIENT as your gun gets upgraded and both weapon attacks deals tons of DPS, it’s almost overpowered. Your turret level 3 damage is just a bonus.

For Pharah I also recommend watching what heroes they play as well, there’s a lot of good anti-air heroes and you don’t want to fly in the open vs. say a sniper or Zenyatta.

I’ve really been enjoying Mei for her control aspect, I personally think that she’s incredibly strong as she’s the only character with a hard control mechanic (her wall is literally unpassable until broken, every other character simply has area denial by discouraging being in that area), which allows for very easy punishes for over extension as well as hampering opponents mobility.
What do you think of her viability in top tier play and what role would you say she fills on a team?

I share your idea that she has a lot of untapped potential, however it’s very hard to use and thus picking her becomes very niche.

Her HP is kinda inconvenient to play against due to it being 250, so it’s good in that sense, but she does not allow the ability to burst down heroes, and so she’s hard to fit in a lineup where you can excel of closing out 1 or 2 heroes.

She can be played very well, just give it some time. Top teams have already been experimenting with her on primarily first point defenses.

How would you personally rank the viability of the different tanks and furthermore, what are their specialaties, what do they counter and how do you use them efficiently?

The current tanks in Overwatch are just considered tanks because of their big HP pool compared to other heroes in the game, but in truth they’re all very different from each other in how they’re supposed to be played, and thus they almost deserve 3 sub-categories.

Splitting these tanks up I’d have Roadhog & Zarya as off-tanks, Reinhardt as main tank, and then Winston and D.Va as flanking tanks.

It might sound odd, but let me explain.

Reinhardt is your baseline tank that protects all your teammates from enemies using this massive shield that can be hard to deal with in matchmaking, and he’s by far the best at his job, thus considered by me as the main tank. On almost 90% of the maps you can’t go wrong with a Reinhardt pick.

Then you have heroes like Roadhog and Zarya, that do well to be in the frontline to take damage due to their survivability, and in a way, they’re protecting their teammates, but not in the same way a Reinhardt does.

And finally you have Winston and D.Va. Winston can very well be used as a frontliner that places his shield and beats down anyone that comes close, but in competitive play both these heroes shine when they’re used to jump on the back-line, primarily heroes such as Widowmaker, or Mercy and Zenyatta.

After the chaos has begun, Winston then has a lot of mobility to get around and zap anyone down that is relatively weak in the enemy team, but he’s not seen in the frontline as much as the 3 other tanks I listed if used correctly. A smart way to deal with damage dealers is to place your shield, and then continously walk in and out of your shield to make sure you can attack your target, but there’s always one layer of the shield between you and your enemy, it becomes almost like a dance with your enemy (don’t forget the shield is also great to block McCree’s flash).

I’d say all tanks are viable, and you should never shy away from picking any of the tanks, although Winston is used a bit more than D.Va due to him getting around faster and his bubble is in general a bit better than D.Va’s defense matrix. However, if you’re having trouble dealing with a Bastion, the best tank, is probably D.Va in my personal opinion.

Thanks for your writeup. I love D.Va and in these pubs you can still get dem plays with her ult.

I love D.Va! And I’d love to play more of her, but unfortunately my beloved Reinhardt and Winston are simply too strong!

When it comes to maps, what are some things that affect the tanks that should be kept in mind?

There’s not a bunch of things to consider when it comes to maps really.

If you’re struggling to get through a choke point, consider swapping to a Reinhardt and have a Lucio speed-boost you and the team through it together. Easy counter to say Junkrat, and works on a majority of the maps.

If you’re playing a map with a lot of vertical ground such as Gibraltar, Winston is very useful!

Finally, if you’re playing defense and don’t feel like a Reinhardt, consider a Roadhog as he’s effective in preventing the enemy team to move forward onto a point.

I’m curious as to the roles that need to be filled in pro teams. I’m a mostly aggressive player going with the Pharah, Mcree, Widow, and D.va as my main heros so it’s curious to me how I should be contributing to the team (perhaps beyond just the killing haha). This game may just become a goal for me especially if the Esports scene really takes off, I want to try all I can to make it up. What should I be doing to try and improve and any specific things I should be looking for or studying about my play?
As a side note I know Pharah is strong and a meta pick, what role does she fill and when should she be picked? (just a general idea, curiosity sake)

In competitive you usually structure your team according to 1 Main Tank, 1 Flex Player, 2 offensive players and 2 support players. You sound sort of as a flex player, playing Widow, Pharah and D.Va.

The hardest and most important part of succeeding is playing off your teammates actions.

Even if you’re not necessarily in group with someone, try to understand what someone is trying to do and play off it. If someone gets a pick, try to utilize that situation and make something happen, and then do the same back and setup plays for your teammates. Sometimes they won’t understand or know what you’re trying to do, but it’s important to try.

Try to look at the enemy composition a lot and figure out why they’re winning. What heroes has the most impact in their team, and how should you go by shutting them down?

As to Pharah, she’s a really strong pick but fairly easy to counter, and so she’s hard to manoeuvre. Primarily you’d play her when the enemy team doesn’t have a sniper or a Zenyatta or a lot of hitscan heroes, and you can freely just fly in the air and shoot at people, dealing tons of damage.

Try to play her alongside a Mercy :)

What is the best hero to carry teams at lower levels?
I know in higher levels, you have to adapt to the enemy etc, but, in lower levels, people hardly change heroes and they dont really use strategies

The easiest heroes would probably be Zarya or McCree. They can deal out tons of damage while having the skillset to get-away or take down threats easily.

Before, a lot of people would have argued Tracer or Genji, but it’s really hard to make a lot of things happen by yourself on those heroes if your team can’t play off your picks.

A hero like Widowmaker is also very good at carrying, but her skillset doesn’t necessarily allow your to carry games, it’s more about hitting your shots the best you can.

I mainly play support heroes. I am struggling to find the situations when symmetra and zenyatta are the optimal choice. From your perspective, is there any situation where they you want one of them to be your ( only ) support hero? If yes, when?

Symmetra and Zenyatta are undoubtely inferior supports compared to Lucio and Mercy, but they still have their small niche.

To begin, let me explain why people pick so much Lucio and Mercy. Lucio does not only have a good ult, but his speed-boost is simply so good for controlling the “flow” of the game. With his speed-boost you can as a team decide when you want to easily engage into the enemy team, or even disengage when you want to bait the enemy team into a bad position, and then take the fight when you’re in a better spot. This does not really apply as much in matchmaking as it’s not as organized, but the speed still helps you a great deal in picking off heroes that over-extend and are caught in the open.

Mercy is just good in general with her healing per second, but her ultimate is the game-changer. A team can theoretically wipe five members of the enemy team using 3–4 ultimates, and Mercy can come in by herself and nullify all of it, it creates big tempo-swings and can save a team so many times, over and over.

Zenyatta is still a great support, but he’s a big harder to make use of as efficiently. His low HP and lack of mobility makes him pretty easy to pick off, but if the enemy team doesn’t have any flanking heroes or heroes that can reach him quickly, he can deal tons of damage, especially with his Discord orb. His healing orb also allows you to heal very mobile in your team, such as Tracer, Genji and Pharah, without much hassle.

When playing Zenyatta, try to stay further back than your back-line, literally as far away as you can while being able to apply orbs to enemies and teammates, and when you’ve charged up your ultimate you can group up with your teammates and use it very effectively.

The key to playing Zenyatta is knowing your limits and not dying, sometimes you’ll just have those games when you get picked of repeatedly by annoying heroes, and there’s just nothing you can do about it, but don’t be discouraged! Learn to identify the situations in where it’s safe to pick a Zenyatta, and practice from there.

Symmetra stands out a lot from the other supports in that she doesn’t have a heal ability. Her shields just aren’t powerful enough to make up for it, even though the small HP can do a lot for a Tracer and Zenyatta whose base HP is already very low.

Playing Symmetra to the best of her ability is utilizing her when you have a long way to run from spawn to the point. First point defenses on maps like King’s Row, Route 66, Numbani, Hollywood or Dorado. Then make sure you have 6 turrets out as often as you can, no matter the placement in most cases, and from there play close-quarters. Spam your right-click orb, but whenever combat unleashes try to play in stairs, small rooms, where you can charge up your left-click and deals tons of damage. It’s all about again, knowing your limits and play very defensively, knowing when to move onto an enemy and beam him down.

Apart from Genji. are there any solid heroes that hard counter bastion that you could recommend. (Still very satisfying to kill them with there own bullets though)

Countering Bastion is a hard one, especially by yourself, and the only heroes that come to mind at first really are Genji or perhaps a Widowmaker if you can get in a good position where you can get a few shots on him for free.

If he plays with a Reinhardt shield, it becomes much harder to deal with, and you’ll have to team up with your comrades to deal with him. A D.Va is really good to neglect Bastion’s shots for a few seconds, and in that time you could maybe hope to beat him down with a large variety of heroes.

Maybe get a Pharah to knock the Reinhardt away from Bastion? Maybe pick double Winston with a friend and just jump on top of him while running around in circles? Otherwise there’s always the option to play around him if possible.

Esports Questions

Have you ever scrimmed against IDDQD and what are your thoughts on why they had dominated the scene?

I scrimmed a lot vs. IDDQD.

The reason they won so much was because they had a lot individual skill. Tviq, Taimou/Mendokusaii were pretty much the best DPS players in the game.

Then you had Chipshajen with pretty much the best Zenyatta in the game with a meta that fit him. And Cocco and Internethulk as strategists.

With Mendo and Tviq they had without a doubt the best flankers in the game, during a meta where you played 2 flankers. And even beyond that they were really good on other heroes.

I think the long-term problem for IDDQD was their players didn’t have a lot of flexibility in picks. They excelled at a small amount of heroes, but what happens when the meta changes?

I don’t know how long their domination would have lasted, but I can’t help but feel a better team would have appeared ahead of Blizzcon and won it ahead of them.

Pretty much all pros in the current scene focus on Blizzcon as the #1 goal, and the current tournaments are just mentality boosters.

I’m really curious to know what someone in your position thinks about the future of Overwatch as an eSport. A lot of people consider it to be a “casual” game, lacking in the mechanics that can set pro players apart in games like CS:GO. This perception could really stop it from getting off the ground in a serious way. Do you think this view has any truth to it?
Another issue is the ability to switch heroes throughout the match. This could have matches devolve into a rock-paper-scissors game, constantly switching to counter-pick the opposing team. While being able to switch on the fly is very fun when I’m playing the game, it could make for a confusing or unentertaining viewer experience. How do you think this problem could be solved (if it is a problem)?

This is a topic that is very dear to me. My background prior to Overwatch is that I worked in esports for The GD Studio, and freelanced for companies such as DreamHack and ESL, and so I consider myself knowing what it takes for an esports title to be successful.

The biggest problem Overwatch is facing right now is that it’s not fun to watch competitive Overwatch. A lot of this is because of the game mode being used, Stopwatch (you can take turns pushing the payload and fastest wins). I wrote an opinion piece on this matter, so if you’re intrigued, feel free to check it out:http://www.gosugamers.net/overwatch/features/4859-pushing-overwatch-in-the-right-direction-guest-editorial

To sum it up, Overwatch needs a game mode where the objective is a lot more clear than pushing a payload. It’s not that it would be hard for viewers to understand, but that the objective doesn’t help to build hype surrounding what is happening in the game. In Counter-Strike, you know that a kill can very crucial because it can essentially win a round, but in Overwatch that’s very loosely defined. How much impact does a Widow kill really have? 5 meters of Payload? The objective takes away the significance of what is happening in game, and so I argued that control point or “King of the Hill” is the better game mode for Overwatch esports. However, that’s still not as perfect as the top-tier games out there. I do not envy Blizzard in this matter, as it’s a very hard task to get right, and I understood why they tried to push the ruleset they had in their ranked mode, however, it just wasn’t it.

As to hero-switching I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I wouldn’t say that there are any heroes that strictly counters another hero from not having any impact on the game, and so sure it’s sort of a rock-paper-scissors game, but it’s still pretty even, and I don’t think it’s a big issue as long as your team manages to play around certain heroes and help you if you’re in trouble.

This reminds me of an article I read about the comparison of spectating American sports vs European sports. American sports devolve into statistics and numeralising and measuring all actions into gains and losses, but European sports are more about instances of skill and ability that can’t be quantified in the greater scheme of the match.
10 yards in football mean one thing, and a double duke in soccer mean something completely different, but yield the same response in their respective fans.
Do you feel that this is the issue with payload for spectators? Or is it more how difficult it is to directly compare the affects of a great play to actual objective progress? Would being able to numeralise the gains and losses of every kill in relation to the objective help solve this?

I think that the game mode in general just doesn’t cater to building hype.

Stopwatch is about completing two rounds of both teams pushing, and if you competed with Stopwatch then the first round, regardless of team, would always lack a huge amount of hype because you wouldn’t know how good of a time they’d have to set in order to win the game. It doesn’t matter if it’s 4 minutes or 8 minutes, it’s so vague in determining what a team has to do in order to win.

I’m very tired so I can’t draw any direct comparisons to the facts you just presented, but to simplify things in a very direct matter, pretty much all sports known to man (few exceptions), the objective is so straight-forward at all times.

There’s a reason why Curling is much less popular than say golf. Curling just doesn’t have the same hype in every stone “curled”(?), compared to every golf shot. The outcome based on the action going on is too uncertain for a viewer to get excited about it.

Probably butchered this subject at 2:30 AM

I don’t understand how this game has competitive players when the game isn’t even out yet.
There isn’t a ranked mode, how do you set yourself apart from others. The open beta closes in like a day how will you practice or even play. Do people already have tournament realm servers to play on?

We’re a collective of teams scrimming each other 8–10 hours a day non-stop. We mostly go through all the payload maps and all the king of the hill maps.

It’s not like there hasn’t been a lot of time to play competitive Overwatch, most of us has been here from the start of closed beta and are still here.

For example if you check the Gosugamers Rankings http://www.gosugamers.net/overwatch/rankings, a team like REUNITED already has over 100 OFFICIAL matches in tournament etc.

GosuGamers have been arranging weekly beta tournaments, and a lot of other organizers coming in offering prize money, and we’re simply the teams that keep on finishing the top places, winning the money that is to be won.

Matchmaking in CS:GO, Ranked in HotS or even League of Legends are just gimmicks to create a competitive environment for casual players that want more, most of the time the top teams barely play it themselves, because they’re so busy playing each other on private servers or custom lobbies.

During breaks we can’t play, just like you guys, but we go through strategy, recorded VODs of us playing and write down notes how to improve our team-coordination, chemistry, hero compositions or approach to the game.

The definition of competitive players is just players that simply play to win and be the best, and there’s always going to be players with that mindset regardless what state the game is in. From there on there has been small tournaments organized with prize money, and that already attracts viewership that’s in the thousands, and from there organisations come into the scene and pick up the most talented teams because it’s like any exposure that can be found in any other game.

What you said about hots and lol is just plain wrong.

I’ve been an observer for Heroes of the Storm esports for almost a year now and from meeting HotS pros they certainly aren’t spending their practice time queueing together in ranked mode.

If you were looking into getting into competitive how do you start and how do you practice?

Try to get a few friends or other players together as a team and try to just play together rather than running in one by one as people usually do in matchmaking. There are a few Discord channels set up for people trying to get into competitive, and even the /r/Overwatch Discord channel has a few channels for this.

Actively look for other members interested in competitive, play together, try to play smart, and from there practice vs. other teams. Check out the Discord channel that I mentioned and make some noise, get in there and look for practice partners and enemy teams to skirmish vs. in hosted lobbies, and try to do it as often as you can.

Follow-up to OP, how much do you think it will help in the long run to practice on console? Obviously I’ll have to get a PC at some point, but what should I focus on in the meantime?

Reading up on strategy and think about hero compositions!

PC and console compositions will vary quite a lot due to mechanical obstructions, so make sure you follow the tournaments on PC if you’re planning to become a competitive player!

Study and become a smart player and you’ll go a long way!

Balance Questions

Do you have a general Tierlist for all the characters for their viability?

Personally, nope!

But you should check out Icarus’ weekly meta analysis!

Icarus’ Weekly Meta Analysis: 4/18–4/24
Just like any competitive game, the meta for Overwatch is ever evolving. The ability to hero switch on the fly and a…www.gosugamers.net

What do you think of the balance in the game? Does it favor a meta? Any hero’s or common hero composition that are considered really strong now in competitive play?

I personally the balance is very good in Overwatch, in competitive play you pick heroes based on their skillset, and there’s not really a hero with a skillset that is incredibly superior to anyone elses. Before we had issues with Genji slicing and dicing like never before, but with the nerf to his survivability the only thing really “overpowered” about him is his ultimate, as he can just destroy a team and capture a point by himself (Blizzard pls).

There’s been a lot of discussion in competitive Overwatch regarding implementing hero limits into the game, as the recent meta has favored a lot of teams running double McCree, double Winston or even triple Winston. He’s simply so hard to deal with due to his shield blocking out any possible healing or assistance from your backline, and together they pretty much kill any hero within a few seconds.

My opinion on hero limits is that it should only be implemented to prevent teams from cheesing, for example it’s easy to cheese and win on the first point on King’s Row because you simply don’t know what the attacking team is going to pick for the first wave of attack.

A big majority of the top teams are tired of encountering this double Winston “bullshit”, and thus they’re trying to convince Blizzard to implement a 1 hero-limit, however, I believe that great play can counter these sort of picks later down the road when you’ve adjusted your playstyle and know what you’re supposed to do, so I would favor a 2-hero limit.

Common heroes in competitive play: Lucio, McCree, Reinhardt, Winston, Mercy, Pharah, Widowmaker.

Most heroes have their niche and can be picked, but I’d say the ones listed on top are picked more frequently than others.

As for a straight up composition: Reinhardt, Winston, McCree, McCree, Lucio, Mercy. This should do you good without really relying too much on any hero in the composition.

I would love that Blizzard finds a way to balance the game without heroe limit. I really don’t know how but I think this type of play and possibility it’s one of the best things of Overwatch.

It’s a very hard task, and I don’t think it’s possible to outright balance it. I think we’ll have to rely on the players finding ways to play around most things.

Misc Questions

Why is D.Va so bad? ; _ ;

Because she’s a bad Winston ;_;

rip ❤

What games did you play before Overwatch and at what level? How many hours have you clocked in the game so far?

I didn’t really play any other games at a high level. Sure, I hit global elite on CS:GO, but that’s about it.

On a casual level I played a range of different games, CS:GO, Quake, Heroes of Newerth, Heroes of the Storm and tons of World of Warcraft growing up, but I’ve never really excelled in any as much as I have in Overwatch. I think the most optimal background you can have for playing good Overwatch is being a MOBA player, with the tactical mindset, that has managed to nail down the mechanical aspect of an FPS.

Overwatch is most of the time decided by smart ability-usage, rather than good aim, and so a smart guy that knows when and where to use his abilities will probably win most of the time.

Is Zarya the best waifu of Overwatch?

Zarya is literally the best waifu of Overwatch. Probably one of the best heroes in the game when it comes to winning games by yourself.

What can’t McCree do (besides kill Bastion)?

Brew coffee.

(Route 66 reference)

I hope you learnt something from all of these responses. If you have any further questions, feel free to hit me up on social media:

@Rogue_Reinforce on Twitter.

Overwatch, the hit new shooter/MOBA released by Blizzard has been taking the internet by storm lately. (That is, until the internet collectively lost its damn mind over Pokemon Go this past week[1].) As of mid-June, they had already accumulated more than 10 million active players, no mean feat considering that it was released less than two months ago.

Since the beginning of its development, one of the major talking points that has been emphasized in press pieces is that Blizzard was trying to design with an eye to diversity. Like the piece on Kotaku proclaiming that Blizzard wanted to “do women better”, which showed Widowmaker displaying a whole lot of ass cleavage:

Meanwhile over on Polygon, there was a piece with the headline: “Blizzard wants its diverse fans to feel ‘equally represented’ by Overwatch’s heroes“. Which, by the way, only featured quotes from a press conference given by Blizzard, and which completely failed to mention any of Blizzard’s previous problems with representation in their games to date. (*cough* Hearthstone *cough* Worldofwarcraft *cough*)

I’ve written about Overwatch before. (In fact, people talking trash about my Overwatch posts are still a reliable source of occasional traffic spikes from Reddit, which is a bit surprising two years later.) And the game’s recent release, along with the fact that it seems diversity is still being used as a talking point to promote the game – as evidenced by this piece published just 3 days in advance of the release, made me think that it would probably be worthwhile taking a second look at Overwatch to see how it’s shaped up.

Overwatch Characters and Gender

The last time I wrote about Overwatch, 6 out of the (then) 14 characters that had been announced were female, however, 1 character – Bastion – was genderless. If you don’t count Bastion, that made for a roster that was 46% female – not too shabby. At the game’s release, it featured 8 female characters out of 21 characters that have a gender – which was only 40%. However, as of yesterday, a new female character was announced – Ana – which brings the ratio up to 9 out of 21 gendered characters, or 42%.

So, you know. It’s not fifty-fifty, which is disappointing from a game that says it wanted to “do women better”. How hard would it have been to make one of the weirdo characters, like Winston or Zenyatta, female? And sure, 42% is still a damn site better than almost every game I’ve ever bothered to review numbers for on this blog. But I tend to think that to “do women better”, you should at the very least reflect their levels of representation in the actual world. And we won’t even talk about how there are ugly or weird looking male characters, but all of the female characters except for one are in their mid-20s and have flawless skin – except for Ana. And even then, the only concession to her age is white hair and maaayyybbbbe a hint of an eye wrinkle.

It’s worth noting that all of that completely ignores the issue of queer and nonbinary gender identities. Since the canon doesn’t say otherwise, it has to be assumed that all 21 of the gendered heroes are cisgender, which is – again – disappointing from a game that seems to be trying to sell itself, at least in part, on the diversity of its character’s designs and backgrounds.

But overall, those turned out to be minor irritants compared to the embarrassing levels of racism (with a sprinkling of ableism) in the hero backstories and alternate character designs. Hooray!

Character Backstories

Lucio

So out of a lineup of 22 characters, you have exactly 1 black person – Lucio. And YES I get that there are other characters who are visible minorities – Symmetra, Pharah, Hanzo, etc. But what about McCree and Soldier 76, who are both from the United States? Or Tracer, who is from the UK? Or Widowmaker, who is from France? Or Mercy, who is from Switzerland? All of these are countries with diverse populations! Black people live in all of these countries! Coding all of the Western first world nations as white is problematic as hell. (And no, Widowmaker does not count as a PoC because she’s blue.)

So with all of that in mind, it is doubly problematic that Lucio – the only black guy – is a black guy from the slums. And sure, he’s from the favelas in Rio de Janeiro. And sure he was “fighting the man”. But the core concept was “black DJ from the slums who stole things”. And when your go-to backstory for the only black guy is “poor thief”, that is super fucking problematic. The stereotype of black people as thieves and criminals is the reason why real actual black people get profiled by police and followed in shops and stores. And the fact that the video games industry is more than 87% white makes all of this even more problematic.

So. You know. What the actual fuck, Blizzard?

Reaper

Similarly, Gabriel Reyes AKA Reaper is the only Latino in the game (you know, despite the fact that it actually would have made more sense to make McCree Latino instead of making him white). And what’s his backstory? Well, according to the Overwatch wiki:

Reaper admits to being a high-functioning psychopath, having a passion for murder and vengeance and is willing to kill even without a solid motivation. —Overwatch Wiki

And this is shitty for pretty much exactly the same reasons that making Lucio a black thief from the slums is shitty. When news coverage of Latin@s is 1% of total coverage, despite the fact that they make up 13% of the US population? And 66% of that coverage is about Latinos as criminals? Making THE ONLY LATINO in your game an actual fucking psychopathic murderer is shitty and racist.

Symmetra

Symmetra’s backstory and concept doesn’t read as racist to me, although I’ll admit to not being conversant enough with those particular stereotypes to be able to spot something that’s not completely obvious. However, where her backstory does fall down is a WHOLE LOT OF FUCKING ABLEISM. And sure, it’s obvious that it’s at least well-meaning ableism? But there is a lot of hinky mental health and neurotypical stereotyping going on. Again, according to the Overwatch Wiki:

Symmetra may be on the autism spectrum as implied in A Better World[1]. In it, she says it used to “bother her” when people would ask where she fit on the spectrum; further, she appears to have what could be described as obsessive-compulsive disorder, namely her preoccupation with “perfection”, such as when she can’t resist fixing a crooked picture or how she notices the perfection of a child’s face. Traits common to OCD are also associated with autism.[2] —Overwatch Wiki

For fuck’s sake.

First, if you want to have a character who is on the autism spectrum, EITHER DO IT OR DON’T. Don’t say well she miiiiiiight be, but then maaaaaybe not. Because what the fuck is wrong with having a heroic character who is autistic? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Second, fixing crooked frames or noticing a perfect face isn’t OCD – unless you spend your entire day checking and re-checking and re-checking every picture frame to make sure it’s straight, or obsessively scanning people’s faces looking for flaws, to the detriment of actually getting anything done. OCD is an anxiety spectrum disorder, emphasis on the disorder. If it doesn’t interfere with your daily life and ability to function, then it’s not OCD. Being particular about how things are placed or wanting things to be just so? That’s not fucking OCD, and it’s really shitty trivializing OCD that way.

Character Designs: Racist Tropes and Culture as Costume

Mercy

So I’ve written before about how it’s really problematic making the character who is coded as “angel” blonde. But you know what’s even shittier? Making your angel character blonde, then having an alternate skin named “Devil” and giving that skin black hair.

Not following why that’s problematic? Well, allow me to quote myself:

Here’s another one I wish I didn’t see as often as I did. If you’re writing a race that has inborn magic powers, immortality, supernatural sexiness, preternatural senses, or is otherwise superior to normal boring humans, DON’T have the defining trait of that race be a real world racial trait.

Wait. No. I’m going to be more explicit.

DON’T MAKE THEM BLONDE. Because that is some creepy white supremacy shit right there – ESPECIALLY when combined with the Evil Darkies [aka: the trope of making evil races have dark skin] mentioned above.

That’s not to say you can’t have superhumans! … you can keep 100% of your magical superhumans and still have them not suck. Case in point, World of Warcraft. The good elves are purple and the bad elves are blonde. (Granted, there’s still an awwwwwful lot of fail of just about all types in WoW. But this is, at least, one small thing that they did manage to get right.)

When you tie the idea of “good” to traits that are White and “evil” to traits that are Not-White, THAT IS RACIST.

The irony is that Mercy’s other alternate skins depict her as a Valkyrie, which honestly I like about a million times better than either her default skin or her “Devil” skin. Boobplate aside, they did a great job of translating the character concept into a design appropriate to the character’s cultural background.

Zenyatta, Roadhog, and Pharah

Zenyatta is a bit of a tricky case in that he is a robot (who is gendered as male) monk who is never explicitly called out as being a Buddhist monk. But his backstory says he wanders the Himalayas, and the Saffron robes as well as descriptions of Zenyatta’s approach to philosophy make it pretty clear that he is supposed to be a Tibetan Buddhist (robot) monk. And, you know what, cool. There could be some cool elements about robots deciding to investigate humanity and ending up identifying as a particular gender and culture.

What is definitely uncool is tying Zenyatta strongly (if implicitly) to one culture, and then using other cultural costumes as alternate looks:

Look. This is a theme that I’m going to come back to for the next few designs, but I would think that after the stink that gets raised on the internet and social media every October, people would start getting the hint that using cultural attire or cultural dress for the sake of looking “cool” is not okay. Culture is not costume.

This gets even more problematic when Native and Aboriginal cultures are the ones being used as costume, because there is a global history of white people oppressing Native and Aboriginal peoples and then appropriating their culture.

Take Roadhog, whose has two alternate skins that show him in Maori dress:

And. Man. Here’s where I admit that things get real fuzzy and hard to tease out. Because while it’s not commented on officially, it’s possible that Mako is of Maori descent:

“It is highly likely that Roadhog is of New Zealand Maori heritage due to his real name (Mako) and alternate skin titled “Toa” which is the Maori word for “Warrior”.” – Overwatch Wiki

And honestly, I keep going back and forth on whether this is problematic or not. Roadhog’s pale skin reads more “white” than “Maori” to me. But then, the long struggle of Metis and non-status Native Canadians to be recognized as “legitimately Native”, makes me feel like that might not be a valid criticism. Except, Roadhog is said to come from the Outback of Australia – and the Aborigine people of Australia and the Maori of New Zealand are two different peoples – or at least as far as I’m aware.

So. I think for me the tipping point, the deciding factor of “is this okay?” is the fact that there are so many other examples of stereotyped depictions and appropriative costumes. This isn’t a singular misstep in a game that otherwise did its homework and tried to be respectful. Because if it was, you wouldn’t have something like Pharah and her alternate skins:

Pharah is explicitly, canonically Egyptian. And yet two of her alternate skins are explicitly North American Native – titled “Raindancer” and “Thunderbird”. And that is just such an obvious, straight-forward case of “what do we do for a cool alternate look for Pharah?” “I dunno, make her Native?” that I just can’t even.

Symmetra

And here’s the last example, the reason why I’m really not inclined to give the Blizzard development team a lot of slack on the question of “did they mean to be offensive” or not. Symmetra, who comes from India, has two alternate skins – which cost a lot of credits to unlock – that depict her as the Hindu goddess Kali:

It’s hard to overstate how gallingly tasteless and appalling this is. Hinduism isn’t like the worship of the ancient Egyptian gods. While using Ra as a skin for an implicitly Tibetan character is tasteless, it’s nowhere near on the same level of awful, because you’re talking about a dead religion. There are somewhere around 1 billion Hindu people on the planet, which makes this roughly equivalent to having a male character who can “level up” into Jesus. And obviously, game developers would never consider making Actual Fucking Jesus an unlockable skin, because that would be disrespectful. But because Hindus are mostly brown people, that makes having Actual Fucking Kali – who is a god that real actual people actually worship right now – somehow okay? No. Just. NO.

Conclusion: Overwatch has problems, but it’s still better than the rest of AAA gaming

As horrible as all this stuff is, Blizzard at least gets the absolute minimum of points for trying. Which is something that the rest of the AAA game industry is emphatically not doing, as evidenced by yet another year of Scowly McWhiteGuy being mostly the only thing on offer at E3.

So. You know. Reluctant kudos for trying? But “slightly less racist than the rest of the AAA game industry” isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement that Blizzard should be proud of.

[1] I am unspeakably bitter that Pokemon Go has yet to be released in Canada

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