RPS Verdict: Overwatch

When they haven’t been attending boardgame conventions or tending to their spawn, both Pip and Graham have been rather taken with Blizzard’s character-switchy FPS, Overwatch. But what is it about the game that’s drawn them in and will it last? Find out as they chat their way through their experiences. (Bonus questions include: “Are Play Of The Games utter cobblers?” and “Lore, *HUNGH*, what is it good for?”)

Graham: Pip, I have a confession. I don’t character switch.

Pip: I’m torn between posting a gif of someone clutching their pearls and confessing that I don’t do it much either.

I mean, I get the theory and I will if it’s absolutely necessary/I feel like I’m getting nowhere with a character. But broadly I find that I gravitate towards characters that other people play less and so there’s a need to stay in that role. I just played a game this lunchtime and there were no healers when everyone else had picked their characters so I went with Lucio and stayed as him through both attack and defence. Same happens with tanks. I’ll be Zarya the whole time because otherwise we don’t have the role covered. I’m not particularly sore about it because I love both roles, but the difficulty often comes when we have no healers and no tanks so I start bouncing between characters trying to work out what’s going to get us a win if possible.

I like knowing that I can switch, because I’ve been in those situations where you realise you’ve picked a bad character for a team composition in a MOBA and you’re likely about to lose 45 minutes to a drawn-out defeat but sometimes that’s more of an academic thing because the reality is you’ll be healing or tanking for the whole thing. Is that why you stick or are you too busy camping out as Bastion?

Graham: I do like camping out as Bastion. But a lot of the time it’s that I don’t know who to switch to. I should stress: I have probably played the game for substantially less than you. But it’s also related to the nature of the game. For example, in TF2 I could join a server with a match in progress and within 60 seconds know, “my team needs this class”, switch to that class, and feel the difference as I affected the match. With Overwatch I join and think either “I have no idea what we need” or “What we need is for someone to deal with Reinhardt and his dumb shield but I don’t know who counters that and I’m having a nice time as D.va so fuck it I’m sticking as D.va.”

This is partly down to TF2 having nine classes and Overwatch having 21, but also a big part of it is that in TF2 the classes exist to respond to the level design in some way. “We need an engineer to shut off that chokepoint,” for example. Whereas in Overwatch the characters are responding – by which I mean, countering or designed to cope with – other characters, rather than necessary stages of the environment.

D.va is cool, though. I think she’s my favourite character so far – who is yours?

Pip: I’m really into Zarya, although it’s become a running joke that I will never get Play Of The Game as her – I have a habit of getting off good ultimates that trap multiple enemies and then a burst damage character like Reaper or Pharah finishes them off and claims the glory.

She’s so great, though. Lots of barriers, lots of beefiness and I like her character’s lore. Before I get onto that I’m just going to say that if you’re having Reinhardt problems there are a few things that go through the shield like Winston’s lightning gun and one of Symmetra’s attacks – her photon orb things, if memory serves. It’s also often a case of attacking from multiple angles because he can’t shield from more than one direction. You can also use things like Junkrat’s grenades to chuck damage over the shield, Tracer to nip round behind and so on.

It’s interesting because the game kind of sets out the idea that there are maybe five broad classes – offence, defence, support, tank and builder, but there’s sufficient variation between each character within that that I don’t think it’s super useful in guiding people between options – certainly not when you first start. I’m also still not quite on board with the builder thing. The game tells you if you don’t have a builder on the team (a character who can place structures and leave them about) and it implies that’s a sufficiently important enough role that you need to fill it but I really don’t think it is.

Graham: I think I will never get Play Of The Game on account of how much I suck. I’ve played D.va more than anyone, for example, and for the longest time I thought one of her abilities was a partial self-heal. Turns out it’s a shield! I was running away from battle and into quiet corners, pressing a button I thought was healing me (but which was really just pointing a shield at a wall), then running back in. And I read every word of our Overwatch character guide.

What’s worse is that I got a nine kill streak doing this, and since I learned my mistake I’ve been nothing but useless with the character.

This speaks to my stupidity, but also the same thing you’re talking about: I don’t think the game does a great job a lot of the time at explaining how things work. The contextual popup tips are sometimes useful (and sometimes patronising), but a lot of the time I’m learning by playing and it’s not always a super satisfying game to learn by playing. Because often it’s “learning by being repeatedly killed by some weird looking dude whose powers I had no way of knowing until he killed me with them and sometimes not even then.”

See also: D.va’s ultimate, which is a self-destruct. I have self-destructed myself out of curiosity over what D.va’s ultimate is, and then forgotten before doing it again. It’s not a great way to discover her mech doesn’t, I don’t know, shoot special rockets or something.

Pip: You get a tip when you die to someone that tells you something about countering them so I assume that’s intended to maybe lead you to think about potential heroes in that sense, but mostly it comes across as patronising, I agree. There’s also a more general problem with regard to information. If you play like me and go into quick play matches and just use the F1 info to remind yourself of abilities it usually skips some info out to make it more manageable.

Like, if you try to learn Zarya that way you won’t know that there’s an interaction between her shield barrier bubble things and the amount of damage her particle gun does as a result. So there’s this thing where you’re more effective if you’re absorbing damage as you shoot and that changes when you might want to deploy those barrier shield bubbles but just pressing F1 you won’t know that because it’s too complex for the insta-tips.

I’m also super aware that I’m bad against any competent Mei player because all of the characters I enjoy playing and have a natural facility for are countered by her. If I want to be a good all-rounder I’ll need to broaden my repertoire, whereas in a MOBA I can stick with my comfort zone and it’s more… permissible?

I guess I feel like that’s stuff I’m used to learning or coming up against from other games so it doesn’t stick out to me but you can definitely argue that it’s not a great solution to the problem.

Graham: I think one of the post-death tips I got said something like, “Hey, remember to move around a lot to make yourself harder to hit.” Which was a bit mean, I thought. Like if it had said, “Hey, why not try aiming at the enemies?”

I guess I appreciate the effort they’ve gone to with that stuff at least. I think it’s really easy to do more harm than good when trying to create those kinds of systems, but I still would rather an imperfect implementation than not have it at all. The larger issue I have is that some of the visual effects are less clear. I get that I’m supposed to learn audio cues and the opening frames of particle effects and whatnot to work out what’s about to happen, but in the meantime there’s sometimes just no way for me to know I’m about to be bounced fifty feet away from an objective. And then not knowing which enemy of the three that were dashing around that did it.

Do you feel similarly about Play Of The Game? You’ve written about your issues with it elsewhere, and I agree, but do you think it would be better – assuming they can’t get it to work better – if the feature didn’t exist at all?

Pip: I think there’s a middle ground to be found. I like the voting bit where you can pick someone who did amazing healing or shielding or got an amazing kill count and just give them the online equivalent of a pat on the back. That tends to feel nice and more team-oriented in what it rewards.

I think with Play Of The Game I’d be happy for it to stay, but I don’t think it’s necessary for every match because some matches are just dull, or at least not hugely tense. I’d maybe like it if the algorithm could be tuned to search for truly awesome/rare/weird moments and only kicked in when a match had one of those. But the biggest change I’d like to see is for it to hero more than one person because the game struggles with that ongoing-problem where people want to play the headshotty, high kill characters as that’s where you tend to feel the prestige lies or the sense that you’re affecting the outcome of the game.

I feel like if it was better at saying “this set up and then the slam dunk were equal parts of this amazing play” then the supporting plays would get some time in the limelight. I don’t know if it would *solve* the problem but I think it would help. Especially given what you said earlier about TF2 and how you felt like you picking a thing made a difference and how that contrasts with your experience here a lot of the time.

Is that a shared sentiment or do you have a different idea for POTG?

Graham: We’re in total agreement – including dropping the feature from matches that are bland.

In my experience so far, people are reluctant to play as the support/healy classes. How much of that do you think is to do with the ‘wrapping’ – including the unlikelihood of appearing in POTG, as you describe – and how much do you think that’s down to the design of the class themselves? I’m not familiar with all of them, but I just don’t think Mercy is very much fun, for example. Whereas I liked the Medic in Team Fortress 2 and solely play a Medic in games like Battlefield, for example.

Pip: Hmm. I think Overwatch does some cool things on that front – first and foremost that it doesn’t easily show you kills versus assists so the pop-up notification includes you in the kill even if you only got off a bit of damage or whatnot. That’s a good thing.

With regard to Mercy, I’d say that I didn’t like her until I played one of the special modes called – I think – Justice Rains From Above where you can only play Pharah or Mercy. Because of the way the mode reduces cooldowns you’re basically in the air the whole time, zooming after Pharahs and tensely switching from healing to damage amps. I really warmed to her at that point and pick her up every now and again because I like it when you play her well. Also a well-placed revive is delicious and can turn an enemy celebration into a wake as someone beefy and annoying comes back from the dead.

I don’t play Symmetra, although I should start. Mostly it’s because other people I play with regularly like her so if one of us is going to pick her then it might as well be the person who knows what they’re doing. I think screwing people over with her sentries would be a lot of fun but fun in that personal satisfaction way rather than a laugh riot that other people applaud – particularly as those kills might happen unseen as you’re all elsewhere.

For Zenyatta I have a friend who really likes him because of the accuracy requirement and the fact he’s so fragile. It’s kind of a chance to show you’re really good at something. But I guess all of those require a certain type of person to enjoy them, like, they’re more… subtle things? Smaller emotions and more to do with personal challenge, at any rate.

Lucio’s more of an all-rounder. Mobility. Kill potential. Wall-running. AND a healy thing.

I don’t play TF2 so what’s the experience of being a medic like in that? What’s different?

Graham: The Medic has a healing beam that’s similar in style to Mercy’s, but without the damage-boosting alternate fire. Instead you charge up the weapon by healing people until you unlock the equivalent of an ultimate: the ability to turn an ally completely invincible for 8 seconds. It creates these moments of high drama and tension where you build and build and then activate this really powerful ability that, if you used it at the right moment and on the right person, might let you suddenly push through a deadlock.

Maybe I just haven’t played her enough but Mercy doesn’t seem to have anything equivalent. You’re slightly more active moment to moment as you decide whether to left-click heal or right-click damage boost, but I don’t find that decision particularly interest. Her ultimate, which lets you revive fallen allies, is obviously useful but not particularly exciting. I just found that most of my games as her were kind of nothing-y, where I was obviously being helpful – and my name would appear at the end, for people to give commendations, which was nice – but the experience wasn’t tense or exciting or memorable.

You mentioned Zenyatta, which seems like a good time to bring up lore. Do you like the lore? I sorta think it’s 99% dumb lazy garbage – but then, it’s so colourful and some of the characters seem so happy to be there that I find myself charmed by it anyway. In other words: people keep describing it as “Pixar Shooter” which seems wrong to me because it is so clearly “Dreamworks Animation Shooter.” Kung Fu Panda and Shrek and Shark Tale if they were spun off into a videogame universe.

Pip: I did not do the required Kung Fu Panda reading so I will take your word for it on that front!

In terms of the lore, there are specific stories I like. Zarya’s is one of them – she was about to compete in the world bodybuilding/weightlifting championships but cancelled to help save the world. But there’s a whole load of other stuff I really can’t bring myself to care about. The whole entire omnic crisis and the formation and dissolution of the Overwatch organisation, for example. I may also have laughed out loud when the whole “smashing someone’s face in with a burning pinata but also being an inspiration to a young girl on a grocery run” short film happened.

Mostly my approach is to know it to the extent it informs a character – Mei’s climatology work goes with her ice theme, for example. But I couldn’t tell you the finer points of her story, just that she’s a pain in the butt to play against and really good for area control.

Graham: I played as Mei for the first time earlier today and I do not think I was a pain in the anything to play against.

Despite niggles and incompetence, I’m enjoying Overwatch way more than I thought I would. It’s a good game to drop in and out of for quick sessions, which is what I needed right now, and despite my criticisms of the ways in which it fails in comparison to other games, there are still lots of classes with no equivalents elsewhere that I’m enjoying a great deal. D.va is the example I’ve given above, but I also like Bastion, Tracer, Pharah and a few others. They’re satisfying enough that I feel like putting the effort in to get good at them or at least get-a-basic-understanding-of-the-abilities.

To wrap up, how do you feel about Overwatch overall?

Pip: Good lord – reading your list of characters I feel like we’re at opposite ends of the playstyle spectrum!

But to answer your question: I really like it – there’s tight design there and I do really love the length of matches and the flexibility. I’m burnt out on MOBAs at the moment so this is a welcome respite. I do have criticisms but they’re things I’ve noticed and had time to chew over because I’ve spent more than a hundred hours in the game and keep going back to it.

I think the one thing I’m most wary of at the moment is it getting too serious in terms of my fellow players. I like it because it’s a space where I can generally let off a bit of steam and just play something, dipping in and out. It really sours it when other players get salty or even just when it feels like a game might take on that SRS BSNS flavour that started to spoil some of my Dota 2 experiences.

Luckily most people seem really chipper (or at least neutral) when they play as far as my experience goes so I hope that continues!


  1. Scrote says:

    My niggle is with the voting at the end of matches. It’s a pretty big thing, yet it doesn’t reward people who play the game as Blizz suggests they do – switching characters to counter the enemy team. If you switch a lot, you’re not going to show up in the roster of “votable” heroes, and that’s a bummer.

    That said, I do switch, I switch a lot. In my mind I’m always an EPIC HERO :)

    • DelrueOfDetroit says:

      Another complaint I have is that it doesn’t recognize when you are pushing back the escort during defense missions. I’ll regularly play as Mei where I will get right up next to the escort and completely stop it from moving forward for a good chunk of the game.

      • Boothie says:

        It does register “objective time” for defenders and i get it every now and then, however it doesnt tick unless both you and an enemy are on it though as without an enemy close you arent actually doing anything, the cart will start to move back eventually even if no defenders are standing on it.

    • Winstons says:

      Why do you need other people to vote for you? If you’ve played well, you know yourself.

      (and the cards take into account non-character specific traits, such as objective time/on fire/MVP)

    • MidianGTX says:

      Surely the point here is that it’s actually -not- a big thing. Voting does nothing at all except give you a virtual pat on the back.

  2. TehK says:

    I’ve not yet read through the whole verdict yet, but right at the beginning, I’d like to say…

    the difficulty often comes when we have no healers and no tanks so I start bouncing between characters trying to work out what’s going to get us a win

    The other players CAN SWITCH, TOO! Arglgrmll *suffers breakdown*

    Ahem… sorry. I know, I know… they won’t switch and I know that situation perfectly well. But the option is available. And yes, I’m probably looking at you, 2nd Widowmaker or 3rd Hanzo.

    • gou says:

      i think a lot of the “non-switching” problem is the ultimates, if you switch you have lost all progress toward something potentially gamechanging

      • mrbright01 says:

        This is 50% of the reason I don’t switch often. The other 50% is I usually play a much needed Reinhardt with a goal of actually, you know, defending the team, instead of charging blindly.

        And then, I watch someone playing 76 or McCree or even Hanzo run through the shield to shoot at an opponent less than two body lengths away… Nothing breaks my heart like watching a Hanzon try to run and gun when there is a big ol’ wall right there to stand calmly behind and, you know, snipe. And yes, there are counters to the shield, but this happens even when the team never adjusts and I end up playing front guard to a pair of hop-scotching Bastions, because my crew does silly things like that.

      • TehK says:

        Well, I think it also still has to do with people learning the characters and I’m sure it will get better with time (already has in my experience). You need to get a feel for the heroes and learn about how to counter heroes. Then you’ll know when to switch heroes and who to pick to make effective switches. At the moment I’m switching pretty often during the game in order to learn.

        But if you picked a support or a tank, you’ll most likely at least stay in that role (even if you switch heroes), simply because a “standard” team composition will have one tank and one support.

      • Boothie says:

        Yeah i pretty much never switch if i have more than 50% ult charge, that said if we need something else i will use my ult as soon as an even halfway decent chance to use it appears and then switch

    • MidianGTX says:

      It’s hard to judge by this short comment, but it sounds to me like it only adds to the problem. You can’t just keep using “other people can switch too!” as a reason not to switch. Even if you have three snipers and they’re refusing to budge, you shouldn’t lower yourself to their level and stubbornly refuse to make a change that might benefit the team.

  3. HefHughner says:

    I know i sound like Mr. Walker , but I wish they would implement the option to disable the chat permanently. Everytime a fourteen year old says something about my mom, to git gud or how ez it is to kill me, i say to myself: No, i’m too old for this. I really am, i should go and read a good book.

    • Pich says:

      if you go in the social menu in the pause menu there’s the option to block and/or avoid people you played with.

    • rb2610 says:

      Odd, I’ve played somewhere around 20-30 hours and I don’t think I’ve ever come across anyone being much of an arsehole.

      Most games have either been silent aside from the quick-chat calls and a “gg” at the end of a round or have just had a few comments ranging between mildly rude and generally pleasant.

      I’ve certainly never come across anyone who I felt I needed to block at any rate.

      Maybe I’ve just been really lucky.

      • -Opaque- says:

        I think I’m at a similar amount of play time and I can probably count the amount of times I’ve seen people loose it on one hand. It seems to be rare, but when it does happen I can’t help but laugh. I think thousands of hours of Dota have completely desensitized me.
        That being said if there was a way to completely disable chat I would, it’s a game I play to relax and it would be more relaxing without it. I’ve also never seen any real teamwork benefit from it as the chat commands (group up on me, ultimate is ready etc etc) are sufficient and the most used way of communicating anyway.

    • nailertn says:

      Open the social menu by pressing p, groups tab, channels column, click on the text bubbles. The setting is lost each time you close the game, I imagine intentionally so to “promote group play” or some such nonsense :).

      This option or lack thereof was literally making or breaking the game for me no matter how good the rest is, as stupid as it sounds. I actually quit LoL mainly because there is no “mute all” option. Coming home tired from work having to listen to teenagers spit venom at each other is really low on the list of things I want ruining my evening.

      • Thirdrail says:

        I thought the same thing about LoL. But I won in the end…

        Hit enter to type, and then use the mouse to grab the whole chat box by its border. Move it down so just the top pixel or two is still visible. Hit enter again, because LoL still thinks you want to type. The chat box stays down there until you pull it back up. If you ever do.

    • Touchstone says:

      That you think any of those statements are remotely serious says a lot. Your comment of frustration completes their work.

      • LennyLeonardo says:

        Wait, so it’s not serious, but “they” still want to annoy you enough that you feel the need to complain. And when you do it’s your fault for being thin-skinned. Beautiful. Maybe it’s this playground logic that sane adults prefer to avoid.

        • MidianGTX says:

          You could just take it on the chin. Play along. Give them a reply dripping in sarcasm. Apologise for playing so effectively they felt the need to comment. Anything that suggests you’re not bothered by their childishness. Then they’ll just be winding themselves up even more while you get on with the game.

      • Hmm-Hmm. says:

        Where does it say Hef takes them seriously? They might be annoying regardless. And saying “deal with it” isn’t really a solution.

  4. Pich says:

    Oh believe there are a bunch of srs bsns people around. yesterday for example a guy told me to kill myself on livestream so he could see because we lost on the last point in overtime.

    • Aitrus says:

      Well that freaking sucks.

      • mrbright01 says:

        I know. If they had just tried harder, they could have capped it and won the game!


        Joke aside, I rarely see that level of stupid aggression, but when it does happen, I tend to go do soemthing else for a while before I feel tempted to point out that they often contributed nothing to the group because they play the THIRD DAMNED HANZO REALLY DUDE GTFO *cough* excuse me. Had a little something caught in my *Ryū ga waga teki wo kurau* REALLY, YOU MISSED THE ENTIRE TEAM IN THE WORST CHOKE POINT ON THE MAP annnnd I’mma gonna go lay down now.

  5. aircool says:

    I’m having fun. I think it’s already time for a few tweaks though (obvious ones like McCree), but that’s the nature of the game.

    I don’t mind too much if people pick the same ninja or sniper, as long as they’re not the ones bitching about other players.

    If I could turn off chat, I’d be happier, but there’s not too many teddy-tantrum players around at the moment.

    I’m old and I’m slow. I’m no Q2 player anymore getting headshot after headshot with the railgun, but I’m still having fun.

    • nailertn says:

      Open the social menu by pressing p, groups tab, channels column, click on the text bubbles.

      As for being old and slow, and in my case having little experience with shooters, matchmaking can not get here soon enough.

      • Winstons says:

        Matchmaking is already in place, in the form of hidden MMR. Your win/loss ratio will be close to 50%. What they are introducing soon is Ranked mode.

        • mrbright01 says:

          Good. All the Headshot Kings can go rank, and leave me and my fellow old care-bears alone to do All McCree teams for giggles.

  6. yogibbear says:

    I can’t move myself out of the “mildly intrigued, but still not getting it”. I have played a lot of TF2 and a lot of DOTA 2, so surely I should love this game? But… I dunno… anyone else know what causes this sort of weird feeling?

    • benevolentmastermind says:

      But… I dunno… anyone else know what causes this sort of weird feeling?

      Old age? I know it’s definitely old age for me.

    • Chicanery says:

      If you’re like me and have 1000 hours or more in TF2, it takes a few hours to adjust. It’s different from TF2, but it’s also close enough that I tried the same tactics for a while. It just doesn’t work the same way, there’s less emphasis on verticality and air surfing, it’s a lot slower, and the maps seem to offer less character options than in TF2.

      Look at Tracer. She’s superficially like the Scout, but she can’t double jump or put out the damage that a skilled Scout can. Her blink seems like a double jump, but it offers no verticality. She can put out chip damage and harass a team, but she is nowhere near as versatile as the Scout.

      Once you adjust to the fact that you’ll be spending most of your time on the ground; that you don’t have 2x Capture rate; and that you cannot take out a tank on your own; that you don’t have crazy legs you can play well, but only after you dissociate TF2 and Overwatch.

  7. Kirrus says:

    It really sours it when other players get salty or even just when it feels like a game might take on that SRS BSNS flavour that started to spoil some of my Dota 2 experiences.

    Oh, this. I’ve seriously had to stop playing a few times because friends or aquaintances I’ve been playing with got too salty or annoyed at players. It just sucks the fun right out of the game.

    Mercy is a bit more fun when you start to get to use her little gun in moments when healing/damage boosting aren’t great. It does feel like it’s stealing damage boosting though..

    • lorddon says:

      I was starting to turn into your salty friends and had to take a step back.

      I frequently have this issue with Multiplayer only FPS games. I hate getting rolled by the other team, but I don’t have nearly the time to play to “git gud” and so I rage instead.

      I decided rather than sour the experience of everyone around my I would stop playing. I’m sure we’re all happier for it.

  8. Dances to Podcasts says:

    D.Va can deal with Reinhardts by boosting past him and shooting him from behind. Or just ignoring him completely and moving on to the point.

    • DelrueOfDetroit says:

      Or when your mech gets destroyed her pew pew pistol is good for weakening their shields or picking them off from a distance.

    • mrbright01 says:

      I feel Play of the Game should take a third-party “spectator” view and just show the PotG without singling out a single player on the team. Vexing to have Bastion get all of the credit when during the entire play I’m shielding his robo-butt so he doesn’t get one-shot.

  9. Rymosrac says:

    I’d buy ten copies if it had LAN support.
    But no, then people might run tournaments or events without Blizzard’s approval or licensing.
    Can’t have that, can we?

    • Palor says:

      You can do your own tournaments, but it will be hosted on Blizzards servers. There are no private servers or client side hosting, so yeah each computer would need to be on battle.net. But other than that there is a custom game mode where you can invite 11 other players of your choosing, you can even modify a large number of the “rules” of the game like limiting heroes or outright banning some, adjusting health pools, ultimate charge rates and all that.

  10. SingularityParadigm says:

    Graham, you say you don’t particularly enjoy playing Mercy…I have to wonder, are you following an individual character around for long periods of time healing and damage amping, or you making liberal use of her left shift leap ability? Whenever I play Mercy I am constantly ping-ponging from one teammate to the next healing/amping as needed, and it usually is quite intense. Also, I recently discovered that her pistol is quite effective and it is incredibly satisfying to eliminate any of the high damage or high health heroes.

    • SuddenSight says:

      Mercy really opened up for me as well after realizing how good her pistol is. That plus the dash and the float and the team rez actually tend to give her quite a bit to do. I feel like she (and many characters in Overwatch) are deceptive in that there is an easy way to play that does okay, but there are extra parts to their design that aren’t immediately apparent but add more depth. Lucio’s boop is another example of an easily-overlooked ability that is actually quite powerful.

  11. lasikbear says:

    Does anyone character switch? I mostly play Junkrat/Roadhog/Winston the whole match,

    Occasionally I will play Toblerone and switch from him if it seems like I won’t have time to get things setup, but otherwise the loss of ultimate charge feels bad, and its probably everyone else’s fault we are losing and I shouldnt have to deal with it.

    • Person of Interest says:

      I often character switch at the halfway mark. Most maps have distinctly different layouts for the first and second capture points; Volskaya Industries, Hollywood, King’s Row, and Temple of Anubis all have a chokepoint leading to an open area for the first capture point, and a long hallway with flanking corridors for the second point. On offense I may choose Winston followed by Reaper, or Lúcio followed by Zenyatta.

      I also switch characters if my team is stuck, but if we are losing a match, it’s hard for one player to make a big difference.

    • Premium User Badge

      gritz says:

      Symmetra to start, but if the nest and teleporter go down and the first point is taken, it’s usually not worth sticking with her or trying to get shields back up on everyone.

      • SuddenSight says:

        I’ve tried staying with her until the later points. You can set up flanking portals which sometimes catch the enemy off-guard, and her primary fire is actually quite damaging if you can let it go on for long enough.

        • Premium User Badge

          gritz says:

          It’s really just a matter of whether you have the time to get re-established after dying or not. If you die again before getting all your turrets back up and all of your teammates re-shielded, you should probably switch to someone who can be more immediately effective.

          Even Torb can get up and running in a fraction of the time it takes Symmetra.

      • Foosnark says:

        On maps like Temple of Anubis and Volskaya Industries, she actually can contribute quite a bit to the defense of point B — messing with flankers, denying sniping positions and health packs, or directly placing them on the point to give attackers a hard time. My highest win percentage is with Symmetra from playing her on defense on assault maps.

    • Doomlord says:

      Toblerone? Far as I know there’s no character with that name in the game.

      • LennyLeonardo says:

        These days you can only select Toblerone on the airport map.

      • Menthalion says:

        Really strange he got that nick since a Toblerone’s core is the one thing that’s hardest to melt

      • lasikbear says:

        Sorry, meant “Tjornabjorn”

    • Chicanery says:

      I normally play Tracer, because I’m not completely awful with her, but I’ll switch to Lúcio, Zenyatta or Reinhardt if my team needs me to, or if Tracer is being countered.

  12. DelrueOfDetroit says:

    I’m starting to come to the conclusion that the game should implement a one hero per match rule, or at the very least limit certain heroes to one per match. Specifically, Bastion. Doubling up on Bastions is becoming far too commonplace and is really starting to ruin the game’s fun. The other day I played a game where the entire other team were Junkrats. Joy.

    Pip, keep trying for that Zarya POG. I’ve gotten it at least once. You just need to pull of a good gravity bomb/plasma grenade combo.

    • Person of Interest says:

      It’s often to your advantage when the opposing team picks two of the same class, since you can then pick a counter-class and be twice as effective. Bastion is especially vulnerable to sniping from Widowmaker, Hanzo, or Zennyata; Any of those folks can kill him in the time it takes to mount his turret or reload. If you can’t get clean shots on Bastion, then your team has other problems.

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        Not to mention that there’s synergy between certain classes, so a mixed team should theoretically do better than a single character one.

    • onesandzeroes says:

      I agree with you on Bastion but otherwise I sometimes enjoy the wacky lineups you get from doubling down. I convinced all of my team last night to go Junkrat, bar one Lucio, so I guess I’m part of the problem? From what I could tell the other team thought it was funny, even when we won.

      I’m not immune to getting salty when our team can’t break through a defence made up of the more annoying combos, like Bastion hiding behind a bunch of Symmetra turrets, but I do like that the game is a bit more lighthearted sometimes and teams will just go along with your dumb ideas if you jump into the server and type “ALL JUNKRAT”.

      • Tiltowait says:

        for fun i would go along with all junkrat, or something equally wacky, otherwise no.

        • hjjools says:

          Once played a game where everyone on both teams was persuaded to go Lucio

          we managed to last at least 5 minutes with everyone on the objective and no deaths before people started in ones and twos to get bored, and change character :)

  13. Mejwell says:

    Just would like to point out that the hero selection screen only warns that you don’t have a builder when you’re playing defense, when it is arguably a necessary class.

    • SuddenSight says:

      I would argue against that, though. As far as I can tell, the builders are Torb Symmetra and maybe Mei? You can definitely make a good defensive comp without any.

  14. Scelous says:

    The biggest obstacle I’m encountering with this game, the one that ultimately causes me to quit playing for a bit, is being stuck with grotesque incompetents as teammates. Jesse Cox mentioned on his Twitter how one person was playing Zenyatta and never used healing orbs once, because he was “playing for fun and not to win,” as if those two are mutually exclusive. I do wish there was a “Pro” and “Casual” game selection mode. As it stands right now, I encounter teammates who are so bad that I just need to walk away from the computer for a bit.

    • Person of Interest says:

      Are you one of those folks I muted because they were shouting at me at how to play? :)

      Really, the matches only last five minutes, so if you are on a hopelessly outclassed team, just blame Blizzard for not matchmaking properly, and maybe screw around with a class you aren’t as familiar with.

      Your win rate is probably 50% on the money (mine has been, consistently, since I started), so just accept that you’re gonna lose games, and sometimes lose them badly.

      • Scelous says:

        I’ve been tempted to shout! But I haven’t yet. One reason is because people might have muted their voice chat, so I need to berate them via text chat.

        Seriously though, the extent of me showing my anger is saying, “This team f***ing sucks,” and then rage quitting.

        You’re right, my win rate is exactly 50%. At least it was last I checked.

        • Sarracenae says:

          I do wonder about the effectiveness of MMR in overwatch. Ever since people started playing the beta, people way better than me have been saying you can’t carry in overwatch. By definition MMR relies on the fact that a good player can carry a game to be really effective.

          I’m pretty laid back and just shrug my shoulders when i get a team of lemons who all pick 5 dps characters immediately. I don’t mind playing support, i quite like it, but some games i’d like to play widow maker please!

    • Winstons says:

      …those two ARE mutually exclusive – at least to him.

      The pro/casual thing will be fixed when Ranked mode is introduced later in June.

      • Menthalion says:

        They really should have Casual, Competitive and Ranked. Everyone that types in chat that “It’s just a game” should be forcibly relegated to casual for at least a month.

        • gunny1993 says:

          I believe, although don’t quote me, they’re working on competitive mode, they had it in beta but there were some problems I think.

  15. derbefrier says:

    I caved and bought it over the weekend and fucking love it. Makes me feeling like I am 17 years old again booting up TFC for the first time. On switching, Maybe it’s old habits from my competitive TFC days but if I see a a need to switch and I am able, I do it without question. If I am dps and we need an engineer I will switch, if ourhealers drops out and no one picks it up in a few seconds I will switch. I will switch as long as losing the class I am playing won’t make the situation worse. Also this game feels like a great step forward in this type of game were to be honest I always felt like TF2 was a step back and never really cared for it that much.

    I think a good player will always be open to switching and will if he sees it’s needed. But being the team player I am I generally switch before anyone else gets a chance too.

  16. Palor says:

    Reading this was somewhat painful. Overwatch is an easy at first glance by has a surprising amount of depth type of game. But it is not the games fault if you don’t take advantage of the training room which is surprisingly good or simply pressing F1 to read your characters abilities. Though it is a good sign that despite mostly complaints both Pip and Graham like the game.

    • SuddenSight says:

      This is the point that annoyed me a little in the article. I can appreciate that there are complexities not covered in the tool tips, and I can see how the tips can be seen as grating (I like them and find them useful though!).

      But I Overwatch is without a doubt the best explained multiplayer shooter I have ever played. CS:GO and TF2 just teach you how to point a gun and hit the ability button, then dump you in a game. The amount of feedback in Overwatch is miles better.

      • Premium User Badge

        Graham Smith says:

        Overwatch is much clearer than TF2 is today, but much less so than TF2 was a year after release. Back then the items in Team Fortress 2 were mostly discernable by their appearance, because they’re by and large physical weapons.

        Overwatch by comparison has far more magic. Orbs, knockbacks, ice attacks, that sort of thing. Lots of small little traps that just look like boxes with a light on top. And the heroes are much less clear to start off with, too: the Sniper and Widowmaker are both clearly snipers; Zenyatta’s function meanwhile is less clear by looking at him.

        The result being that it has to work much, much harder to make things clear and right now I don’t think it works hard enough. Being able to press F1 to see your skills explained is nice, but doesn’t help much if an enemy does something to you and you’ve no idea what.

        (TF2 as it stands today is obv. way more confusing than it was and has a lot of magic itself, though I’m pretty sure it also has bots and training functions and whatnot too).

  17. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    “Whereas in Overwatch the characters are responding – by which I mean, countering or designed to cope with – other characters, rather than necessary stages of the environment.”

    I don’t actually think this is true to the extent you say it is. Environmentally-aware play is important for virtually every hero in the game, whether it’s knowing that a Reinhart shield or Mei wall completely blocks a given passage, or knowing that a Lucio wall-ride or Genji doublejump can get you around into a back route to the point.

    Yes, the character knowledge curve is steeper thanks to having more characters and behaviors to learn, but it doesn’t take away from the importance of really mastering a level.

  18. SixTwoCee says:

    POTG chat is kind of funny to me, because in organized and/or competitive play it’s almost always the Mercy that gets it. Getting off a good Mercy res is pretty much the make-or-break moment of any strong push.

  19. Time4Pizza says:

    I mean out of all the things to be critical of, LEARNING the game is NOT one of them. It is possibly the most intuitive and easy to learn game since Pong. The characters? I spend 30 seconds playing one and I feel like I know their abilities and how to use them.

    If we want to be critical let’s talk about lack of depth in play modes, a ranking system, and a complete lack of any RPG elements. But in terms of learning the characters and their abilities, it took me one night of casual play to learn half of them, and the next night I learned the rest of them. Lack of clarity, instructions, and intuitive play is not what this game lacks.

    • Farsearcher says:

      I’ve had to spend more time than that learning different characters. I think you might be suffering from “talent blindness” -basically you’re naturally talented and find it easy to pick up.

      I agree that much of the game is easy to get to grips with, accessibility is Blizzards forte` after all but there are some things that could use better explanation.

  20. Farsearcher says:

    *A hall in an anonymous local community center, a number of people are seated in a circle, one of them rises to his feet.

    “Hi my name is Farsearcher.”

    The group responds “Hi Farsearcher.”

    “and I am…” he swallows the words seeming to take great effort “I am an embittered healer! Oh God it feels so good to let it out.” A weary looking middle aged man nods and smiles acceptingly “It’s ok Far, you can talk about your feelings here”

    “When I started playing there was this empty slot and the game said “no support characters” so I chose Mercy. I don’t mind being the healer and it was fun, I helped my team, kept people alive, it was going great. Then the next game the same little icon “no support characters” then the game after that and the game after that. I played Lucio sometimes when speed and group healing were needed over Mercy’s quick switching but still. Game after game I’d be the only person willing to heal. There’d always be a sniper always plenty of offense but healers? Rare as affordable flats in London. After a while I just stopped caring and became like everyone else. I still heal sometimes but.. nothing will heal the hurt inside me.”

    So yeah that’s the main thing annoying me about Overwatch so far. I’m not even a dedicated support player but I’ve spent more time with Lucio and Mercy than all the other characters combined. I’ve noticed there’s often a lack of tanks too another role I often take. Blizzard need to find a way to emphasize even more than they already have the importance of the objective over kills.

    Totally agree about play of the game too, in bland matches it should be scrapped and it should recognize fantastic healing or give dual credit where it’s appropriate. If Mei freezes a group and Pharah finishes them with her missile barrage Mei should get credited too.

  21. Aitrus says:

    I disagree with most criticisms in this article, minus the lore bit which I don’t care about. I character-switch fairly often and absolutely feel like I’m affecting the outcome (because I am). Mercy is the freaking bomb and she might be my favorite hero and playing her is incredibly satisfying (although if I am playing her, there’s pretty much 0% chance that I can switch to someone else). Environmental awareness most certainly comes into play for me. I can think of one example in the king of the hill stages, where I might switch between Pharah and another offensive hero depending on which of the three areas I’m in, because the shape of a map is more conducive to Pharah’s style of play.

  22. OmNomNom says:

    Its pretty fun for a bit, really well polished… but its also super casual. Very much a console style game.

    I predict it will draw in new players for a long time but no one will really stick with it for long because there just really isn’t that much going on with it.

  23. shagen454 says:

    I’ve been playing Overwatch for months but I still have a lot more fun playing Heroes of the Storm. Even with all of it’s glitz & glam, OW to me feels bland.

  24. Touchstone says:

    1) Zero communication. It’s got voice chat built-in. Are mics still a rarity?
    2) Going in one at a time. Just wait a couple seconds, it won’t lose us the game when we have 6 minutes on the clock.
    3) Insane, impossible deaths. Getting hooked through walls, getting shot through walls, skills I shoot and see hit not doing anything ’cause in the kill cam, well, I didn’t shoot anything at all!
    4) Balance issues. Maybe the cowboy is a bit too high damage. Egyptian goddess’ pathetic splash damage and insane cooldown on a largely useless (in comparison to Junkrat’s mine) concussion grenade.

    Pharah is probably my favorite, but if I want to play on easy mode, I’ll just use Junkrat. Boom!

  25. Morcane says:

    I played this religiously on release day and haven’t played it very little since. Why? I don’t know. After 2 matches, I just zone out and need to play something else. Why and how can people can stream / play this for 8+ hours a day….don’t get it.

    It’s a shame Battleborn got snowed under by the Overwatch hype train, since it’s by far the better game.

    • gunny1993 says:

      We’re you playing with friends on skype or whatever? I can only play it for 1 or 2 games if im solo before all the fun drains out of my life, when i’m grouped (like a lot of streamers play) I can go for hours.

  26. Hieronymusgoa says:

    funny enough i only had one play of the game so far and that was as symmetra. satisfying, though :)

    (normal, i guess, if you basically play support 90% of the time)

  27. gunny1993 says:

    The ability to switch characters is one of the reasons I like this game, it’s also the main reason I get so salty (In skype with my friends, not with randoms in chat, i’m always poilite with them).

    See, so many people don’t seem to realise that having one character you play all the time means you probably suck at the game, like really, you suck, doens;t matter if you win 50% of your gam,es with great ratios, because you’re basically saying “I wish to be at an obvious disadvantage in a certain % of my games”.

    And it’s usually bloody snipers, who deserve their own circle in hell when enemy team has a reinheart whilst defending the point, rest of the team has picked beefy siege breaker characters (Phara, Zarya, reinheart, junkrat, mei, lucio etc) and we’re just a tad off taking the point and some twat hanzo is 20 feet away failing to shoot anyone or CAPTURING THE FUCKING POINT.

    • Bweahns says:

      This is like the number one annoyance of virtually every modern team based FPS I’ve played. It is the bad playing as a sniper who can’t aim and never does anything useful, ever. This is especially egregious when you are attacking and not defending.

  28. spacedyemeerkat says:

    Graham, loved your D.va self-healing anecdote!

    I find myself playing Mercy most of the time, partly because no-one else will. Perhaps one day I’ll win play of the game.

    One day.

  29. patrickmahony says:

    Team composition is a big strategic part of overwatch. The possibility to switch character and adapte to the current situation can be a giant asset, with the right counter you can make a difference and even affect the whole match.

  30. Sobric says:

    A lot of people looking to play Mercy in this thread to fill the ‘healer’ role, but I think Lucio is by far the better healer for a disorganised team (i.e. most of them). His passive heal is pretty effective, and heals the whole team at once as long as you’re reasonably near and you can see them.

    His ultimate is where the big difference maker is, IMO. If you’re defending try to save it until a big push or enemy alt, if you’re attacking just announce it in chat and fire it off.

    On top of all that, the wall-running, speed boosting and realising his weapon isn’t bad for area denial make him an immensely fun AND effective healer/support.

    • Xocrates says:

      Lúcio is better IF the team hangs reasonably close together, which they often don’t.

      Mercy’s shift allows her to quickly move between the various stragglers and has a much high healing rate. Generally I hang around the ones pushing the objectives (i.e. the ones actually doing something useful) and quickly move to heal anyone else that comes into shift range.

      I generally pick Lúcio in the control point maps since they’re usually smaller maps where the team generally hangs closer together, but otherwise I prefer Mercy for her ability to quickly move between teammates.

  31. Rivent says:

    I truly don’t mean this as an insulting “git gud” comment, but in regards to the section about TF2 vs. Overwatch and how you don’t know who to switch to in Overwatch. I mean, that just comes over time. If you don’t know the hero abilities, you won’t know who to use when… but once you start internalizing everything, it becomes much more clear. I get that you feel that the game doesn’t give you enough information about abilities up-front and you don’t know what characters do, but that’s what F1 is for? It spells out each of the character’s abilities with a simple button press, so if you’re playing a hero and don’t know what to do, but can’t be bothered to look at this information, I’m not sure what else they can do to help, I guess?

    As to the in-article counter to that point, “Like, if you try to learn Zarya that way you won’t know that there’s an interaction between her shield barrier bubble things and the amount of damage her particle gun does as a result”… again, not trying to be an ass, but that’s just plain not true. Her ability description plainly states this. I know this to be true because I don’t play Zarya, but I know this interaction simply from reading her ability screen.

    I’m not going to argue that the game is without it’s flaws, but some of the points here really just boil down to being more familiar with the game. Of course you can see things more clearly in TF2, that game’s been around for almost 10 years. Give it some time ;)

  32. michael_hall24 says:

    Been playing it on PS4 (my PC is officially no longer up to modern games) and I’m really enjoying it but after only about 5 hours I find myself getting really annoyed with people choosing a bad character mix (seriously, we don’t need 3x reapers!) and then being overrun by a half-decent team mix. But I equally don’t want to be the guy yelling into the microphone that we need a healer and a tank (and actually in quick play on PS4 I haven’t noticed many attempts at communication/coordination).

    Does anyone know of any semi-casual groups that encourage a degree of team play but aren’t too serious? I normally just play whenever I have an hour free so can’t really commit to specific times etc. Probably a dumb question but I haven’t really played an online game before….

    • luckystriker says:

      Visit the Overwatch thread in the RPS forum (or other friendly sites like QT3) to find like-minded folks. Most are PC-oriented though.

  33. Tiltowait says:

    bastion is my first choice as most teams don’t have many players going defense, and can cause real trouble with a mercy support. d.va is one i like but is regarded as the weakest tank. junkrat is a fun choice if there is some support. i would like to play pharah as i get more experience. having a fair number of game disconnections right now, which is my biggest problem with the game. sorry no caps function atm.

  34. Bweahns says:

    I am enjoying this game with my mates. There is a very wide range of skill amongst us and this game does a good job of keeping everyone happy.
    I hate that some of the most vital characters are also the most boring to play. I occasionally switch to Shieldguy to get the cart moving, but it is no bloody fun. I enjoy playing Rocket Gypto and Sniper the most. I switch classes occasionally, usually for selfish reasons; when someone is using a character that counters me and they are playing well.

  35. Bweahns says:

    Oh, and I can’t stand the play of the day. It just wastes everyone’s time with some miserably bland couple of kills when we could be loading the next map and playing the next round. The delay before the game actually starts is too long as well. I mute voicechat in every online game I play and you can change classes whenever you want. There is no need for a minute of planning at the start of every game.