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Why Overwatch’s newest map has made me fall in love with its least popular hero

I really struggled with my first few outings in Overwatch’s new map, Horizon Lunar Colony. When my team was defending it seemed all too easy for the attackers to roll over us, especially on the first of two capture points, which has a wide-open approach and lots of entrances. I didn’t know which way to look. When I was attacking, I kept getting picked off from long distance, dying in the halfway house between safe cover and the point itself. It was rubbish, I thought. Badly designed.

I was wrong.

While skimming Reddit threads to pick up some tips for next time, I saw lots of people recommending you pick Orisa, which was a bit of a surprise. She’s one of the newest characters in Overwatch [official site] and the least picked hero in the entire game, according to stat trackers. I’ve always thought that her tanking skills were decent but that she has too many weaknesses to be viable. Her barrier is twice as weak as Reinhardt’s, another tank. Her gun deals low damage, and fires projectiles, which makes it difficult to aim. Her health pool is joint lowest out of any of the six tanks. And, to cap it all off, her head is massive. That matters in Overwatch, where headshots do double damage. Get a few decent shots on the noggin and she melts.

But I remembered the advice the next time the map came up in rotation, and picked her. “Orisa pls change”, came the inevitable comment in chat. I ignored it. And I’m so glad I did. Because as it turns out, Orisa is excellent on Horizon Lunar Colony. And more than that, since I made that pick I’ve been playing no other character in Overwatch, regardless of what arena I’m in.

Let’s start with why she works so well on this particular map. Her Fusion Driver has little spread and no recoil, and because it’s a projectile weapon there’s no damage drop off at range. So it’s perfect for those wide open spaces in front of the first point that I mentioned earlier.

There’s a big gap in the wall at the front of the control point. On defence, if you stick your shield down in that space you essentially have free reign over the battlefield in front of you, and can spam bullets at enemies as they come into sight in the distance, killing them or at least weakening them for the upcoming fight.

She works well on the high ground, too: to the left of the point there are some stairs and a raised platform. She can shield her team up there, digging in and making it hard for the enemy team to get past.

Because her shield has a cooldown of just 8 seconds, she can adapt to the enemy team’s movements. If you’ve got your shield dead centre of the point and the enemy wraps round to your right, all you do is reposition and deploy your shield in the right-hand choke point instead. And when the other team is on the point, you can retreat to the low ground behind it, plonk down a shield and be a real nuisance.

She works especially well with Torbjörn here – the two make a defence that’s near impossible to crack. Because the map is so open and has lots of weird and wonderful sightlines, Torbjorn’s auto-lock on turret can do a lot of work. All you have to do is deploy a shield in front of it and you’re gravy.

Her barrier has 900 hit points, so it takes a lot to shatter it and get to the turret behind. The same synergy works on the second point: send the dwarf up to the high ground to throw his turret down and lay down your shield in front of it. In the shot below, the shield blocks damage not just from below but from the left as well, in case the enemy team comes that way.

On attack, she’s less useful. But I’ve got to the point where I don’t care. In just a few rounds on Horizon Lunar Colony I fell in love with her skillset, which is one of the most versatile and quirky in the game. Now I’ll plump for her at any given opportunity.
Aside from her shield she has two other main abilities – Halt and Fortify. Both are incredibly fun to use, and make her a counter to a lot of different heroes. Halt creates a ball of energy that, when detonated, pulls all enemies towards it in a certain radius. It has so many uses, the most amusing of which is pulling enemies off ledges to their deaths. Try it at the central point in Ilios, which has a bottomless well in the middle.

You can also use it to pull snipers off high ground, yank enemies that you can’t quite reach into the air to expose their heads, or pull retreating enemies back around corners to finish them off.

Basically, it’s good to use at any time: when you fire it into a group it’s easy for your team to see where all the enemies will be pulled to, so all they need to do is focus fire on your detonation point.

And then there’s Fortify, which basically turns her into a monumental badass. It reduces incoming damage by 50%, but more importantly it makes her immune to environmental effects. Lucio can no longer ‘boop’ you off of edges. Mei can’t freeze you with her super annoying Blizzard ability, which puts everyone in the area inside an ice block. Perhaps most enjoyably, Reinhardt can no longer charge you. There’s nothing better than watching a 7’4” German in power armour hurtling towards you, popping Fortify, and seeing him bounce off, bemused.

Those abilities mean that Orisa excels when matches turn into all-out brawls on control points. When that happens, find yourself a spot on the periphery of a battle, and lay a shield down in front of you. Pop fortify, pull the trigger and don’t stop firing, except to Halt enemies to a given spot. Then, when you have it, lay down your ultimate ability, a Supercharger that increases allies damage by 50% if they’re in line of sight. Put it behind your shield – forming a so-called ‘Bongo Bunker’ – and you can save a lot of matches.

Orisa is four months old, but she pops up so rarely in multiplayer that playing her still feels fresh. Once you’re used to them, her abilities can give you more joy than those of any other tank. So next time Horizon Lunar Colony pops up in the rotation, don’t hesitate. Pick Orisa. You’ll give yourself a much better chance of winning – and you might just find yourself a new favourite hero in the process.

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Samuel Horti