Overwatch. The most recent big gaming phenomenon, boasting well over 20 million separate players, it’s been universally lauded as one of the best team-based shooter games in recent years. On that note, it’s been specifically noted to be a spiritual successor to Team Fortress 2, based on gameplay, its colorful world and style, and specifically, its characters.
Debatably the biggest thing that Overwatch has, compared to other shooter games, is its colorful cast of playable characters. From the poster girl of the bunch, Tracer, to even the lesser known characters like Symmetra and Torbjorn, they all have some sort of personality, great designs, and gameplay that is well-designed and fun! That being said, any player of the game will say that they have their favorites, their least favorites, and I’d like to talk about mine.
As far as judging goes, I’ll be using the backgrounds and personalities of the characters as a base, while considering both their designs and gameplay elements. I’m not the most competitive Overwatch player in the world, so I won’t be judging completely based on how good a character is in the meta, rather, it’ll mostly be my personal thoughts on the character’s story, depth, and personality. With that all said, let’s get to it, starting with number 22!
It makes me feel kinda bad to put Roadhog at dead last, but, I’ll be honest, there’s not much to him. His backstory is relatively interesting, formerly a man named Mako, displaced by the Australian government, and driven mad in a wasteland that used to be his home, he became a ruthless killer, losing his human personality as a result. However, that’s all there is to him: his voice lines are rather bland, his emotes portray him as a stereotypical rocker, and even his other skins, in my opinion, aren’t that good for him as a character.
Personally, I just don’t think Roadhog has much going for him. Playing as him is rather simplistic: hook, shoot, heal, repeat, and playing against a good Roadhog is…well, at the very least, I can say it’s interesting. You have to really play around his hook, avoiding it, staying away, and if you do get hooked, you’re basically dead. It makes for a simplistic character design – an effective one – but it’s just not my taste. So with only a decent design, a simplistic backstory, and uninteresting gameplay (mind you he can certainly still be fun to play), Roadhog starts off the list at dead last.
The TF2 Engineer ripoff – no I kid, Torbjorn’s pretty distinct. But Really, the Swedish Engineer to me, suffers most out of every character from lack of material that adequately showcases his personality. Mostly, all we know about him is that he is, and was, a top weapon designer, who, during the “Omnic Crisis,” was invited to the original Overwatch. Beyond this, all we get is…that he’s kind of a badass, and has some bitterness towards Omnics? This is why I say, if we perhaps got an animated short that better showcased Torbjorn, he might be higher up the list. He seems like he has potential to be a far more interesting character, but he just…isn’t.
On another note entirely, the way Torbjorn plays is very annoying to me. From my experience, Torbjorn essentially camps out, makes a turret, and babysits it. I mean, with the right character, he’s easy enough to deal with, but it just feels rather bland and routine to both play as him, and fight him. Something I personally value in a character is freedom of movement, dynamic gameplay, and, although it doesn’t matter much in the sense of ranking my favorites, it certainly doesn’t help Torbjorn much.
Junkrat, also known as Jamison Hawkes, is, straight from the overwatch wiki bio, “an explosives-obsessed freak who lives to cause chaos and destruction.” Living, like Roadhog, in the irradiated wasteland his Australian home became, his sanity dropped, and he gained a knack for handling explosives. Finding treasure, he became a target of gangs, so he hired Roadhog as a personal bodyguard, and went on an international crime spree.
To me, Junkrat is, similar to Roadhog, a rather simple character, benefiting from a more fun, crazy, Joker-esque, and affably maniacal personality. I mean, it’s interesting to see the effects of the plot of Overwatch have such an affect on a character, but overall, Junkrat feels like just that: the byproduct of the plot. However, his explosives make for absolutely fun gameplay in my eyes, and his personality in game, through emotes, highlight intros, and skins, all put him over the previous two heroes.
Coming in at 19th, is Aleksandra “Zarya” Zaryanova, Russian weightlifter, bodybuilder, and soldier. Much like the others, Zarya suffers a lot from lack of material, but just on a personal note, her backstory sounds to me like there’s a lot to explore. Surrounded by post-war destruction from a young age, she wished to gain strength for the people she cared for, which she did. When war visited again, she dropped everything she was doing for the sake of her friends and family, becoming a soldier.
However, what really puts Zarya at 19th, compared to the others, is a combination of her strong, confident personality, and her interesting gameplay. Already a unique character just in terms of design, her confident, almost cocky demeanor just works so well, and I honestly don’t know why. Maybe it just feels right. Top that off with her extremely unique energy barrier mechanics, and one of the best ultimate abilities in the game, and you have quite a fun character – even if there’s not too much depth to be found at the moment.
At 18th, we have Satya Vaswani, light-bending architect, and worker for the Vishkar Corporation. During the time period Overwatch takes place in, India aimed to build self-sustaining cities, and using new hard-light technology, such a dream became reality. Vaswani, originally living in squalor, was chosen as one of the few who could become such an architect, and due to her unique upbringing, treated the technology as something more fluid, than the mechanical approach used by her peers. The company that made use of her, the Vishkar Corporation, saw her as useful, and began sending her on more covert operations as “Symmetra,” gaining a willing servant who believes that she is doing good for the world, even if she does have her doubts.
I find Symmetra one of the characters with HUGE potential for growth. We’ve been given just enough about her past and her ideals to cement her as a rather concrete character: now, we just need a bit more material to flesh that out, perhaps an interaction with other characters of Overwatch. You can think of her placing here as kind of an inverse Zarya – her gameplay, featuring her Photon Projector, and hard-light turrets, isn’t very exciting to me, but her unique, rather open-ended story elements intrigue me. Perhaps in the future, when a character trailer is released for Symmetra, her character will be even better, but for now, she sits comfortably at 18th, thanks to her great characterization, good design, and decent gameplay.
Gabriel Reyes, former leader of Overwatch and high functioning psychopath comes in at number 17, rounding out the bottom six. Reyes actually has a decently interesting backstory, especially compared to the rest of the heroes so far. Leading Blackwatch, responsible for far more covert operations, he became jealous of the face of Overwatch, Jack Morrison, leading him to organize a rebellion, which ultimately resulted in his, and Morrison’s, supposed deaths. After genetic alterations, which caused his cells to decay and regenerate at an increased rate, he assumed the identity of Reaper, and began to hunt the former members of Overwatch.
That all sounds pretty cool right? And it is! This backstory, combined with Reaper’s badass design put Reaper above the rest of the bottom six. However, what keeps him from moving above that, is the fact that his actual character is…rather bland. An angry elite, jealous of the more famous, righteous man, starts a fight, and gets lost in psychopathy. He’s a very simple character, even after his backstory is delved into, and the fact that he has already appeared as the stereotypical evil antagonist in multiple animations and stories, means that there probably won’t be much growth for Reaper either, as opposed to the others below Reaper who still have room to grow as characters. On a complete side note- I love how Reaper just tosses aside his guns for new ones when he runs out of ammo- it’s so silly, but I love it.
Anyways, that’s all for this part of the top 22- the rest of the countdown will happen over the course of the week! 16-11 will be tomorrow, 10-6 will be Thursday, and 5-1 will be Friday!