Alright, getting into the top 10, let’s go.
Once again, I am not judging by gameplay mechanics, I am mostly judging based on character design and backstory. What kind of personality do they have, does it make sense, is it unique? These are the kinds of questions I’m asking in judging these heroes, and as such, it’ll be extremely subjective. It’s purely my opinion. With that out of the way, let’s start the top ten!
Widowmaker makes the top ten primarily due to the extent of her messed up backstory, and boy, it’s really something. Originally Amélie Lacroix, she was a regular woman, married to her husband Gérard, until the terrorist organization Talon kidnapped her and brainwashed her. She was returned to the real world with seemingly no change- until she, on behalf of Talon, killed Gérard, and returned to fully complete her conditioning. With her inability to feel emotions, lowered heart beat, and now cold, blue skin as a result of lowered blood pressure, she had become the perfect assassin who kills to feel alive.
Widowmaker is an example of how sociopathic tendencies in a character are done right. Reaper, much earlier on in the list, doesn’t pull it off well, having no backstory that directly leads to his murderous nature, nor any redeeming character trait that makes you give a crap for him. Widowmaker, on the other hand, has a backstory that makes sense for a cold, calculated assassin, and beyond that, there are implications in-game that Amélie used to be a nice person. These great bits of characterization, as well as her sleek dark blue design, are what put her at straight number ten in my book.
9. Soldier 76
Essentially the Batman of Overwatch, Soldier 76’s design, personality, and backstory scream “badass.” Originally named Jack Morrison, he was a moral, upstanding enhanced soldier, and when selected to be a part of Overwatch during the Omnic Crisis, he happily accepted. After the Crisis had ended, he became the Strike Commander, leading as the face of Overwatch – at least, until internal tension escalated to a conflict at the Swiss Headquarters that left him seemingly dead. Donning the new identity of Soldier 76, hardened by the trials of the past 30 years, Morrison began to search out financial institutions and former Overwatch bases, searching for the truth behind the fall of Overwatch.
Soldier 76 has probably the most expansive background out of every character in the game, and it paints him as a rather interesting fellow. Angrier, bitter, and very confident in his own abilities, Soldier 76 remains devoted to the general cause of good, even keeping enough sentiment to express sadness that he can’t fight with Overwatch. He’s older, putting off the “old veteran” vibe, yet his arrogance, much like other characters on the list, doesn’t come off as unwarranted. From a design standpoint, I appreciate its simplicity, just like how his gameplay feels. It’s very simple- but it’s also very effective.
If I had to sum up Winston in one word, it would be “fun.” Winston is a fun character, and an immensely creative one as well. A genetically modified gorilla, raised on the moon of all places, from a young age he showed huge mental potential, and was then raised under Dr. Harold Winston. Giving Winston a huge admiration for science and the ideals of the world, when other gorillas revolted and killed the humans of the moon base, Winston escaped, building a rocket that sent him to Earth. Finding Overwatch, he was able to become both a soldier and scientist, becoming a valued member of Overwatch, and saving the life of Tracer. Even after its fall, Winston treasured his time with the organization, waiting and hoping for the day such heroes could return.
Winston is the definition of a gentle giant, and stands out among the rest of the vaguely humanoid characters of Overwatch. Showcasing the cartoonish, creative vibe of the game very well, Winston to me, is simply a lovable character. Regardless of personal preference, after watching his animated trailer and knowing of his backstory, I can’t imagine anyone really disliking him. He just seems lovable to me! His gameplay is also very fun on top of this- hopping on top of your enemies, shocking them senseless and bailing- it’s so good. Winston is the feel-good character of Overwatch in my book, and it’s great to see.
Genji, I admit, hits a lot of my soft spots as far as character archetypes go. He starts off as a brilliant, yet lazy son of the Shimadas, and if you recall from Hanzo’s backstory: they were involved in some pretty illegal stuff. Genji lived lavishly, taking advantage of his upbringing, excelling at his training simply because he enjoyed it, and otherwise staying out of the dark side of his family’s affairs. Confronted by Hanzo, he was left for dead, until Mercy saved him and brought him to Overwatch. From there, he was gifted with a cybernetic body, which he used to then dismantle the Shimada criminal empire.
Beyond this simple backstory, however, we are explicitly told Genji’s main character struggle- his hate of his own mechanical body. After successfully taking down his own family’s empire, he abandoned Overwatch, and like many brooding characters in media, went off on his own to find meaning and inner peace. Running into the monk Zenyatta, after a long period of time, Genji accepted his teachings, and learned to reconcile his mechanical half with his human soul. Having found peace, he went back to confront his brother Hanzo, to forgive him, and share a little bit of his newfound wisdom.
If Soldier 76 has the most media detailing his backstory, then Genji almost certainly has the most depth. What I mean by that, is that out of all other Overwatch heroes, Genji seems the most like a fleshed-out character. Going from a hedonistic lifestyle, to a lone agent, to dealing with internal conflict and finally finding his own peace, I just love how detailed the character growth for Genji is. Beyond being a green cyborg ninja, and an extremely complex hero to play to boot, Genji has some of the best characterization in the game, and I love it.
D.Va, or Hana Song, is the best South Korean Starcraft II player in the world, and as such, during the Omnic Crisis, was called out by the government to pilot the MEKA robot to defend the homeland. That’s about it.
D.Va doesn’t have as much concrete backstory as the others, and in terms of character development, she doesn’t have anything, even compared to some of the heroes below the top 10. Why then, is she up right before the top 5?
D.Va has SUCH a good design.
Perhaps I am biased here, but I absolutely love the idea of having a nerdy pro gamer girl from South Korea being a character, among assassins, giant apes, military powerhouses, and more. Yes, she’s undoubtedly designed to be cute, but the self-referential quotes, taunts, emotes, and colorful design just work so well in regards to Overwatch. I’d make the case that, in terms of sheer personality and character design, D.Va is absolutely the best character in the game. The creativity that obviously went into designing her shows, and makes her stand out among badass snipers, space monkeys, and explosive freaks.
You know, I’m absolutely sure now that I’m biased, considering my preference for her design, but you know, I think I’m fine with that. The Overwatch team went all out in designing her as a cute, relatively nice, unashamedly self-referential character, which works in tandem with a unique style of gameplay to make her one of the best heroes of Overwatch, in my opinion.
Alright. The Top 5 starts tomorrow! Let me know what you think of the list so far, and of course I’ve gotta ask, who are your favorite heroes?