[Before I start, big thanks to Pixie and Luna for helping me get this thing up and running! You guys are the best.]
Before we start, I should say that 2015 has been an odd year in gaming for me. My love for gaming had been steadily fading for the past few years. I still enjoyed what I played, but I found that less and less games were appealing to me. The industry was becoming boring, stale, and increasingly toxic. In some respects it still is, but my love for games has recently been revived after the recent E3, which was the most excited I've been for any games in recent memory. Brace yourselves, this is a long one.
In addition to new games in some of my favorite franchises like Doom and Fallout (which I've recently given a second chance after BoS), we've also had gameplay for newer games like Cuphead, Rainbow Six Siege, and No Man's Sky. Best of all, we've had exciting new IPs sprout up like Horizon Zero Dawn, Abzu, and most excitingly for me: Overwatch.
I spent many of my gaming years hating online multiplayer. I disliked the principle, the players, and the always-online necessity of the whole ordeal. However, after getting into games like World of Tanks, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, TF2, and Fistful of Frags, I've gained a new respect for the multiplayer genre, even if they house some of the worst, critterly people known to gaming.
One of the reasons I'm so excited for Overwatch is that it's looking to be a breath of fresh air in the otherwise generic, bland sea of multiplayer first person shooters. Colorful, franticly hectic, and with a wide variety of fun and interesting characters, Overwatch has such an exciting, refreshing vibe to it. I'm sure that this list will be voided pretty soon, what with all the unannounced characters being teased. But for now, please enjoy my top five (announced) Overwatch heroes.
Look at this furry bastard. Who doesn't love gorillas? I know I do, and Winston looks to check all the "things I like as much as gorillas" checkboxes. A cool-ass short-range Tesla cannon? Check. The health pool of a tank but the mobility of an assault class? Check. The ability to create a shield to give me and my Overwatch buddies a chance to catch our breath in the heat of battle? Check, check, and check. The best part? After racking up enough prominence on the battlefield, you can enter Primal Rage mode and rip people apart with your bare hands! Overall, the tanky, close-quarters combat opportunities mixed with the opportunity to retreat if the need arises lands Winston at number five on my list.
I hate healing classes with a burning, fiery passion. The tagalong nature of "follow your incompetent partners in war as they throw themselves in front enemy fire" never appealed to me. However, Mercy seems to be doing just enough to shake up the medic class to warrant a second chance and a spot at number four. The first thing that struck me with Mercy's gameplay was the mobility. Generally, medic classes are fast but still relegated to playing catchup with the more mobile heroes.
However, in addition to the standard buff health and damage abilities, she has a wide variety of ways to zip around the maps, like one that allows you to quickly dash to an injured teammate and another that allows you to glide from high places. By coupling this with other classes' flight skills, you can jump to an airborne teammate and then glide over obstacles to reach your destination. Her Resurrect ultimate will allow you to bring dead teammates immediately back to life, and helps to take a bit of the pressure off of the player when things get too hectic to effectively manage your team.
I love cowboy tropes. The Wild West is a setting that isn't used nearly enough in video games, and McCree looks to bring the gunslinging, six-shootering, ham-fisted cowboy quotes to the Overwatch battlefield. With his badass handcannon of a revolver, a generous supply of flashbangs, and the ability to reload while combat-rolling in between enemy fire, he has a unique mix of fast-paced and tactical strategy necessary to excel on the battlefield and avoid an untimely end. And that untimely end can come quicker than you'd expect, too. McCree is a relatively slow hero, with a relatively small health pool and an even smaller amount of mobility options.
His gun, while seemingly powerful, doesn't have nearly as much range as characters like Widowmaker, Bastion, or Soldier 76 appear to have in the early gameplay demonstrations. Still, he can hold his own in battle, and his flashbangs stun opponents more than long enough to gun down a pesky player. His ultimate is Deadeye which, while standing still, allows him to line up shots on opposing players and, in true Wild West gunslinger style, rapidly unload into each of them in a super-fast blitz of bullets. Oh, and a tumbleweed rolls by as he does it. Amazing.
NNNNGH. That's all that needs to be said, really.
Huh? A detailed explanation? Fine, I guess. Tracer is a fast-to-die, ever faster moving, time-hopping, space-time defying, ex-Overwatch, ex-military test pilot hailing from the great country of tea and posh accents that is England. After a freak accident on a secret Overwatch aircraft gave her the ability to time-travel and fade in and out of existence, she joined Overwatch proper as an elite agent. Sound cool? It is.
Tracer has some of the most unique abilities I've ever seen in a multiplayer shooter. In addition to her fast-firing dual wielded pistols, she has the ability to dash forward in short bursts, making her easily one of the fastest classes in the game. She can also rewind time using her Recall ability, which backtracks her along the path you played a few moments before, reseting her position, health, ammo, and buffs to their previous status.
Her ultimate, a relatively high-damage sticky bomb, seems horribly mundane until you see it coupled with her abilities. By combining all of her powers at once, it becomes possible to weaken some particularly resilient opponents with your pistols, dash behind their shield, plant a bomb on the central enemy, and rewind time before they even have a chance to respond, detonating them within seconds of when you first fired your guns. Badass? Badass.
Laugh at me all you want, but one of my favorite weapons in TF2 was the Sniper's Huntsman bow. Nothing strikes fear (or rage) into the hearts of your opponents like the New Zealander Mun-dee Mundy's badass sniper rifle alternative (aside from the Engi's mini-sentries, perhaps). As broken as it may appear, the thrill of tracking the enemy team's movement and leading the shot before raining pointy death from above makes for great gameplay.
Movement, tracking, and pointy death are all key staples in the Japanese mercenary Hanzo Shimada's arsenal. His bow combines the accuracy of a bow, the erratic kick-assery of a shotgun, and the cold calculation of a master tracker. In addition to Hanzo's normal powerful bowshots, his bow can also fire sonar-emitting arrowheads that can track opponents through walls in a small radius. Not rad enough for you? He has a Scatter Arrow ability, which lets him shoot multiple small arrows that bounce off of walls and can kill more than one opponent at once.
When combined with his passive ability to briefly climb up walls to higher ground, some great new strategies can come about. You can climb up and send a sonic arrow into the enemy team's location to track their movements, scout ahead for your team, or even use ricochet arrows to get behind an enemy's shield and rip him (or her!) a new one. His ultimate ability allows him to summon the spirit of a dragon, which passes through walls and deals high (though not always lethal) damage in a straight line ahead of him. This amalgamation of agility, versatility, and adaptability lands him at the top of my "characters I want to get my grubby hands all over" list.
While there's always the chance that Blizzard could radically change a character's abilities (as they've already done with characters like Bastion), these characters are easily my favorites for the time being. While the release of Overwatch is still months and months away, the devs have been drip feeding new story, content, and gameplay videos on their official YouTube channel (including glorious 1080p60fps hero gameplay videos).
Could I be getting hyped over nothing? Yeah. Is there a chance that the game may be nowhere near as good as it seems? Could very well be. But, for the moment at least, I'm getting really excited for it and I hope that I've introduced all you amazing Destructoid people to some of the rad new stuff Blizzard is doing with their first new major IP in almost 20 years. Because as a fan of online games in general, the better the community, the better the game. And you guys are a pretty damn great community!
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and favorite heroes (if you have any favorites, that is) in the comments below! Carp out.