Overwatch Does One Thing Better Than Any Other Game
Overwatch has managed to pull off something rather special. People may flock to the likes of Tracer, Widow Maker, McCree and Reaper, but the true heroes of the team are the supports.
Always vital, rarely appreciated, supports are one of the keys to success. Traditionally, supports have been seen as the boring option, constantly glued to people’s side as they heal and try to stay out of trouble. Offering little in attack, the image of supports has been rather lame. Overwatch does a good job of changing things around.
With four supports on offer, Overwatch supplies its heroes with unique abilities and traits. Each of the supports differ in how they aid their team. It’s not a case of following people around and spamming the same button over and over. Blizzard have already been there and done that in past titles. Their appreciation for interesting ways to support players has grown steadily in the likes of World of Warcraft and Heroes of the Storm.
Spam healing is simply not good enough, nor is it fun. Overwatch takes the concept of healing and supplements it with options. Lucio’s ability to switch between healing and speed is subtle, but it has a profound impact on each match. His mobility is one of the best in the game, mostly due to him being able to wall ride. Suddenly Lucio becomes more than just a healer, he enables pushes and causes distractions. His healing and speed works as a constant area of affect, allowing his mobility to be the perfect tool to ensure skilled players can make the most of his skills.
The real success to Lucio is how active he is. Supporting is a by-product of playing him, it does not purely define him. His active nature makes supporting a much more engaging experience for the player. Learning when to switch between healing and speed, nailing the perfect time to boost his abilities, is hugely satisfying. These mechanics are what make Lucio much more than just another support hero.
Zenyatta is arguably Overwatch’s most creative support choice. Possessing low health requires careful play, even more so given how often enemy players focus on him. His abilities can render most enemies useless. His orbs can debuff enemies, causing them to take heavy damage. This ability allows Zenyatta to become something of an assassin in his own right. Attacker heroes will fall within two hits after being debuffed, while tanks will only take a few more. Unlike most of the other supports, Zenyatta is just as affective attacking than he is supporting. It’s another effective way of keeping the player engaged, stopping them from being boxed in as nothing but a healer.
Blizzard’s creativity can see in the mechanics of Symmetra. While her main support skill may be providing shields to players, her other skills are extremely useful. It may not be supporting in the traditional sense but Symmetra’s turrets allows her team to hold areas effectively. Their constant beam of damage can force back advancing enemies. Creative players can even attach turrets to moving objects or payloads. Her ultimate provides players with a teleporter, providing a direct route to the front line.
Zenyatta is about preservation, Lucio thrives on mobility, Symmetra is all about placement. Blizzard’s ability to carefully craft three hugely differing supports, each with their own focus, is brilliant. Mercy fills the typical support role, but her comrades are creative twists on the formula. All of their mechanics work neatly in the content of Overwatch. Each map supports Lucio’s wall ride, every corner presents opportunity to lay down turrets. There’s never any case of a support hero feeling weak or out of place.
As someone who has played support roles in most multiplayer titles, from MOBA, MMORPGs to shooters, Overwatch is the first to fully nail the role. It’s an element few have seemed to highlight, focusing more on the more obvious traits of the game. Blizzard deserve credit for turning a role often stuck in its ways into a much more fulfilling experience.