Blizzard unveiled the final three Overwatch heroes at this year’s BlizzCon and I have to say that all three really piqued my curiosity. The new characters joined the Overwatch beta roster in yesterday’s patch and I’ve spent a bit of time taking them all for a spin. Read on for our impressions.
This adorable climatologist was an instant hit with the community on her design alone. If you agree that Overwatch looks like a Pixar movie in game form, Mei really captures this notion better than anyone else in the cast. Heck, she even totes a drone on her back that looks strikingly similar to WALL-E’s EVE.
Visual design aside, Mei is a defense character with a ridiculous amount of crowd control at her disposal. In my earlier gaming years, I was all about doing the most damage and scoring the most kills, but nowadays I tend to enjoy all three roles (damage, tanking, support) fairly equally, though I lean a bit towards characters and roles that can be disruptive and Mei fits this description perfectly.
Equipped with an endothermic blaster, Mei can continuously fire at multiple enemies with a freezing stream that will slow them and eventually freeze them in place. Some of the nimbler (and squishy) characters in the game now have a devastating counter and even if Mei doesn’t score the kill herself, freezing other players sets up kills against these high priority targets for your teammates easily and consistently. That’s not to say Mei doesn’t pack a wallop on her own. The blaster’s right click fires an icicle-like projectile that will chunk most enemies significantly.
Mei’s got a decent amount of hit points and incredible survivability in Cryo-Freeze, which should be familiar to anyone who has played World of Warcraft; it’s basically Ice Block. Cryo-Freeze is key in allowing Mei to get into groups of players and do her job, since she’s sorely lacking on mobility to get in and out of fights. If things get too hot, simply hit Cryo-Freeze and chill out for a few seconds while you regain your HP.
One of Mei’s most unique abilities is her Ice Wall. Think of this ability like Anivia’s wall from League of Legends. It can be both a boon and a bane to your team, depending on how skilled your Mei is. The Ice Wall can also be placed underneath yourself or an ally to boost them up to higher ground, which can be crucial in a clutch moment. I’ve not quite mastered this one yet, but proper use of the Ice Wall is likely to be what separates good Mei players from great ones.
Finally, Mei’s ultimate allows her to toss her EVE-looking drone into a group of enemies, dealing area-of-effect damage and rapidly freezing all enemy players in the vicinity. This skill is great for setting up wombo-combos with other players.
Who doesn’t love a robot ninja? Fans have been speculating about this character for some time now, but now we’ve got the full picture. As it would turn out, this cyborg ninja is actually Hanzo’s brother, establishing an interesting in-game rivalry between the two characters. On the design side, Blizzard has said it has struggled with balancing Genji throughout development due to his binary balance state when designed as a melee character. Genji either had to be buffed up enough that he was overpowered in order to survive or underpowered to bring him in line. Unable to strike a middle ground, Blizzard shifted Genji’s melee capabilities into a high moment ultimate, making him more of a ranged character while his ultimate is down.
I found myself pretty apprehensive of this when I first saw the reveal and after playing Genji I can’t say my fears were unfounded. I understand and appreciate Blizzard’s struggle with the character, but running around throwing ninja stars all the time until your ultimate is charged just doesn’t hit the ninja fantasy notes for me. It feels like you spend half your time playing him just trying to charge his ultimate so you can actually feel like a cyborg ninja and go nuts. Genji is also incredibly squishy, so there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to take full advantage of his melee capabilities once you hit the button.
Now, if you don’t mind most of the ninja fantasy being packed into Genji’s ultimate, he does seem quite strong. Genji can climb up walls like Hanzo, but he takes things even further with the addition of a double-jump. Genji also has a potent dash that can be used when combined with his climbing and leaping skills to make him hard to pin down in a fight or to rack up a bunch of kills during his ultimate (the dash resets on kill).
My favorite Genji move is Deflect. This move allows you to deflect any projectile towards your cursor. This means you can pull off crazy stuff like use an enemy Bastion’s barrage of fire to kill his allies or even deflect powerful ultimates, such as Zarya’s Graviton Surge. I still need a lot of practice with this one, but the potential for some Play of the Game moments is definitely there if you can pull off some clutch Deflects.
D.Va is a pretty meta character. She’s a former professional StarCraft II player who pilots an adorable bunny-like mech and streams her adventures to her fans. D.Va is a tank hero with some really fun design choices. D.Va is sort of two characters in one. When you load in, you’re piloting her mech, but you don’t die when your mech does. Instead, D.Va is ejected from the mech and can then run around with her pistol. If she manages to charge up her ‘ultimate’ by landing enough hits with her pistol, she’ll be able to call in a new mech and get back into the action in full form.
D.Va’s primary form of attack is through her mech’s fusion cannons. These cannons have infinite ammo and don’t overheat, but they are fairly short range and slow D.Va down considerably while firing. Thankfully, it isn’t hard for D.Va to get into position, as she can use her mech’s boosters to fly around the map on a short cooldown.
Defense Matrix is the centerpiece of D.Va’s kit as a tank. This ability projects a targeting screen that will intercept and shoot down all projectiles in its area. It’s pretty satisfying to completely nullify an enemy’s attacks while pushing forward or shield your allies from a full barrage of missiles from Pharah’s ultimate.
D.Va’s ultimate ability, Self-Destruct, allows her to manually eject from her mech and detonate it after a short delay for an absolutely massive explosion. This thing will kill anyone caught in its huge blast radius, but the catch is that it’s fairly easy to avoid if you don’t coordinate it with another player that can ensure the enemy team remains in the area. Simply ducking behind an object will completely shield you from the explosion, so pairing up Self-Destruct with another character’s ultimate, such as Zarya’s Graviton Surge or Mei’s Blizzard will probably be best for achieving full effect. It’s great when you can land it, but it feels a bit too dependent on other players to work.
All in all, I’d say the new trio of characters do a great job of spicing up the Overwatch cast, but Mei is definitely still my favorite of the three. D.Va is a really fun design, but I feel that other tanks such as Zarya and Reinhardt are a bit more straightforward in doing their jobs. I probably won’t play too much of Genji due to my aforementioned issues with the character, but anyone without my particular hangups will likely have a ton of fun with him.
What’s your take on the new characters? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!