Jeremy enjoys gaming when not helping manage the college he graduated from.
Heroes in Overwatch
The team-based multiplayer shooter game Overwatch released back in 2016 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, quickly accumulating critical acclaim and scores of eager players. As we've been blasting our squads through these enticing online battles, the Blizzard staff behind Overwatch has held our interest with new skins, characters, and balancing, constantly adjusting our lists and tiers of the best Overwatch characters.
Each hero offers a unique blend of hit points, mobility, passive and active skills, as well as an ultimate ability, greatly diversifying them and ensuring each group has a unique theme. You can even swap characters mid-match, adjusting to fit your current situation, although most players quickly gravitate towards one or two "mains".
But with dozens of awesome warriors duking it out across a heap of maps, which combatants reign supreme? These are the current top-tier characters in Overwatch (as of 2018) for your six-member team!
Ultimate: Transcendence, becomes invincible and all heals nearby allies for the duration
This robotic healer offers some cool magical orbs that not only buff allies but detriment enemies. One can be thrown to a companion to gradually restore their health, a useful ongoing trick that lets you disregard healing for the next few moments. Then, you've got two orbs to toss at your foes; Orb of Discord places a mean debuff that increases the damage they suffer by 50%, no laughing matter, while Orb of Destruction offers a single primary ranged shot or an alternative chargeable burst.
Use your Discord to dampen foes, then find cover as you charge your alternate fire, ripping into them once ready. With these moves, Zenyatta can be surprisingly effective at damage, but he's definitely meant to be protected by bigger tanks, so keep him away from the melee. Luckily, when you build enough resources to activate Transcendence, you become unable to attack but invulnerable, healing any nearby allies. This handy ultimate lets your team push forward without fear of death or need to protect you.
Ultimate: RIP-Tire, manually steers a huge bomb towards foes
Junkrat is the game's trap/AoE (Area of Effect) expert, focusing on wide blasts and planted explosives more than precise shots. Junkrat's objective is both to weaken multiple foes with his chaotic blasts and limit their mobility by rendering certain passages unsafe—making them much easier targets for your allies.
Junkrat works best at a distance or in the air against ground-based foes, raining unpredictable mayhem with his Frag Launcher. Not only does his Concussion Mine let him place traps that take off big chunks of health when detonated, but he can also even run into his own Mine to launch into the air, taking no damage from the blast!
Also, Junkrat's Total Mayhem passive causes an explosion when he dies, so try to get near some enemies before falling. His RIP-Tire ultimate carries a distinctive noise that can make sneak attacks tricky, but when it hits, it unleashes an incredible amount of damage. Essentially, Junkrat's a fun fire-and-forget fighter who forces foes to flee with his formidable firepower.
Ultimate: Graviton Surge, a large bomb that pulls, pins, and damages foes
Zarya's a unique warrior who takes some skill to master but can be deadly in the right hands. This Russian gal veers on the less-sturdy side of tanks, but compensates with impressive damage output, offering a nice blend of offense and defense. Zarya's main tactic is to attack head-on with her impressive Particle Beam, a straight shot of energy that's pretty easy to aim. Also, Zarya can use Particle Barrier to not only absorb incoming damage but use that energy to briefly increase the strength of Particle Beam.
This is an excellent tool but needs precision to fully utilize, as it only lasts a few seconds and has a lengthy cooldown. Luckily, Zarya also wields Projected Barrier, essentially Particle Barrier but for allies. Since this possesses a shorter cooldown and longer duration, be sure to shield your teammates as often as possible, especially because of its power boost stacks with Particle Barrier's. Finally, while Zarya's ultimate Graviton Surge doesn't stun foes (they can still attack), it pins and damages them, making any who survive the detonation easy prey for your squad.
Ultimate: Meteor Strike, soars into the air, aims the attack, and unleashes a devastating blow
The villainous Doomfist offers power and mobility to provide incredible damage output. His default Hand Cannon is a short-range spread shot that shouldn't be underestimated as a fierce and easy-to-land close-quarters attack. Rocket Punch is a chargeable move that's solid even when uncharged, bursting forward to smash foes and quickly traverse the field. Then, Rising Uppercut offers a great way to launch foes (and yourself) into the air, offering even more battlefield navigation.
As tempting as it is considering his melee capabilities, resist the urge to blindly charge in with Doomfist. Since he doesn't have the armor of a tank, he can't take large amounts of punishment. Instead, choose your strikes carefully and use your mobility to stay on the move, ready to exploit openings with powerful offensive bursts.
To help you maneuver, Doomfist's ultimate Meteor Strike not only causes a large amount of damage, but it's also an awesome method for getting behind the enemy, flanking them and quickly decimating their ranks.
Ultimate: Self-Destruct, ejects D.Va as her suit explodes to inflict huge damage on any nearby enemies
D.Va here starts as a tank-like character piloting a protective mechanical robot, ultimately morphing into an agile and powerful (albeit fragile) foot soldier. Inside her suit, this Korean combatant's Fusion Cannons can attack from multiple ranges but deal more damage up close. Firing them slows her, so balance your blasts with needed mobility.
Thankfully, Boosters offers an awesome way to quickly move in any direction, pummeling anyone in your path, and Defense Matrix can help soak up projectile damage for your team.
Ultimate skill Self-Destruct will very likely kill any foes in its blast, and helpfully leaves allies unscathed. However, D.Va will now be mechless, and only equipped with her new Light Gun weapon. It's surprisingly effective and damaging at all ranges, but you'll need to be quick on your feet to dodge fire and keep your exposed combatant alive (her new health cap is pitifully low) as she passively builds for her new Call Mech ultimate to regain her defenses.
Ultimate: Rally, provides nearby allies with armor and lets Brigitte move faster
Brigitte's a unique tank/support hybrid, helping absorb enemy fire while also healing allies, and she's enjoyed a surge in usage thanks to recent buffs in season 12. Unlike most supports, she works best in thick of things, so move on up to the frontlines. Rocket Flail has nice range for a melee ability, and landing it is crucial as it activates Brigitte's healing passive. Repair Pack offers a great recovery for teammates since it'll provide armor if an ally reaches their max health, ensuring it's never wasted.
Whip Shot takes practice to land reliably, but it's got a low cooldown, long-range, and can disrupt charging foes, making it an excellent suppression tool. Barrier Shield provides an energy barrier to soak up frontal damage; it's not as wide as Reinhardt's barricade, so focus more on defending yourself than trying to cover allies.
Finally, while Rally depends on being near allies, it can be a formidable ultimate if you manage to boost most of your team, granting everyone the armor they need for an all-out assault.
Ultimate: Valkyrie, gains buffs to all stats, lowers cooldowns, and allows unlimited flight
Mercy may very well have the worst damage output in the game, so skip her if you're looking for a brawler. However, she offers unrivaled healing and support, especially in teams that communicate well. Mercy should partner with an ally, staying close enough to boost them but far enough to hide. She can unleash two beams, one to regenerate her ally's health and one to increase their damage output, allowing you to adjust your offensive and defensive support as needed.
With just a two-second cooldown, Mercy can rapidly travel the field with Guardian Angel, escaping dicey situations or traveling to an injured comrade, and Resurrect is (as of this writing) the only way to revive defeated allies in the game.
Resurrect is particularly useful in tangent with Mercy's Valkyrie ultimate, negating its cooldown and giving Mercy incredible speed, letting her swoop and rejuvenate any fallen teammates. Mercy does have Caduceus Blaster to let her inflict damage when needed, but it's the last resort as her focus should be on support and healing.
Ultimate: Nano Boost, greatly increases the damage an ally deals and reduces the damage they suffer
Ana's a slower character who needs to be careful not to get trapped, but she offers both impressive support and disruption. Her default Biotic Rifle will automatically damage foes and heal partners, making it easy to use as you don't have to switch when moving from adversary to ally.
Sleep Dart is a massive boon that can immobilize an enemy for a whopping five seconds (or until damaged), and gives you time to escape tricky situations. That said, it' bears a lengthy cooldown, so you'll definitely want to practice your aim to ensure you're hitting with each shot. That said, it can even stop ultimates dead in their tracks.
Similar to her sniper rifle, Biotic Grenade will heal allies and harm foes, but it also increases healing received for comrades while preventing healing on adversaries, a hefty buff/debuff.
Last, Ana's ultimate Nano Boost operates best in well-coordinated units. Use it on a teammate to grant a huge boost to their power (useful when they're readying an ultimate) as well as shield a large percentage of the hurt they take. This doesn't have the wow factor of most ultimates, but it's a deadly addition to Ana's repertoire when timed correctly.
Ultimate: Dragonstrike, sends a spectral dragon through walls and barricades to smash any enemies in its path
Hanzo isn't the best pick for beginners due to his steep learning curve, but he rewards experienced users with an impressive array of both long and short-range attacks, and his Wall Climb passive lets him scale any surface. Default attack Storm Bow can be charged, which results in a straighter and stronger shot.
Like many charging moves, you'll move slower while building, but Storm Bow's increased accuracy and power reward your trouble; charge it during ceasefires or when hiding to minimize your lower movement. While Sonic Arrow isn't as powerful as Widowmaker's Infra-sight, it reveals enemies within its radius and deals damage when it lands, useful for smoking out enemy locations.
Scatter Arrow ricochets into several projectiles when it makes contact, making it a superb close-quarters tool; aim it ahead of a foe to help land the spread fire.
Finally, Hanzo offers an amazing Dragonstrike ultimate that fires off a ghostly dragon who not only inflicts considerable damage but passes through walls and barricades, particularly lethal against tightly-packed clusters of enemies.
Ultimate: Earthshatter, damages and stuns foes ahead of Reinhardt
Not only is Reinhardt a fairly easy character to learn, but he's also arguably the best tank in the game. Reinhardt's most obvious virtue is his massive Barrier Field, a wide energy shield that guards an impressive area against incoming attacks.
You move slower and can't attack while it's active, but this defends a huge zone and lets your allies attack while shielded. Learning how to time and regenerate your shield quickly is key to mastering Reinhardt.
True to his close-range nature, Reinhardt's Rocket Hammer offers a decent melee attack, being slow but having an impressive reach and damage output. Charge grants a much-needed way to travel the field quickly, bulldozing through any foe caught in the path, and the ability makes Reinhardt more mobile than his stature would imply.
Fire Strike provides an impressive distance attack that emits at surprisingly fast speeds, making it much harder to predict and dodge than our bulky warrior's other moves. Finally, while your ultimate Earthshatter can be read and dodged by pro players, it's a powerful force that both knocks and stuns targets, making them easy prey for your team's attacks (and ultimates).
Reinhardt's simplicity belies his prowess, and his best players know to communicate, informing their allies when they need to hide due to a waning shield or when you're about to unleash a stunning Earthshatter.
Overwatch's Balance Changes
As an evolving game, it's likely the tier lists will naturally fluctuate as time passes, but even so, this review will stand as a testament to the best heroes in 2018. And regardless of tiers, we all have our favorites; pick whoever you gravitate towards and who you have the most fun playing.
Just don't get too attached to a character, as nerfs can and do happen. Of course, this works both ways, and you might find a lacking hero become viable with the right tweaks.
Thankfully, Overwatch has done a fair job balancing its selection, and while you'll encounter some heroes far more frequently than others, each character brings a unique flavor and worthy addition to their team.
But for now, as we eagerly await new upgrades and additions, vote for your favorite Overwatch main and I'll see you at our next gaming countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill