Nathan Kiehn is a blogger at Keenlinks, a contributor at Geeks Under Grace, and the author of "The Gray Guard" ebook trilogy on Amazon.
We've reached the final batch of Overwatch heroes to cover. We've looked at the damage-heavy offense heroes, the skillful and protective defense heroes, and the large-and-in-charge tank heroes. To wrap up this series of posts, we've got to take a look at the support heroes.
This is probably the class I play the least. I primarily enjoy playing Overwatch for the thrill of the kill, taking down opponents, capturing the point, moving the payload, getting the Play of the Game, and winning lootboxes. Oftentimes, support heroes don't fill those roles. While they are an incredibly integral part of the team and can make a major difference between winning a match or hanging your head in defeat, support heroes are really the unsung characters of Overwatch. They aren't quite as tough as tanks, memorable as offense heroes, or versatile as defense heroes. Granted, that's all my opinion, and it could be refuted, but that's how I tend to view this particular class.
Nevertheless, as I said, they are an important component to any team. Just ask the Genji players who keep shouting "I need healing!" every match. So here's a list of the support heroes you can play as in Overwatch.
Ana: "Get back in the fight."
In my mind, Ana's a little like Widowmaker, in the sense that both characters are snipers, but just not as cool. Admittedly, Ana players will refute that. Ana hails from Egypt and was one of the founding members of Overwatch. Raised as a soldier, Ana was selected for Overwatch's ranks based on her expect marksmanship (read: not MY expert marksmanship, oy) and quickly rose to become second-in-command to Jack Morrison, the hero known as Soldier: 76. Though she lost her eye to Widowmaker during a mission, Ana is still an incredibly deadly sniper and became a masked vigilante for a time before reuniting with Jack Morrison.
I have a whole new level of respect for her after writing that, by the way. Widowmaker shot out her eye through Ana's own scope. That means Ana's sniping using her other eye! I mean, dang, nice shot Widowmaker, but talk about overcoming adversity. That's impressive.
Though I'm not particularly skilled as her, Ana is a deadly opponent. She's incredibly quick, and players like to bunny-hop as her to avoid being shot. Her biotic sniper rifle can be used on allies as a healing mechanism or shoot enemies as an offensive weapon, with her scope giving her better range and accuracy (so she's like Widowmaker, but she can heal AND kill? Huh, I might be changing my tune about Ana...). Similarly, she also carries a biotic grenade, which can create a small ring of healing, much like Soldier's biotic field, or keep any enemies caught in the blast from being healed for a few seconds.
Her second ability is her sleep dart sidearm, which she fires off quickly at an opponent to cause them to fall, stunned, for a few seconds, so they can be finished off or she can make a quick getaway. This is the reason I don't like Ana; I hate being on the other end of this thing, but props to the players who can accurately fire it well. Her ultimate is a nano boost, which enhances her allies' abilities for a short while, a useful tactic in the midst of a skirmish or if there's an enemy who really needs to die so you can press on. Ana is definitely good for healing, but she's beneficial in giving her friends the edge they need in tough situations.
Lucio: "Let's move, people!"
In my post on offense heroes, I mentioned that Tracer is the peppy, upbeat poster child, a youthful enthusiastic ball of joy and fun. Lucio is a close second. Hailing from Brazil, Lucio was a poor boy who found a love of hockey, soccer, and music and turned that into a career as a musical artist as well as becoming a political activist, driving a seemingly corrupt company out of Rio de Janeiro. Much like D.Va, he's both a hero and a pop culture phenomenon, which brings up a really interesting point: Overwatch's character backgrounds are really great. Sure, you've got your cyborg ninja, your patriotic soldier, your genetically-engineered monkey, and a dozen other video game-esque origins. But then you've got guys like Lucio and D.Va who actually have some real-world foundations (pop stars, gamers, etc.), so it's cool that Blizzard has gone that route.
Lucio offers what he likes to call "boosts" in-game. Primarily, this has to do with healing. His sonic gun can offer "healing beats" to allies, giving them health when they need it, but it also makes for an interesting offensive weapon as well. When he has to, Lucio can also damage his opponents in sonic waves, and a quick sonic blast can send his enemies flying back and off of edges, much like Pharah's concussion blast. This makes for a great strategy in maps where there are big holes or where players are near the edges of cliffs.
Nothing says humiliation better than getting bopped off the side of a cliff. Embarrassing. Lucio can also amplify his abilities, his power and his speed, for a short while, and he has the choice of either healing players or giving them a speed boost. So, like fellow support hero Ana, Lucio has a nice choice of how he desires to assist his team. His Ultimate allows him to give allies shields, a boost in health when they require that shot in the arm to take down their foes. And did I mention he can ride walls? I didn't? Ok, then, he can ride walls too.
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Oh, and he gets the summer Lucioball games, too, as seen in the video below, and those are awesome.
Summer Games (Including Lucioball)
Mercy: "Let's get you back out there."
Mercy's real name is Dr. Angela Ziegler (get it, like an angel?), and she might one of the most intelligent characters in the game, aside from Winston. An incredibly gifted doctor who has created great advancements in medical technology, Mercy was hired by Overwatch as a medical professional and researcher. She is, as a doctor, typically opposed to advancements that lead in directions other than healing, fearing the militaristic application of such designs. Nevertheless, she remains a prominent asset to the team and their advancement of global peace.
Mercy is probably the most prominent healer in the game, and as someone with a friend who regularly plays as her, I can tell you it's awesome to have a Mercy on your team. Her Caduceus Staff serves as her primary tool, used to either heal players or give them an additional boost as long as she's tethered to them. While tethered to an ally, Mercy can also fly towards them in order to help heal them quickly. In a pinch, Mercy can turn to her blaster as an offensive weapon to fend off an oncoming foe. Perhaps her best move is Resurrect, which up until recently was her Ultimate. However, after a recent update, Mercy's Resurrect is now just another ability that can be accessed multiple times after a short cool down. It's been a really helpful update and has seen players turn to her more. It's also personally helped the number of times I've been Resurrected, so that's always a plus. Her new Ultimate is Valkyrie, enhancing all her abilities and letting her fly—as in, actually fly, not just float around—reaching allies quickly. Jeff Kaplan apparently loves this, as you can tell from the video below.
Symmetra: "I will shield us"
So, occasionally, I'll comment on whether a hero irritates me or not. Congrats, we've reached the support that bugs me the most: Symmetra. Also, rather ironically, she's the one support hero I'll typically choose to play as if I do so. I know it seems a bit hypocritical, but she's powerful in her own right. An employee of the Vishkar Corporation, Symmetra helps craft hard-light architecture, being both an architect for the company as well a field agent. She's kinda like the Dr. Strange of the Overwatch world, crafting constructs with fluid hand motions that she uses against her enemies.
Unlike Ana, Lucio, and Mercy, Symmetra does not have the capability of healing other heroes. She can restore her health over a short period of time, but that's just herself. She tends to offer support in another way, typically by aiding offensive heroes. Her Photon Projector unleashes an energy beam similar to Zarya's, but this one latches on to nearby opponents. Skilled Symmetras enjoyed hopping circles around their enemies, evading their attacks while draining their energy. The Projector's secondary fire creates a photon sphere that can be fired at enemies, causing damage.
Perhaps her most-used weapon is her Sentry Turrets. She can attach these to walls, payloads, or other objects, and they fire energy beams at opponents as they get close, similar to Tjorborn's turret. Symmetra can use these to guard a point or a payload or block off a pathway, eliminating enemies as they come through. She can also create a floating barrier that repels enemy fire as it moves closer towards them, so not quite as effective as Orisa's or Reinhardt's. Symmetra's can be more easily flanked or avoided. Finally, she has two options for an Ultimate. She can create either a shield generator that gives allies increased shielding, or a teleporter that can get teammates to a destination quickly. Unfortunately, not every ally Symmetra is nice to their team, so there will be the occasional teleporter that drops you off a cliff. This is one reason I'm not as fond of Symmetra. She just seems to have various abilities that make her annoying. Nevertheless, I've found it sometimes fun to play as her, helping the team however I can.
Zenyatta: "Embrace tranquility"
Like defense hero Bastion, Zenyatta is an omnic, but unlike Bastion, Zenyatta seeks a simpler path. A robotic monk (how's that for an idea?), Zenyatta believes that by crafting personal relationships with human beings, the rift between mankind and omnics can be healed. He is both master and pupil, following the ways of another omnic monk before a falling out between the two and teaching Genji after the latter became a cyborg-ninja hybrid.
Despite his pacifist leanings, Zenyatta can get into the fight when he wants to. Like most of the support heroes on this list, Zenyatta is a healer, using his orbs to help his allies as well as an "Orb of Harmony" to heal them as long as they remain in his line of sight. However, these same orbs can be used to attack his foes, either singularly or as a volley that Zenyatta charges up and casts rapid-fire at his foes. Along with the "Orb of Harmony," Zenyatta can also use an "Orb of Discord" on his opponents, leaving them stricken with the curse of taking on more damage as long as they remain in his sights. His Ultimate, "Transcendence," turns him into a ball of energy, hovering around and healing allies without taking damage himself. I was never a huge fan of Zenyatta, especially his Ultimate, which just seems like a glorified version of his other abilities. But he is a healer, still, though perhaps not as powerful as Mercy.
And that finishes off our final list of heroes. The support heroes of Overwatch, though not my favorite category, are still definitely beneficial to any team that needs healing and assistance when you're stuck in a corner. Having a hero get resurrected at the last second has shifted the whole balance of a match, and having enemies be healed while you're trying to kill them can be aggravating. Perhaps they're unsung, but the support heroes can turn the tide and really make change happen when you need it the most.
The Hippocratic Oath
© 2017 Nathan Kiehn