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Overwatch is Blizzard’s new team-based first-person shooter set in locations all over the world. It features several gameplay modes—Escort, Assault, Control and Hybrid—and an impressive array of characters, each with their own personalities, weaponry and abilities.
It’s the perfect excuse to splash out on a new GPU. If you want to see everything in maximum detail with high frame rates and resolution to match, then an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 will deliver the performance you want, while the entry-level GTX 950 can easily run the game in 1080p 60fps with medium settings, ensuring that you don’t miss any important, life-saving details.
To excel at Overwatch, though, you’re going to need to get a handle on its various characters and their associated roles. There are 21 characters in all, and they fit broadly into four main categories:
OFFENSE: Genji, Soldier: 76, McCree, Tracer, Reaper, Pharah
The frontline troops in your Overwatch team are your Offense characters. If you’re a quick-shooting glory hunter, ready to kill or be killed at any moment, then these guys will be your favorite class. They’re all heavily armed and quick on their feet, and perfect for taking the battle to the enemy, specializing in close- to mid-range combat.
Each Offense character has their own preferred weapon, be it Genji’s katana, McCree’s six-shooter or Pharah’s rocket launcher, and some have extra abilities that enable them to zip around the map at lightning speed, particularly Tracer and Reaper.
DEFENSE: Mei, Junkrat, Widowmaker, Torbjörn, Bastion, Hanzo
While the Offense characters are off grabbing all the glory, it’s down to the Defense crew to hold things down. They are important for guarding key objectives, forming choke points and generally preventing the other team from getting through.
They might not be that quick, and you don’t want to get them into the middle of a pitched battle, but their long-range attack skills and extra defensive abilities mean that they complement the more gung-ho nature of the Offense heroes. If you like inflicting sneaky kills with a sniper rifle or a bow and arrow, then Widowmaker and Hanzo will be right up your street, while if you’re keen on laying traps then you’ll get on well with Torbjörn and Junkrat.
TANK: D.VA, Roadhog, Zarya, Winston, Reinhardt
Tanks are the heavyweights of Overwatch, and they serve one important purpose. They’re there to draw fire away from the more vulnerable Offense and Defense characters. They can take an immense amount of damage, taking plenty of enemy bullets for the team, and they can dish out the damage as well, some of them packing a terrifying amount of firepower.
On top of that, some Tanks can also provide active protection to other characters. Zarya, Winston and Reinhardt can all generate energy barriers that’ll absorb enemy fire and help their teammates get through heavily-guarded areas without picking up too much damage.
SUPPORT: Lúcio, Symettra, Mercy, Zenyatta
If you prefer to just help out in the background, the Support characters are worth a look. Each has a degree of combat ability, but their real skills lie in coming to the aid of their teammates.
Most can restore their allies’ health—Mercy is even capable of bringing fallen teammates back from the dead. They can also variously speed up players’ movement, increase the amount of damage they dish out, provide shield protection and even target enemies to increase the amount of damage they receive. Between them they have an impressive range of abilities, and they can easily turn the tide of a battle by being in the right place at the right time.
Those are the basics, however the beauty of Overwatch is that the roles aren’t quite that clear-cut and you’ll find characters in each category that have skills more suited to other roles. For example, Soldier: 76 has the ability to heal himself and teammates, while Symmetra has some pretty tasty combat skills, while Bastion is a Defense character with some hefty Tank leanings.
As a rule, you’ll probably want to build a team of six with a couple of Offense and Defense characters, plus a Tank and a Support so that you’re covering all the strategic bases. You want some fast killers, some characters that can hold down territory and protect vulnerable players, and someone who can rush out and heal teammates when necessary. And of course you’ll probably want to vary your offensive and defensive weighting depending on whether your team are attacking or defending in a particular game.
But as the range of abilities across the roles is more fluid than that, there’s plenty of scope for experimenting with team composition, and Overwatch positively encourages this. Rather than being stuck with the same character for an entire match, you’re able—and even encouraged—to swap to another one when you get killed. It’s a great way to develop strategies on the fly and also to catch out teams that are a little too settled into their character assignations. Mix things up a bit and you can easily disrupt the best-laid plans of the opposition.
In short: be adaptable and remember that you’re part of a team, and you’ll be ready for anything.