When starting a game of Overwatch, you have a couple dozen options in the character department -- but who should you choose? Do you go for someone whose personality you click with, or do you prefer picking your heroes based on effectiveness and utility? Instead of answering that question ourselves, we asked readers to do all the work. Hundreds of thousands of votes later, we have our mega official, infallible list of Best Overwatch characters.
If you have strong feelings about how wrong everyone else was about their picks, feel free to sound off in the comments below. Attack commences in 30 seconds...
Poor Torb. Once the bane of console matches, the Swedish engineer has been since demoted to adorable nuisance. The problem lies in his main ability: Building turrets. As soon as a Pharah, Soldier or anyone behind Reinhardt hones in on the turret, Torb's main form of damage is rendered inert. Doling out armor is undoubtedly helpful, and his gruff personality is a welcome presence in any match, but he has very limited use cases compared to the other heroes. Also, we should probably mention he's a robot racist.
Though for a time Symmetra was in a similar track as Torb -- being totally useless while on the attacking team -- she's recently gotten a pretty sizable upgrade in a recent update. Now that she's got a floating shield and a more powerful microwave on her default fire, Sym can be a force to be reckoned with in many scenarios. Sadly, her cold perfectionist "Lawful Evil" vibe wasn't enough to get her any higher than second to last.
We all know a Widowmaker player. They always pick sniper, in any situation, no matter what. They're not concerned about contributing to the team as much as they are about sick headshots. Is her radar ultimate ability useful? Sure. Is it super rad to grappling hook up to a ledge and bury a round in Tracer's head on the way down? Absolutely. But it's hard to deny that Widow's limited kit only encourages the kind of selfish play that give video game snipers a bad name.
Well, speak of the devil! When it comes down to it, Hanzo's not all too different than Widowmaker, though you could argue that he has a few more use cases. Spamming Hanzo's arrows with log-sized hitboxes can be fun, and his ultimate ability is fantastic for clearing out an area at the exact right moment. Too bad the whole "tortured brother" thing works way better with his cyborg sibling.
Here's the thing with Zarya: She's super useful on the battlefield to the point where she can turn the game around by herself, but she's less appealing in the charisma department. It's hard to really gel with the typical "Russian strongwoman" since there's nothing else going on there (besides the robot racism she shares with Torb). Case in point: She doesn't have any standout looks. That weightlifter costume from the Summer Games was fine, but in general her character hasn't inspired Blizzard artists to make an absolutely killer, must-have skin. Even her Winter costume was just a recolor with lame frosted tips. Zarya deserves better to be sure, especially since a skilled player can help her carry an entire team.
This is sort of the opposite situation we're seeing with Zarya. From the moment he first appeared in his own animated short, Winston has been a delight. He's basically Overwatch's version of Beast from the X-Men, with a heart-tugging origin story. But as fun as it is to leap into battle and slam his hands onto the ground, that strategy is almost always met with an instantly eviscerated ape. Though he can be handy for harassing snipers and healers, games are so often tank-heavy these days that Winston just isn't able to be very effective.
Oh right, this asshole. After dominating the earliest days of play, Bastion became a bit less fashionable once everyone discovered the five million different ways of dealing with this bastard robot and his deadly turret mode. Like Winston, Bastion has a touching animated short that really helps his case. But the fact remains that nobody wants to see a Bastion Play of the Game ever again.
After one of the most grueling, drawn-out viral marketing campaigns ever, Sombra finally released with... mixed results. Pretty much everyone is on board with her awesome look and fun persona, but she's sort of hard to get a handle on gameplay-wise. Over time we've seen more and more players use her well, but that learning curve is a bit rough for a game that's usually so approachable.
Now we're getting into it. In the right hands, Pharah is nothing short of a menace, terrorizing the skies and more importantly, the ground below her. Her rocket launcher makes Pharah something like a Gundam mixed with the Soldier from Team Fortress 2. Really the only downside is the fact that she's kind of a boring hardliner who is usually made interesting only by the people around her, like her mom or Mercy. I don't care what Blizzard says, Pharmercy is canon, dammit.
The most recognizable catchphrase in the game has gotten slightly less terrifying now that everyone knows that "It's High Noon" means "duck behind the payload for four seconds," but McCree is still a delight on several levels. His revolver has a way of scratching that marksman itch while still keeping up with the team actually trying to push for the objective. All around one of the most solid characters in the game.
Ah, the classic "cyborg ninja." Genji might as well be a "zombie pirate" or a "bacon narwhal" as far as the internet is concerned, but somehow it just works in Overwatch. After a well-deserved nerf (seriously that ult was just stupid), Hanzo's wayward brother has found a nice place in many team comps. And anyone who's ever reflected Zarya's black hole knows that it can be a life-peaking experience.
If you've ever wondered whether someone could be both the best and the worst simultaneously, here's unliving proof. Reaper is without a doubt one of the most intense manifestations of "angsty middle schooler notebook doodles" out there, but there's a beauty in that pure grimdark stupidity. Plus, the guy is genuinely fun to play, and it remains stupid easy to hit your ult for an easy "spin2win" Play of the Game. And isn't that what the game is really all about?
Whereas Sombra tilted towards personality more than in-game viability, Ana has both in spades. It is heartwarming to have a selectable grandma in a medium where elderly women are rarely featured. Seriously, how many playable older ladies can you think of in gaming? On top of that, Ana's incredible moveset -- from her heal grenade to her sleep dart -- makes her arguably overpowered in moment-to-moment gameplay. She's without a doubt the ideal model for new Overwatch characters going forward. But if we're being honest, she's going to be pretty hard to top.
Tanks like Zarya are a bit hard to play well because of the situational awareness needed to play them effectively. Roadhog is much more simple: Hook, shotgun blast, melee if needed, then hide in a corner and heal. That's 'Hog's bread and butter, and that loop is never not satisfying. Add in an apocalyptic pig-bruiser motif and you've got one of the most enjoyable characters in the game.
It's easy for a character to wallow in suffering and misery -- just ask Reaper. It's much more rare that a game character's happiness is infectious, but Lucio has this magical way of radiating positivity. "Look at this team. We're gonna do great!" is a pre-recorded line, but it's somehow encouraging every time. Lucio's attitude seems to have informed his abilities (or was it the other way around?), as just being around your teammates basks them a helpful aura. And thanks to his wallriding, Lucio has done the impossible: Made rollerblading cool again.
Look, I'm not really sure how Mei got this high on the list. I can only guess that, as a spawn of Satan, Mei used her demon magic to manipulate the vote results. Don't be fooled by her cute and hopeful facade -- this ice queen is an abominable terror.
For a game that's supposed to be a breath of fresh air compared to today's bland modern military shooters, Soldier 76 seems out of place. At least, at first. Those who put off playing as "Call of Duty Man" are missing out on one of the most powerful and well-rounded heroes on the roster. Though his abilities are simple, they're just versatile enough to make 76 extremely adaptable. He might seem like a grumpy old stiff, but really, all he wants is for you to get on the god damned payload.
"Mad Max Joker" sounds less like a character design and more like a crappy mashup t-shirt, but Junkrat is more than the sum of his influences. Hell, he's even more fun than the Demoman from Team Fortress 2, from whom he takes the center of his skillset. Once you start to master the remote mine and the trajectory of his grenade launcher, Junkrat is a joy to play. Hopefully the other team likes their spam with extra salt.
Lucio and Ana have their moments, but Zenyatta is by far the healer most likely to kick your shit in. Which is funny, because his whole deal revolves around being an "omnic monk," or in other words, a robot with a spiritual side. You're better off not thinking about why an artificial being would have faith if the existence of their very soul is in question in the first place -- especially because hesitating means you might get several new orbs installed in your face.
The closest thing Overwatch has to a mascot has to be pretty high on the list, but Tracer has earned her place. She's got what you might call pluck, in that every time a Tracer zips around your back and shoots you in the ass only to timewarp away to safety you kind of want to pluck your eyelashes out one by one. In a game full of chokepoints, a good Tracer that scatters and otherwise harasses the enemy team can be a lifesaver.
I'm not gonna lie -- everyone in the office was pulling for Reinhardt to take the whole thing. More than any other character in the game, having a big ol' Shield Grandpa covering your ass makes you feel at least a little better about your chances. You could be stuck with three Hanzos and a Widowmaker, but if you see that suit of armor in the spawn room, you often think "Well, at least we have a Reinhardt." That's German engineering for you.
It's okay. We all know why Mercy is this high on the list. It's not because she's the best healer -- while she's definitely helpful and those ressurections can swing the momentum of a whole game, she's not as effective overall as Ana or Lucio. Take a hard look in the mirror and you'll see the truth: Mercy got to this place because of the Waifu Factor. It's not a bad thing to admit you're horny for the Heal Mom of the game. I just want everyone to be honest about what's really going on here.
Now you might think a similar thing is going on with #1, but there's more to it than that.
More than any other character, D.Va has absolutely everything. Yeah alright, she shares Mercy's Waifu factor, but she's even more endearing as the grubby gamer gremlin the internet has fashioned her into. People who play Overwatch look at D.Va and see a reflection of themselves, just as obnoxious but with a little bit of cuteness to make up for it. And as a tank during gameplay, D.Va can do anything from harassing the enemy formation to picking off snipers to pushing the payload with her defense matrix. This gal really has it all, and as hard as Blizzard might try sometimes, they can never truly nerf that.Tristan Cooper can be found on Twitter.