Blizzard's multiplayer shooter Overwatch is one of the best games of 2016, in large part due to its roster of unique and compelling characters. Each one has a personality that's all their own, making them instantly recognizable at a glance.
The end of the year is a time for reflection, so I thought it wise to look back at the many, many hours of Overwatch I've played since its May release and give my definitive ranking of every single Overwatch hero from worst to best.
I did this largely by gut feel rather than some kind of mathematical criteria, so don't get too mad at me if your favorite character is at the bottom of the roster. In all likelihood, that probably just means I've died at that character's hands more times than I can count. Their low ranking is my only means of petty revenge.
So, without further ado, here is my very objective ranking of every single Overwatch hero — that you should definitely take very seriously.
Here's the most common scenario in which I seem to encounter a Genji:
The last person to join our team ignores the fact we don't have a tank and decides what we really need is a fourth offense hero: Genji. He consistently runs off alone behind enemy lines, dies and then spams the "I NEED HEALING" voice line no less than 14 times. He also somehow manages to get Play of the Game. He is simultaneously very skilled and a total asshole. I hate him.
Something about the Shimada brothers seems to inspire rage — and Hanzo has long been a punching bag in the Overwatch community. I won't beat a dead horse, but between his log-sized arrows and exhausting sad-boy attitude, the Hanzo hate is pretty well-deserved.
There's nothing quite as insulting as stepping 0.3 inches out of the spawn room on Temple of Anubis and taking a bullet right to the face from 500 yards away.
If there's one thing most Overwatch players can agree on, it's that there are too many damn plays of the game where a Bastion is just holed up in a corner, holding down the fire button and pointing its cursor at whatever poor soul wanders into its line of sight.
And no, I don't care if "The Last Bastion" tries to convince me Bastion is actually a nice robot who's just a victim of his programming and wants to sit in the forest with his bird friend or whatever. They can both burn in hell for all I care.
That Torbjörn play of the game where his aimbot-controlled turret eliminated the majority of the other team? Don't worry — it was actually a really cool thing and did not annoy me at all.
We get it, you like Hot Topic.
OK, I think we're finally done with the category of "absolutely terrible Overwatch characters whose creators at Blizzard should be fired without a severance package" and into the category of "I see what you're doing and I respect that, but please stay away from me."
McCree is fine, I guess. I get that he requires a pretty high skill level to use successfully, but he tends to kill me a lot — I take that personally.
On the plus side, the Overwatch fandom ships him with Hanzo. While I don't like Hanzo or anything he stands for, the idea he could be gay and in a relationship with a cowboy is delightful.
Winston is a man of science and I respect that. He's also not afraid to give into his more beastly side and knock a few fools off a cliff with a single backhand or dive face-first into a jar of peanut butter. He's good in my book.
15. Soldier: 76
I feel like I die a lot at the hands of Soldier: 76. While that seems to be the primary reason I've ranked heroes on the lower end of the scale thus far, the one saving grace for Soldier: 76 is the tendency of the Overwatch fandom to characterize him as the team's resident dad/Clint Eastwood-esque lovable curmudgeon.
There are two main factors to my middling ranking for Overwatch's newest hero. First, the months-long alternate reality game that led up to Sombra's reveal was equal parts thrilling and infuriating, resulting in an overall wash. One the one hand, it was an innovative and exciting way to get the Overwatch community engaged, but even Blizzard acknowledged it wasn't really sure what it was doing.
Even though Sombra was hyped for a long time and thought to be a total game-changer for the Overwatch metagame, she hasn't been as widely used as expected.
So, she's alright. At least she's got nice hair.
In most video games, a rocket launcher is usually some kind of heavy weapon you only bust out when something really nasty comes your way — but that's not Pharah's style. Why bother with measly bullets or arrows when you can get the job done in an instant with some well-aimed missiles?
I can't help but think her heavy artillery is a bit of overcompensation for her desperate thirst to join the new Overwatch, but I can appreciate a career-oriented woman who wants to leave nothing to chance.
Mercy is one of those heroes who is incredibly useful in the right hands but not particularly interesting or exciting — hence her placement pretty much smack-dab in the middle of the pack.
What a good, fat, disgusting boy. Yes, his hook ability is probably ridiculously broken, but he's a character with an objectively interesting and threatening set of abilities. Also, he consistently has the most hilariously outrageous holiday-themed skins out of anyone else in the Overwatch roster, so it's hard to be mad at that.
Symmetra has always been a bit of a black sheep in the Overwatch community. Not only is she the only support hero that can't heal teammates, but there's also recently been a rash of Overwatch trolls placing her teleporter on the edges of cliffs. Not cool, y'all.
My ranking of Symmetra at no. 10 is part of a conscious effort to reshape the narrative and help her reclaim her rightful place among the other most beloved Overwatch heroes.
Even if Blizzard hadn't totally reworked her abilities and made her a much more versatile hero, she'd still be pretty high on this list. That's partly because I like an underdog, and also because she has a sitting emote that instantly turns her into a judge on Ru Paul's Drag Race.
Like Mercy, Lúcio is a reliable hero who instantly beefs up a team's composition, making him a must-pick in nearly every match. However, the difference is Mercy is plain as milk — while Lúcio is dripping with style and personality.
Without taking into account the sheer absurdity of his backstory — in case you didn't know, he's a DJ-turned-freedom-fighter who stole plans for cutting-edge sonic technology that he uses to pump out magical electronica — Lúcio is one of Overwatch's most compelling heroes, simply because of his endless, infectious enthusiasm.
When I first started playing Overwatch, I played a lot of Lúcio. Since Reinhardt seems to be one of the most frequently picked tanks, I got to hear the two characters interact quite a bit. Specifically, I've heard Reinhardt profess his love for David Hasselhoff records more times than I can count, which is more than enough to make up for all the times I've been smashed into a wall by his comically large hammer.
Overwatch is an incredibly stressful game, but something about Zenyatta's precise, mathematical, graceful animations makes him a really calming and invigorating hero to play. Unfortunately, like all support heroes, he has the relatively thankless role of being the team's babysitter, despite only having enough health to withstand the lightest of spring breezes.
Tracer has long been Overwatch's flagship hero, and for good reason. She's one of the game's most interesting-looking and charismatic characters, even if you find her cartoony British accent a bit grating.
More recently, Blizzard further cemented her placement amongst the best Overwatch characters when it revealed Tracer had a girlfriend named Emily. Overwatch has always been at its best when it emphasizes the diversity in its character roster, so establishing Tracer as its first canonically queer hero only made her that much cooler.
D.Va makes me feel OK about sinking hours and hours into playing Overwatch, and for that alone she earns a spot at no. 5. Clearly, her skills as a professional gamer translated perfectly into the war against the Omnics. So really, by playing Overwatch, I'm just training for our own impending war against an inevitable robot uprising.
You're welcome, humanity.
Look, Ana is a one-eyed, elderly Egyptian woman with a sniper rifle that shoots healing darts into her allies. Do I really need to justify her place at no. 4 on this list? Absolutely not.
Yeah, being on the receiving end of a haphazardly lobbed Junkrat bomb is one of Overwatch's most infuriating experiences, but that's what Junkrat loves. He lives for chaos. He senses your rage and laughs in your face.
Like Zenyatta, playing Junkrat is a kind of mentally transformative experience. Seeing the lid on his grenade launcher softly bounce up and down with the uneven rhythm of his clackety peg leg is enough to make me grin like the Joker in anticipation of thoroughly pissing off the opposing team.
Zarya is my ultimate problematic fave. Despite her arguably discriminatory attitudes towards Omnics, Zarya is one of Overwatch's coolest and most compelling characters.
The seamlessness between her masculine and feminine sides is incredibly charismatic, and she oozes a strength that has very little to do with her tree trunk-sized arms.
There's also nothing quite like the feeling of thwarting an oncoming attack with some well-placed bubbles that enable you to fry the hell out of an unsuspecting enemy. In just about every way, Zarya is a delight.
We made it, folks. My pick for the best Overwatch character is the defense hero Mei.
In my opinion, Mei embodies the optimistic, sci-fi thesis at the heart of Overwatch, that anyone — even an environmental scientist — can be a badass action hero.
Mei, mechanically speaking, is also a fantastically designed character with a high skill ceiling who absolutely wrecks in the right hands. Her devastating set of abilities is so strong, she's gained a reputation on the Overwatch subreddit for being some kind of soulless hell beast. To me, that just sounds like haters whining about getting owned by a cute, seemingly innocent scientist with an ice gun. Yes, that very reason may or may not have been why I ranked several Overwatch heroes on the low end of this list, but that's in the past now.
Mei is the best. End of discussion.
More Overwatch news, updates, tips and tricks from Mic:
For more on Overwatch, check out the rest of what Mic has to offer. Here's a giant Overwatch FAQ for beginners, the latest rumors of a Terry Crews-voiced Overwatch character, all the updates in patch 2.01, the fandom's reactions to that Zenyatta Nutcracker skin, a guide to all the hidden details in the Winter Wonderland event and a list of all the other unlockable goodies you can earn for Overwatch's other characters.