BlizzCon 2015: hands on with Overwatch’s D.Va, Genji, and Mei

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Mei and D.Va

Last year at this time, Blizzard unveiled their brand new IP – Overwatch. Since then, the game’s cast has swelled somewhat, and this weekend, at BizzCon, it grew even further. Three new heroes are coming to the shooter; a scientist, StarCraft pro player, and cyborg ninja.

Yeah, it’s quite the unusual mix, isn’t it? Yet, Mei, D.Va, and Genji all seem to fit in with the already varied Overwatch cast perfectly. My only concern after seeing them announced, was that their actual abilities and such wouldn’t fit into the overall hero lineup. After playing all three extensively however (believe me, I spent lots of time in that press room), I’m happy to report that they all blend in rather comfortably.

D.Va

When Blizzard first teased D.Va last week, I had no idea what to expect.  A StarCraft pro player? What sort of abilities would she have, and how would any of it make sense? The answer of course, was to give her a mech to pilot – a giant walker equipped with dual gatling guns and a nifty jet boost for mobility. Even when the machine takes too much damage, D.Va remains useful – she ejects and can continue the fight on foot.

When I first climbed into the driver’s seat, I was honestly a bit underwhelmed. I fully expected the dual gatling guns, with their unlimited supply of ammunition, to tear through any opposing hero in a matter of split seconds. They did I guess, but only if an enemy was close enough to soak up every single last bullet.

This isn’t to say that the spray of the mech’s weapons is too wide, not by any means, but they are hardly effective at a long, and sometimes even medium range. As a result, I wasn’t sold on D.Va, at least not until I realised that her mech came packed with some other tricks up its mechanical sleeves, and they were paramount to her being effective in combat.

D.Va mech

Remember that jet boost I mentioned earlier? It is awesome! Once activated, for a few seconds, the mech shoots forward, in whatever direction the player is facing, including upward to the sky if need be. It also knocks enemies out the way if used correctly, which proved to be particularly useful against the likes of Reinhardt for example.

The boost was handy in both offensive and defensive scenarios. Application in the former was useful for breaking through a stubborn defense, while in the latter, perfect for boosting up to tactical vantage points to help lay down covering fire. Heck, that was useful when attacking an objective too.

D.Va

To compliment this ability, D.Va also has access to a frontward shield of sorts. The defense matrix shoots down all incoming projectiles before they hit the mech. This too, was useful in both offense and defence scenarios.

In one game for example, my team was struggling to capture the final point in Hanamuru. Taking the initiative, I used the jet boost to get up to the second storey of the building, and into the main room from above. All the enemies saw me, panicked, and opened fire like crazy. I activated my defense matrix immediately, meaning I took essentially zero damage.

All attention focused on me, my opponents all but forgot that I had 5 other allies looking to storm the point. The disorganisation was noted by my teamies, who entered the room behind me and mopped up everything in sight. All those stressful minutes of failed pushes earlier suddenly seemed silly. We captured that final point with barely a scratch.

EXPLOSIONS

Last thing I’d like to mention about D.Va is her final, explosive ability. If she is still in the mech once the ultimate bar is filled, she can eject, and moments later, it will explode in a large radius, killing everything in sight. This too, worked nicely with her other abilities. On one map for example, where there was an area with a Bastion and Tjoburn defending, I shielded to get close enough, boosted forward to get behind the two, then ejected and watched the explosion destroy them both (and that pesky turret too).

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D.Va is certainly a worthy addition to the Overwatch roster. I am so excited to see her added to the beta, and I hope it happens soon too!

Genji

Overwatch certainly has a varied lineup. What it lacked however, was a cybernetic ninja… obviously. Blizzard saw this grievous error, and set out to fix it. Their answer? Genji. He is – for lack of the better word – cool. Wait, that doesn’t do him justice. He is seriously cool.

You’d think he would only excel at close range combat due to his really long sword (SCHWING!) but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Genji is damn efficient from afar too if need be, though he does certainly like closing the distance for those up close and personal kills.

Genji

For medium to far range skirmishes, Genji has an unlimited supply of shurikens at his disposal. Three can be thrown, in rapid succession and in a straight line, for maximum damage. Alternately, a trio can be chucked willy-nilly, in a scattered radius.

To add to this already ninja-focused arsenal, Genji has the ability to deflect all incoming fire for a couple of seconds, kind of like the defense matrix D.Va has. The difference here, is that he actually hits all projectiles back to their original shooter.

Mobility wise, and for an extra pile of damage, Genji has a dash ability called swift strike. Hitting a target with it causes them to bleed, and if he kills them with the strike, he can use it again immediately.

Genji deflect

Genji was handy in both attack and defense scenarios. While defending, I would stand around corners and spam shurikens non-stop, which often netted me a takedown or three because they do a fair amount of damage. If enemies got a little too close, all I had to do was rush out, swift strike to close the distance rapidly (or get behind an opponent), and then melee for a quick kill. In those situations, deflect proved to be  invaluable too.

When attacking, it was even better. Rushing out the doors as the round started was incredibly fun, because as the timer hit zero, I would dash out, activate deflect, and watch enemies scatter as their projectiles were smacked back in their general direction.

Genji ulti

Using Genji’s ultimate proved to be a little tricky. When activated, his katana becomes an instagib device, killing whatever it touches with a single blow.

The reason I say it’s tricky is because, while pushing R does make you feel like a complete badass (just look at that dragon), it doesn’t make you invulnerable. Far too many times I used it, felt like I could take on the world (and as a result, ran into a whole team of enemies), only to die the most dishonourable death ever witnessed… over and over again. Still, finding the right window to use it was part of the fun, and super useful in cutting enemy numbers down swiftly.

I have a feeling that Genji is going to be picked incredibly often once he is patched into the beta. Not that I’m complaining – no roster is complete without a cyborg ninja!

Mei

The one character I was most interested to try out was Mei. Beyond being able to freeze opponents with her weapon, she could also use it do do a variety of other cool things.

Much like D.Va however, the first time I played as the Climatologist, I was underwhelmed and disappointed. Sure, she could spring up ice walls at a moments notice, but her weapon seemed to do next do no damage. How was I meant to get kills? How was I meant to do anything really helpful for that matter?

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The answers came to me only much later in the day, when I played against an opponent who knew how to use Mei to perfection. I was genuinely gobsmacked by just how strong the innocent-looking scientist could be when in capable hands. I was murdered again and again! Don’t let that soft smile fool you – she’s a killing machine, and now, easily my favourite character out of the new three.

FREEZE

You see, the trick to Mei which I hadn’t realised at all, was that once an enemy was frozen in place, I needed to run up to them to get a melee blow or two in to kill them. Heck, my early analysis of the weapon not doing enough damage was a silly assumption – it froze enemies to a standstill in no time at all, leaving them open to attacks by both me and my teamies.

Enemies don’t stay frozen for too long mind you, just a second or two, but that is more than enough time to dispose of them. The range of that frost isn’t long at all either, meaning Mei needs to be in the thick of things if she really wants to be useful.

FREEZE AGAIN

This seemed impossible at first, because Mei isn’t a tanky hero – quite the opposite actually. Thankfully, her weaponh as other uses which solved the problem entirely. As mentioned already, Mei can spring an ice wall up at a moment’s notice. The cooldown isn’t too long either (about 10 seconds or so), meaning it can be used frequently. It works well in both offence and defense situations for obvious reasons; while attacking, to block off enemy line of sight and fire, while defending, to do the same – though it can be used to cut off paths entirely too for a few seconds, which is invaluable as well.

One of its key applications however, was to get Mei close to her enemies. On one map for example, as soon as the doors opened, I spotted a Bastion and Mercy combo in the one corner, right near our spawn point. I shot a wall up in such a way that it stopped Bastion’s millions of bullets from shredding me to pieces, but also separated him from his support at the same time. I froze the mercy in place, killed her, and then proceeded to flank the Bastion and do the very same. It was glorious!

Another of Mei’s tricks is to encase herself in an invulnerable block of ice – saving her from all incoming damage, and healing her at the same time. I can’t even begin to detail the number of clutch moments I had where I would ice wall a particular area to get in close, rush in, freeze a bunch of enemies, and then encase myself quickly to survive while my team followed up and killed all the things.

Ice wall

Freezing a group of enemies is a lot easier with Mei’s ultimate. In a nutshell, pushing R throws out a little drone which covers an AOE with chilly winds, that damages and slows enemies. Those that can’t get out of the area fast enough are frozen solid.

In practice, again, I would throw up and ice wall for cover. I’d then peep around it and throw the drone, wait for it to do its work, and by that time, the ice wall would expire, and enemies would either be frozen in place, or low on health.

Yeah, Mei is easily my favourite of the three new heroes by far. I especially can’t wait for her to be patched into the beta!

Last Updated: November 10, 2015

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  • Hammersteyn

    Mei is so cool… right?

    • hairyknees

      I wanted to make that joke SO MANY TIMES YOU HAVE NO IDEA! Dumped it in Genji’s section instead 😛

    • HairyEwok

      I prefer April.

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        But you’re an Ewok, not a Ninja Turtle.

        • HairyEwok

          An Ewok can dream ok Q-Q

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    Gearbox need to work on fresh character ideas, a Gaige & Zer0 lookalike and a new Siren. Meh. I expected more from Borderlands 3.

    …. Oh… wait, er nm.

  • 40 Insane Frogs

    But, where’s claptrap… Oh…

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