Overwatch is pretty alright, we guess.
The fact that we've been caught in a loop of playing "just one more round…!" of Blizzard's brand new game until the sun rises is just a coincidence, we swear, but we definitely see the appeal of the 6-vs-6 team shooter's bright, colorful cast and emphasis on cooperative play.
Still, all those matches we spent with Overwatch weren't just lost hours of sleeping and eating time - we've compiled a guide to conquering the game comprised of both our superior gaming skill and the actions of our teammates.
So, sit back and take some notes as we explain to you the real way to wipe the floor with your foes faster than you can say, "nerf this!" The first thing you need to do is simple...
Ignore Blizzard's "Team Tips"
When you begin your first match, you'll be expected to have each teammate pick from a selection of characters each representing Overwatch's four major roles - Offense, Defense, Tank, and Support.
Should your assembled squad be too skewed to a particular role, such as the airtight strategy of having everyone playing Bastion - the hero select screen will issue a warning called "Team Tips."
What makes the development team think they're better strategists than us? Having six tanks is just fine, thank you very much, and any teammate who suggests you pick another character "for balance" is trying to hog your favorite character for themselves.
Stick to your hero, no matter the situation
You know the phrase, "jack of all trades, master of none"? Well, we don't see the point in learning more than one of Overwatch's 21 different heroes over the course of our play career.
Now, the game offers you the chance to swap out characters multiple times between deaths or at your team's spawn point, but that just sounds like giving up. This is a competitive video game, after all - how could we not have our "main"?
Even if changing to a better-suited hero for a particular situation could tip the scales in your favor, don't. Your team may become one-note and easy to counter, but they'll also respect your dedication.
Live on the edge with perpetually low health
So you've been skirmishing around the objective for a minute or two and taken a hit or ten. Time to make a decision - duck out of combat to patch yourself up, or jump back into the fray?
Yes, there are infinitely replenishing health packs strategically placed all around the map.
Yes, some heroes have abilities that heal them up on the fly, like Roadhog, Bastion, and Soldier: 76.
Yes, having low health may mean getting picked off by opportunistic heroes like Genji, Tracer, or McCree.
BUT, all that said, the answer is obviously to press on, because retreating to get patched up shows weakness - not to mention looks a lot less cool if you wind up making a Play of the Game. Besides, isn't healing the Support role's job? Speaking of...
Support heroes are worthless
As we brought up earlier, Overwatch's idea of a perfectly balanced team includes a distribution of heroes from each role. This means that some poor sap is going to have to take on the Support role so the aforementioned Team Tips won't yell at us.
Now, we do hear that Support classes offer utility to the rest of the team in the form of healing, protection, and other advantages to your team, but the four Support characters currently on the roster are only effective when there are other players to assist - who wants to share all the credit with someone else?
If you're lucky, someone else will volunteer to take the role so that you can go back to being the third person playing Reaper for your team, since he's the only character you're familiar with.
If you must play Support, do it aggressively
Let's say that you're still being peer-pressured to pick a Support because no one else stepped up to take the position. You begrudgingly pick Symmetra because hey, at least she has turrets.
Since you're playing Support, your main weapons won't do as much damage as most of the other heroes in your team - meaning you need to go twice as aggro!
Rush to the front lines recklessly and try to rack up kills before the rest of your group can catch up. You also have much lower health than a lot of other roles, so just accept that you'll die a lot in the process.
If your team starts to tell you to "stay in the back" and "focus on helping the team," don't listen to their criticisms - if they knew how to play the role so well, why didn't they play Support, huh? Huh?
Turn a deaf ear to your enemies' audio
Overwatch's sound design is a cacophony of quips, announcements, and gunfire. We highly suggest muting it out entirely so you can concentrate on the action.
Blizzard has an annoying insistence on cranking up the volume on enemies' footsteps so you're always hearing them approach, not to mention the fact that certain phrases yelled by heroes can be heard anywhere on the map - regardless of your position.
We just don't think anything helpful can be gleamed by Hanzo yelling RYUU GA WAGA TEKI WO KURAU, but we would love to know why we always get killed every time McCree comments on the time of day.
Don't look up. Or behind you. Or anywhere.
It's called keeping your eyes on the prize. Blizzard may have spent their time rendering detailed maps to ogle at, but now isn't the time to look in any direction but forward.
Now, from time to time, heroes like Junkrat, Pharah, and Widowmaker can get themselves perched up pretty high for a considerable advantage, but keeping our heads on a constant swivel sounds like a pain.
This is especially annoying when we're playing Bastion in his Sentry Configuration. It's almost like Blizzard intentionally designed the super powered Gatling turret to have blind spots.
Don't worry about the multicolored health bars
For whatever reason, certain heroes have color-coded portions of their hit point total - white for health, yellow for armor, and blue for shields.
Health is the common metric of damage resistance across all characters, while hardier heroes like D.Va, Reinhardt, Winston, and Bastion also get to sport armor. In contrast, support-minded heroes like Zenyatta and Symmetra have shields tacked on to their health gauge.
On occasion, heroes like Zarya and Lúcio also grant a fourth hit point type, Barriers, which greatly increase the amount of damage a target can absorb, but also wear off over time.
What does this all mean? Well, armor takes reduced damage compared to health - especially effective against rapid-fire weapons like Tracer's pistols or Soldier: 76's rifle. Shields function the same as health, but slowly regenerate Halo-style when left alone for a bit.
What does this all mean for you? Diddly-squat. Monitoring your opponents' health to see who is more susceptible to your current weapon sounds exhausting.
You know what, just ignore everything we wrote in this section.
Stay camped in the same place all day, every day
Found a comfortable perch to snipe from? Perhaps a juicy choke point to exploit with Bastion or one of Torbjörn's turrets? Hold on to that position for dear life!
This is especially true if you're getting some great eliminations in that area. The more you're making your location known, the more likely it will be that opponents will have your number and know exactly where to go to cash it in - an honor, really!
Sure, enemies can - and will - adapt to counteract your defenses, but standing your ground makes an important statement. No matter how many times they outflank you, dodge you, or just pick you off with their own well-placed Widowmaker, keep yourself predictable.
Take the route most traveled
Overwatch's maps are rich with side paths, shortcuts, and a variety of elevations, all centered around a single main route or control point.
As tempting as it is to explore the area to get the drop on an unsuspecting enemy, find cover, heal up, or gain a vantage point, resist that feeling - the main path is where all the action is!
True, you're more likely to be an easy target for snipers and turrets by hanging out in those open areas, but we like the challenge in the path of most resistance. Relying on sneaky side routes, regardless of their supposed "tactical advantages," would be uncouth.
Last, but certainly not least, the single most important thing to remember:
Forget about completing the objective
Overwatch is a shooter, right? There are guns and there are opponents. We certainly think applying those two concepts is more fun than pushing some slow-moving cart or standing around in a square.
Sadly, expect to have a lot of that fun cut short each round. Apparently, the course of the game is actually decided by completing the main objective, rather than racking up the biggest kill-death ratio. Bummer, right?
The developers try to keep you on target with ample reminders to secure some control point or stop some payload from reaching a checkpoint, but it's probably for the best to leave that to your allies while you go off chasing kills on the opposite side of the map.
Also, we heard something about how the payload heals heroes if they're on the attacking team, but we never bothered to research it - we were busy trying to get a Play of the Game to show off to our friends.
- Another pro tip: Don't cheat. Blizzard is instigating a zero-tolerance policy against it.