Did you have fun in the Overwatch open beta? If you played any of the open access period at all, you'll no doubt have encountered some - ahem - interesting Hero choices when it comes to building a cohesive team tasked with taking either a defensive or offensive role on the battlefield.
When the game launches in just under a fortnight from now, you're going to once again be playing with a lot of random players until you unlock Competitive Play. (If the thought of that sends shivers down your spine, you should probably sign up for our Matchmaking service at The100...)
To make that early levelling up process just a little less painful, we wanted to put together a few guiding principles for choosing Heroes. This should help you get ahead of the enemy team, even assuming a state of zero communication and total inflexibility on the part of your teammates.
While you may find it frustrating to be in these sorts of situations, try to make peace with the philosophy that a stubborn teammate who's only good with a narrow band of Heroes, should probably be playing those Heroes, rather than putting them in a crucial role they'll likely fail at. (See however, our final caveat later in this article about Bastion and Torbjorn).
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With that all said and done then, let's now assume everyone's in the spawn room and you're all ready to pick your preferred starting Hero. Before doing anything else, take a moment to look at what others have gone for, so you can fill in any gaps that need plugging. Just be prepared to switch if a teammate won't vudge from their subsequent selection.
Every map has a selection of optimal team compositions, but when it comes to drawing together a generally solid random band of brothers, must-picks in random groups are pretty simple to determine right now.
- You must have a strong healer, and if Lucio, Mercy or Zenyatta haven't been picked yet then step up and take that position for the team. If you know what you're doing, you will make an enormous difference to your team's odds of success.
- Equally important is to ensure you have a tank. If no-one has stepped up to that role already, then Reinhardt is always a solid all-round choice. He's incredibly flexible regardless of the map you're playing on, and if your team can't grasp the protective significance of Reinhardt's big shiny shield, then you're probably already doomed.
- You want one - and one only - Hanzo / Widowmaker guide providing sniping services to your team. If someone else is already in that role, then don't take it yourself, even if you believe you are God's gift to sharpshooting. When it comes to playing with random teams, two of this kind of specialised role is rarely a recipe for success.
- You cannot - of course - provide all three of these services simultaneously, so open up a team chat and ask for volunteers. Don't tell people what to switch - they very rarely will if you boss them around - and instead just politely explain what is needed and see who's up for smoothing off the rough edges of the team.
A final note on Hero picks
Unless you are some kind of experimental Overwatch God, on a crusade to overthrow the metagame as we all know it, then please don't choose Bastion or Torbjorn when you are on the attacking team. It's not that you can't win with such a choice, it's just that doing so is analagous to tying your shoelaces together and then complaining when you don't win the 100m sprint.