Overwatch: Always Be Switching

I know how it goes. You pick your preferred hero at the start of the match and you don’t budge from that position even if it appears as though you’re good and screwed. Too bad you’re missing out on perhaps one of the most important aspects of Overwatch: hero switching.

When something you’re doing isn’t working, then by all means, change it. Blizzard themselves have reiterated how important switching is to the game. Matches don’t always go in your favor, and sure sometimes it’s because you’re getting outplayed, but more often than not, you’re getting outcomped. If that’s the case, then it’s probably time for at least one person to switch, if not everyone. If a specific hero is causing you grief, have someone go a hard counter, and don’t be afraid to do it yourself if nobody else is willing.

If the enemy Reinhardt’s barrier is giving your team a tough time, Grab a Zarya and a Hanzo and see if you can’t kill everyone in the ult combo of the century. If an enemy switches to a Bastion, then by all means, switch to Genji and see if that dumb robot is any good at releasing the left click button when you pop your deflect. Most of the time they aren’t. If there’s an enemy Mei up in your grill, grab a McCree (you should probably have one anyway because he’s god tier) and flashbang that cute little butthead and then right click her head right off.

If you’re trying to play Pharah, but getting completely shut down by the enemy Widowmaker, you could try to stay on the ground more and not make yourself an easy target. Or you could switch to Genji or Tracer and pester her until she’s forced to switch, and if that person has played 35 hours of Overwatch, with 32 as Widowmaker, then there’s a good chance they won’t be willing to switch in the first place, and by locking her down (you don’t even need to kill her, you just need to keep her from getting too comfortable), then you could easily win the game for your team. If you’re playing Reinhardt, and a Genji is giving your team the what-for, give Winston a go and left click that cyborg-ninja to death.

Hero switching (and counters in general) is how Overwatch is meant to be played, and it doesn’t even have to be something you do to counter a specific hero. If you’re nearing the end of the game, and the Payload is a mere 15 meters from the goal, but you just can’t seem to break the enemy’s defense, change it up, see if you can catch them off guard. Chances are if you’ve been running the same comp for the entire game, they won’t expect it if they’re suddenly accosted by a completely different comp. If you catch them off guard well enough, and cause a Team Kill, it can help you to win the game. Be mindful, though, switching will cause you to lose whatever ultimate charge you have stored up. So it’s best to switch right after a big team fight in which everyone pops off their ultimates.

Conversely, if you’re defending a payload, and the enemy team is right there at the end, have everyone on the team go mobile heroes in order to rush back to the payload as quickly as possible. You’d be surprised how long you can keep an Overtime going with a team of Winstons, Tracers, D.Vas, and Lucios. Unless a team has a direct counter to Lucio (such as Winston) chances are you can hop around that payload for minutes at a time. And considering how much longer the run back is for the attacking team, you could very well outlive them, by dying repeatedly. At least until Overtime is nerfed, and trust me, it might be. Overtime is easily abused. I’ve seen stalemates keep that thing going for five minutes or longer.

While we’re on the subject of switching in general, it’s a good time to mention that roles aren’t written in stone, especially when concerning offensive and defensive heroes. Sometimes a defensive hero on the attacking team is a great choice. Junkrat can be really good for dealing with anyone hiding behind Reinhardt’s barrier, so just because you’re attacking, don’t be afraid to have a Junkrat or any other defensive heroes on your team. Same goes with offensive heroes on the defending team. A Tracer harassing an attacking team’s backline can be ridiculously detrimental, especially if she can pick off a healer who then has to spend the next 60 seconds running back, and if that Tracer can just kill them again, then you’re well on you way to victory. If you already have one tank, don’t be afraid to grab Roadhog and see if you can’t focus on flanking and getting picks off. You get the picture.

Word of advice, though, stick with whatever role you were playing from the onset, unless you coordinate with your team otherwise. If everyone gets caught up switching and you suddenly realize you have no tanks or healers, or too many, then you done goofed. If you start the game as a tank, play a tank. If you start the game as a healer, play a healer, and don’t be afraid to double up. Having a Mercy and a Lucio on your team is ridiculously strong. Symmetra, also, isn’t a healer, even though she’s labeled as a support. So if you end up with Mercy, Lucio, and Symmetra, then that’s not bad, either. Teleporters for the attacking team can be clutch, too.

There’s a reason Blizzard gives everyone access to all the heroes at any time. They know how important the full roster is to playing the game. They want you to switch, so make them happy and do just that. You might find yourself winning games you would’ve otherwise lost.

About Josh Price

Josh Price is a writer who probably spends too many hours of the day playing video games. At some point he decided to put the two together to (hopefully) great effect. He also wrote some fiction. You should check that out if you're into such things, which you should be. Reading is FUNdamental.

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