“If you know Heaven and you know Earth, you may make your victory complete.”
Sun Tzu said that. And I think he knows a little bit more about fighting than you, because he invented it! Then he perfected it! So that no living person could best him in the ring of hon-
…What do you mean wrong game? There’s a NEW multiplayer-focused character-based colorful FPS where teams of questionably sane mercenaries kill each other with every weapon under the sun over strangely arbitrary objectives? Weird…
I kid but ever since Overwatch’s open beta I’ve been playing it with a fervor that would be best described as “every waking moment” if I weren’t also fairly sure I’ve been sleep-playing it. The game is tons of fun whether you’re just being a filthy casual with friends or competing in the hundreds of tournaments that had already sprung up before we had even gotten competitive mode in the client. But if you’re looking to take down those tournaments or just unlock the beautiful golden rocket launcher for Security Chief Phara you’ll need every edge you can get and knowing the battlefields of Overwatch and which heroes can take the greatest advantage of each map’s quirks and layouts, is a big edge to have out of the gate.
Before we begin, a disclaimer on the knowledge you’re about to receive; we’re still extremely early in Overwatch’s development as a competitive game and Blizzard has been demonstrating far more willingness to perform balance changes than is usual for them. The claims below are solely my opinions based on where the game is right now so this article serves the dual purpose of helping you get better at the game AND probably being hilariously incorrect in hindsight or after the game’s balance gets shaken up. Come back in two years and have a laugh at how we didn’t all realize release Zarya was the most broken character in Overwatch history. However, if you disagree with me right now feel free to hit up our twitter explaining what you think I missed, the community can only benefit from more well-reasoned analysis. …or how cleverly you can call me a scrub, the community can also benefit from having a few laughs.
So without further ado, let’s play smarter, not harder with the man in the cybernetic mask, Genji.
Best Map: Dorado on Offense
Dorado has everything a growing Genji needs to fulfil his role as a hypermobile assassin. The entirety of the map features lots of verticality for him to use to remove high-value targets like Mercies and Widowmakers from unexpected angles of attack. Further aiding his pick-off focused gameplan is the fact that the map’s frequent use of blind corners encourages the enemy team to spread out and nerfs builders, making it easier for Genji to get in and get out without getting torn up too bad. And if he does take a bit too much heat proving that heroes do, in fact, die, then the map helps the younger Shimada out by providing lots of health packs in relatively covered positions for him to pick up before seeing how many times you can slice up a Zenyatta before he goes Winston.
Worst Map: Numbani on Defense
While Numbani is also nicely vertical, that’s about all it has to offer Genji, especially on defense. Defending assault maps is already a losing proposition for Genji since the nature of the mode encourages the enemy team to group up and stick together, making assassinating key targets before their team notices next to impossible. The real death knell for Genji on this map is that he doesn’t contribute much to what a winning defensive team wants to be doing the the tight city streets of Numbani, setting up a series of high-damage multi-angled killboxes at key choke points. Genji’s damage is nothing impressive unless he gets a reset chain with his Swift Strike and at range it’s even worse, meaning that while his shurikens certainly look sweet they really aren’t pulling their weight in putting down the Reinhardt trundling towards the objective.
That’s it for Genji, next up is the man with two names and nerfs, Jesse McCree.
Best Map: Lijiang Tower
Call McCree a hopeless romantic, he generally wants his enemies close enough that he can kiss them and their teammates to not be watching. Lijiang tower, in all of it’s three stages provides McCree with enough close quarters and nearby walls to get the drop on an enemy, dump his still-astounding close range burst and hightail it back to safety. Racking up kills in the free-for-all melee-range fight pits of Lijiang’s control points is a breeze for a skilled McCree and each area has at least a few perches to survey the entire brawl and line up the perfect Deadeye.
Worst Map: Route 66 on Offense
It’s rather strange that an offense character’s worst map would be an offensive one but McCree is a bit like Junkrat in that he’s a character defined in one role with no problems taking on the opposite as well. What McCree isn’t particularly good at taking on is killboxes, especially ones wherein his attackers are set up at range. Like any red-blooded American McCree believes that the best defense is a good offense and really hates running long distances; so trying to cross the no-man’s land of Bastions, Torbjorns, and Widowmakers that Route 66 can become is a losing bet for everyone’s favorite riverboat gambler.
Next up is Miss Macross Missile Mayhem herself, Pharah.
Best Map: Ilios
Another map with everything the character likes to see, in Pharah’s case it’s high ceilings, low aerial cover, and an objective that encourages everybody to group up in one big tasty target, hell, it even has death pits you can push people into with that ability nobody uses. With its lowered fight pit the Ruins section is Pharah’s favorite but all three stages provide Pharah with the right tools to play to her strengths of high mobility and high damage.
Worst Map: Watchpoint Gibraltar on Defense
I don’t mean this as an overall judgement to the character’s balance but Pharah doesn’t really have a “bad” map. Her adaptable gameplan along with the fact that there aren’t really any maps that constrain her enough to make a great deal of difference in how nimble she is lead to being an extremely solid pick on just about any map. That said Watchpoint Gibraltar probably comes closest, the fact that the majority of the fighting is indoors hampers her mobility and the relative ease of other characters getting to high perches makes her far easier to kill in the opening and middle sections of the map’s progression.
So there we have the best and worst individual maps for the first half of Overwatch’s offense roster so get out there and break the game! Or at least do a little better thanks to your newfound understanding of how the strengths and weaknesses of these characters are complemented or countered by the map you’re on. If you disagree or just have more to add come share it on twitter, or you can speculate about next week by sharing what you think the best and worst maps are for Reaper, Soldier 76, and everybody’s favorite, Tracer.