Overwatch: Hanzo and Consistency

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6 years 10 months
Submitted by SuperSayu on Sun, 05/06/2018 - 23:52

I could rant. The tl;dr is the new Hanzo ability is awful in two specific ways that both come down to consistency. Please pardon any vitriol I might spill, I have a bit of a condition.

First... no let me get a piece of explanation out first. I am anxious and ADD. Because of these things I preferred Hanzo over Widow, because Hanzo was--not is--a character where holding down the mouse button was safe. It's releasing it that triggers an action. It was wonderfully consistent with his character--meditative, building action. While holding the button you could even switch into and out of firing modes for your abilities. Think things through, reconsider, then act.

It showed such an intuitive grasp of consistency that I thought they must have people on staff who actually knew something about consistency. I figured they must listen to those people, appreciate them, pay them enough so they stick around. I feel less certain of this lately. This is not the first time they've done things grossly inconsistent. I am still not a fan of the Mercy change, which falls squarely into this category. Anyway, I figured it was worth talking about it.

First inconsistency: The interface punishes you for playing not only as the character used to play, but playing the way the rest of your kit STILL plays. The fact that you can't deactivate the ability the way you can with sonic arrow is almost as stupid as the fact that holding down the button operates in exactly the opposite way that it did or should. Yes people will get over the change, but the design does not show a intuitive grasp of consistency.

And second inconsistency: That's not what sniping, archery, or meditation is about. Zenyatta's version of this ability makes sense because his shots do not have enough power to rival a sniper weapon; he needs to land several hits. The point of being a sniper is not needing to land several hits. Storm Arrow is exactly as consistent with Hanzo as a character, as it would be if his second ability was pulling a machine gun off his belt and shooting people with it. Rapid fire is inherently not what bowmen do. The keyword is inherent; this is not a character thing, this is a weapon thing.

The whole spiritual aspect to archery is pouring your spirit into a single shot. In that way, his character had been consistent because everything he did was about building up to one shot. Now he has an aspect to his character that isn't pouring himself into one shot. It feels like losing control, like a monster hanging over your shoulder flings arrows at the place you're looking, like someone has strapped a laser to your skull and it just kind of operates automatically. It's not archery. It's not even respectful towards archery. It's just a game mechanic.

I can think of two ideas literally off the top of my head that would have been more consistent. The first would be a normal single arrow that bounces (and/or penetrates characters) perfectly and with full force, which would be a pain to aim but has the potential to kill consistently if you master it. The second would be barrier-passing shot, which would be an enormous headache to balance out.

Of these, barrier-passing shots are the most consistent, balance issues be damned. Hanzo already has a big spirit arrow that passes through barriers as his ultimate, so a small spirit arrow that passes through barriers is entirely consistent, just infuriatingly hard to counter strategically. And more importantly, that ability would be more in keeping with Overwatch as a concept, because it is a strategic trump, like every other ability worth mentioning.

Because Storm Arrow is not a strategic trump. In fact it's not even a good addition to your general strategic kit. The burst damage is only really of consequence when time is a factor, and while yes, one of the strategic weaknesses of snipers is being bad at handling heavy and fast-moving enemies, the strategic strength of snipers is killing literally anything they can see.