Overwatch's Ashe Is More Than Just Another Sniper

Illustration for article titled iOverwatch/is Ashe Is More Than Just Another Sniperem/emem/em

In many ways, Overwatch’s newest hero Ashe is a contradiction. She’s pinpoint-accurate at a distance, but she’s not exactly a sniper in the same sense as Widowmaker or Hanzo. Her HP pool drains faster than a water balloon hitting a ceiling fan, but she can get down in the thick of things and help capture points.

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Ashe doesn’t fit neatly into any of Overwatch’s pre-existing roles, but she’s fun to play. She just takes a little getting used to. Or a lot.

At first glance, Ashe—who I got to try out at BlizzCon over the weekend, and who just arrived on Overwatch’s PC public test server today—has a pretty straightforward kit. Her semi-automatic “Viper” rifle is range-y, popping off quick, damaging shots normally or slower, more damaging shots if you’re in scoped mode. She can also hurl a bundle of dynamite that explodes in the traditional dynamite fashion (wick goes “psssssh” until stick goes boom) or immediately if you shoot it. Either way, it deals damage on impact and leaves opponents burning both with embarrassment—if they accidentally shot the dynamite and blew themselves up—and, crucially, fire, which deals additional damage over time.

She also has a shotgun sidearm she can whip out for a quick bit of additional damage that knocks enemies back. Her ult, meanwhile, summons already-beloved mustache robot B.O.B. to smack enemies around and sweep up the remains with his arm cannons.

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The way these abilities combine is what makes Ashe a handful. Sure, she can use her shotgun to disengage from enemies who’ve gotten all up in her space, but she can also aim it at the ground for a high-flying leap, allowing her to create frequent on-the-fly vantage points or reach higher ground. Then there’s B.O.B., who, when he is in play, acts like and is treated like another hero. This means that he can be hit with heals or buffs like Ana’s nano boost, and he can even capture points.

In the right moments, then, Ashe can be an absolute game-changer on the point, with B.O.B. knocking everybody down and banging them up while she tosses out a stick of dynamite to create chaos, deal even more damage, and wreak havoc on tanks’ barriers. Granted, she can’t just do all of that whenever, but when she’s on, she’s really on.

Illustration for article titled iOverwatch/is Ashe Is More Than Just Another Sniperem/emem/em

Oh, and I’ve barely even talked about her gun, which has a lethal bite, but also an acclimation period. See, at first you might expect it to function like Widowmaker’s sniper rifle, but it’s not nearly as powerful or accurate from long distances. If you try to play Ashe like Widow, you’ll just be playing a worse version of Widow. Ashe seems better suited for levels that have a few lengthy lines of sight but are broadly constrained—spots, in other words, where Widowmaker or other snipers get crowded and have to spend all their time on the back foot. And while Ashe is extremely susceptible to getting run over by, say, a charging D.Va or a leaping Winston, she’s got options in closer quarters. She can swat encroaching enemies away with her shotgun or use the same weapon to rocket into the air and drop a stick of dynamite.

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I think it will still take some time for players to figure out exactly where and when Ashe works best, but she’s got potential to spice things up in more subtle ways than recent smashy-smashy heroes like Brigitte and Hammond. She’s also not a knockback machine—at least, not a constant one—like they are, so that’s a good sign for those who are annoyed by the current state of the game.

And then there’s B.O.B. Good old B.O.B. If you can’t feel optimistic about an ice-cold cowgirl who’s best friends with an oil-sweating mustache robot, well, I don’t really know what to tell you.

Kotaku senior reporter. Beats: Twitch, streaming, PC gaming. Writing a book about streamers tentatively titled "STREAMERS" to be published by Atria/Simon & Schuster in the future.

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DISCUSSION

It feels to me like theres no clear role for her where picking her is more valuable than picking another hero. As a sniper she feels like shes worse than Widowmaker, as someone in the thick of it she feels like a worse version of Mcree, as someone that plays a little of both she feels like a worse version of Hanzo. At least thats the way her gun feels. Her abilities are more interesting but not enough to carry her position imo. Her shotgun is more utility than anything else, it can facilitate some other part of her kit being good, but it cant carry her kit itself. It gels with the sniper part of her gun in that it can get her some weird angles, but it cant get her anywhere that grapple or wallclimb+dive cant. Her dynamite is more interesting, but its not good enough to carry her kit. You cant get a solo dynamite kill, or spam out dynamite enough to make full use area denial utility, and if it gets buffed in either of those ways it will start to just feel oppressive and not fun to play against, like scatter arrow was.

Then theres B.O.B., the most interesting part of her kit, imo. Hes a summon, and not even just a turret like torb’s, but a full on summon, and I think her whole character should just lean into that.

The way I would do it is swap dynamite and B.O.B. as abilities making dynamite an ultimate. That way you could make it powerful enough that to one shot people, maybe even tanks if they dont get any healing, without feeling as oppressive as it would on a cooldown.

And you could lean into B.O.B. as a primary mechanic of her kit. Obviously the specifics would need to change a little, but I have some ideas. First off nerf his health, make it 600 total, with 250 being armor to give him some resistance verses shotguns and rapid fire weapons since he would be such easy prey to a Tracer or Reaper. Second make it so damaging and healing him earns ult charge. Not full ult charge, but say 40% or therabouts. Third nerf his damage output so punching someone only does say 50 damage, and shooting is slightly lower than Torb’s turret and can only target things within like 5-10 meters. And finally because it would be goofy to keep on summoning him everytime, make it so that you can only summon him the first time you press the button. After that you leave a marker wherever youre aiming, and he runs at it, if he cant run at it he tries to jump, and if he cant land anywhere closer to his target by jumping he stops. If he runs into a person he punches them and stops. Using this has a cooldown of 1 second, unless he just punched then it has a cooldown of 5 seconds, unless he just died then he has a cooldown of 20 seconds before you can summon a new B.O.B.. Also have him die if Ashe dies. and nerf Ashe’s scoped damage 10-20 to balance.

TLDR: make B.O.B. a primary mechanic of Ashe’s kit as a summon. That way we have a more interesting hero, and we have another much needed tank, albeit off tank, rather than another less needed DPS.