Turns Out, You Can Counter Hanzo's Ultimate In Overwatch

Overwatch is a game about interplay between many different heroes, some of whom represent entirely different subgenres of FPS. Despite the potential for unbalanced chaos, it all clicks. The reason? Details like this one.

I’ve logged quite a few hours in Overwatch’s closed beta at this point, and until today, even I didn’t know about this. OK so, it concerns super fly samurai guy Hanzo. Even if you haven’t gotten a chance to play Overwatch, you’ve probably seen his ultimate. It’s a massive, serpentine dragon that does huge damage to any members of the rival team it passes through. Good for breaking up concerted offenses and giving your team a few seconds to pick off everyone one-by-one. Or, you know, just 18-wheeler trucking any deer that doesn’t dive away from the obvious headlights.

Here’s the thing, though: it can be stopped before it gets going, or it can even be turned against Hanzo and his team. You’ve just gotta time it right. Case in point: this video by SnaixOnAPlane.

Genji, cyborg ninja extraordinaire (or maybe ordinaire, given that cyborg ninjas are generally extraordinary at, you know, everything), reflected Hanzo’s ultimate back at him. But how? Genji can reflect projectiles like bullets and arrows, but ethereal dragons are simply not in his wheelhouse.


Turns out, the key is to counter before Hanzo’s ultimate takes shape, some especially experienced players explained on Reddit. He fires it as a charged up arrow (like his other attacks), which means there’s a split second in which it’s vulnerable to Genji’s reflection or, say, D.Va’s defense matrix. It’s a detail so small and skill-based that you could play tens of matches and never notice it, but it’s got huge strategic ramifications. With Genji, especially, you’ve got to time it just right, ignoring your impulse to Run The Fuck Away and instead dash toward Hanzo. If you mess up, you’re ghost dragon chow.

Hanzo and Genji exemplify Overwatch’s identity as a game. They’re brothers, but they cater to vastly different play styles. Genji is a lightning bolt blender of violence mid-to-close range, capable of countering longer range attacks if need be. Hanzo does his best work from afar, and he’s a bit on the slower side movement-wise. Genji’s got multiple melee attacks. Hanzo’s got a bow-and-arrow, around which all his attacks are based. But instead of clashing, there’s this great interplay between Hanzo and Genji’s abilities, whether they’re on the same or opposing teams. They’re brothers through and through, narratively and mechanically. Even their squabbles reveal that they share a connection, despite a rather... complicated history.

Overwatch’s closed beta ends next week, after which there’ll be a brief open beta in early May. The game launches on May 24.

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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My problem with Hanzo’s ultimate is that I think the Japanese is wrong. He says “Waga teki wo kurau”, but kurau is the infinitive (and/or future tense) of that verb making the sentence something like “To eat my enemies”, but the way he shouts it it would be way more fitting with “Waga teki wo kurae” which is the imperative mood of the same verb making it “Eat my enemies!” (like an order).

Since he summons the dragon for the purpose of ripping through the enemies I figure it would make sense for him to order it to do so when summoning it.