Overwatch: Support Woes

Overwatch is an online team-based first-person shooter in which players must work together as a team to secure the match objective.  There are three primary match types (assault, escort, control) that take place on several different maps, as well as, hybrid matches for select maps which incorporate aspects of the primary match types.  In order for teams to be successful, they need to form a cohesive group comprised of tanks, supports and damage dealers.  While there are certain heroes that are deemed superior to others within their classification, any combination can be successful.  Among the classifications, it has been my experience that “support” is, more often than not, the most frustrating to play.

The reason for this is that support heroes, excluding Symmetra, are priority targets for the opposing team and are very reliant on others to be successful.  Obviously, there are players who are skilled enough to dominate a match no matter the hero or class, but we are discussing the average player as that fits the majority of those who play Overwatch on both PC and console.  In the lower competitive tiers of Overwatch, which I consider to be Bronze through Platinum, if the assault heroes are incapable of quickly killing the enemy in a team fight or the tanks are more reckless and less protective, the matches become very difficult.  Similar could be said about playing a tank or assault; however, an average player in those roles is often more capable of protecting themselves, either by properly selecting the battles they will fight or by playing defensively.  Support heroes do not often have that luxury.  The enemy and your team often dictate the engagements, and even if you remain close to your teammates, you are still reliant on their ability to quickly eliminate the opposition.

For those who are thinking that this seems a bit of a one-sided view, allow me to clarify my meaning.  Overwatch is not your typical MMO triad of Tank, Healer, DPS, though each hero does fall into those particular categories at times, there is only a handful that falls firmly into those categories, while the others are a bit more flexible in how they can be played.  For instance, Winston is a “tank” hero who has the ability to harass the enemy backline by jumping over their defenses and directly onto their support heroes, and then jumping back toward his team and providing “tank” support.  If you are playing as support and an enemy Winston jumps on top of you, you will have limited options depending on the situation and the support hero you are playing.  However, given equally matched players, the Winston will likely kill you before you can kill him, so fighting is often futile.  You could try to outrun him, but Winston is a mobile character with an auto-aim weapon, so even moving erratically won’t completely save you and you’re unlikely to outrun him if he’s persistent.  So, that leaves you with having to rely on your team to react appropriately and focus the Winston to either force him to leave through damage or come protect you from the damage as best they can.  The other heroes within the non-support classes are better equipped for such a situation, though there are a few exceptions.

Now, this is not a rant to discredit what the other classes bring to the game, on the contrary, I am saying that non-support classes are more important than some may believe.  Support heroes are there to try and keep a team alive; however, tanks and damage classes have to perform their primary roles while also ensuring that their supports are protected.  Make no mistake each team will need the correct combination of heroes in order to be consistently successful; however, even selecting the best hero for each role pales in comparison to properly playing each hero and supporting your team as you should.  Maybe I am slightly off-base with my opinions, but as someone who played primarily as either tank or assault through the first two competitive seasons and then switched to support in the current season, my thoughts reflect my experiences.  Playing as tank and assault during the first two seasons, I always felt like I had some control over the outcome of the match, whether it be killing Genji with Winston as he dashed into our backline or picking Pharah out of the skies with McCree, I always felt that if I just worked a little harder or made fewer mistakes I could make a difference.  In the current season, as a support, it feels more like walking a tightrope during a hurricane.

Overwatch’s Widowmaker

In May of 2016, Blizzard Entertainment officially released their First-Person Shooter multiplayer game called Overwatch.  If you are a gamer or follow gaming in the slightest way, then it is a high probability that you have heard of the game.  I was lucky enough to have participated in two betas for the game prior to its release and have played it pretty consistently ever since.  Overall, the game is solid in every way and Blizzard has done a fantastic job of continually making improvements and promoting the game in true Blizzard fashion (World of Warcraft is a discussion for another time).  With that said, the focus of this blog is not the game in itself, but instead, will focus on a particular hero in the game.  That hero, err villain, is Widowmaker!

Why focus on Widowmaker?  Well, before I get into why I enjoy playing Widow, let me first give you some backstory on me.  In short, I love snipers!  I have been a gamer most of my life, as described in “Why make YouTube videos?”, and have found memories of most every game I have played; however, I have always been drawn toward multiplayer games and the sniping classes within those particular games.  Heck, I even enjoy reading about the heroics and accomplishments of military snipers like Simo Häyhä, Lyudmila Pavlichenko, Carlos Hathcock and Chris Kyle.  Obviously, there is nothing glorious about war but in the courage, bravery, and devotion to those they fought alongside, there most certain are though that is a story for another time.  To say the least, it was that intrigue that drew me to the video game class, not to mention the concept of taking one shot in a video game and eliminating an opponent.

So, when Overwatch launched I was immediately drawn to Widowmaker, a typical rifle/scope sniper.  In the early stages of the game, any team with a solid Widowmaker could absolutely destroy the competition because of the raw power of her charged scope, both with shots to the body and head of an enemy.  This was certainly apparent on the MLG circuit as you had amazingly talented players who could do incredible things with the hero.  As for me, well I am far from amazing but even I could do quite well with her.  Fast forward to now, there are currently three “snipers” in the game.  Hanzo, who is more of an archer than a typical sniper (is an archer just a sniper with a bow?), Ana, who is a concept sniper though due to her role as a support class and her insanely fast bolt action rate of fire many just hip-fire her weapon which is not really sniping, and finally there is Widowmaker.

Times have certainly changed with balance changes trying to find that ideal equilibrium between the classes.  With those changes, Widowmaker has become more of a niche or situational hero, though there are still some gamer out there who can completely dominate matches with her.  For those like me, who are competent players, she fits the aforementioned niche role or simply a hero to play for fun and make videos with.  I truly enjoy the hero and hitting that one-shot headshot is as gratifying as it has ever been, but when it comes to playing in a competitive setting or even a casual setting at times, you are more often than not better off playing a different hero.  Not to mention the amount of verbal abuse and utter disregard of effectiveness you will endure by selecting Widowmaker.  A brief and subdued version of such an experience can be found here: Widow Gets No Respect.

Who knows what the future will bring for the Overwatch villain, perhaps one day she will again become more than a niche selection, but either way I will continue to play Widow in Quick Play matches and occasionally in Competitive when the situation warrants it.  I know I am not the best player as well, but I will continue to make YouTube videos featuring my favorite hero in the game.  Luckily, with a few edits here and there I can look like a decent player from time to time and hopefully fool others into thinking they can be as well.  If you have been hiding underneath a rock and have not heard of Overwatch, or you have been on the fence about trying the game, I highly recommend you give it a look and even try your hand at the villainous sniper.  Just be sure to mute voice communication and hide your chat to avoid all the senseless hate that will likely come your way (not a bad idea in any case).

Why make YouTube videos?

Today I spent several hours sitting at my computer tinkering with editing software in hopes to developing a new “highlights” video that I could place on YouTube tomorrow.  While battling through the trials of syncing audio with video clips and filtering through gameplay footage to find the short segments I hoped to use in the video, a question popped into my head.  Why on earth am I using up all this time to make YouTube gaming videos?

So, why make YouTube videos?  It is a question I asked myself a couple of years ago as well when I first thought of the concept and ultimately chose not to pursue.  However, a few months ago, October to be exact, after prompting by one of my friends I decided to create a few videos in which I analyzed and discussed my competitive matches.  There were two reasons I chose to do this:  to better explain my gameplay to my friend in hopes of helping us both improve our gameplay and because I simply wanted to play around with video editing.  Obviously, I have never taken any classes that would properly introduce me to the world of video editing I simply watched a few YouTube videos and then jumped into the Movie Maker and gave it a go.  In a way, I had a leg up on some first timers in that I already had recording hardware/software thanks to my Nvidia graphics card and Movie Maker was already installed on my computer and being a gamer I already had a headset with a microphone so the only thing standing in my way was simply editing the video.

Needless to say, my first video was and will forever remain a piece of “art” that I shared with my friend alone.  They enjoyed it and asked me to create another video though this time I was to use their gameplay which I would gather by spectating their match.  Again, equipped with my simple tools I went to work and created another masterpiece.  I ended up making close to eight videos before I realized that I enjoyed making the videos, but I felt limited by both my knowledge and resources.  As such, I made a small investment and purchased some mid-ranged video editing software and upon first using the software I simply fell in love.  The next 5-10 videos I made improved dramatically and it was at this point that it was suggested that I place one or two of them on YouTube for the public to see.

As we all know, doing things with or for family and friends is one thing but to present your work to the public is a completely different animal altogether.  Obviously, I was not too keen on the idea but after much prompting, I uploaded my first ever video to YouTube.  I mean what did I truly have to lose considering the only thing anyone would ever know was that Ncommunicado posted a YouTube video, not to mention the fact that YouTube is over-saturated with gaming videos to the point mine would likely never be seen by anyone.  Sadly, the latter proved true and left me feeling a bit downtrodden.  I mean, I did not expect it to go viral or anything close to that, but I at least thought it would receive at least ten views.  What I received was four total views after being “public” for nearly two weeks.

After my disastrous opening exhibition, I decided to dig into things a bit further and quickly realized that this was the norm more so than an oddity.  Without assistance or that glorious moment in the sun kind of thing where you catch YouTube gold, a new YouTuber has a massive uphill battle.  However, if you do your research you will eventually find that you are not alone in the fight.  There are other new and struggling YouTubers just like yourself, as well as several new yet more successful YouTubers who are doing all they can to try and help you along.  For me, I found a website called YTtalk which is a community where YouTubers can share their experiences, strategies, expertise, and their work with other members of the community in hopes of promoting themselves as well as others.  I am sure there are other such communities on the internet that I have not yet tapped into, but I am new at this and am still learning the ropes.

All-in-all I have been uploading videos to YouTube for less than a month, though I started recording and editing back in October.  Since the leap I have found that I tend to edit video or analyze gameplay footage more often than I actually play games, which is surprising and eventually could prove problematic if I run out of material.  However, it shows that even though you may have zero previous experience and marginal practical experience you can still try your hand at something new and still enjoy the process.  While my initial reaction to my videos small view count was discouraging, it has not derailed my enjoyment of the process.  The main reason for that is, most likely, because I did not start making videos to become YouTube famous or to make money, I started doing it because I found it interesting and enjoyable.  If I continue to only have a few views on each video, I am fine with that because I know for a fact that one of those views will be from my friend and ultimately they are the main reason I started making videos in the first place.  As long as we enjoy them and I continue to enjoy the process then I will continue making these videos and tossing them on the internet.

Everything has a beginning

Prior to beginning the story, let me first introduce myself.  My name is Ncommunicado, no it is not my “real” name, but I have adopted it across numerous social media sites.  You see, I am a gamer and have been for as long as I can remember.  When I first started gaming, there were not many games that offered the option of creating a name, although many allowed you to place your initials on the leaderboards at the end.  Nowadays, you create the name before you even begin the game.  I have changed names numerous times over the years, but Ncommunicado or some variation of Ncom has been my mainstay for several years now.  To answer what I believe to be your first question:  Why that name?  There is a story, though it is far from intriguing.  I chose the name because it is a play on the word incommunicado, which describes my gaming actions and real-life likeness.  While I can speak, I have always been rather quiet, preferring to listen and observe rather than join in or become the main event.  As such, Ncommunicado seemed like an ideal choice at the time, with the abbreviated version of it coming later as I chose different heroes or characters to play (as in World of Warcraft).

Now that you know my name, let us discuss blogging and why I have chosen to dive into the madness.  Honestly, I have always wanted to share my thoughts with others, but as described in the paragraph above, it simply is not something I often do.  I have no true direction or vision for this blog, or should I say I have no subject in particular that I will focus on.  The blog site is called MusingOfNcom for a reason and the reason is that I do not wish to simply focus on one or two topics, though I am sure I will have certain topics I discuss far more than others.  I can name a few topics right off hand:  gaming, sports, fitness, and adventuring.  For some, the idea of gaming being remotely related to sports, fitness or adventuring is baffling.  Fortunately, the belief that the only people who regularly play video games are overweight geeks who live out their days as hermits in their parent’s basement are far from the truth.  Sure, there are a few cases out there, but such cases are no longer the norm.  While this may be an extreme case, just take a look at Bajheera.

I seem to have strayed from my original topic, which may happen more often than not, so let me ease back into focus.  Why blog?  Sharing thoughts was one reason, next is to promote the Ncommunicado YouTube channel and to share my experiences with others as well.  In today’s digital world, we all have access to social media which means there is an abundance of individual’s to compete against for an audience yet it also provides an opportunity to reach so many people.  It is my hope that I am able to reach out through this blog, YouTube and other social media outlets and have an impact on someone’s life in a positive way.  I do not expect to save lives or greatly influence them, but if the words I type or the videos I create can in some way provide entertainment for a few minutes, then I will have accomplished my final reason for beginning this blog.

I am sure that as you read along, you will find grammatical errors in abundance.  I will strive to keep them to a minimum, but I can honestly say that I was never an English major, nor have I written in any form in the past.  I am a simple individual who strives to improve in some manner each day, be the best person I can be each and every day, and to try and enjoy this life I have been given.  I will surely make mistakes in my blogs, as I have made in life.  So, expect more from me in the future though this will surely never become a daily blog.  If you are reading this, you have my gratitude and my hopes that you will continue this new journey with me, both as a YouTuber and a blogger and until next time, see ya!!