written by Clubfrills
I can remember how excited I was when the Overwatch beta went live. I had previously never played anything like it. I had ignored Team Fortress in my earlier years, opting for more traditional FPS games such as Counterstrike (ironically a game with little ADS) and Call of Duty. I was an FPS junkie, I just wanted to click heads. When I saw how Overwatch was organized, how different heroes and their abilities changed the flow of a match, and how fluid the swapping of heroes could be, I was all in. I had never seen a game quite like it. However, looking back on this experience, perhaps the novelty of Overwatch’s core game design covered up what now seems to be a major oversight — only a few heroes have an actual “aim down sight” mechanic.
I began to wonder what the decision was for Blizzard to have so few ADS abilities in a game that revolves around shooting other players — Widowmaker, Ana, Hanzo (sort of), and now Ashe, are the only characters who can aim down their sights. Consider the amount of heroes with guns as primary or secondary weapons that cannot ADS: Soldier, McCree, Reaper, Mercy (pistol), Torb, Lucio, Hog, Mei, Bastion, Pharah… the list continues. With Ashe’s introduction, it feels like McCree and Soldier are even more irrelevant to the meta than they were even a few weeks ago.
Why would I want to clumsily hip-fire a revolver when I can shotgun blast myself into the air and headshot over an obstacle providing cover? Playing Ashe feels like playing a Destiny crucible match inside of Overwatch — it feels absolutely fantastic in terms of gunplay and mobility. Sure, you could say “git gud”, or maybe I should just adjust my crosshair settings, but Soldier’s ultimate voice line being “I’ve got you in my sights” when he’s confined to hip-fire is as ironic as it could possibly get.
Soldier has been a weaker DPS hero in the meta for a while now, and while the Overwatch team has explicitly stated they are done with reworks, an ADSing Soldier 76 would feel much more powerful than just tightening his bullet spread by 0.4 inches or whatever Blizzard thinks is an impactful buff. Hell, make crouching increase accuracy for all I care. You could even put Soldier’s ADS ability on a cooldown. The point still stands though, Ashe generally feels better to play than any of the other hitscan heroes, and after her introduction I likely won’t even touch another DPS hero even if they are more effective than her overall. Why didn’t they introduce a hero like Ashe much earlier into the game’s lifespan?
I took a portal back to 2015 and found a post on /r/Overwatch asking why so few heroes have ADS abilities. The resulting comments were exactly what I expected:
“No thank you, it would not fit the game.”
“It wouldn’t work for this kind of game.”
“Was there ever a good game with ADS?”
“OW is fast paced like Quake, so this is not necessary.”
“Nothing better than getting rid of your field of view!”
“It’s just the way Overwatch was designed and balanced and if you don’t like that then go back to COD.”
“Honestly, coming from vanilla shooters, one of the most appealing things about Overwatch is the lack of ADS.”
Perhaps in 2015 it would have been insanely unbalanced to add ADS to Soldier 76. Fast forward to 2018 with the game’s spam of CC abilities, increased hero mobility (I’m looking at you, Hammond), and even more devastating ultimate combos (Nano-Bob?), I don’t find ADS to be any more game breaking than insta-killing someone I’ve punched into a wall. After all, players have also been clamoring for less “high accessibility, high impact” heroes like Brigitte and more heroes that introduce skillful counter play. Adding more optional ADS abilities is a great way to increase the skill cap of the game overall. The thrill of a high impact play with Ashe makes me scream with glee and annoy the hell out of my teammates. I can’t say that hacking an enemy as Sombra and unloading my entire vector clip into them has ever had that sort of impact — I hacked them, they can’t do anything, and then they die (ez game, ez life).
The argument that ADS cannot be balanced in a game like Overwatch is refuted by the current ADS hero designs. Each current ADS-equipped hero has clear advantages and disadvantages in using a scope. Each character has a considerable drop in movement speed when they ADS, and in some cases, their field of vision is decreased overall from the scope (other than Hanzo). Ana gives away her position by using her scope. Widow moves like a snail while scoped. Ashe does about 50% less damage with hip-fire.
There are ways Blizzard can mitigate the advantages of ADS beyond mobility and damage by changing the weapon spread of Soldier’s assault rifle, or the recoil of McCree’s revolver. Give players options for play style feels most comfortable — that will add much more accessibility to the game than insisting that ADS is just not “how the game was balanced”. With Ashe, we are seeing that Blizzard can make thoughtful gunplay design that feels fluid, snappy, and deliciously fun. In the future, I hope Blizzard releases more heroes like Ashe that tickle my FPS background more than my MOBA one.