Celebrate Your Support Character: Thanking the Unheralded Heroes of ‘Overwatch’

Mercy

A few days ago, I received my first silver trophy in Overwatch. I got it after a game of Escort, with my team on the offence. Playing as my go-to character D.Va, I placed myself behind the payload early on, continuously pushing it until we reached the finish line at the end of Route 66. Surrounding me were my teammates, some firing at the enemy from my rear, several running ahead to inflict more damage. Working in unison, we managed to keep the enemy from touching the payload for one whole minute, thusearning myself, and perhaps others, the aptly named “Can’t Touch This” silver trophy. I don’t set much importance by the PlayStation 4’s reward system, but receiving that one felt particularly good.

A great team effort, our win was a quick one. While I shot anyone who came close enough to the payload, my fellow teammates fended all assailants away at every turn, the opposing team struggling to cope with our tactical charge. It was one of the more memorablegames I’ve played on Overwatch, and one teammate, or rather angel, really stood out for me during our win: the support character Mercy.

Sticking behind me for much of the contest, her continuous healing ensured that my mech stayed intact throughout the majority of the game, the payload continuing to move as a result. If it wasn’t for her, I doubt I’d have any silverware to brag about, ourwinmost likely being a much more hard fought or even non-existent one without the winged guardian watching over us.

Symmetra

Despite this player’s contribution, they didn’t make the end-of-round voting board, where players get to decide who the star performer was. Rather, both this and the Play of the Game” highlight clip were reserved for those who dished out the most damage, as well as myself for our objective time. I agree that some of those people warranted the praise they got – like I said, it was very much a team effort. But the Mercy player should have been up there with us. Since being voted “the best” doesn’t actually gain players anything, you could say it doesn’t matter; but to be recognised for your hard work is always nice. However, I’ve noticed acontinuing theme in Overwatch, where really good support players don’t receive the recognition they deserve.

I’ve nowplayed around 60 Overwatch matches, many of which have seen me teamed up with some fantastic support players. I’ve seen Mercys who’ve darted around maps reviving fallen teammates; a Lúcio whose well-timed boosts helped the whole team; and Symmetras who’ve created much-valued portals in essential areas. I’ve seen how useful – well, how vital – it is to have a support player who knows what they’re doing on your team, and yet they’re consistently undervalued by other players. I’ve only ever seen one support player get “Play of theGame“, and that was for her turret kills. When it comes to voting, I’ve witnessed many great healing performances receive either a very small proportion of likes or none whatsoever, while some match-turning support players don’t make it onto the board at all. Fantastic support players just don’t get the peer praise they deserve.

With regards to “Play of theGame“, a part of me can understand why they are not often awarded to support players. From what I’ve seen, these characters don’t have many grand, game-changing moves, like as Junkrat’s ability to blow up large clumps of enemies. Support players seem to be more of a consistent class, helping teammates throughout matches being their biggest strength. That’s not to say that support players can’t be rewarded with Play of the Game”. A friend of mine told me that she was recently given it for her prompt revival skills, although it was the first time in manygames her Mercy had received the accolade.

Considering current FPS console titles however, this lack of acknowledgment for a great support game doesn’t surprise me.Franchises such as Call of Duty, Battlefield and Halo encourage players to kill as many enemies as possible in their multiplayer modes, the best form of defence usually being an effective offence. These games have created an environment where kills have become the most important thing in the FPS market, praise always going to those at the top of the leaderboard.

Zenyatta

But Overwatch is a completely different breed of FPS, unlike any we’ve seen before, certainly on consoles. This isn’t just a game about killing; it’s about teamwork, tactics, positioning. Therefore, praise needs to be aimed at more than just those who’ve slain the most members of the other team. I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t commend high elimination counts or streaks. Likes, however, should be given to all players that warrant them, and not just to those who can aim the best and loose a round the quickest. Our conditioning from previous FPSgames needs to be forgotten.

From now on, let’s try to give more credit to the amazing healers, boosters and shield creators that we couldn’t play Overwatch without. Personally, I’d thank to extend a thank you to all the greats I’ve met so far. To all the random Mercys, Zens, Lúcios and Symmetras who’ve aided me without so much as a wink, I salute you. To the Mercy who helped me get my first silver trophy, you were awesome. To the last-minute players taking the much-needed support role, cheers for stepping in. To my friend who regularly rocks the Mercy character and heals my D.Va, thanks dude. And to any other great support players in the Overwatch universe, let it be known that you are appreciated.

Original article first appeared on VICE Gaming on 09/06/2016

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