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Overwatch’s Winston seemed like the furthest extreme developer Blizzard could go. A genetically-engineered gorilla from the moon is pretty far-fetched even when placed next to a cyborg ninja and a woman who turned blue because of her slow heartbeat. But then the studio jumped even further down the rabbit hole — or hamster hole — with Hammond, a genius, gladiator hamster that rides in rolling tank that also happens to be from the moon. And while I am firmly in the pro-Hammond camp, he still isn’t Overwatch’s best post-launch character. That title still belongs to Moira.
Why Moira is the Best Overwatch Hero: Show No Mercy… Literally
Moira came out in November of 2017, fresh after Blizzard had added two offensive heroes and a tank to the game. The support class — arguably the most important and underplayed role — didn’t grow at the same pace and only had four healers for well over a year. Well, it had four healers but only one seemed to matter. Fall 2017 marked the beginning of Mercy’s domination where Blizzard overbuffed her and couldn’t figure out how to make a pick and not the pick. The initial preseason wave of the Overwatch League proved this as it was all Mercy, all the time, which made it quite repetitive and boring to watch. Pro or amateur, playing healer was synonymous with playing Mercy and that’s a stale way to play a game with 24 unique heroes and Hanzo.
The role needed something new and Moira was it. Mercy’s gradual nerfs did allow Moira to ascend, but the tall Talon operator grew on her own accord. She had a different playstyle that could both dish out heavy healing and decent damage, as evidenced by her two distinct biotic orbs. Her duality gave support players another viable character to play while also duping die-hard damage dealers into trying out a healer. Data gathered from her first week on the on the competitive mode showed that she had a healthy pickrate, healing output, and winrate across all skill tiers, proving her worth in a more scientific capacity. Through Moira, Blizzard not only shook up the healer meta when it needed it the most, but also made the role more attractive to play for more people.
Why Moira is the Best Overwatch Hero: Tall, Pale, and Fearsome
Moira’s playstyle makes her stand out, but so does everything about her visual design and role within the lore. She’s a unique take on the “mad scientist” archetype with her rail-thin, angular build and androgynous outward appearance. And, mad scientist bit aside, that’s all important for a game that makes diversity one of its tentpole features.
While Blizzard hasn’t specifically mentioned anything about her sexuality, she’s become one of the game’s queer icons, which is in part due to her obvious inspiration from David Bowie. In a world where video game characters are often full of buff, masculine men and oversexualized women, it isn’t too common to see someone not subscribe to the shallow and overused extremes of both sides of the gender spectrum. And that’s refreshing in both Overwatch and gaming as a whole, especially for people who feel like they can identify with her.
Why Moira is the Best Overwatch Hero: Not the Red-Headed Stepchild
Moira also helps give hope to another group of people: gingers. All too often, outside of a few Ninja Theory games and Horizon Zero Dawn, redheads are almost always portrayed as freckle-covered, pale dorks who we’re meant to laugh at, not with. Thanks, South Park. While many, myself included, can’t refute the pale part, gingers should be able to be more than a played out cliché. She’s an arrogant badass that doesn’t at all conform her docile, red-headed kin. Her Irishness isn’t even degraded into a cheap potato-loving, beer-chugging, “they’re-after-me-Lucky-Charms” stereotype. Now that shows restraint.
But she’s not just bringing attention to a few underrepresented crowds; she’s also bringing attention to the lore. Overwatch’s post-launch characters have mostly failed to add much to the overarching story as of yet, but Moira was the means that gave us a look at one of the most pivotal events of the backstory. The most recent Retribution event gave a glimpse of her role in Gabriel Reyes’ transformation and the gradual decline of Overwatch itself. And that’s an important role that can’t be understated, given how vital her double agent role was and how Blizzard felt compelled to center the game’s only lore-focused event around her. Very few heroes can claim to have the same level of impact on the story as Moira.
Hammond is an absolute joy to play. He’s got a unique, mobile set of abilities that carefully ride the line between tank and damage dealer. Plus, he can rapidly swing around the point like a rocket-power tetherball and repeatedly donk the other team, which is always a good time. But as much as I love his bizarre backstory and moveset, he can’t really compare to Moira. And that applies to almost all of the other post-launch characters. Sombra, Orisa, Doomfist, Hammond, Brigitte, and even Ana all contribute in some way to the narrative and gameplay dynamics, but none fused the two as well as Moira. She was the game and the lore surrounding it needed and that’s what Blizzard should emulate with their characters going forward.