The newest addition to Blizzard’s team based shooter is one bad mother (literally), but her skill set seems a bit underpowered in a game grouped by overarching classes.
Ana, the woman of a certain age seen above clutching a sniper rifle, arrived on PC and consoles roughly a week ago. She has been playable for some time in Overwatch’s Public Test Region (PTR) for a while now, and players worldwide are slowing picking up her interesting playstyle.
Categorized as “support”, Ana’s unique rifle can be used to injure opponents and heal allies. All without having to switch ammunition or reconfigure her weapon. A very interesting concept for a sniper, but one that seems to take the sting out of both of her attacks and her healing ability. Ana also has a sleep dart and some healing/anti-healing grenades at her disposal. She is an undeniably enjoyable character to play, though I don’t see her working out very well for anyone attempting to cobble together a competitive team.
From a healing standpoint Ana can heal 75 hp per shot, no matter the spot hit or if she is scoped in on her target. Head, foot, torso, right in the buns - 75 is the best you’re going to do. It’s a decent amount if you can rattle off a few shots into your squadmate in a single go, though it pales in comparison to other healers. Lucio can heal those around him without aiming, whereas Zenyatta and Mercy both have healing abilities that lock on to the nearest friend or give you the option of choosing your mark. In this way Ana is horribly underclassed. Players using her have to not only constantly be setting up new shots, but also have to connect if they want the intended results. A risky choice when you have three more adept healers waiting in the wings (one with actual wings).
Ana can heal herself, though only through the use of her biotic grenade. The grenade has an accommodating effect on your team and an adverse effect on the other. It heals those within its small blast radius by 100 hp (Ana included) and allows them to increase their healing for a short period. It also does 60 damage to those on the other crew and hinders them from healing, be it by a teammate or health pack, for a short amount of time. There’s a lot going on in that little grenade, and it can be tough to decide when exactly one should use it. Though I’ve found it usually comes into play during times of desperation, either for myself or for another who is on the verge of being eliminated.
From an offensive standpoint Ana is more of an aggravating nuisance than a real threat to the opposing team. Her sniper shots can deal, you guessed it, 75 damage. Though unlike other long range gunmen Ana doesn’t get added damage for headshots. Which seems odd, all things considered. Her amount of damage is also quite a bit weaker than other snipers, such as Widow Maker and Hanzo, who can easily do upwards of 100 damage with a well placed shot. Many times I found myself just shooting from the hip into a large crowd of characters, because even if I didn’t hurt my enemies I could still help my teammates. More often than not I assisted in an elimination, but didn’t deliver the kill shot.
The sleep dart is Ana’s most satisfying offense, knocking foes out for a solid five seconds, or until they are damaged in any way. It’s a wonderful device to get out of a tough spot or simply stall an enemy while you help your team heal up. It should be noted that there are few things in Overwatch more pleasing than putting an opposing player down for a nap mid ultimate. But once again, it’s likely not going to get you kills, just deter the opposition momentarily (and likely piss them off as well). Try putting Phara (Ana’s daughter) to sleep during her storm of justice and you’ll be greeted with one of the best lines in the game.
Ana’s biggest downfall, in both the helping and hurting spectrum, comes from her inability to reach strategically advantageous locations, quickly or in many cases at all. Ana has no wall climbing abilities, no grappling hook or rocket boots. She is grounded in a way that sorely limits her capacity to get enemies or allies in her crosshairs at a moment’s notice. Even if she had the power to sprint like Solider 76 she could get back into the fray in time to do some good. It seems like a huge oversight for a character who needs to literally keep everyone in her sights to be effective.
When it comes to ultimates, Ana’s is one that needs quite a bit of communication. Her Nano Boost temporarily makes one player faster, more powerful and more impervious to damage in one super steroid induced rampage. It can be extremely effective against the other team, if you do it right. The first issue is actually picking the right person to be momentarily buffed. Who can do the most damage, and if they can is the player controlling them even going to know what to do when they’re boosted? It’s a hard call, especially if you’re not talking to your team. Not to mention it’s easy to accidently boost a player who ran in front of your target. Now you have a super charged Symmetra on your team who has no idea why you picked her for this momentous power surge.
When it comes down to it, Ana is a fine addition to the expanding Overwatch roster, but she needs a few improvements. Notably her maneuverability and damage output (head shots, anyone?) could use some buffs. Though even with those improvements it may be hard for players to get a lot out of Ana in the average match. I’ve played her a fair amount and I’ve never gone beyond a bronze medal in kills, and the few golds I have received for healing were only awarded because no one else on my team was a healer.
But hey, not everyone plays competitive and Ana is a character that brings a lot of satisfying moments throughout the average match. I’ll certainly continue to use her and refine my sniping skills, even if she doesn’t get the patches she sorely needs in the future.
The next time you get hooked by a Roadhog you’ll certainly wish you could drop him into a deep sleep and slink away, I’ll tell you that.