Tracer is my latest Overwatch affair. As I’ve mentioned, I’m over a year into playing Overwatch pretty consistently, and one of the more remarkable features about this game is that it offers plenty of ways to remain feeling fresh, even after that amount of time. Tracer is a hero I have occasionally selected in a match of Quickplay and, after offering nothing but multiple quick deaths to my team, I always gave up and moved onto another hero.
But one of my favorite game modes is Mystery Heroes; it’s a place where the playing field is leveled, in that no one has any choice in the character they’re given, resulting in a match where everyone is making the best out of both their individual hero and their respective team’s composition. It’s a lot of fun, encouraging a lot of improvisation, but can also lend a lot of false promise – say you’re kicking ass with Zenyatta, a hero you’ve never had a decent match with. But jump into a Quickplay match or a Competitive match with your new stock of confidence, select him and there’s a good chance the skills you thought you discovered won’t amount to much against players actively choosing the heroes they know and love.
It’s happened to me before, but when it most recently happened with Tracer, I took my latest hero experiment over to Quickplay and didn’t do half bad. In the past, I was always far too liberal with her blink ability (a feature that allows Tracer to teleport a few meters in whatever direction you are moving with her, up to three times, with several seconds of cooldown required to replenish each blink). Best used to frustrate the enemy, I would often panic as soon as I took any fire, first wasting my recall (another ability that allows Tracer to rewind the last three seconds of her movement, placing her back where she was with the ammo/health she had at that moment as well), use all three blinks in rapid succession, and end up being nothing but a sitting, squishy duck, waiting for Winston to lay waste to me.
I’ve since learned (somewhat) to use both of these abilities a little more conservatively, as well as attack from a flanking position or, better yet, behind the team, and it has done wonders. Maintaining the willpower, patience and awareness to use these abilities only when necessary allows Tracer to stick around far longer than her meager 150 health would suggest, and deal with deadly cooldowns far less. Knowing when to use recall to gain back health or simply evacuate a losing situation is another lesson that is better learned sooner than later. Blinking around enemies is nothing short of extremely overwhelming and disorienting when first using her, but after building somewhat of a feel for the logistics, it’s downright thrilling when I’m having a good match – there’s nothing better than being in full out annoying-fly mode, blinking circles around an enemy team from the rear and peppering them with fire as they try to advance a payload. Distracting even two enemies to chase you down grants your attacking teammates an awesome advantage to take on the payload and stop the momentum.
…But, I have a long way to go. I’m still deathly afraid to choose her in Competitive mode,
where the stakes, tension and regard for precious SP are so high, no mistakes are forgiven. Even working on my Tracer game in Quickplay, a safe zone for experimentation that, on the flip side, is not the greatest barometer for determining a skill level for any particular hero, can be disastrous. It usually takes me a couple matches to remember to calm down with my panicky-blinking. These rough matches also tend to show an embarrassing accuracy percentage. And Tracer’s other trademark ability, her pulsebomb ultimate, is still a feature that has escaped me. A sticky grenade that can be devastating in the right circumstance, it doesn’t have the widest field of damage, and can be easily wasted. I believe (though could be wrong) Tracer has one of the fastest charging ultimates in the game, so it can be tempting to quickly read a situation as the proper time to use it, knowing that if it ends up a dud, you’ll get another soon. My problem is, I tend to follow this logic the whole match through, usually taking the safe route of sticking the bomb to one tank, getting one kill, if I’m lucky, maybe two, and thus going an entire game without properly using this ability. For know, witnessing Tracer POTG’s (Play of the Game) where a player racks up a 3, 4 or even 5 player kill streak with a pulse bomb is still a fantasy for me.
One of my blogging ideas has been to flesh out my experience with the heroes in the game, and Tracer seemed a good start – my flavor of the month that I’m currently smitten with, showing scrapes of promise with here and there, but still need to finesse. From here, I will probably move onto my “mains”, or maybe past heroes that I mostly left behind (I miss you, Junkrat). But for now, thanks for reading, and again, curse you, Overwatch – Part of me really wishes I was over you by now!