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Officers Quarters > Overwatch 2Jun 15, 2016 1:00 pm CT

Officers’ Quarters: Five lessons in teamwork from Overwatch

pharah and mercy

As Legion‘s beta rolls onward, many of us are crossing the Warlords of Draenor content gap with Blizzard’s amazingly fun and creative team shooter Overwatch. Playing it over the past few weeks, I’ve seen some parallels between success in Overwatch and success in WoW‘s group content. Here are five lessons from Overwatch that can help your team to succeed in raids and PvP.


Players still don’t like playing tanks and support classes

Starting an Overwatch match often feels a bit like waiting in a Dungeon Finder queue. DPS slots go fast, while everyone holds their breath wondering if someone will choose a Roadhog or a Mercy to round out the roster. Sometimes no one picks a tank or a support, and then a generous player has to make the switch later to ensure the team has a better chance to win.

Blizzard did an amazing job making sure Overwatch’s tanks and support heroes are just as deep and interesting as the offensive heroes, but players would still rather be the ones getting quad kills on the Play of the Game. It’s human nature that most people want to be the flashy star quarterback instead of the plodding offensive lineman guarding him. Just as we should all upvote our strong-performing tank and support teammates at the end of a round, we should also thank our tanks and healers in WoW. Be kind and be patient with them, or else you’ll just add more Hunters and Soldier: 76’s to the community.

“Specialist” heroes, on the other hand, are very popular. I see plenty of Meis, Torbjorns, Symmetras, and heartless Bastions running around. It kind of makes me wish that WoW‘s design had incorporated similar roles — crowd control or area defense specs. Early MMOs like Everquest had such things, but then, in a 72-player raid there’s a lot more room for diversity…

Your advanced weapons are no match for my pointy stick.

One player can’t win the match alone

That guy who’s nonstop Hanzo-sniping from across the map while your Payload sits motionless or teleport-Reaping enemy heroes far from the control point might put up flashy stats, but they’re hurting your team in the long run. If they’d stick together with their teammates, a coordinated assault might actually win the round.

Teams in WoW sometimes have a selfish player who’s great at the game and knows it. Those players want to do their own thing because they “know best,” and might even go so far as to abandon the strategy in the middle of a pull or a team-fight. Perfectly executed teamwork using a less-than-perfect strategy will always get you farther than selfish play.

You should use these players’ expertise as a resource, and let them make their case for doing something differently. When push comes to shove, however, if they won’t follow the strategy and do what’s best for the team as a whole, you need to get rid of them. If only that were possible in Overwatch rounds…

tracer and symmetra

Communication wins matches

So many Plays of the Game feature a Bastion set up at a choke point, mowing down team members one by one as they approach. If one person had spoken up about where the Bastion was positioned, that never would have happened. Bastion preys on your silence in team chat. Don’t let him get another PotG. We’re all sick of those, and Overwatch has only been out for a few weeks.

So many raid bosses in WoW have mechanics that can kill your players if you don’t communicate well. A raid leader needs to stay vocal during pulls to make sure everyone is aware of where they need to go and what they need to do next. The adds snacking on your healers aren’t 100% the tanks’ fault if no one mentions that it’s happening.

Even the best players tend to tunnel their rotation sometimes. All the addons in the world can’t compete with the sound of a human voice giving an order. It may be exhausting to talk all night leading a raid or coordinating an Arena team, but it’s absolutely worth it.

overwatch zarya mccree

Timing your cooldowns is vital

How much more effective is McCree’s High Noon or Pharah’s Barrage when the targets are snared by Mei’s Blizzard? Genji’s Dragonblade can draw a lot more blood when his enemies are conveniently rounded up by Zarya’s Graviton Surge. On the other side of the coin is the anti-synergy of ultimates like Winston’s team-scattering Primal Rage and Junkrat’s devastating but small-radius RIP-Tire.

In WoW, cooldown coordination is often a huge difference maker. Don’t just let your healers use their CD’s whenever it feels best to them. You’ll have overlapping healing bonuses and then nothing to get you through that next big damage spike. Likewise, you should make sure your DPS all have their cooldowns up for a coordinated Bloodlust/Heroism. They can only do that if they know the phase of the fight that Bloodlust is planned for.

junkrat and roadhog

Self-sacrifice can save the day

Distracting a Windowmaker by dancing around in her line of sight while a D.Va Boosts behind her. Blinking in to the heart of the enemy formation to stick a Pulse Bomb as Tracer. Solo-Amp-ing into the control point as Lucio to prevent the overtime countdown from expiring. These small sacrifices usually won’t make you look good at round’s end, but in the right circumstances they can add up to carry the team to victory.

I was glad to see the DPS specs get their taunts back in the Legion beta. Sometimes all it takes to turn a 1% wipe into a win is keeping the boss’s attention for a few seconds as a Frost DK or a Windwalker Monk. Players with this kind of awareness and willingness to take one for the team are a huge asset. So are those who sacrifice their own DPS rank to “soak” Archimonde’s last Nether Banish, for example, or to kick the turtles at Tortos back in Throne of Thunder. Not everyone puts the team ahead of themselves like that, but every team needs such players in order to consistently succeed.

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