Team Fortress 2 is a little over a year away from its tenth birthday. It’s a fairly staggering thought, at least to me. I remember pouring hours into this game when it was first released and remembering why I fell in love with PC gaming in the first place.
While “hero shooters” have become very popular in the past year due to the MOBA phenomenon, Team Fortress was one of the rough originals dating back to it’s days as a 1996 Quake mod. Now, Overwatch has taken the “hero-shooter” genre to new heights, incorporating traditional MOBA elements inside an FPS arena.
For those of you who have played the Team Fortress series, this article will help serve as a nice buffer for when you decide to make the jump to Blizzard’s newest franchise.
Let’s explore the nine classes of TF2 and their Overwatch counterparts.
Team Fortress 2 released with nine classes and three distinct roles — Offense, Defense, and Support. After years of countless updates and patches, TF2 classes and roles are now much more dynamic and their loadouts dictate their purpose rather than their inherit traits.
Scout — Tracer & Genji
The Scout is known as a pesky and elusive threat in the TF2 world. Wielding a powerful scattergun at close range, coupled with a double jump and the fastest base movespeed, he can get behind enemy lines quickly and disengage from fights with ease.
Genji fits the playstyle of the scout almost perfectly. His ability to jump while in mid air and also climb up walls makes him a constant flanking threat and an expert at escaping an ambush. He is most deadly when up in the enemy’s face and his drawbacks are his low HP and difficult skill executions.
Similarly, when played properly, Tracer is almost impossible to kill. Her ability to blink short distances and go back to where she was three seconds ago make her an incredible nuisance on the battlefield. Like trying to catch a fly in your hand, you’ll fail many times.
Soldier — Pharah
Known for his rocket jumping antics and lucky crits, the TF2 Soldier is arguably the game’s highest skill capacity class. The ability to control your path in the air after a rocket-jump, and properly angling your shots for maximum dps, is not an easy task. Whether he’s dishing out rockets point blank or from the sky, he’s one of the most versatile offensive heroes in TF2.
Pharah is almost a direct copy-paste job from TF2, but with a bit more ease when it’s time to get into the air. If you’re not spending a lot of time in the sky with Pharah, you might need to watch some YouTube videos on how to play her properly. Not only does she have a jump jet that throws her skyward quickly, she also possesses hover jets to float amongst the clouds, helping her perch atop structures. You can even rocket-jump with her like the TF2 Soldier by shooting at your feet! Her aerial skill-set is a welcome exaggeration of the Soldier.
Pyro — Mei
Ah yes, the “W+M1 class” that everyone loves to hate (and loves to play). The Pyro class is actually a lot more difficult to master than you’d think. If you’re skilled enough with the reflection feature of your flamethrower and can aim your shotgun well — congratulations, you’re better than 90% of pyro players and probably most TF2 players as well. Jokes aside, this class is all about being offensive, surprising enemies around corners and repelling them from your objective.
While this might be somewhat of a stretch, Mei is probably the most similar to the Pyro. The only thing that makes the two akin is their primary weapons. Mei possesses an Endothermic Blaster that sprays frost onto enemies, eventually freezing them if they are hit by the stream long enough. Her versatility and utility skills are actually the most impressive thing about her, but for the TF2 converts, she’ll probably be known as the Pyro clone for now.
Demoman — Junkrat
Many people would argue that the Demoman is one of the most frustrating classes to play against in TF2. His ability to spam choke points and camp corners have made many, including myself, throw their hands up in defeat. He is the ultimate defender that can go on the offensive by quickly deploying his sticky bombs on top of enemy heads and making them into gibs. His difficulty with close-quarters combat is his weakest trait.
Junkrat’s strengths and weakness are comparable to the Demoman’s. His Frag Launcher is similar to the Demoman’s Grenade Launcher, in which they both retain a sloppy arc trajectory. While it may be difficult to aim, Junkrat’s backup plan is more simple to execute — a pack of mines can be deployed and remotely triggered at anytime to blast away foes or propel yourself across the map.
Heavy — D.Va & Bastion
The slowest, most Russian, and perhaps easiest hero of the TF2 classes, the Heavy is known for dispensing a lot of bullets in a short duration. A mobile turret is probably the best way to describe him and, if you can aim well and have decent map awareness, you’re going to be a Medic’s best friend. An easy target for Snipers and pretty much anybody due to his speed and size, but if left untouched, the Heavy will wipe out the battlefield.
While the TF2 Heavy wields a minigun, Overwatch‘s Bastion is a minigun. Unfortunately, Bastion cannot move while in his sentry form, but if positioned well, you won’t have to. It’s perhaps the most devastating normal ability in the game as the sentry gun easily chews through enemies. His ultimate even allows for him to become a mobile tank and blow people to smithereens. He is the Terminator version of the Heavy. If you want to kill him, you better hope he doesn’t see you before it’s too late.
D.Va is more like the Heavy in the sense that when they are both firing weapons, their move speed is significantly slowed. Also, D.Va has a lot of HP and Shield, similar to the Heavy’s starting HP. What makes D.Va a bit better is that she can destroy incoming projectiles with her Defense matrix and her boosters make it easier to get the heck out dodge if needed.
Engineer — Torbjörn & Symmetra
If you ever wanted to play an FPS whilst grasping a cool beverage, TF2’s revolutionary Engineer class made this possible. A “build it and forget about it” mentality let you enjoy the finer detailings of the map or even alt-tab out of the game to look at cat pictures on the internet. In all seriousness though, the Engineer class is a crucial component of a TF2 match. He fills so many roles — defense and offense with his sentry guns, utility with his dispenser, and the all-important teleport to allow players to get to the front lines faster.
Overwatch split up the TF2 Engineer’s role into two different and distinct heroes. Torbjörn closely resembles the Engineer’s stature and turret building capabilities. He collects and stores scrap and builds sentry guns to keep enemies at bay. He can dispense armor packs and his ultimate temporarily upgrades his sentry and his own armor — the only thing that he fails to provide compared to the Engineer is the all important teleporter.
That’s where Symmetra fills a need. Albeit an ultimate ability, teleporters are an essential component of a successful Overwatch match. While not required, they can prove to be the deciding factor in a close game. While the teleport has a finite quantity of uses (six), they are more powerful than you might think. Symmetra also possesses sentry turrets that can be mounted to walls, ceilings, or pretty much anywhere to your heart’s content. They are great to deploy in choke points and a nest of them can spell death for those trapped.
Medic — Mercy
Perhaps the most important class in TF2, the Medic is the lifeblood (heh) of the team. Keeping everybody at full health is an arduous task and prioritizing each member of your team while staying alive makes it all the more difficult. Not to mention finding a capable player to use an Uber or Krtizkreig charge on. I would argue that playing this class was and is the best way to learn TF2. By understanding what classes need more attention, are more effective with you aiding them, or when to choose to use your Uber’s, you soon find out that this game is yours to dictate and it’s up to you to rally your troops.
Mercy follows in these same footsteps. Her Caduceus Staff (Medi-Gun) has a dual function that can either heal your target or boost their DPS. Like TF2, your life is almost always going to be the most important one on the battlefield. Her ultimate allows for a mass resurrection in a large AOE that can easily turn the tide of battle. If you are new to the hero shooter genre or mained as a Medic in TF2, Mercy is the hero for you.
Sniper — Widowmaker & Hanzo
Ah yes, everybody thinks they can snipe, but very few are actually any good at it. The cartoony, laid-back atmosphere of TF2 doesn’t relay the fact that there are some heroes that take a lot of skill. One of those is the Sniper — an Australian man who has a penchant for headshots and throwing jars of urine.
Some time ago, Valve decided to change the Sniper’s playstyle significantly by giving him a bow and arrow (titled The Huntsman). One might think that this would make him far more difficult to use, but a comical hitbox and narrow corridors made it an effective loadout.
Widowmaker is your classic scoped sniper — any headshots she lands count as a critical hit and her strengths are attacking from afar. Equipped with a grappling hook to reach vantage points or escape a surprise attack, Widomaker’s versatility doesn’t stop there. Her ultimate lends her teammates chameleon skin hacks for a short duration and poison mines can be deployed to protect her flanks.
Hanzo, on the other hand, is generally more involved in the fray. He can fire an arrow onto an enemy that will track them, spam multiple arrows that can ricochet off surfaces, or quickly pop into a hallway and sling a single arrow straight into your chest. Above all else, his ultimate is what really stands out. After firing an arrow, a ridiculously massive double dragon duo emerges and slowly cannonballs their way across the map, disregarding all physics, it passes through all surfaces. If you’re caught in it’s path — you’re most likely toast. It’s massive AOE is difficult to avoid and your only warning sign is a shrill cry that is supposed to sound like a dragon (Who really knows what dragons sound like?). A skill-set that can fill many of Overwatch’s roles, Hanzo is a popular pick for many team compositions.
Spy — ???
Depending on how you feel about the TF2 Spy, this might be a blessing or a curse. Overwatch has seemingly omitted this class from their game and I, for one, could not be happier. The Spy’s duties are to make the other team paranoid and be an overall annoyance to everyone and everything. Good Spy players win games, but most often bad ones just take up a server slot and inflate a Pyro player’s ego.
It remains to be seen if Blizzard will decide to port over a similar hero, but frankly I hope they don’t. Focusing on the gameplay as black and white makes it more fluid for new players. Having to Spy check constantly gets old quickly and keeps you distracted from the overall objective that everyone is fighting over. Thanks Blizzard!
Be sure to check back for more Overwatch articles leading up to the release of Overwatch on May 24.