Don't Fear The Reaper: Dealing With Overwatch's Most Annoying Character
The closed beta is over, and if it's anything to judge by, Overwatch is shaping up to be an insanely fun squad shooter with a relatively low barrier of entry. Characters are easy to pick up but difficult to master, and they are varied enough that all kinds of players can find integral roles on their team.
That said, that doesn't mean it's not incredibly annoying when a shotgun-wielding Reaper sneaks up behind you and kills you in one hit. Let's learn how to stop that from happening again, shall we?
Know Your Enemy
First things first. If we're going to beat this black-robed-extra-from-The-Crow-looking freak, we're going to have to familiarize ourselves with his tools. Reaper's set of moves and abilities are fairly basic, at least as far as Overwatch characters go.
Reaper's main weapon is a pair of shotguns that do massive damage at close range, enough to one-shot characters with lower health like Tracer. Reaper can fire off 8 rounds before entering into a relatively lengthy reload animation, and he has no secondary fire mode.
This is Reaper's getaway move. In wraith form, Reaper cannot attack, but the tradeoff is that he becomes invulnerable and his move speed increases. Skilled Reapers will save this ability for sticky situations and use it to beat a quick retreat, trusting that they will not be chased.
Shadow step is a teleport move that is best used as an offensive tool. The teleport's range is fairly wide, allowing Reaper to teleport behind enemy defenses and sneak up on unsuspecting opponents.
Though Reaper has relatively low health, Reaper's passive ability allows him to replenish his health from pickups dropped by fallen enemies. This, combined with his wraith form, gives him the ability to regroup and try again after a failed assault.
Reaper's ultimate is an interesting one. Once a Reaper activates Death Blossom, he will deal massive damage to every opponent within range of his shotguns, enough to kill most characters in the game. That said, during the move, he is vulnerable. Most Reapers will use wraith form to infiltrate a large group of opponents, and then activate their ultimate for a maximum payoff.
Now that we know what Reaper can do, let's stop him.
Keep Your Distance
Sure, this is obviously easier said than done, but it's worth noting that every character in the game has more long range offensive options than Reaper-- even Road Hog has his chain, and Reinhardt has his dash attack. If you see one, do all you can to prevent him from closing the distance (inclucing using your abilities), and chip away at his health bar from long range.
Even when you are playing as a tank, resist that little voice in your head that tries to convince you to mount a foolhardy head-on assault from close range. It'll end in tragedy.
Watch Your Six
Skilled Reaper players do their best not to be seen until it's already too late. They'll use their teleports to get behind lines of defense, or to aerial vantage points, then carefully choose their moment to attack.
It may be annoying to do, but the best way to deal with this is to check behind and above your character often, especially when you're on your own. As much as Reapers excel in close range combat, their relatively low health means that they'll be looking to pick off players one at a time, and will generally shy away from large scale brawls.
The general rule here is that you always want to see Reaper before he sees you. This will give you a massive advantage.
Don't Fear The Reaper
Reapers are incredibly skilled in close-range combat, yes. But when Reapers are at a disadvantage or are low on health, they will retreat, often using wraith form. This will allow them to regroup, recover health, and try again. You don't want to give them that chance. Unless you're actively going after an objective, you should not be afraid of retreating Reapers. Actively chase them down, and don't let them lose you.
Again, if you can see Reaper, you're at an advantage. Wraith form will run out before long (the move only lasts 3 seconds), and when it does, the retreating Reaper should be easy to pick off so long as you keep your distance.
This goes for Shadow Step too. If you see the telltale glow that appears at the spot a Reaper is teleporting to, train your weapons on it and just start blasting away. It's an easy kill.
The idea here is that you don't want to give a Reaper a second chance at getting the drop on you or your team, because they have the advantage in those scenarios-- why let them reset and try again? When a Reaper is retreating, you have the advantage, so press it and get the kill.
Obviously, this is complicated by team roles and objectives. You won't want to hunt down a retreating Reaper solo if you're, say, a Mercy, or if you're the only one pushing a payload, so weigh the situation and think strategically about whether or not you should chase that player down.
Strategies For Dealing With Death Blossom
If you see a Reaper using wraith form to enter into a large brawl, it's likely that he's gearing up to use his ultimate attack. The strategies for dealing with this are much the same as dealing with Reaper in general. Give any advancing Reaper a wide berth (whether or not they're in wraith form), wait until they exit wraith form, and fire away.
The nice thing about Death Blossom from our perspective is that Reaper is completely vulnerable when he's performing the move. Just keep your distance and take a few potshots, and depending on how strong your character is, you might be able to kill Reaper during his ultimate. Widowmakers and other snipers are especially useful here, and will be able to line up their headshots with ease.
Put all this together, and you should be ready for anything a Reaper can throw at you. Now, obviously, certain characters have easier times dealing with Reaper than others, but it's not usually a good strategy to change your character specifically just to deal with one character on the opposing team, so avoid counterpicking. Your best strategies are to know your character, and use their abilities to put these strategies into place. Lucio's speed boost, Tracer's rewind, Reinhardt's shield-- most characters in the game have abilities that allow a player to deal with Reapers fairly easily, assuming they are aware of their surroundings. Just stay sharp, and you'll be fine.
Speaking strategically, your goal isn't to kill Reapers, it's to capture points and move payloads. Pick a character based on the team's needs and your skills first, and then put these strategies into place at that point. You'll be humming Blue Oyster Cult in no time!
Did you play the Overwatch beta? If you have any other strategies or best practices for dealing with Reapers, sound off in the comments! In the meantime, Lucio and I will be playing Jet Set Radio and softly weeping, waiting for either a sequel, or a re-release of Jet Set Radio Future.