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When it comes to adding new characters, most games will add several heroes at the same time. Not Overwatch, however. Joining the cast all on her own is Ana, a sixty year-old Russian support sniper. The supporting sniper role is not one I’ve seen in other games and is fairly novel.
Ana’s rifle scope is able to zoom further than Widowmaker’s, allowing her to put more distance between herself and the front lines. Unfortunately she is also very slow and does not possess any special movement abilities like other sniper characters. In other words, fighting up close is not a good option for her.
Ana’s poison darts also differ from other munitions in the game. While the darts act fast, the damage they do is incremental over a second or two. This means there is a slight delay between hitting your target and actually doing the 80 points of damage. Additionally, because her projectiles are poison, they do not do additional damage on headshots.
In this regard Ana may seem like she comes off as a weaker Widowmaker alternative, but not so. While Widowmaker is able to kill certain characters with one well placed headshot, it’s much harder to pull off. You need to be closer, have far better aim and make fewer mistakes. With Ana, long ranged combat is less difficult, overall.
Ana is an easier to play sniper than Widowmaker, but doing damage from afar is not her only function. The flip side to Ana’s abilities out in the field are support related. Ana is able to shoot friendlies with her sniper rifle and heal them. I should add that she is able to do this automatically.
That’s right, Ana’s darts seem to know whether to heal or hurt, just based on who you end up hitting, even if it’s accidental. I’m not sure what the real-world logic behind this is. Perhaps your team has spent so long building up an immunity to her poison that they’ve come to like the flavor. Maybe they just like getting high on poison, it’s hard to say.
From a gameplay standpoint, though, it makes perfect sense. Find a line of sight far from the battle and just spam long range poison/heal darts into the fray. It doesn’t much matter whom you hit or where, it’s going to help your team out no matter what. This can be pretty deceiving because in the midst of battle, you may not even notice the constant drain on your team and the constant heals to your enemy.
Her healing darts do come with a bit of a caveat, however. Unlike every other weapon in the game which passes through friendlies, Ana’s darts will always get blocked by friendly bodies. This renders certain strategies like hiding behind a tank and spamming powerful projectiles impossible. While Widowmaker can use her special to see enemies and stealth-snipe them while hiding behind Roadhog, this is not viable for Ana.
Ana’s other abilities come into play at closer ranges, but take more care to set up correctly. Her Biotic Grenade is able to heal herself and allies within a small area, but also increases healing from other sources. This ability combos very well with Soldier 76’s Biotic Field. With both abilities activated in the objective, your team will receive an amplified heal boost for a short time. The Biotic Grenade can also be used on enemies to cause decent splash damage and prevent healing for a short time.
Her other ability – the Sleep Dart – can be used to knock out unsuspecting foes. It can be a good way to initiate a surprise attack, or stun the enemy tank long enough to do some damage and dig into the objective. This one typically requires some coordination from your teammates as Ana’s damage output is relatively low and you’re not likely to finish off the enemy on your own before they wake up.
Finally, we have Ana’s ultimate ability: the Nano Boost. This buff can be applied to one ally and gives them a temporary boost in speed, defense and damage. Since this lasts only eight seconds, you really have to pick the right character to buff. Reinhardt has proven to be a solid choice, typically charging right into the heart of battle, swinging away. In addition to faster movement, the buff will also speed up your attack rate, making Genji absolutely lethal when his ultimate is charged.
Overall, Ana is a fine and fitting addition to the Overwatch cast. She is unique, novel and fun to play. It’s going to be very exciting to see how Ana fares in the competitive Overwatch circuit.