Originally I had written parts of this article for my Overwatch review, but I couldn’t justify another 700 words of straight Team Fortress 2 comparison. Those words now go here, since I wanted to go into more detail about just how much Overwatch is a spiritual child of Team Fortress 2. The TF2 heritage goes beyond aesthetic qualities and deep into the mechanics of its characters. Thus, seasoned TF2 veterans will recognize these similarities very quickly.

This is by no means a bad thing. Far from being a simple copycat, Overwatch earnestly tries to build on its ancestor to make something truly great. The above (poorly photoshopped I’ll admit) image gives the full breakdown of where I see see each hero fitting, with notes below.

The Scout


Double jump, deadly in melee range, and annoying as hell in the hands of a skilled player. Sounds like the Scout to me.


Her weapons don’t match up exactly with the Scout’s arsenal, but her intended role as a quick hit-and-run attacker remains the same.

The Soldier

Soldier 76

As if his name wasn’t a big enough callback, 76 plays similarly to a Soldier with the Buff Banner equipped. He doesn’t have Soldier’s vertical mobility via rocket jumps, but his mid-range fighting ability plus the healing aura puts him in the same family.


Now here’s the vertical mobility. My personal favorite character in Overwatch, Pharah allows for all the fun of the Soldier’s ridiculous rocket jump tricks without the high skill requirement.

The Pyro


With a streaming damage-over-time primary weapon, Mei ironically represents the Pyro most accurately. Instead of the air blast, Mei uses her ice wall. She also has a nasty area-of-effect ultimate to boot.


She was difficult to place. While her thick accent and character design make it tempting to pair her with the Heavy, she plays much more like the Pyro. She has another streaming close-range weapon, and her mortars are great for disrupting enemy groups, much like the Pyro’s air blast. With the Pyro I would often find myself pushing enemies out of smaller side passages by myself on defense, and Zarya is built for exactly that.


Another tough one to pin down. His tankiness makes him similar to the Heavy, and his mobility is reminiscent of the soldier. However, another streaming weapon and a melee-focused ultimate (reminiscent of the Pyro’s Axtinguisher build) puts him here.

The Demoman


A near-exact copy of the Demoman. Move along.


There exists a build for the Demoman called the Demoknight, where he will equip a shield that gives him a rushing attack and higher damage resistance. This can (depending on which shield is used) also boost his melee attack power, making this build square up nicely with Reinhardt.

The Heavy


Ah, Bastion. Your minigun is the bane of many existences. It’s also a dead ringer for the Heavy’s primary weapon, so this one is easy.


Another beeftank, Roadhog also has a self-healing ability similar to the Heavy’s Sandvich. His ultimate gives him a minigun-like weapon as well.


Though her self-destruct power and gap-closing ability are both unheard of in TF2, she’s another tanky frontline fighter with a machine gun.

The Engineer


Sentry? Check. Wrench/build tool? Check. Small stature? Check.


By equipping the Gunslinger over his normal wrench, the Engineer can lay down a mini-sentry that builds faster, but does less damage. The game plan here is usually to circle strafe with your shotgun near the sentry so your target has to deal with fire from two directions. Good mini-sentry Engies are annoying as hell to play against, and good Symmetras can be equally as tough. She can also place up to six sentries and has the game’s only teleporter.

Symmetra is the first case where I really noticed that the Overwatch devs were borrowing more than a few pages from the TF2 playbook, given that the mini-sentry is such a distinct playstyle. Catering to my favorite thing to do in one of my favorite games of all time is a great way to win me over, and making her a cool Indian lady helps too.

The Medic


While she doesn’t have the Medic’s Ubercharge, her healing stream makes this a no-brainer. Her damage boost is somewhat similar to the Medic’s Kritzkreig as well.


Another healer, his ultimate is a bit more reminiscent of the Medic’s normal Ubercharge.


While the Medic has no debuff abilities, Zenyatta is still healing-focused enough with his Uber-like ultimate to fall into the Medic family.

The Sniper


Standard sniper. She might even use her own pee for her poison traps, who knows?


Huntsman sniper. With sonar. And dragons.

The Spy


The spy is the one TF2 class that has no direct counterpart in Overwatch. However, Reaper fills a loosely similar role with his penchant for getting behind the enemy team and wreaking havoc. His teleport is also the closest thing Overwatch has to a stealth ability.


The Spy has an alternate weapon called the Ambassador, a revolver that does extra damage with headshots. This gives the Spy a more traditional close combat option, though it’s tricky to use effectively. This build description plus the skill required to use it fits McCree quite well.

There’s definitely a lot of room for interpretation here, but this is how everything seemed to fit in my eyes. Whether you’re a TF2 vet or not, Overwatch already has a lot to offer, and the missing pieces are sure to coming from Blizzard on high. With an already solid foundation, I’m looking forward to it.

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7 years ago

I don’t have much TF2 experience, so I find myself comparing the Overwatch roles to those found in MOBAs like Heroes of the Storm. One thing TF2 seems to be missing is the distinction between Tanks and Bruisers. Tanks are designed to be on the front line of any fight. They can absorb a lot of damage and have abilities designed to protect their allies. Reinhardt, Zarya, and Roadhog are all very good tanks. Bruisers are high health characters designed primarily to disrupt their opponent’s backline. They can’t protect allies as easily as tanks, but they can distract the enemy… Read more »