During the brief time that I played Overwatch, I tended to drift towards two characters: Pharah and Reinhardt. While I liked Reinhardt for his personality, giant shield and huge mace, I tended to play Pharah because I understood her. She plays very, very similarly to our beloved, overly patriotic Soldier.
Like Soldier, Pharah uses a rocket launcher, jumps high into the air and has 200 health. Unlike Soldier, Fareeha Amari did actually get accepted into the military. And there’s a few differences here and there. But she’s essentially the same character, but easier. Much easier.
The main ‘thing’ with playing Pharah is how slow but strong her rockets are. A lot of characters have hitscan weapons, so Pharah’s projectile-based rocket launcher makes up for it by packing a huge punch. Her rocket launcher has a clip size of 6 and, like everything else in the game, has infinite ammo. Reloading isn’t that bad either. From the feel of it, Pharah’s rockets are about the same speed as Soldier’s rockets, but seem to do slightly less damage (with no apparent damage falloff), but that is mostly because a lot of characters in Overwatch have more health, or they have a way to heal or shield themselves. Working out how much damage you do is actually one of the things I disliked most about the game. Rockets do hurt you though, so you can kill yourself with your own rockets if you’re not careful. Still, it takes about 3-4 rockets to do that, and the self-damage area seems pretty damn small.
Pharah though doesn’t have an alt-fire, or a shotgun or anything. Her other ability is a concussion blast that knocks back enemies and does high damage to pesky shields and other such defenses, making her good at helping take out people like Reinhardt or Winston.
But the biggest difference between Pharah and Soldier is their advanced mobility. Pharah has a jump jet ability, which works a lot like a no-damage rocket jump, and gets you actually really very high. You then get 2 seconds of jet pack fuel with which you can hover and move around a little for 2 seconds. This makes divebombing really, really easy. The hovering ability (included in your normal jump) is interesting, giving you two seconds to try and fix any mistakes in your jump, or even just rain death from above briefly.
Rocket jumping is kinda a thing, but what’s the point in sacrificing your own health, on one of the few heroes without some sort of shield or heal ability, when you can do a perfect rocket jump every time you press a button? It’s a shame, really, because rocket jumping is almost an art form in TF2, and advanced mobility is so much simpler and easy to do most of the time in Overwatch. Combined with the lack of fall damage, you quickly learn to appreciate how tricky Soldier’s rocket jumping is compared to Pharah’s. If you want awesome mobility plays, Lucio does it right with his wall-sliding ability, but is much more like a healing FaN Scout than anything else.
The ease of advanced mobility also makes Pharah’s ultimate ability, Barrage, much easier to use. Barrage is like floating in one place with a maxed out Beggar’s Bazooka in MvM, it is quite impressive. Problem is, Barrage, especially when done from high above, makes you a sitting duck for enemy Widowmakers, or anyone smart enough to look up. Yes, you’re spewing rockets at everyone, but you’re also a mostly stationary target. This ability lasts 3 whole seconds of rocket-blasting goodness though, which is nice.
Being very similar to Soldier is good though. Pharah was clearly designed with Soldier in mind, with a different sort of skill floor. Combined with Mercy, these two work well to lure TF2 players over to Overwatch and make them feel at home.