Hero spotlight: Aiming down sights with Overwatch’s Ashe

Elizabeth Caledonia “Calamity” Ashe is Overwatch’s newest playable character, with a knack for point control and mid-range headshots. Over the past week or so, everyone should’ve spent a fair amount of time playing the sassy, white-haired outlaw, and if there’s anything to say at all: she’s definitely a lot of fun.

If you’re looking for a pseudo-sniper that isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty, Ashe is probably your go-to girl. Her kit bears a lot of similarities to Widowmaker, sporting not only an excellent disengage/positioning ability but also an area-of-effect DoT (damage over time). Her Ultimate is arguably one of, if not the most impactful abilities in the game, since B.O.B is essentially your 7th teammate in a 6v6 context.

However, Ashe is not exactly a full upgrade. She fares considerably worse than Widowmaker if her magazine clicks empty in the middle of a fight, as her shot-by-shot reloads leave you vulnerable for quite some time. Expect a bit of a learning curve with her Viper rifle.

That being said, once mastered, Ashe’s general playstyle doesn’t seem all that different from the French assassin.

Backstory

Blizzard has done a fine job creating a backstory for Ashe as well. Give her entry a read, courtesy of the official Overwatch website.

Ashe is the ambitious and calculating leader of the Deadlock Gang and a respected figure in the criminal underworld.

Born into a wealthy family, Ashe grew up surrounded by privilege. Her parents were highly sought-after business consultants and coaches for powerful CEOs around the world. Though her parents paid little attention to her (mostly leaving her in the care of the family’s omnic butler, Bob), they ensured that Ashe had every opportunity to succeed. But a chance meeting with a local ruffian, named Jesse McCree, and an impromptu string of crimes committed together opened her eyes to her true calling. The satisfaction of outwitting her targets and the thrill of getting away with it set her on the outlaw path.

Along with the other three founders of the Deadlock Gang, Ashe started to make a name for herself with bigger and more extravagant heists. The Deadlock Gang’s rapid rise to prominence put them at odds with the other criminal organizations in the American Southwest; the encounters often became violent. After years of skirmishes and bloodshed, Ashe called the heads of the major groups together.

Ashe saw the potential to grow the influence of all. She used what she’d learned from her parents’ business to bring order to these groups. Her proposal was that the gangs could work together (or at least, not work against each other). Her principles: keep your word, don’t work with the law, respect each other’s territory, and always punish betrayal.

 No longer having to focus her energies on squabbles with the other gangs, Ashe is now writing her name across the American Southwest with a string of audacious heists and operations that has put her at top of the authorities’ most-wanted lists and cemented her legacy as an outlaw legend.”

Abilities and Statistics

Like the other heroes, Ashe brings her own unique set of abilities to the fight. On paper she’s classified as a DPS, but arguably possesses a utility niche in initiating team fights and in point control. Below, we’ve included short write-ups on each of Ashe’s abilities and their uses (as of 23 Nov 2018).

(Pictures courtesy of the Overwatch Wiki.)

The Viper

Ashe’s lever-action rifle is, for lack of a more relatable definition, the love child of McCree’s Peacemaker revolver and a scope. Like her former friend’s gun, the Viper suffers from considerable damage falloff at long range when hip firing, excluding headshots. Her ADS (aim-down-sights) damage increase can help to mitigate that drop, but you compensate for it with decreased movement speed and fire rate.

Coach Gun

The Coach Gun is Ashe’s primary mobility and positioning tool. Clocking in with a lengthy ten-second cooldown, it’s an ability that should be used carefully and tactically. The pellet-based sidearm also provides Ashe with a dash of unpredictability, as she can use it to position herself in unexpected areas.

Dynamite

Ultimate abilities aside, this is probably one of the most effective point-clearing tools in the game. Dynamite is best used along narrow corridors or chokepoints to disrupt enemy formations, and you can bounce it off walls to hit targets around corners. However, without line of sight to shoot it, the five second timer is more than enough for opponents to find cover. Once again, positioning and timing is key.

On a side note, do be careful that you don’t get caught up in your own explosion. It hurts.

Ultimate: B.O.B.

Rest assured. If you time him correctly, B.O.B. will definitely do something. Heh heh.

Jokes aside, Ashe’s Ultimate is effectively a Torbjorn sentry on steroids, making it great for clearing points or as a diversion. On that note, if said diversion isn’t hard CC’ed (crowd control) in time, it can actually turn an entire game around.

For like the billionth time, positioning and timing (you know the drill) are key to maximising B.O.B’s contribution to the fight. If he doesn’t hit a wall or an enemy, he could potentially run off a cliff on his own. Been there, done that. Ahem.

On the other hand, a well-timed, nano-boosted B.O.B is one of the most disgusting things I’ve had the misfortune to play against in Overwatch. That damage and durability is absolutely gross.

General Opinion

Ashe’s loadout shares a lot in common with Widowmaker. Her Coach Gun can be used for positioning or disengaging like Widow’s Grappling Hook, while her Dynamite is essentially a Venom Mine that can be detonated manually. That being said, Ashe’s raw critical damage still pales in comparison to that of the French sniper’s.

However, since both the outlaw and assassin don’t do well in close combat, Ashe struggles against champs that can close gaps quickly, like Genji or Tracer. Her only form of mobility, the Coach Gun, also doubles as a disengage tool, so if she’s caught while it’s on cooldown then she’s most likely a sitting duck.

To elaborate more on her utility side, I feel Ashe works best when there is a need to initiate pushes or counter-pushes for her allies, which is something that her French counterpart lacks the capacity to do. This is mainly done through her Ultimate, so she might be relegated to simple sniping duty while it’s charging up.

Going along those lines, Ashe should theoretically excel at picking off relatively inaccessible targets like Mercy or Pharah as well. Most heroes aren’t able to deal with airborne enemies effectively, so that’s a niche that she could potentially fill in the competitive scene.

Tips and Tricks

Congrats on making it through all the technical stuff. We’ll be moving on to the more meme-worthy parts by listing out some interesting tidbits about Ashe’s kit that you might have missed.

  • If you happen to be pushed off the map by abilities such as Lucio’s Soundwave or Roadhog’s Scrap Gun, there is a short window of time before the fall registers as an environmental kill. During that period, by aiming downward, you can use your Coach Gun to push yourself back up into the fray!
  • Building on the first point, you can use your Coach Gun for some stylish environmental kills by knocking opponents off the map too. Get creative!
  • Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to wait till Ashe fully brings up her rifle to shoot the tossed bundle of Dynamite. It can be done about halfway through the animation.
  • Your bundle of tossed Dynamite has a deceptively large hitbox, so there’s no need to be 100% exact.
  • B.O.B’s deployment sequence involves him charging and tossing enemies into the air, until he hits a wall or runs a certain distance. You can use this to your advantage and get in some shots on those airborne enemies, since the knock-up trajectory is rather predictable.
  • B.O.B counts as a teammate, too. Use him to reset the overtime counter on control points and payloads if you’re close enough! Going along the same lines, he can be boosted, healed, frozen, hacked and shielded by others as well.

 Team Synergies

With most of Ashe’s abilities centred around initiation and disruption, it’s not a stretch to see who she might work well with and who she doesn’t. Theoretically, Mei and Junkrat make especially great teammates for Ashe, given their own fortes in crowd control. If you’ve got B.O.B ready to drop, Ana, Reinhardt, Orisa or Zarya can assist both Ashe and her omnic henchman while they dish out the pain.

On the flip side, I would say that Ashe might not mesh too well with Roadhog, since a mistimed hook or Scrap Gun might rob her of a precious headshot by displacing enemies. Of course, it still comes back to the central principle of the game: how effectively a team communicates.

Widowmaker also doesn’t contribute much as a teammate in theory, since both don’t excel against fast, agile opponents. So, a skilled Genji might be able to throw a wrench into your plans with a well-timed deflect. With that in mind, while you might still be able to get away with it on Defense, it’s probably not advisable for a team to have both Widow and Ashe on Attack or Escort.

Last but not least, Pharah might be somewhat helpful as air support for Ashe, but more often than not I found her Concussive Blast a hindrance. It doesn’t help that I miss my last shot because she conveniently knocks the enemy’s Reaper away. That’s why I feel she’s not exactly compatible, for the same reason that Roadhog isn’t. That being said, you should probably take this one with a pinch of salt.

Final Thoughts

On the whole, Ashe is an extremely fun and novel pick that performs best in mid to long-range engagements. Close-range scuffles are not her forte, but there’s not much that can be done about it except to be careful with your Coach Gun or sticking with teammates. In a worst-case scenario, toss some Dynamite to blow up both yourself and your opponent up. You’ll literally be on fire.

Anyway, like all-new characters, it’s going to be a while before we see any definite effects on the competitive ladder. Some top-tier Widowmaker players, like Brian “Kephrii” St. Pierre, have already established themselves as excellent Ashe players too. Whether she will be viable as a competitive pick in the long-run still remains to be seen.


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Kenneth Ang

Kenneth Ang

Kenneth is your dedicated jack of all trades gamer. When not working, he can either be found tilting on the Hearthstone ranked ladder or taking out his resulting frustration in Borderlands 2.