Throughout gameplay balance patches, new heroes addition & lore updates, Pharah’s status is getting worse and worse when it comes to both Gameplay & Lore.
Pharah is an inconsistent pick until she pairs with Mercy. Watching OWL & World Cup plays, Pharah is picked because Mercy exists. If a team has no Mercy, picking Pharah is completely out of question. (Heck, even if Pharah’s team has Mercy, doesn’t mean Mercy would want to combo with her…)
Personally, I dislike how currently Pharah becomes viable only because of Mercy, but Mercy herself enables well with a lot of heroes. In fact, I encounter Sniper + Mercy duos much more than PharMercy in higher tiers because Snipers are more oppressive with their instant-kill capabilities. Winston + Mercy is another common strategy in Dive comp.
|1.1| Pharah is constantly outclassed by other DPS.
Particularly Hanzo, he beats Pharah in a lot of aspects for a projectile DPS. Comparing Hanzo & Pharah:
- Hanzo can one-shot squishy heroes; Pharah requires to land two successive direct hits, while her splash damage is mediocre.
- Hanzo’s arrows travel faster, quieter & less noticeable; Pharah rockets are slow, loud & easy to spot.
- Hanzo can contest highground with ease by wallclimbing; Pharah requires large amount of fuel consumption or use Jumpjet ability to reach highground.
- Hanzo can burst down shields with Storm arrows and he never needs to worry about reloading; Pharah requires frequent reloading due to fast fire-rate.
- Hanzo can avoid & counter Dives with Storm arrows, Lunge & Wallclimb; Pharah can either use Jumpjet or Concussive Blast but with DVA’s new mobility buff, she can contest airborne Pharah much more frequently.
- Hanzo can spot enemies with Sonic arrow and has an ultimate that travels through objects & deals great damage; Pharah turns herself into a glass cannon when ulting.
Compared to all flankers, Pharah isn’t like Genji/Tracer/Doomfist/Sombra who can get in & out of the fight with ease. Their survival capabilities are also part of reasons why they’re picked instead of Pharah.
|1.2| Throughout several balance patches, Mccree’s fire rate buff & Dva’s new mobility buff have severely put Pharah in the dustbin.
Not just Pharah’s counters were buffed (e.g Bastion, DVA, Mccree, Soldier:76), heroes that are weak against Pharah were also buffed (e.g Junkrat, Mei, Reaper, Torbjörn & Symmetra.)
- Junkrat’s grenade travels faster and deals 130 damage. Thus, he can airshot Pharah more easiily, especially when he did a mine-jump at her face.
(In fact, Junkrat is more competent shield buster than Pharah.)
- Mei’s icicle no longer has damage falloff, thus she could snipe Pharah out of the sky the better.
- Reaper’s new shadow step is a huge buff that he can teleport quickly & silently to highground and catch her.
- Torbjörn’s turret zones out flankers as usual, while he no longers need to set up & upgrade it to level 2 anymore. His Overload is a self-sustain that he gains additional armor, improved attack, movement & reload speed. He can either run away or shred her when she’s in close-mid range.
(His primary fire does 70 damage which is same as Mccree.)
- Symmetra can toss her turrets at higher places which can drain Pharah’s aerial mobility, meanwhile Pharah hovers like a turtle in the air.
Hanzo, Sombra & Tracer have also become semi-counters to Pharah.
Pharah was used to be fairly good against Hanzo, because Scatter arrows weren’t effective against aerial targets. Now he has better countermeasures against Pharah because of Storm arrows to burst Pharah down & Lunge ability to evade her rocket.
Sombra’s Hack shuts Pharah out of the sky, her hitscan machine pistol is good enough to cripple Pharah in close to mid range as Pharah’s hitbox is fairly large for a 200hp hero. If Pharah manage to land a direct hit on Sombra, Sombra will translocate away and Pharah needs to outplay her again.
Tracer’s new range buff allows her to chip some damage on Pharah from mid distance, while her pulse pistols are hitscan. Her burst mobility generally counters projectile attacks.
(Personally, I find shooting Pharah as Tracer is easier than shooting Tracer as Pharah. And again, Pharah is easy to be shot at because of her large hitbox and she’s slow & predictable when hovering, while Tracer’s hitbox is tiny.)
|1.3| When it comes to new heroes:
- Ana is basically ‘WidowMccree’ to Pharah, as she is a Sniper that has a CC ability and deals 70 damage with no damage falloff.
- Ashe is a new hitscan DPS, while she received a small reload buff.
- Baptiste is another hitscan hero who’s capable to zone Pharah out of the sky. His current damage potential really hurts Pharah a lot due to his improved recovery time, extended damage falloff range & random spread removed. Unlike Soldier:76, he needs to control his weapon spread in order to shoot Pharah down in mid-long range effectively .
- Hammond can be a threat to Pharah if close. He could swing himself in the sky & feed Pharah’s bullets, while his Quad Cannons are hitscan and he has very large healthpool that Pharah needs to use full clip of direct-hit rockets to kill him. And he can self-sustain for a while by gaining shields too.
- Sigma himself hard-counters Pharah’s Barrage. He has three ways to counter Barrage: Throw a healthy Shield or a Rock at her face, or use Kinetic Grasp.
|1.4| Pharah needs survivability buffs or something that she can be much less dependent on Mercy.
Buffing her vertical or horizontal mobility buff can be nice as Vertical mobility is what Pharah excels at. Or allow Pharah to detonate her Concussive Blast by pressing E again, thus giving her an aerial mobility when there’s no objects nearby to blast on.
Both Barrage & Deadeye are glass cannon ultimates, but at least Mccree can cancel his Deadeye and he won’t kill himself when a Tank or Shield got in front of his face, but Genji’s deflect. Previously, Deadeye was buffed that he locked enemies a bit more faster & racked up more damage when enemies were in his sight for long.
My suggestion is let Pharah able to cancel her Barrage or reduce her barrage rockets spread or randomization.
As much as I agree Lucio & Zenyatta need lore, Pharah also doesn’t get much love in Overwatch lore.
I feel like Ana had taken Pharah’s spotlight when it comes to Amari family. Ana received more attention from Blizzard & the community as Ana was one of the founding members of Overwatch and Supports tend to get more love than DPS.
- Pharah has her own comic [Mission Statement] in May 2016, one appearance in Reflections comic and then gets no lore till now.
- Ana has her own short story [Bastet], appears in several comics [Legacy, Old Soldiers, Halloween 2016 & Uprising], other minor appearances in Reflections comic & the outro of Retribution PVE.
Ana is also one of the playable characters in Junkenstein PVE.
It’s really sad to see Pharah being left behind in both Gameplay & Lore. In fact, Pharah is one of the earliest heroes released along with Tracer, Reaper & Widowmaker into the game while the game was still in Alpha development stage. (Pharah has an Alpha name - Mercy)
I hope Pharah could get something nice in the future, she can be able to survive more & less dependent on Mercy, so that having Mercy in her team won’t be a must.
For her lore development in Overwatch 2, it would be great if we could see how she reacts to the new Overwatch, the attack on Anubis from Talon organization, etc.
And lastly, it will be great if Pharah gets some new cosmetic. She got skins since the previous Anniversary event. A new emote or highlight intro can be great too.