[LONG POST] Pharah is becoming underpowered & underrepresented hero in this game right now

Throughout gameplay balance patches, new heroes addition & lore updates, Pharah’s status is getting worse and worse when it comes to both Gameplay & Lore.

|1| Gameplay-wise:

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.

|2| Lore-wise:
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.

|3| Finally…

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.

85 Likes

shes pretty aids hero because she is easily the hardest “you switch your hero or you lose” kinda pick.

glad she isn’t picked more often now. I absolutely hate having to switch to hitscan to fight her.

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Can’t believe he said Junkrat has an easy time knocking Pharah out of the air.

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You said pretty much everything Ive been saying for the past 2.5 years across both forums. I’m glad to see others fighting for Pharah to be more playable. I will add a few more things though:

  • Pharah has insanely higher suicide-rate and self harm compared to all other self harm skills for no reason at all

  • Pharah is the most visually armored (literally head to toe fullbody bulky armor in one hundred percent of all skins) yet she’s still only allowed 200hp. Also making the point that her skins have zero creativity anymore, no casual, beachwear, or silly skins like nearly all other heroes get to have

  • Pharah has head-to-toe jet thrusters all over her suit and wings, yet why is her max flying speed 3 mph…

  • About 65% of all healing mechanics do not reach Pharah in the air (Ana nade, Brig inspire(sometimes), Brig rally (sometimes), Lucio auras, Lucio ult (sometimes), zen ult, soldier biotic field, Moira’s entire kit in general, Bap’s entire kit in general

  • There are 4 entire ults that are 99.99% guaranteed no-aim required free kills on an airborne Pharah (deadeye, self destruct, tac visor, BOB). It’s time she get midair mobility like fast strafing or a divedown like her highlight intro…

  • Pharah has only been majorly buffed or changed twice in the past three years. She got the Nov 2016 update that let her fly forever. Then there was literally nothing for about 2 years. Then she got reworked that wrecked her splash damage and splash boop with double nerfs and made her spammier. Then literally nothing until present day (and still nothing for a long time probably)
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Well, it’s not that hard if you sneak-attacked her off guard.

Based on your player icon, I understand your frustration.

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Honestly, I don’t remember the last time I saw Pharah aside MH.

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its not just junkrat i play junkrat and reaper most of the time. i like playing S76 but he sucks so bad i cant play him anymore. so yeah I really am not a fan of pharah at all.

Pharah and mercy duo need to be hard nerfed if pharah gets anything decent for herself. This combo is just annoying and obnoxious because it hard counters many heroes. Pharah herself can be killed even by a junkrat who tries, but with mercy, its ridiculous; moreso on console

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I encounter Sigma & Zarya killed themselves in game, but at least they’re not squishy heroes and they have shield health to regen.
Change Pharah 50 hp to 50 Shield hp may not be a bad idea as Shield doesn’t have damage resistance.

Unlike the gameplay trailer, she soars like the Iron Man but the gameplay balance answers that. Just like DVA, Echo & Mercy, they can all fly free but it won’t happen in gameplay (except Valkyrie) for balance reasons.

Her armor is the primary reason that design a skin for her is difficult. Unlike Mccree & Mercy, they can basically wear anything and then add a hat for Mccree; a pair of wings for Mercy.

I wish their healing auras were cylinder or pillar type that airborne players can still be healed by them.

These have been suggested before and I like these ideas, but still no reply from Blizzard.

Baptiste counters Pharah better than Soldier:76 does. Soldier:76 has weapon spread to control but Baptiste doesn’t.

Basically any DPS + Mercy duo gave me a lot of problems, not just PharMercy.

Mccree + Mercy duo, Mccree becomes mid-range Reaper.

Genji + Mercy duo, then Genji will annoy your team much longer. Tickling Genji as Winston is basically feeding Mercy’s ultimate till your Ana ‘anti-heal’ Genji.

Sniper + Mercy duo, Ashe/Widow rifles become railguns and damage-boosted Widowmaker can get a kill by a full-charged bodyshot on a squishy, then a fast finish-off with another bodyshot.

Hanzo + Mercy… very versatile duo as Hanzo can one-shot, bust shields/tanks.

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A hero with whom more than half of cast can’t even interact should be extremely niche.
Half the reason “heroes weak against phara” were buffed because in old times as soon as someone picked them, the opposite team would go phara and its switch or gg. Phara offer no counter play and thus should not be playable in most circumstances.

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I agree; but they do not require a hitscan switch to be effective against them.

Well OP I guess the real answer to that is to nerf Mercy, because thats what they will probably do

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Pharah has plently of counters. “No counter play” is way extreme.
“Heroes weak against Pharah part”, there’re all DPS casts.
You forgot the fact that DVA exists to counter her, competent Roadhog can still kill her with hook combo, Sigma has constant replaceable shield to block her, etc.

Ana & Baptiste can force Pharah out of the sky and current Baptiste really hurts Pharah. Imagine running Baptiste + Zenyatta, Zen’s discord on Pharah + any hitscan is another effective way to counter Pharah.

Not entirely true, especially for Widowmaker.
In some maps, there’s no way to dive on Widowmaker who stood far side of the map. Widow will kill or cripple before the Dive initiate their jump. When that happens, her only counter is having better Widowmaker.

(Thus, GOATs & Double Shield comps exist because of oppressive Widows. These comps make Snipers irrelevant.)

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How about…
Reaper + Mercy - our tanks are gone :crab:
Bastion + Mercy - bunker core
Junkrat + Mercy - more damage spam to a king of spam
Doomfist + Mercy - even more obnoxious combos

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Guess we better nerf damage boost, and on that note Im not too hesitant to do so if it means getting her out of this obnoxious pocket/ off healer rut shes in. NERF DAMAGE BOOST, BUFF OTHER ABILITIES

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I agree pharmercy is holding pharah back but nerfing mercy isn’t the solution

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Do you really think blizz will come up with a logical solution besides whats stated? Mercy will be nerfed before anything makes sense lmao

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Through Blizz constantly buffing heroes rather than them nerfing meta heroes, a lot of Damage characters now just do everything that Pharah does better. It’s the same problem that Junk has. Why shoot a slow projectile that has average damage when you can go a hitscan that does more damage? Hanzo is just broken as a whole and is basically a hitscan, himself, and a good Widow can take down any enemy from any range before they know she exists. Once those two are nerfed, I think Pharahs will have a better time. I am a Junk one-trick and the amount I play against a pharah may be a bit more than others, but I feel she’s still better off than any Junk.

For changes to Pharah, I think she needs more armor than health. She’s always vulnerable to hitscan when she’s in the air and some damage reduction would help against rapid-fire enemies and shotguns. A new ability that helps her regen armor while on the ground wouldn’t be too bad to help boost her survivability more, but she shouldn’t be able to fly infinitely then. I know it fits her character, but she’d already be hard to play against with shotguns and I know everyone wants counters, but heroes should never be impossible to play against.

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I think slight-nerfing damage boost can also tone down heroes who excel at spam damages. Such as Junkrat, Hanzo & Pharah.

No one likes to get killed by a random projectile who is simply spammed at the choke.

Mercy + Ana heal duo is quite common to stack heals & damage boosts. Like if they both boost Genji’s blade. His primary slash damage becomes 234 which can make Zenyatta’s ult look useless as Genji can ‘one-shot’ squishy with it.

Mercy & Ana stack boost on Doomfist… another fast method of eating squishy heroes.

Yep, just like Bastion. Once it’s buffed, it becomes unstoppable when the entire team babysits Bastion.
Bastion even gets more attention than Pharah does. It has an animated short and a comic featured with Torb. Also, Bastion- themed LEGO Brick challenge.

I’m not likely to agree with turning Pharah’s hp to armor since this will make PharMercy harder to stopped. Armored heroes are durable when pocket-healed.

Changing her health to shield health may be justified as it doesn’t give damage reduction. Or give her ability to gain shields like Hammond does but it has cooldown & consumes her fuel.

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This so so true. I used to be a die hard Pharah main, but quit a year ago cuz it was becoming painfully obvious even being good at her was doing nothing for my team.

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