Most characters in Overwatch are equipped with a map-wide battle cry when they trigger their ultimate. This is for strategy purposes, because it’d be pretty unfair for Bastion to turn into a tank without you knowing, but they’ve also become quintessential in the community. Blizzard is great at making their characters glow in short bursts, which is exactly why we’ll be making “it’s high noon…” jokes to the day we die.
Not every ultimate in Overwatch comes equipped with a piercing, map-wide warning—Tracer and Mei just kind of dump their shit out with no real fanfare—but we decided to rank the battle cries that do exist from least iconic to most iconic. It wasn’t that easy! Sure there’s a couple clunkers (looking at you Symmetra,) but man, deciding between Hanzo and Genji was tough. Have fun, and please, please don’t Death Blossom me.
I get that you wouldn’t want Symmetra to say anything more esoteric. Like, the goal is to make sure your teammates know the teleporter is online. But yeah, it leaves a lot to be desired. The most unsatisfying ultimate in the game gets something equally colorless.
Zarya is such an awesome, colorful character and I think she deserves better than something random in Russian.
Yeah, whatever. He’s a big man with a hammer. I get it.
If we were ranking the pure visuals of each ultimate Winston would be at the top of this list. Our man turns into a giant orange rage-monkey and destroys everything on the map. It’s awesome. However! We’re talking about the battle cries, and as awesome as Winston’s ultimate is, the roar is a little generic. Sorry!
Junkrat is such a weirdo that I actually think he deserves something more iconic than the standby for any incident involving explosives. I know that’s a weirdly specific gripe but come on. Look at this dude! Is he even human? I want to hear him communicate in his own tongue.
He’s a DJ, so naturally he says something DJish when triggering his ultimate. I kinda like it, but it’s far from the most memorable thing in Overwatch.
Bastion’s ultimate sounds like an overcompensating Gameboy, but then you take a few mortar shells to the chest and you’ll never underestimate it again. I think that might be the problem with Bastion; everything about his character design is supposed to be “cute,” but that doesn’t quite gel when he’s also the most annoying thing to play against in… any competitive shooter in history? Call it the Teemo problem, I guess.
Blizzard has positioned Roadhog as this evil, silent monster, so it makes sense he wouldn’t do anything beyond a pithy laugh when he starts launching shrapnel. I’m into that for flavor purposes, but it’d be cool if one of the most unique characters in the game did something a little more interesting.
Soldier 76 is basically the Blizzard version of a Doritos-chomping Call of Duty dummy, which makes it extra hilarious that his ultimate ability turns up the auto-aim to 100. When activated he scrapes out a Marcus Fenix-esque “I GOT YOU IN MY SIGHTS” which is great, but I would like it a lot better if it was, say, GET NOSCOOOOOOOPED.
Props to Blizzard for referencing the classic World of Warcraft raid in their first-person shooter, but frankly, I kind of hate Torb’s ultimate for pure gameplay reasons. “Oh great! Now I get to spend 30 seconds dying from a turret that literally nobody on the map can find!” It’s a personal bias, but seriously, fuck Molten Core.
It’s a little on the nose. She flies around with a jetpack and shoots rockets, so naturally “justice rains from above,” but I’m putting this here because of how funny it sounds when it’s interrupted. “JUSTICE RAINS FR-” taptap a limp body falls from the sky and justice loses.
I really enjoy Widowmaker’s clipped French accent, and like the rest of her character, her ultimate is a little bit understated, but still dripping with confidence. That’s exactly what you want from a sniper, right?
Lore-wise, Hanzo is Genji’s brother, so naturally he also shouts something in Japanese. It’s cool because it’s not that much different from a “ka-me-kameHAAAAA,” but I think Genji’s battle cry is a little more foreboding. Speaking of which…
Ah yes, the decisive sound of dread in Overwatch. In the right hands Genji’s ultimate is a team-wiping backbreaker. In the wrong hands it results in the most hilarious, hubris-driven suicide in all of videogames, and honestly, I don’t know if it’s worse being up against a great Genji, or being on a team with a bad one. Either way, “ry?jin no ken wo k?rae!” sends shivers down our spin.
I like Zenyatta’s ultimate because it’s so reassuring. “OH FINALLY SOME HEALING, OK… ok, everything is going to be ok.” In a world where mechs can fall from the sky and blow you up, a little reprise can go a long way.
Like Genji, McCree’s battle cry is great for its implications. “It’s high noon…” and everyone on the battlefield exchanges glances and jumps for cover. Getting caught in the open while McCree is high-nooning is the quickest way to die in Overwatch, which has naturally turned it into a community meme. I also just love the way it’s said. It lingers in the air like the best terse, quick-draw gunfights. It’s a total stroke of genius in character design—I love how Overwatch can offer so much flavor in just a few words.
I’m really glad that Blizzard embraced the chain-wallet myopicism of Reaper all the way through. I mean, if you’re going to have a guy who thinks skull masks and trenchcoats are cool, you might as well let him scream DIE, DIE, DIE in a hoarse, semi-pubescent voice. I mean I guess there’s a chance that I’m supposed to take Reaper seriously—in which case, fuck—but hopefully that isn’t the case.
According to the Overwatch lore D.va is a StarCraft pro with a giant mech, and for the record, I think it’s hilarious that Blizzard are making their other videogames canon in one of their own universes. Anyways, she yells “NERF THIS!” when triggering her ultimate, which I love because it’s funny and specific without being desperate for, like, “nerd cred.” Also it’ll lead to endless tired jokes whenever D.va gets hits with nerfs in the patch notes.
There’s no question this is number one. Mercy’s ultimate is inspiring, reassuring and effortlessly badass. We play videogames for victories, clutch battle resurrections, and a few crucial moments where you give up your cynicism and believe that, yeah, heroes never die, and it’s all summed up in these three words.
Luke Winkie is a writer living in Austin, TX. Follow him on Twitter at @luke_winkie.