Disclaimer: I have never played any of the Call of Duty games. So really, if I do Soldier: 76, it’s not because I’m too used to play COD, but because he’s good for starting FPS players and remain effective at even higher stages, where he’s more than an aimbot. Not to mention a very fascinating character.
So to start with? From the outer design, maybe there’s not much to expect on Soldier: 76. He’s a guy with normal assault rifle, maybe a bit aged. But I can definitely say that his visor is at least looking really cool. I think he just prefers the aesthetics of ‘as long as it gets the job done’.
And it really shows in his gameplay as your ‘Call of Duty’ guy (or so it’s called…). Soldier: 76 is the very definition of an all rounder. This guy can take on offensive, since he’s got his trusty assault rifle, and an alternate fire that sends out a smaller rocket that explodes on impact for a small area damage and he can keep the DPS real nice if you got a good aim. It’s practically a necessity if you’re new in FPS genre, and yet, if you’re already good at FPS genre, he’s even more effective. Those things you got from playing Counter Strike or Call of Duty will not go to waste. (Just get rid of the toxicity) And by using Sprint, either he can get back to position quicker or run off from unfavorable position quicker.
And not to mention, he’s also a pseudo-healer. He can plant a Biotic Field that heals everyone in a small area. Not only this makes you less dependent on health packs, this can also be used to heal if your healer is for some reason not enough to do the job. Yeah, there’s the joke that he’s the team dad (Dad: 76) and he actually kind of going along with it. If someone says “I need healing”, give’em one even if he’s an Offense character, they’ll appreciate it.
And in regards of his ultimate Tactical Visor… well at the first glance, it’s what people call ‘aimbot’, because for a small moment, Soldier: 76 will activate his visor so he aims automatically and reloads quicker, though just for 2 full rounds. But in that time, if you’re in his sights, you’re as good as dead. Now people can call this cheap ult, but I think it’s NOT. Yeah, it aims automatically, but Soldier: 76 can only lock down one character at a time, so in the middle of a big crowd, it gets trickier to lock down one character you want to shoot down. Like for instance, a tank can still get in the way. And since his ultimate is announced, if people sees you, they’ll have plenty of time to hide, making you waste the ult. Thank goodness Soldier 76 at least has a Sprint, so even if he can’t fly around or teleport for better positioning, he can still at least get to a better position quicker. Wiping out the majority of a team with your ult is not as easy as you think, but it’s still very satisfying thing to pull off. Hey, if it gets the job done…
Okay, maybe that one is still a little too simplistic, but like Symmetra, the biggest draw of Soldier: 76 lies in his story. To me at least.
So yeah, remember that time I mentioned about Reaper’s backstory about his ex-best bud Jack Morrison? Yeah, that’s Soldier: 76.
Born as an American farm boy, he enlisted to the super soldier program in order to save his country from the Omnic Crisis. Jack was rather the opposite of Gabriel, while he’s not the ultimate best soldier on the field, he’s also charismatic, able to draw the best of his friends with his leadership. But even then, they were best friends. So he got promoted and rained with awards… something that didn’t endear Gabriel without his knowledge. But even then, Jack kept his ‘babyface’ to the public, serving for their best interests and protecting people, becoming a symbol of heroism.
Does this sound like the story of Steve Rogers/Captain America to you? Hey, they’re also born Americans. But… yeah, it’s not meant to be.
The Overwatch’s reputation fell apart when Gabriel leaked the secrets of the Blackwatch, and Jack still tried to convince the people that they’re still interested in protecting the people. And then it culminated into the fatal battle at Swiss HQ, a battle between best friends Jack and Gabriel, resulting both of them considered dead together. Jack Morrison was buried as a hero, and the Overwatch was disbanded even if they fondly remembered Jack.
Except Jack lived. Seeing all his hard work and idealism completely wasted with naivete and the world was still a dark place with the rise of terrorists like Talon and that there may be another group that orchestrated the downfall… Jack became disillusioned. He threw away all his ‘all-American-face’ persona and resigns that in the end, he’s just another soldier with a mission: To uncover the mystery behind Overwatch’s downfall, no matter what it takes, even if he has to use dirty tricks. After stealing an assault rifle that can fire small rockets from an Overwatch HQ, he became a vigilante, just using the callsign “Soldier: 76″… because that’s who he is… a soldier, at the year 2076. Not one for justice like he used to be before… but just someone who has a mission and will fulfill it.
While I’m okay with squeaky clean heroes at times, I am very much fascinated with those who has underwent trauma but still resolved to do what they think is right, even if they change their persona. Soldier: 76 is pragmatic and grumpy, but deep down, some of his old persona still shines on, acting out of concern of his team in his own grumpy way (as someone who’s seen the horrors of war and how idealism alone gets people nowhere, it still makes sense) and sometimes if an innocent’s life is on the line, he could still forego his mission for them. You know, Blizzard LIKES getting their heroes to be Fallen Heroes, but I’m impressed that they didn’t make Soldier: 76 fall THAT hard unlike Arthas or Kerrigan or the playable cast of the first Diablo. He’s one of those anti-heroes that I can say done quite right and a decent portrayal of how a charismatic ideal hero can fall.
So yeah, a fascinating backstory and development (and still has rooms for development), still a very decent antihero personality coupled with potent fighting force that is covered with the mask of “Newbie character right here!”, I really really like Soldier: 76 rather than just dismissing him as a scrub character. Everyone has their tastes after all, mine just happens to put Soldier: 76 REALLY high. The hero that Overwatch deserved but not the one that they needed at the moment.