It’s the one-year anniversary of Overwatch, a game that’s taken on a life of its own with its beloved cast of heroes. A short look at all of the fan art, cosplays, and romantic fan fictions would be all you need to understand how much fans love its core characters. So to honor such a celebrated roster, we’re reflecting on one of the most alluring aspects of Overwatch: skins.
Cosmetics are the lifeblood of Overwatch that keeps players logged on, and for many people, the matches are simply the vehicle to more skins. The rush of opening loot boxes is a thrill comparable to the actual competitive game…okay, maybe I'm being hyperbolic, but skins are pretty damn important to Overwatch players.
When Blizzard launches a new seasonal event, the costumes create a shower of memes and hot takes that flood social media. It's an undeniably significant facet of the game's community, which is why we’re here to honor the best (and worst) of Overwatch’s outlandishly important skins.
Best Dressed: Reinhardt
There really isn’t a bad Reinhardt skin – or one that’s even average, for that matter. His colors? Solid. His seasonal skins? Sick. His legendaries? Glorious.
No one has ever regretted pulling a Reinhardt skin from a lootbox, and that’s because, design-wise, he’s such an awesome character. The detail of his intimidating “Lionhardt” skin makes him look like a Warcraft Paladin, while his menacing “Blackhardt” armor gives him the look of an evil manifestation from Diablo. Blizzard has consistently killed it with this character, most likely because it’s difficult to make a towering giant with a warhammer look anything less than badass.
Best Seasonal Collection: Uprising
Without a doubt, Uprising was Overwatch’s most cosmetically consistent event. Featuring looks from the past of Overwatch’s heroes, Blizzard’s flashback event had some amazing skins and was free from the stinkers that usually plague seasonal releases (like "Frosted" Zarya and "Qipao" Symmetra). It was the simple but fresh redesign of Overwatch’s characters that made these skins so exciting.
“Blackwatch” McCree gave players a youthful but more sinister look for Overwatch’s cowboy mercenary. Torbjörn’s two skins also showed a new, younger side of the Swedish engineer. And Widowmaker, who had been lacking a quality legendary, got a new and significantly less blue skin from her time as a Talon agent. There weren’t any goofy mash-up skins, but it was Uprising’s stylish re-imaginings that earn it the award for best collection.
Tackiest Look: “Strike Commander Morrison” Soldier 76
Soldier 76 has some great skins. His alternate colors, rare vanilla skins, and “Commando: 76” skin are all awesome-looking while also tapping into his backstory as the ultimate super-soldier. Yet despite an otherwise clean fashion record, his “Strike Commander Morrison” costume is one to avoid at all costs.
Given every console player immediately receives this legendary when they start the game, “Strike Commander Morrison” is the ultimate party foul. Nothing says, “I just bought the Origins Edition and don’t know what I’m doing,” like seeing a Strike Commander Morrison in the spawn room. It’s the Comic Sans of Overwatch, as it’s a look that exudes inexperience.
Admittedly, taken at face value, it’s not a bad skin. But the fact that it’s given out as freebie completely curbs any street cred this outfit would otherwise have. A cool skin that everybody owns makes it anything but.
Worst Dressed: Mei
Overwatch’s female characters weren’t given much love in terms of badass skins this year, but the last few updates attempted to rectify that. Widowmaker has her new “Talon” skin in the Uprising event, Zarya was given a sharp power suit in the Anniversary update, and Mei received… a beekeeping uniform?
Thematically, this skin doesn’t fit with Mei’s character. Her bumblebee blizzard drone is kind of cute, but beyond that, there’s nothing about this beekeeper outfit that makes it worth 3,000 credits. This weak legendary outfit sits on top a mountain of other forgettable costumes. Her legendary Christmas skin was so lackluster it created a fan controversy, and both of her Year of the Rooster skins were average at best. Blizzard’s restriction of having to adhere to the bulky shape of Mei’s hitbox (caused by her thick fur coat) could be the reason her new cosmetics never look exciting. Still, let’s hope next year is kinder to everyone’s favorite climate scientist.
Best Vintage Look: “Cruiser” D. Va
In spite of the number of older characters on the roster, it’s ironically Overwatch’s youngest hero that runs away with the award for Best Vintage.
Not only is D. Va herself styled after classic ‘50s fashion, but her mech appears to be a retrofitted Cadillac. In terms of design, this is easily one of the overall best-looking skins in the game. While it may not be seasonally themed or based on Overwatch lore, it’s a fun, creative aesthetic for D. Va, which could be why it’s already been taken up by a number of cosplayers.
Most Exclusive: “BlizzCon 2016” Bastion
Bastion’s “BlizzCon 2016” skin is a rare sight that few players have witnessed in the flesh. If you weren’t one of lucky fans who attended Blizzard’s annual convention and scored a code in your swag bag, you’ll have to spend $250-$300 on the secondhand market to gain access to the most high-end skin in Overwatch.
On top of being lavishly expensive, the blue-and-black color scheme looks great on Bastion’s metal frame. It’s fashion for the Overwatch elite, and while not everyone can be fortunate (or wealthy) enough to enjoy playing as “BlizzCon” Bastion, the lower class can still appreciate it from afar.
Most Alpha: “Yeti” Winston
Every event this year has had at least one or two must-gets: The red-white-and-blue “American” McCree. The headless horseman “Pumpkin” Reaper. But none have stood the test of time like “Yeti” Winston.
Those who played during the holiday event and could never pull “Yeti” Winston surely remember the sting of being denied in loot box after loot box. But for players who were blessed with this gem, it meant permanent bragging rights.
Whipping out this cosmetic in the spawn room and using the “Roar” emote in front of your freshly matched teammates is the ultimate power play. What makes this costume so alpha is its presence; it might not be as rare as “BlizzCon” Bastion, but its relative scarcity, combined with the skin’s unmatched style, makes it the clearest indication to your teammates that you’re the one in charge.
The additions of the animal-skull jetpack, Himalayan tesla cannon, and his protruding fangs all come together immaculately to form what is easily one of Overwatch’s greatest skins.
So that's our list; feel free to leave your respectful disagreements and original award ideas in the comments below.
And if you want more Overwatch content, you can check out how we think the lootbox system could be improved, or our speculation on how Overwatch 2 might arrive in the not-so-distant future.