Nearly two years ago, our very own Phil Savage wrote a dedicated to the most infuriating Team Fortress 2 character on the roster: . With Overwatch now out, it’s easy to draw parallels between the two games’ characters, even though they otherwise play very differently. Mercy and Medic. Torbjorn and Engineer. Junkrat and Demoman. And while the logical connection might be between Scout and Tracer—both fast, fragile, and bursty—I think there’s an even more fitting connection.
Mei is The Scout of Overwatch because no other character can induce the same level of rage from her opponents. She might be my favorite game character ever.
Mei is troll incarnate. She can freeze you solid, create a huge wall of impassable terrain, and right when you think you’ve killed her, she’ll turn invincible and heal. While Tracer is similar to Scout in her playstyle, Mei is the Overwatch embodiment of what playing against a good Scout feels like—except instead of a salty Bostonian spitting insults at you, she’s a cheery young girl smiling and making ice-themed puns. She’s pure evil, and when you see her coming, panic sets in.
I love Mei, and it’s not just for her overwhelming potential to fluster and annoy my opponents. She has a huge amount of versatility in her kit. Mei’s ability to zone out huge chunks of a map with walls or her ultimate is unparalleled—no other character can completely shut off a hallway for nearly five seconds. She could deal zero damage and still bring something to a team, simply because the effects of her abilities are strong enough on their own. Sure, she wouldn’t be competitively viable, but she could still freeze, still zone, and still be an absolute nuisance for enemies to deal with.
The fact that she also deals a respectable amount of damage is just icing on the cake. Mei is one of the best 1v1 duelists in the game, and her combo can take out nearly all of the non-tank heroes uncontested. Hold left click until they are frozen, right click for a headshot, then melee to finish them off. The only other heroes she can’t duel upclose are Reaper (who is beatable if you get the drop on him) and McCree, who will Flashbang and stun you before he even breaks a sweat.
Obviously, the icy theme is very different from The Scout. Sprinting towards enemies and BOINKing them with a baseball bat doesn’t look anything like Mei’s cool, collected walk and ice gun, but it puts your enemy in the same state of mind. The moment they see you, they know there is a clock on their head, and they have to find a way to stop you or a way out before it's too late. This point is driven home by her freeze’s visual and audio cues—frost slowly filling the edges of your screen and the sound of solidifying ice gives you a sense of urgency, even though your death is coming much slower than a blast from a sawed-off shotgun.
Mei and her ice effects are just so out of place in a competitive FPS, even among Overwatch’s already weird character designs. She’s a strange and unique concept within a shooter, most of which don’t have any MOBA-like crowd control effects at all, let alone a character that revolves entirely around them. She doesn’t shoot bullets or swing a hammer, and she’s not technically a soldier or warrior at all—just a climatologist going rage mode to save the planet.
That’s part of the reason she’s so frustrating to play against, but doesn’t necessarily feel unfair or OP. It’s easy to recognize that a character like this shouldn’t be able to kill a veteran super soldier or a cybernetic ninja—she seems like she shouldn’t even be in a game like this at all. But I’m glad she is, because having a character who can induce life-threatening panic into individual enemies is valuable to a competitive shooter.
There are plenty of characters in both TF2 and Overwatch who disrupt or distract, pushing the opposition out of their comfort zones and then letting your team exploit that weakness. But nobody else can inflict that feeling on such an intimate, personal level like The Scout and Mei can. They are kindred spirits, master trolls, and absolutely terrifying in the right hands.