Hanzo vs Huntsman

My playtime with Hanzo in Overwatch has reached and passed the amount of hours I have with the Sniper in Team Fortress 2.

tf2 stats ow stats
Actually my time with the Huntsman is a bit less than that. I don’t know how much exactly because there are no statistics but I assure you it’s the majority of it.

So on this occasion I’d like to compare the Huntsman with Hanzo.



Why Archery?

But first I’ll explain why I main bow and arrow:

  • Prediction. Projectiles require you to make a hypothesis about enemy movement. It’s satisfying when you test your assumptions and they turn out to be correct.
  • High Risk – High Reward. Hitting targets is hard but when you do you’re rewarded with high damage.
  • Challenge. It’s satisfying to make good plays with harder characters (think D.Va/Symmetra on release). Doubly, if people are complaining about unviability and you prove them wrong.

Once I achieved the Huntsman it quickly became my predominant weapon for the sniper class. When I started playing OW, going Hanzo seemed like an obvious progression. So what are the improvements?




In TF2 the bow is placed vertically while in OW – horizontally. I prefer the latter because it takes less space on the screen and doesn’t block my right field of view.

In OW when you draw the bow it moves closer to the center of the screen which makes it easier for me to tell the shot power. In TF2 it’s hard to notice change.

tf2_bow_nohud t2_bow_draw_nohud
ow_bow_nohud ow_bow_draw_nohud

On TF2 HUD, power is indicated by a bar in the lower right corner. I never have time to look at it and so it’s useless to me. In OW, power is indicated by a circle gradually decreasing in size in the center of the screen (which is where my eyes are fixated). Now reading the power is never a problem.

tf2_hud_bowpower ow_hud_bowpower
Additionally, default crosshair for Hanzo has distance dots which help me aim at distant enemies. TF2 doesn’t have anything similar and so I would always rely on intuition.

The distances on which you engage targets actually do not vary that much. I mostly aim with the space between first and second dot so the benefit of having distance dots is less than it seems. Still, I prefer it over TF2.


In TF2 arrows leave a large tracer and in OW –  a small one.



In the latter it’s less likely that the enemies will notice arrows so you’re more sneaky. However, the same goes for you – it’s harder to learn aiming by watching the trail. I prefer TF2 here.



Bow Characteristics

tf2_bow ow_bow
I’ve measured properties of each bow.

Draw 0.95 0.7
Reload 2 0.55
Travel Min 0.88 1
Travel Max 0.62 0.3

Values are in seconds. Draw is the time it takes to reach full power. Reload is the time between shots.

To compare arrow speed I’ve measured how long does it take to hit an enemy target (of the same class) positioned far enough so that its size on the screen is 1 cm. Min was a shot without holding left button and Max is a fully drawn arrow.


In TF2 you can hold arrow for 5 seconds before receiving penalty while in OW – indefinitely. In the former you have to factor this into your ambush while in the latter you can keep camping forever undisturbed.

In TF2 you can carry up to 12 arrows and you’ll have to periodically retreat in order to resupply. In OW there’s unlimited ammo and so you can remain in the battle forever.

Since December 2015 TF2 allows you to fire while in the air. That means when a Pyro bumps you then you still have a chance to fight back. In OW firing mid-air was possible from the start.


To compare the damage I’ve checked how many shots does it take to eliminate enemies:

  • In TF2 fully charged headshot kills everyone while in OW it eliminates 70% of the characters. You need 2 more to ensure that the healthiest characters stay dead.
  • In TF2 two fully charged bodyshots kill almost everyone while in OW they eliminate 70% of the characters. You need 1 more in TF2 and 3 more in OW to ensure that the healthiest characters stay dead.
  • In TF2 weakest headshot kills half of the cast while in OW it takes 4 to eliminate the same proportion of the characters.
  • In TF2 three weakest bodyshots will kill half of the cast while in OW it takes 7 to eliminate the same proportion of the characters.

Also arrows in TF2 cause a small knockback.


To summarize, Storm Bow is faster to use than the Huntsman. However, due to the presence of very healthy characters (aka tanks) you’ll need more hits than in TF2.

In OW there’s also a much greater disparity (in damage and speed) between the weakest and strongest shot. In TF2 I would sometimes challenge myself by never holding left click and I could still perform well. In OW this wouldn’t fly and you want to charge arrows to the fullest whenever possible.



Secondary Equipment

Besides bow, each game gives you two other accessories.

In TF2 it’s sub-machine gun and a machete. With them, you can engage enemies at any distance (like confronting flanking Scouts). Optionally you can trade these weapons for superiority in close combat (Jarate + Bushwacka) or protection against Spies (Razorback) or other.

I’m fond of this system for its simplicity.


sonic scatter
In OW you get special arrows that you can fire periodically.

Sonic arrow reveals enemies in a target area like a wallhack. I like this ability because you can contribute to your team besides dealing damage. It also helps you prepare yourself against incoming flankers.

However, I dislike the lack of indication that this ability is in use (unless you directly see Hanzo firing Sonic arrow). You can get instantly killed when coming off a corner and you have no way of knowing that you’re in danger. My solution to this issue is to display a transparent sphere that shows you which area is being surveilled.


It would be a message to the player: you are entering this zone at your own risk; if you get killed it’s your fault. It could delay enemy advancement.


Scatter arrow splits into multiple arrows on hit which further bounce off walls. Fired at the right angle it will deal enough damage to instantly kill 21 out of 25 characters (84%).

I find the idea of aiming at the floor to kill an enemy rather weird. I’d like for headshot to be THE skillshot that rewards you with elimination.

Ricocheting arrows lead to bullshit kills which frustrates enemies and confuse me as a shooter. What am I supposed to learn from this? That I got lucky? I want the game to instantly provide feedback to my skill level and not offer me a roulette.

I understand that Hanzo needs something to protect himself in the close range. Maybe firing multiple arrows at once that would work just like Roadhog’s primary fire? Maybe some sort of martial arts move that would stun/knockback enemies? Maybe an arrow that wouldn’t deal damage but make enemy more vulnerable like slow him down?

If not replaced, then I think scatter could be made more fair by displaying trajectory of the arrows.  The enemy would know that he’s being targeted and that corridors are not safe. Kinda like in TF2 you have a laser dot.

tf2_laser_dot ow_scatter_suggestion
Simultaneously, it would help me as a shooter. Sometimes I’m thinking of trick shots but they usually fail due to unpredictability of the arrows. Or because of a bump in the floor that I didn’t notice. This change would help me make exactly the shots that I want.

Still, it wouldn’t get rid of bullshit kills so here are additional suggestions:

  • reducing damage and speed with each ricochet and distance traveled
  • reducing the number of ricochets
  • forcing a delay so that you can’t fire it immediately after selecting

I also like the idea of reducing damage with each hit that I’ve read about on Reddit.


Lastly, in OW there’s Quick Melee. It works instantly (unlike melee in TF2) but it inflicts little damage. In TF2 it takes 2-3 hits to kill most of the characters while in OW it takes 7 hits to eliminate half of the cast.

Quick Melee actually deals similar amount of damage as the weakest arrow but to me, the former is a better choice for finishing injured enemies as it’s faster and doesn’t require precise aiming.


To summarize, TF2 gives you two different weapons which is kinda like two extra mini-games. OW keeps focus on the bow by providing high-damage shot and a recon ability. I like both systems (except for how OW ideas are executed).




I’ve measured how long does it take to run to an enemy target (of the same class) positioned far enough so that its size on the screen is 1 cm. Values in the table are in seconds.

Run 5.4 5.8
Run Drawn 10 8.3

Movement speed in both games is about the same. The difference is that in OW you move at a constant velocity so traversing space feels easier (you’re not “sliding”).

With arrow drawn you move 46% slower in TF2 and 30% slower in OW.

OW allows you to climb walls which you can use:

  • to quickly get to a vantage point (while in TF2 getting to high ground takes a bit longer)
  • to escape from danger
  • offensively, to dodge enemy attacks and fire from the air

Since May 2017 you can keep draw power while climbing which gives Hanzo and edge against flying characters. Also it enables him to spam from behind a wall – charge, climb just enough to get the arrow out and immediately fall to the ground. It makes him even deadlier.




Overwatch is a fast-paced game and more accessible while Team Fortress 2 is slower and requires you to be more careful. I don’t have a preference regarding tempo but I do favour convenience of Overwatch.


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