If you want the TL;DR of the buff ideas without the in-depth analysis, you can scroll to the very bottom. 🙂
Most of us know that Genji has been a very sub-optimal pick for the past 2-3 years, outside of the few weeks that he was buffed, and then nerfed back into oblivion. However, I rarely see anyone explain WHY he struggles, or suggest actual changes that Blizzard could make. In this post I'm going to compare the power level of Genji's kit to the power level of other dive DPS, to illustrate why Genji struggles to keep up, even when dive is viable. I'm also going to suggest some very interesting buff ideas that I don't hear people discussing.
When you think of Genji, you WANT to think "Flanking ninja assassin". But his kit doesnt really play out that way. Of all the flankers in the game, Genji is the least effective at getting solo kills, and he is less effective at flanking than a lot of non-flanker heroes, like Mcree and Roadhog. But to keep things more specific to dive heroes, I'm going to compare elements of Genji's kit to Doomfist and Echo's kit, so I can fully illustrate how weak and outdated Genji's kit is compared to the newer power-crept heroes that Blizzard have released over the years.
Genji: Good vertical mobility, weak horizontal mobility due to long cooldown on his dash, requiring full commitment to kill if you hope to escape after engaging. Although you can wall climb, there are MANY cases where Genji gets stuck or his wall climb simply fails to register, and it gets you killed. Also, not all maps really support wall climbing. One example is Havana 1st point. The enemy can play double sniper on defense, and you'd think that on paper, Genji would be good against it. But the enemy can literally just stand way in the back, out in the open space and poke you easily with hitscan weapons. The space is so open that you can't actually dive them and rely on a wall climb to escape. You can't effectively poke them, because they have so much open space and distance to dodge your slow moving projectiles. Junkertown feels the same way. Relying on wall climb to engage/disengage is completely dependent on the map having geometry that favours you. And even when it DOES, the wall climb fails to register quite often
Swift strike helps a little bit with rollouts from spawn, but the cooldown is so long that his rollout speed is still quite slow for a dive hero. His dash also falls victim to lag all the time, because you can dash behind cover/ behind an enemy on your screen and still die. Then you watch the killcam, and it says that you were still in their line of sight, even though you clearly weren't from your perspective.
Doomfist: Good vertical and horizontal mobility, thanks to exploiting bounce spots and having multiple mobility options on short cooldowns. He can engage and disengage freely without needing to commit, and each time he engages again, he could have even more shields than he did last time. Even if he hard commits and trades, he has the fastest rollout speed of any DPS hero in the game, making the trade much more worth it. All of his mobility options also double as high burst CC abilities.
Echo: Good horizontal and vertical mobility, increased movement speed from flight that is on a 6 second cooldown. Getting in close isn't necessary, because her focusing beam has a range of 16 meters, which is longer than Genji's entire dash range, as well as the ability to nearly 1 shot anything from range with sticky bombs.
Potential solutions: Make Genji's dash cooldown 5 or 6 seconds like every other mobility cooldown in the game. The possibility of a dash reset from getting a kill doesn't outweigh the weakness of having no escape option when you actually need it. Another option would be to fix Genji's wall climb so it always works, similar to how they buffed Lucio's wall ride to connect on virtually all surfaces. On a hero that already struggles so much, dying to a failed/buggy wall climb is incredibly demoralizing. Another option is to increase the travel speed of his dash, so that it's less likely to fall victim to lag and dying around corners.
Damage potential and midfight value:
Genji: Overall, Genji's damage is quite low after they reverted him back to his original state, and any healing by the enemy feels like it completely shuts down your kill, whereas other heroes can force a kill through healing easily. Primary fire shurikens are slow and inconsistent, and rely solely on prediction. The delay between volleys also feels quite slow, especially considering how low their damage is. The only saving grace is that they travel in a straight line, but that benefit doesn't matter considering how slow and weak they are. (Mei's icicles are better at poking, and she is supposed to be a close range punish hero) He has no "free kill button" or easy setups to confirm kills. His only potential 1 shot is if he dashes at somebody from exactly 15m away and lands all 3 shurikens to the head. This only ever happens on snipers who are scoped in, standing still and unaware. You can try to dash at their feet and flick upwards to the head, but that motion requires a lot of mechanical skill, especially with how quickly characters move on your screen from point blank range. His only reliable way to confirm kills is to clean up his teammates kills, but every other flanker can do that just as effectively, with the added benefit of easy solo kills. In many ways, even Mcree is a better flanker than Genji, due to his ability to flashbang/ fanhammer and instakill any squishy, or his ability to go off on a solo flank and High Noon your entire team from behind. Then there's flanking Roadhog… Also a better flanker than Genji.
Doomfist: high burst damage on all of his abilities. Can 1 shot with his punch, which doubles as a mobility option, TRIPLES as a stun that can cancel abilities and ultimates, and QUADRUPLES as a knockback ability that can even get environmental kills… all on a 4 second cooldown. Slam does 125 damage if you rollout from high ground, CCs the enemy to make followup shots easier, and uppercut does 70 damage, and also CCs enemies to make shots easier. You only need to do 5 damage from a single primary fire to assassinate a squishy target with this basic combo. I even see Doomfists kill two people with a single uppercut if they're close together, and STILL has his punch to escape. He can also use his ultimate to instantly kill low mobility heroes like Ana or Zenyatta, with a safety net of extra shields and fresh cooldowns, and the knockback effect to throw off people's shots. Overall, his ability to CC the enemy and control their movement to easily land followup shots, and his ability to easily force kills through healing makes him a WAY better "assassin" than Genji. The only real advantage Genji has over him is better ranged poke, but even so, his ranged poke is still BAD compared to most heroes in the game.
Echo: Primary fire is effective at all ranges, can 2 tap people up close without needing any cooldowns. Sticky bombs do 190 damage from range, have splash damage and are more forgiving if your aim isn't as good, and are on a short cooldown. Focusing beam does 200 damage per second on targets below half. All of her abilities can easily force a kill, even through healing.
One option could be to make his primary fire have a faster projectile speed, or a shorter delay between volleys. Overall, Genji would flow much better as a hero if his primary fire felt snappy and clean. But it doesn't, it feels weak, slow, and luck-based.
Another option could be to make Genji's melee do 40 damage instead of the base 30, which would give him access to a clean 202 damage alt fire/melee combo, without needing to necessarily buff his shuriken damage. That way he won't need to waste dash to try and 1 shot something from point blank range.
Make Genji have 30 damage per shuriken again, but ONLY on primary fire. This way, you can be rewarded for having precise aim with primary fire, but he won't be as obnoxious at deleting people with alt fire. I completely understand why nobody wants Genji to be able to YOLO dash in and delete everything with alt fire like he did during the short Genji meta.
Genji: Blade does 120 per swing, not even enough to 2-shot a 250 HP hero. Offers no extra sustain or defensive benefits to Genji. Can only burst targets quickly and reliably when combined with a second ultimate. The delay between swings is so slow that it allows plenty of room for CC and defensive abilities to shut you down before you can even confirm a single kill, which leaves you stuck in deep, usually with no dash to escape. Has a full second of vulnerability while activating the ultimate. Overall, his ultimate ALWAYS feels like a high risk play, and requires more skill than almost every other ultimate in the game, just to get a similar level of value. (Just think of how many ultimates can simply delete and entire team without any need for aim or mechanical skill, simply by going on a solo flank and pressing Q) One final point on his ultimate: You can counter Dragonblade with ultimates that aren't supposed to be "counter ultimates". For example, if you don't have support ultimates to stop a blade, you can still use Earthshatter, Graviton Surge, Gravitic Flux, Tactical Visor, Dva Bomb, Primal Rage, Whole Hog, High Noon, Bob, Blizzard, Molten Core, Death Blossom… The list goes on. Almost every ultimate in the game is capable of countering/zoning out Dragonblade, and that isn't really the case for most other DPS ultimates in the game. Usually to actually counter a DPS ultimate, you need a support ultimate. But Genji can be shut down by nearly every ultimate in the game. And That's JUST the ultimates, I won't even mention all of the regular cooldowns that can stun, knockback, or save teammates to shut him down too.
Doomfist: Can be used as a get-out of jail free card after diving in super deep and blowing all your cooldowns to secure a kill or two. Or you can use it to regain your cooldowns, generate a ton of shields, and commit even harder. The burst potential of a Doomfist's regular cooldowns are equally as powerful as a Genji diving in with ultimate, albeit with roughly half the duration of an average dive. The cast time is instant, so you can never actually "shut down" a meteor strike.
Echo: Can be used as a get-out of jail free card after diving in deep and blowing all your cooldowns to secure a kill or two. Copying a tank or support gives you even MORE sustain in your ultimate, and generating ult super fast on somebody like Brigitte gives you even MORE sustain. And even if the enemy invests a ton of resources and kills your duplicate, you return back to your normal self, with full HP and full cooldowns, ready to push in even harder after the enemy used a bunch of resources. There is no pushishment for playing suicidally aggressive, because you don't actually die. The cast time is nearly instant, so you can't actually "shut down" a duplicate, you're always forced to fight it, invest resources, and then still have to deal with the Echo again after she returns to normal.
Potential solutions: Make Genji's blade do 130 damage so he can 2 shot 250HP heroes. Buffing the damage won't change any nano boost damage thresholds, it will still kill at the exact same speed… But it helps against the large number of 250HP heroes that are considered "hard counters" to him, such as Mei, Torb, Reaper, and all the other DPS heroes with high HP and self sustain. I understand that Blade is arguably the most powerful part of his kit. But the problem with that is that roughly half the heroes in the game FORCE Genji to have to be an ult bot, because actually engaging is too risky. So he spends 1-2 teamfights being useless and poking tanks, in which case he may as well be playing Hanzo, Pharah or Echo, who are all better poke heroes with similar mobility and more midfight potential. If he is going to be forced into being an Ult bot against his counters (aka 50% of the game's heroes) we should at least make his ability to poke and Ult his counters somewhat reliable, otherwise you end up wasting so much time building up to a win condition that might not even work out. Also, this should go without saying. Blizzard NEEDS to fix the issue of bad hit registration on blade. It feels like I get several no-regs per play session, sometimes even multiple per game. That CAN'T happen on an ultimate as boom-or-bust as Dragonblade. It feels DREADFUL, especially when you've been poking for the past minute and a half to get it.
About Genji's deflect:
Genji's most unique ability is deflect, but deflect as an ability is 100% reliant on the enemy being stupid enough to shoot it. Every other flanker has a way to "force a kill" just by hitting you with absurd amount of easy, reliable burst damage. Even if deflect can potentially be powerful, there are so many beams, splash damage, and hard CC abilities like shield bash, rocket punch, and accretion that counter the deflect entirely. The only way to get somewhat consistent value with it is to deflect spam in the Frontline. But even THAT is risky, because of all the things that damage/stun through deflect, and how Mcree can still flashbang the floor/ above your head to stun you. It isn't that reliable as a defensive tool, compared to things like wraith form that make you completely invulnerable To all forms of damage and CC. Any time you get a big deflect play, it's not because deflect is good, it's because the enemy made a mistake.
Potential solutions: Let Genji's deflect BLOCK things like shield bash, rocket punch and accretion. It's not like you would actually deal that damage back to them, but it would at least prevent the damage/stun, similar to how deflect blocks Reinhardt's hammer swings. This would allow him to actually INTERACT with his counters with smart ability usage, instead of being completely oppressed by them. Auto aim abilities and turrets negate his mobility. Beams and stuns negate his deflect. Healing and defensive abilities nullify his dash reset. We just need the ability to actually INTERACT with these things so we don't feel like Genji is a useless hero. But right now, he is basically useless, and the times he is useful, he is still sub-optimal compared to other flankers.
One last buff idea: Make half of Genji's health into shield health. Having 100 shield health would make him more viable as a flanker, because he wouldn't always need healing every time he gets poked. He could just choose to keep a low profile and heal up, instead of needing to dash to a health pack or to the enemy team. It would also make sense from a lore perspective, seeing as he is half machine, and his story is tied in with Zenyatta.
I'm secretly hoping that this new hero linked to Kanezaka is a ninja dive-support who grants temporary CC immunity to a teammate. It would have to be a reasonably long cooldown, but that would be sweet. We don't really have a support that enables dive the same way that Bap enables bunker, or Brig enables Brawl. (Lucio doesn't count, dive heroes don't need more speed)
Thanks for reading this long analysis. I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas. I dont hear anybody proposing how to actually fix Genji, but I've had these ideas for quite a while, so I figured I'd throw them out there and see what people think. Maybe Blizzard will try experimenting with some changes, hopefully not too many at once. Let me know your thoughts, and what ideas you like/dislike! Cheers! 🙂
TL;DR of buff ideas:
Make swift strike 5 or 6 second cooldown like every other movement ability in the game
Make wall climb ALWAYS work, like Lucio's wallride buff
Increase speed of dash so you don't die around corners from lag
give primary fire 30 damage per shuriken, but keep alt fire at 28
-Make melee do 40 damage instead of 30, for a clean assassination combo without needing to buff shurikens at all
Give primary fire faster projectile speed
Give a shorter delay between primary fires
Make Dragonblade 130 damage
Fix hit detection on Dragonblade
Let deflect block things like shield bash and accretion (block them, not deflect them)
Replace 100 HP with shield health (RIP to all the "I need healing" memes)
- Dispelling Genji disinformation: Why he’s not the monster you think he is
- Counters to Nanoblade
- I thought Overwatch needed more casual and fun achievements, so here are some ideas for a few!
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