Browsing through Artstation I came across an awesome piece of fan art, one of the best pieces I’ve seen to date; Aaron Walker, Jeremy Vitry and Stephanie Videlo created Link as if he was a character in Overwatch. In this post I thought it might be fun to explore how one of my favourite characters would actually work in-game.

Overwatch has taken over. Since I picked up a copy, I haven't gone a day without playing at least an hour. My other games are gathering dust, while I'm screaming ‘Justice rains from above!’.

The strategy and the depth of gameplay are what make Overwatch so addictive. Each character needs mastering and you HAVE to work as a team in order to win; this makes every round interesting, even if you’ve played that same map 100 times. What really grips me about this game is the different feel you get playing every character. The effort the writers put into making each hero’s personality unique translates into the gameplay. Whether you main Tracer, Winston, Zenyatta, or Hanzo, when you’ve put in the hours you know the style and tactics that work with each hero’s skills.

Though I’m obsessed with Overwatch, if you know me, you know that there is one series I don't think anyone will ever manage to top - the Legend of Zelda. Out of all the great games out there Ocarina of Time will stand out as my favourite forever, a monument to nostalgia and adventure.  

Next year Ocarina of Time will be 20 years old and it’s still rated as one of the best games ever.

Link’s quest to save Hyrule from the forces of evil established him as one of the most recognisable characters in gaming history. So what if the Hero of Time found himself battling it out with the heroes of Overwatch? We've seen what this could look like thanks to Aaron, Jeremy, and Stephanie; this mish-mash of my two favourite games is so well done. They’ve absolutely nailed it! My question is how would the gameplay project the charming and enigmatic Link we know and love?

First things first, I think Link would have to be classed as a Tank. I can already hear you questioning that one, but hold off a second. In every Zelda game Link overcomes immense adversaries, always beating the odds when he faces enemies who are much bigger and stronger. How does a young Hylian kid get that done? Well it helps that he was chosen to bear the Triforce of Courage, wields the legendary Master Sword, and carries a small arsenal in his well-disguised pockets.

I’ve always thought that in the Zelda games Link is a little underdressed for the amount of trouble he gets himself into. Surely the Deku Tree, Darunia, or Princess Zelda could have hooked our boy up with some armour? In the fan art we can see that Link won’t be charging into the fight unprotected. His typical green attire has been armoured a little to help handle the heat of battle, so he’s more prepared for pushing to take an objective or escorting a payload. We also see he’s taking an upgraded shield into battle in Overwatch; the Hylian crest is the same, calling back to our nostalgic adventures in Hyrule, but the style fits really well with the futuristic setting of Overwatch - love it. With his fresh look I reckon Link would go head-to-head with any Overwatch hero, so long as he thought he'd be getting a Heart Piece after.

Link is definitely Tank material - so let’s take a look at some ideas I had for his abilities.

Link’s Melee Attack

Every Zelda fan knows Link’s most iconic weapon, the legendary Blade of Evil’s Bane; The Master Sword. While the Hero of Time has no trouble slicing-and-dicing Ganon and his minions, I think if he were taking on the technologically enhanced members of Overwatch, the Master Sword might not cut it in its basic form.

Link is holding a Tesla-powered sword in the fan art, which would be far more effective against his augmented opponents and should give Genji’s Dragonblade something to worry about. This would also mean that heroes such as Orisa and Reinhardt would still be able to block Link’s attacks with their shielding abilities but would still get a little shock from each hit, much like Winston’s Tesla Canon. Link’s sword would be his primary weapon, similar to Reinhardt’s hammer. Most characters in Overwatch can throw punches when opponents who get too close, or in Genji’s case some savage katana cuts. I think Link would be more suited to hitting enemies with his shield to do damage and create space around himself, allowing the player to break away from the action temporarily if Link is in trouble.

Link’s Shield

Whether you’re smashing pots, incurring the wrath of the local Cucoo population, or busting up bosses, you know Link just wouldn’t be Link without the Hylian Shield. Really it’s your only way to protect yourself for most of the game, even when Link is too small to do anything other than turtle beneath it.

When discussing Link’s abilities with others we had a bit of an epiphany; Link’s abilities could allow him to switch between two configurations of his shield. In the default Hylian Shield configuration Link would be able to block incoming damage for a few seconds, useful for when he is rushing at opponents to engage with his sword. Charging an opponent with the shield raised would also allow for a powerful bash attack, pushing back enemies (relative to their size and weight). The cooldown for this ability would be relatively quick, and the lights around the edge of the shield would indicate when Link is ready to use his ability again. The second configuration for Link’s shield would be similar to the Mirror Shield; with this active Link could absorb damage for several seconds before blasting it back at surrounding enemies. Remember the Twinrova battle with Kotake and Koume? Now imagine blasting Hanzo’s attacks back at Genji instead! This ability would be more powerful than the Hylian shield bash, with a longer cooldown, and it would be cool if the shield visibly changed so that wary enemies approach with caution.

Link’s Potions

If you’ve played any of the Zelda games then I’m sure you’ve whipped out a potion right in the nick of time. These little badboys are game changers if used correctly, and that’s how I imagine they would perform in-game. We can see from the fan art that Link has three strapped to his chest, and I think they would affect Link similarly to the potions we’re familiar with from Ocarina of Time. The red potion would give Link a small amount of health. Much like a bar of armour, this could be the difference between surviving a face off with Soldier! As always in Overwatch, timing is key. The green potion would give temporary speed, similar to Lucio’s speed boost but not as strong. This could help you get behind Reinhardt’s shield or dodge Roadhog’s hook. The blue potion would give you a small amount of shield, for when Link is in serious danger.

Link’s Ultimate

A character’s Ultimate is a statement in every way, and there’s nothing quite like a well-timed Ult. Seeing Winston charging with Primal Rage is enough to make you run in the other direction; at least until you’re ready to activate Deadeye and “It’s hiiiigh noon...” sends the other team running for cover.

Choosing an Ultimate for Link was difficult so I got in touch with some fellow Zelda fans. We came up with some great ideas for an epic finisher! There are so many elements of Ocarina of Time which could be brought in for this signature move; a classic spin attack, blasting the other team with Din’s Fire, Epona appearing for a rapid mounted assault with the bow. Here are my two favourite ideas for Link’s Ultimate:

Song of Storms

Da-da daa, da-da daa! Link sounds the unforgettable notes of the Song of Storms... Dark clouds cover the sky and blue lightning strikes the Tesla-sword raised above his head, applying temporary damage and speed buffs. Link charges the opposing team, lightning chaining between nearby enemies and turrets with every sweep of the Master Sword.

Hero of Time

Link pops his Ult; the Triforce of Courage begins to glow on the back of his hand and is projected onto the battlefield. Nearby enemies are temporarily trapped inside the incandescent golden walls of the Triforce, frozen in temporal stasis while the Hero of Time attacks, leaving devastation in his wake. After racking up eliminations the glowing walls shatter, and Link backflips out of harm's way.

Which do you prefer?


Counters and Weaknesses

Unfortunately, as much as it pains me to do so, we need to talk about Link’s weaknesses. How would a savvy player stop Link in his tracks?

As a hero with a distinct focus on melee combat Link would be vulnerable to ranged attacks. On top of that Link has strong shield abilities and his potions to give him an edge, but he has no movement abilities to evade opponents’ attacks. Once he’s in combat, he’s committed to fighting it out; his shield and potions can only last so long!

A well-placed shot from Widowmaker or Hanzo could do significant damage; the bullet rain that Bastion brings to the field would also make life difficult for our hero. I think that Mei and Symmetra would be the options for countering Link; Mei’s Endothermic blaster would slow Link as he comes in to attack, just like the turrets Symmetra can deploy.  

Sound Design

Link has always been the strong, silent type in Legend of Zelda games. In Overwatch I think he should stay that way. It would be more fitting if he had no dialogue lines; instead Link would have vocal cues that were variations of the grunts and “keyaaaahs” that we remember so fondly, usually from rolling into trees to find Gold Skulltulas, experimentally throwing Link off cliffs (Gerudo Valley, am I right?), or hacking our way through ALL of the grass. 

Pre-game chatter is one of my favourite aspects of Overwatch - it may not be necessary to the gameplay but it really gives some depth to the characters and the relationships between them (like did you know that Solider and Reaper killed each other?! No wonder they aren’t happy working on the same team…). It’s only fair that Link gets some amusing interactions too! Given how much of a hit he is with the ladies of Hyrule (Princess Zelda, Malon, Saria, Ruto, Nabooru... Hero of Time is a playa), it struck me as a great idea to have some of the female characters hit on Link pre-game, only to be met with the usual puzzled look that he gives the ladies.

Writing about Link’s potential as a member of Overwatch (or maybe Blackwatch, plot twist!) has been a lot of fun, and I’ll definitely be revisiting this subject in the future. Unfortunately, for now, the Hero of Time has other priorities - the Sacred Realm isn’t going to defend itself and the forces of evil don’t take days off. No doubt Ganon is doing something evil… somewhere.  

PS. “Dude, what about voice lines? Emotes? Skins?! There’s so much potential!” Like I said, I’ll definitely be coming back to this topic at a later date and I’ll be going into even more ideas for Link’s Overwatch career - until then if there’s anything you think I should address, or if you have a great idea, feel free to hit me up in the comments!

By the way, if you're a Zelda fan, much like myself I think you'll enjoy my Ocarina of Time Symphony! An epic 45 track journey through Hyrule. Listen via the Spotify playlist below!