With the Lunar New Year underway, Overwatch celebrates the Chinese New Year with new skins and a new map!
Yet as exciting as it is to see these new additions, the core gameplay of Overwatch is always under close surveillance by players to see what kinds of changes will come to the game. Recently, Mercy had seen powerful nerfs that had caused her to fall out of the meta of the game. As we bid farewell to the “Mercy Meta,” we look ahead to what we could see down the road. There are tons of possibilities in terms of team composition, but one question does linger: “What about the other half of the Overwatch roster?”
Overwatch is an ever-evolving game. While you can see a wide cast of characters used by the community, not everyone gets to share the spotlight. As such, the creators know that should a hero be falling behind others, it could be due to them not performing as well as others. Whether in the form of buffs, adjustments, or a rework, the changes can help them find their ways into teams so that they can have their chance to shine. At this current time, six of these were actually revealed in the Overwatch forum by Game Director, Jeff Kaplan.
If you do play Overwatch, you could probably guess why these heroes aren’t used quite as often as the rest of the cast. Could it be that they aren’t seen quite as feasible as the top picks? Or do they offer so little in their kits that you could better pick someone better? Either way, let us look at each of the heroes and what upcoming changes they could or will have.
A Fist That Delivers Doom (and adjusting his other fist)
If you have followed Doomfist’s development since his launch, you know him for being a bit buggy and a glass cannon. What could have been another great dive character has become a guy who is too reliant on his abilities to be effective in matches (and can get obliterated if caught off guard). He is still seen as the buggiest character in the game with 15 separate bugs in his gameplay. It goes without saying that the path to get Doomfist back to punching people in the face would be to try and fix up as many of these issues as possible.
After the Lunar New Year event started, there were a few changes to the way Doomfist’s hand cannon operates. The cannon doesn’t have as much of a spread as before and will fire more pellets at lesser damage. Depending on who Doomfist attacks, this is both a buff and a nerf as those who have armor will take a bit less damage while non-armored characters will likely take more damage than previously. To go with his upgraded weapon, it will also reload a bit faster between shots to allow Doomfist to use it a bit more.
Doomfist does have quite a bit of untapped potential, but until these issues are properly addressed, he might not see much action in the competitive play.
Hacking All The Abilities
Another attack hero that hasn’t seen much use as of late is the freelancer hacker, Sombra. While her kit does help to disrupt enemy teams, her use in-game is still left to question if she is the least-used attack hero alongside with Doomfist. As such, she will also be getting some upcoming changes to help make her a more disruptive force in-game. Sombra’s Machine Pistol has a lesser spread so her bullets will be more effective at longer ranges. Her Translocator was also extended to 20 seconds to allow her to cause more chaos before escaping from a fight.
The biggest part of these changes will be to her hacking ability and how it will affect the enemy. Sombra’s ability to hack anything has sped up to .65 seconds from .8 seconds. While those in the community felt that the hacking should be half a second, it at least allows Sombra a better chance to disable enemies. Speaking of which, hacking will also now affect other abilities such as the Dragon Brothers’ wall climb, Pharah and Mercy’s ability to stay in the air, and even shut down Lucio’s current song. Finally, to balance out these changes, Sombra will no longer gain ultimate charge from hacked health packs. In some ways, these changes will help Sombra be a more aggressive hero, but it is hard to say if this will be able to help her in the long run or if she will remain in the shadows.
Putting Enemies on Ice
To wrap up the characters that we have some confirmation or idea of changes, we have the Overwatch’s climatologist, Mei. She has some useful abilities that can let her help defend locations like Ice Wall and Blizzard, but the current meta doesn’t really let Mei be as effective as she would hope. The biggest issue is that while her ability to freeze enemies is great, the time it takes for some to freeze over feels like it takes too long. It is because of this that she doesn’t get to fight as much as the other defensive heroes in the roster. It also doesn’t help to make freeze more effective since that could completely break her character.
As such, upcoming changes for Mei will allow her to do a bit more effective at what she does best. Her alternate fire that launches a projectile at enemies had its ammo cost lowered slightly from 25 to 20. This means that she can now fire off 10 shots instead of 8 before having to reload. Her Endothermic Blaster will also cause slow for 1.5 seconds rather than just 1 second. This change will allow Mei to stand a better chance freezing some of the faster-moving characters on the roster. While these will help her out, this doesn’t fully address the issue players have with Mei. She needs to have that something else to her that is more than a stall tactic. Until we find what that is, she will likely remain as the least used defensive hero in Overwatch.
Back to the Drawing Board
If you’ve heard the term “One Trick Ponies,” you know which hero everyone is talking about: Torbjorn. In the right hands, Torbjorn is a great defensive hero by setting up a turret to help lockdown an area while allowing you to support the team with armor. The issue with Torbjorn though is the idea of how in some ways, he can be too reliant on the turret. If that turret blows up, Torbjorn’s effectiveness gets cut in half. Unlike most abilities in Overwatch, the turret does the exact same thing regardless if a professional or a newcomer use it. Something needs to change to help Torbjorn be more effective without having to depend on the turret. And chances are, that answer could come in the form of Torbjorn’s scrap.
To help illustrate this, let’s look at a fellow Engineer from Team Fortress 2. Engineers are also reliant on dropped metal to build, repair, and upgrade their buildings. Meanwhile, Torbjorn only needs the scrap to drop off armor packs. It can help, but perhaps scrap can have other uses. What if scrap can immediately upgrade a placed turret? Or use scrap to perform “emergency repairs” as opposed to using your hammer? We could even take this one step further and have scrap used to upgrade the turret to a “level 2.5” where it is harder to destroy? Anything is possible and it would allow Torbjorn to almost be a defensive hero that can be in two places at one time.
The Enigma of Symmetra
Out of all the heroes in OverWatch, Symmetra remains to be the trickiest of heroes to make work properly in a team. As the only support character that can’t heal, that already makes her a liability to others’ supports. Much like Torbjorn, she has a big reliance on her turrets as well as her other abilities, while her weapon isn’t feasible. With her current kit, she is a very situational character who is more of a nuisance for both teams than a character meant to help her team. It can be tricky some to figure out how to improve someone who is rarely used on defense (let alone seen as reliable as you will never see her on an attacking team). So how to would one attempt to further balance out a character who has seen plenty of balancing updates and a rework already?
On the Blizzard Forums, there is a thread by user Jsleezy to help generate ideas to improve Symmetra. One idea was to update her Photon Barrier’s shape into a sphere and act like a portable Winston bubble that can cover anyone running with it. Another is to bring back her ability to set up Photon Shields for her team and make her glove as a secondary weapon like Mercy and Torbjorn. Finally, Symmetra’s turrets need an update to be better utilized. What if instead of attacking enemies, the turrets support your team instead? This way, you can set up support turrets at choke points that enemies will not be able to attack while your team gets buffs to take enemies down. There may be endless possibilities for Symmetra, but it is a shame she is the only hero that can never be as good as the others.
Scatter Arrow’s Days Numbered
For the longest time, Hanzo’s use in fights was usually summed up in three ways: His scatter arrow being a one-shot kill for bigger enemies, his ultimate that can obliterate everything in front of him, and how he is a less effective Widowmaker. Many in the community pointed out that with no escape options, Hanzo is a liability. In Widowmaker’s case, she has the grappling hook that can allow her to traverse high locations while also being an escape option should someone try and dive at you. Hanzo doesn’t have anything like that to his name and wall climbing isn’t exactly an escape option.
Recently, Game Designer Geoff Goodman shared a few things in regards Hanzo’s possible reworking. These ideas were new ability ideas for Hanzo that didn’t make it to through testing. One idea was “Piercing Arrow” that could penetrate shields and pass through multiple targets. While it sounds very useful, it was deemed too overpowered due to how characters like Zenyatta could be killed immediately with one well-placed shot. They also explored the idea of Hanzo using reload (something that he doesn’t do in-game) as a way to reset abilities. As you can imagine, that didn’t work out well either. With so many ideas for Hanzo, it can be difficult to give him that edge he needs without turning him into a long-range murder machine.
Time To Restring the Bow
So how would we try and fix up Hanzo? Many in the community had suggested a variety of idea to help make Hanzo a more feasible character. With various ideas included Grapple Hooks, net arrows, and arrows that seem like it would be out of a comic book. It wasn’t until recently when we did finally get small teases of what we could expect out of Hanzo’s new set up in the form of a new damage ability and the highly requested ability to let him leap out of harm’s way.
The first ability called Volley allows Hanzo to be much more dangerous at a distance; being able to fire three arrows in one second (and up to six in total). While the damage from these arrows would be a bit weaker, it would give Hanzo a higher damage output than firing arrows one at a time. The other new ability for Hanzo is Disengage. It will let Hanzo leap horizontally in one direction to escape an ambush or to better traverse to areas out of reach. While these changes won’t be in the PTR quite yet, it could be fair to say that the days of Scatter Arrow are coming to an end.
Conclusion: Will These Heroes Get To Shine Soon?
The fun of Overwatch comes from the diverse cast and play styles that can combine together and make great team compositions. The six heroes discussed definitely deserve their time in the spotlight, and chances are that they will get that second chance coming up. At the time of this story, changes to Doomfist, Sombra, and Mei are in the PTR. These changes aren’t in the official game yet, but any changes in the PTR usually do carry over to the main game soon afterward. With the new stage in the Overwatch League starting up this Wednesday, there is always the chance that we will see new metas develop and characters get their chance to shine. Perhaps Hanzo will show everyone that he can be more dangerous than Widowmaker. And perhaps the builders of Overwatch will be able to show everyone that they can be just as reliable in high-level play.
So what do you think? Will changes to the six heroes make them more playable? How should Torbjorn and Symmetra change so that they can be better characters? Will Hanzo haters still complain about Hanzo mains? Feel free to leave a comment and be sure to follow us here at Culture of Gaming for more stories on Overwatch and other games.