Overwatch hero changes seen as improvement



News editor Jacob Madden provides his take on recent hero changes made to Overwatch.

JACOB MADDEN, News Editor | [email protected]

Overwatch has continued to capture the attention of players and spectators as Stage 2 of Overwatch League (OWL) play continues. While some have taken issue with how Blizzard has handled hero changes over time, as some gamers are wont to do, the changes have remained a positive force in the meta game and for the health of the game as a whole.

When looking at the Overwatch meta, the tanks have always been the focal point, and Blizzard really has kept them in a good spot overall.

Triple and Quad tank comps are viable, but not broken. D.Va saw a change to really set her apart from the barrier tanks and give her a place in dive comps. Despite streamers like ChipSa complaining about D.Va’s place in the meta, she really hasn’t taken over the meta. Death ball comps have continued to see success in matchmaking with the addition of Moira, as well.

One could talk endlessly about the various comps that are possible and successful. This is indicative of the fact that Blizzard is a present and active force in maintaining the meta. This is critical to the health of the game.

For example, look at Magic the Gathering. Wizards of the Coast didn’t take an active role in shaping the health of the meta until Ravnica: City of Guilds, at which point the game turned around in tournament participation, sales and buyer trust in the value of their cards. Blizzard has found success in implementing the same philosophy to the Overwatch meta.

The first change that drastically shook up the meta was the addition of Valkyrie to Mercy’s kit as opposed to her Resurrect ultimate. Mercy mains can argue all they want, but when a hero is the only viable option in their role, the meta is stale. After some reworking, the much-maligned changes to Mercy have been a force for good in the matchmaking and OWL metas alike, with heroes like Lucio, Ana and Moira seeing more play time, and creating space for new support designs.

Despite the positivity of these changes overall, one could contend that Mercy’s kit is inherently flawed in matchmaking. As several streamers have pointed out, one can heal a minor error, but one cannot out-heal stupidity. However, one can resurrect stupid, giving Mercy the ability to undo the play of a poor-performing teammate.

Now, put that ability in the context of a team working at full capacity; the ability undoes the hard work a solid player thinking strategically. Because resurrect allows for both of these situations, it is inherently flawed. The ability is cool and isn’t broken, but until there is another hero with a resurrect ability or similar, Mercy will be the mainstay of support in Overwatch, with all the utility she needs to remain relevant.

Beyond the Mercy changes and how they have impacted the game, it is worthwhile to think about the most recent changes and how they play into a philosophy of active participation from Blizzard.

The Sombra changes are interesting and are generally good. Her damage is now on par with other DPS, and that matters. Previously, Sombra was an ult machine, built to be utility with hack and EMP; now, Sombra has far more diversity in choices to be made, which increases her skill ceiling without raising her skill floor, which is always a good thing because it encourages investment in a hero and their kit.

The other changes released in the most recent patch were all good quality of life changes. Giving consistency to Reinhardt’s charge and improving Mei’s efficiency will keep them as viable heroes as new heroes with increasingly complex kits are released. On the subject of new heroes, Brigitte was recently announced.

Brigitte is the pinnacle of this philosophy of participation that is so critical to the health of a game. Brigitte was called for by the community after the Reinhardt cinematic, and Blizzard answered with a character who expands design space, fills a utility role, encourages death ball comps that have fallen out of favor to some degree and allows for a new comp to born: triple support.

It is plausible now for Lucio, Moira, Brigitte, Zarya, Reinhardt and Roadhog to possibly see some success as a comp, especially on 2CP. On payload and hybrid maps: Lucio, Ana, Brigitte, Reinhardt, Orisa and Bastion could see play with Brigitte supplementing the so-called “pirate ship strategy” by covering the back line from the recently buffed Sombra who hard-counters Bastion with her faster hack.

All of these improvements, especially the small changes like those of Mei and Reinhardt, are positive and indicate that Blizzard is listening and wants to push the meta of Overwatch into interesting and new places, allowing for old heroes with simple kits to keep up with the Brigittes of the world.

Overwatch matchmaking is in a decent place from a game-design perspective, and with the release of Brigitte, it is a possibility that we will see that continued positivity and innovation spill over into OWL, which makes for a great viewing and participatory experience for the game of Overwatch.