Numbani’s enhanced OR15, Orisa, has been roaming the live servers of Overwatch for weeks now, and we’ve been spending some quality time with her in competitive mode too. This omnic has some superb tricks up her sleeve, and we’re only just beginning to grasp all their potential synergies, but one ability in particular has taken us by surprise: Fortify.
Compared to the potentially dramatic consequences of “Halt!” or Supercharger, which can set up the perfect ultimate or shred the enemy team, Fortify initially feels underwhelming. Its official description – “Orisa temporarily reduces damage she takes, and cannot be affected by action-impairing effects” – doesn’t sound the most exciting, and while the damage reduction and immunity to “action impairing effects” granted are welcome, they don’t possess the same seductive allure as abilities which drag around enemies or melt through the front lines.
But much to our surprise, Fortify might actually be Orisa’s most impactful ability. Not only has it saved us from elimination many, many times, it’s also adjusting the momentum of team fights where chained crowd control and ultimate stacking would usually win the day. Let’s dive in.
The current meta favours Soldier 76 and Pharah, both of whom can wipe a team once Reinhardt or Zarya have locked down the field using their considerable crowd control. Generally speaking, two teams face off with one another in a wild-west style duel, each hiding behind their own barriers and waiting for the other side to unleash hell. Ignoring for a moment the possibility of a game changing Mercy resurrection, more often than not, the side which successfully sucks in or knocks down the largest number of enemy heroes gains the advantage and wins the engagement.
Fortify seems to be tipping the scales of these situations. Orisa can casually stroll out of Graviton Surge, and if timed correctly, she can continue dealing significant damage when two or three of her team have been knocked down by Earthshatter. An offensive which formerly removed three players from a team is now sometimes only removing two, raising the chances of survival – and crucially, could turn the tide. Reinhardt’s job is now that little bit harder, especially if Orisa is accompanied by Zarya, whose barriers can protect herself and one other.
Even worse for Reinhardt is the effect of charging into a fortified Orisa. Instead of crushing her against a wall, upon collision Reinhardt himself is stunned and takes damage. Several times this has happened to us in Competitive Mode, and the resulting loss of a tank has been devastating for the enemy team. With clever positioning, Orisa can keep priority allies, like Mercy or Ana, safe from Charge by consistently placing herself between them and the German juggernaut.
But it’s not just the large-scale team fights where Fortify is proving its worth. When confronted with Mei, for instance, Orisa can entirely negate the freezing effect of her primary fire and ultimate. It’s truly delicious to watch an enemy Mei panic as her party trick falls flat. To a lesser extent, the same is true of Junkrat, whose trap can be strolled over and destroyed when Orisa is fortified, and Roadhog, who often relies on the knockback of Whole Hog to impair his target’s aim. In this situation Orisa can simply gun for the head of the encumbered piggy. Job done.
The full list of abilities from which Fortify protects is enormous. D.Va can’t boop using her boosters, Pharah’s Concussive Blast does diddly squat, and Ana is unable to knock her out using a Sleep dart. These use cases are far more situational than avoiding the inevitable “Hammer DOWN!”, but it all adds up.
It all sounds impressive, even before we’ve discussed the enormous 50 percent damage reduction offered by Fortify. There have been complaints from some quarters of the Overwatch community that Orisa “isn’t tanky enough”. Yes, she’s not as hardy on paper as some other heroes; her 200 health and 200 armour offers a lower degree of protection than D.Va or Reinhart. But what this fails to take into account is that when Orisa activates Fortify, and still has armour to spare, incoming damage is reduced by up to 75 percent. If healed by Mercy when Fortify is active, taking her down is a insanely hard, thereby affording her regular pockets of safe aggression.
Mastering Fortify will be crucial to mastering Orisa, especially at higher skill ratings. She hasn’t yet been introduced to most Overwatch eSports tournaments, but we’re looking forward to seeing how the professionals creatively engage with her kit.
In the meantime, in spite of our glowing appraisal of her kit, players outside of the pro-scene are still struggling to make her work. Orisa’s win-rates are hovering fractionally above Hanzo and Widowmaker, but don’t expect this to last for long. Lead designer Jeff Kaplan has stated that Orisa is a popular pick amongst non-tank players, some of whom are behaving too aggressively and ultimately lowering Orisa’s win rate. These players will either shape up, or move on, and the stats should representing her state more clearly: Orisa, and Fortify, are a force to be reckoned with.