The Overwatch heroes begging to be nerfed
Blizzard’s new FPS is a blast, but some heroes are jeopardising its delicate equilibrium.
Blizzard’s stellar reputation for game balance is well earned but evening out the playing field in a game like Overwatch is a Herculean task. Even after months of agonising beta testing the scales are still, arguably, unfairly tipped in favour of certain heroes. These Overwatchers are Overpowered, with some causing havoc on PS4 and Xbox One where the problem of balancing is most prominent.
Blizzard will undoubtedly be addressing these heroes and more in the next patch, here’s a breakdown of the key offenders, and potential solutions to their dominance.
Who doesn’t love Mei? Just look at her! She’s as mechanically compelling as she is adorable, but at the moment her kit is over-performing in a few key areas. Her secondary fire, which shoots a killer icicle, is too effective at taking down squishy targets from a distance. Mei is winning trades when she shouldn’t, or simply spamming her secondary into a wall of targets and getting securing kills. Not cool.
The second problem is rather more serious: Mei’s Endothermic Blaster flash freezes her targets. Before you know it you’re an ice sculpture with no recourse but to resignedly shatter into a million fragments. Any counterplay by opponents can then be negated by Mei’s Cryo-Freeze, which she can choose to disengage at any time. In essence, she’s a 1 versus 1 nightmare. Potential solutions include reducing the damage of her secondary fire, and increasing the amount of time it takes her send her targets sub-zero. Another, and possibly less heavy handed change would be to force Mei to remain within Cryo Freeze for the ability’s duration, thereby allowing enemies to predict when she’ll emerge and plan their rain of fire accordingly. Meibe, Meibe not.
How to solve a problem like Bastion? Even after suffering a heavy nerf during the closed beta this robo-turret is still causing headaches. Whilst counterplay is often possible by identifying his location and throwing some Junkrat aggression or a Hanzo ultimate his way, in certain situations he’s simply unassailable. When teams coordinate to defend Bastion using Reinhardt’s shield or Mercy’s healing stream, even high-damage snipers struggle to take him down. Add into the equation his ability deal consistent, devastating damage and you’ve got an unstoppable mech of T-1000 proportions.
In order to make Bastion more vulnerable an armour reduction and slight decrease in turret damage are probably in order. There’s also the possibility of adding a significant, rather than near-instant, delay to his sentry mode deployment. Whatever ends up happening, the jolly droid’s habit of securing easy team kills must surely be nipped in the heavily-armored-and-deadly bud.
On consoles at least, the lady of turrets and teleportation is out of control. Her name may suggest balance, equivalence, symmetry, but her statistics are anything but. You’re far more likely to win with a Symmetra by your side.
The problem is two fold: map presence and the negation of respawn penalties. Symmetra’s turrets allow her to consistently zone multiple locations at the same time, sometimes with devastating damage due to the sheer volume of the blighters. A lower ceiling on the amount she can deploy at any given time (currently at six) is a no-brainer.
However, you don’t achieve an astonishing 66.9 percent win rate on PS4 without an ace in the hole. In this case that particular ace is a luminescent teleporter which is far more effective than Mercy’s Resurrector or Zenyatta’s Transcendence at keeping allies in the fight. After a brief time on the bench players can immediately jump back into the fray. That this effect is continuous until the teleporter is destroyed effectively affords teams near-infinite sustain if the teleporter isn’t found.
Solving the issue will require a deft touch. Technically Symmetra’s teleporter should be easy fodder for a wandering Tracer, but something isn’t working as it should; either the location isn’t being discovered the teleporter itself is too easy to defend. It’s possible Blizzard will implement a hard limit on how long the magic machine can be active, but we’ll have to wait and see.
It feels like Torbjörn has it all. He’s durable, he sports a weapon with reasonable accuracy and damage, he can be in two locations at once thanks to his turret, and his ultimate makes him nigh-on invincible.
Needless to say, there’s also a downside to having it all. Torbjörn’s dominance verges on unsportsmanlike, and nowhere is this clearer than on PS4 where he currently boasts a startling 68.4 percent win rate. The probable cause of this imbalance is his turrets, which can tear people to shreds before they have the opportunity to about-face and respond – a much easier task on PC. Tackling this problem is going to be tough for Blizzard as adding a targeting delay to turrets will likely leave them impotent. A more likely scenario is a good old fashioned damage reduction, allowing targeted opponents to survive and then plan their next move.
There have also been cries from community to downgrade his ultimate, Molten Core. YouTube is awash with multi-kill videos where the armoured dwarf survives two, three or even four on one exchanges thanks to his vast increases in armour and damage. If Torbjörn’s turret doesn’t suffer a nerf, then expect this ability to be the prime target.
No one is a more effective pusher than Lúcio. Sound Barrier’s brief shield is more than adequate to storm objectives with little fear of reprisal. Unfortunately there are very few hard counters against a coordinated Lúcio team using this ability in a precision strike – the sheer scale of protection afforded is so high that most opposing heroes don’t stand a chance of penetrating it.
The obvious answer to the Lúcio conundrum is to introduce a hero with some kind of ‘dispel’ ability, or the power to create a no-cast zone. However, with no new heroes currently on the horizon, Blizzard is going to have to examine Lúcio’s kit and make amendments. Sound Barrier’s potency or duration may take a nasty hit in the next patch, as may his constant line of sight heal, which allows him to be aggressive and support without having to compromise either role significantly.
McCree is designed to be a devastating short to mid range burst damage hero, but even Blizzard acknowledges that he’s fulfilling his role a bit too well at the moment. Thanks to his pistol’s secondary fire this cowboy can burst down tanks in one or two volleys. Juggernauts like Roadhog and Zarya, who should be able to take the beating are often powerless to stop him when he gets close. Given his ability to empty his entire chamber instantly it seems fitting to penalise him with a longer reload when he uses his secondary fire. Opponents will then be granted a larger window of opportunity to respond.
There’s also the matter of McCree’s flashbang to address. The short-range stun it offers gives him ample opportunity to one-shot any opponents that get close. Other than Mei and Reaper, who can both render themselves temporarily immune, most other heroes have no defence against it. In many cases, flashbang is a guaranteed kill, and guarantees are something any balanced FPS should avoid.
Hanzo’s win rate is actually sub-fifty percent, but this ‘sniper’ is over-performing in close quarters. How many times have you come face to face with this fiend and instantly suffered an arrow to the head?
If Hanzo is to occupy a similar space to Widowmaker then his kit needs to embrace true sniper mechanics. The latter must look down her scope in order to use her rifle, thereby leaving her vulnerable to flanks. Hanzo’s bow and arrow antics require zero zooming, meaning that any player can easily aim their arrow at close by enemies as well as distant ones.
Add to this his ability to regularly deploy a mini Widowmaker ult, high mobility, and a devastating AoE ultimate, and it feels like there’s no surefire way to counter Hanzo.