Symmetra in-game screenshot from Overwatch.
© Blizzard

How will the Symmetra rework impact Overwatch's competitive meta

The second Symmetra rework moves her from a support role to a damage hero, while revamping some of her iconic abilities. Let's see what these changes mean for her place in Overwatch.
Written by James Pickard
6 min readPublished on
Symmetra has always felt awkwardly placed in the role of a support in Overwatch. Where many other heroes in that category come to the assistance of their team, with an emphasis on healing, the light-bender has relied on the use of her sentry turrets, shields and teleporter to make for an unconventional support. She's an interesting character, but one that's never truly felt at home in that role and has failed to have an impact on the competitive game.
You can always argue that the hero classifications are very arbitrary – at most, a short-hand to help new players get an understanding of a character at a glance – but shifting Symmetra to a damage role with her latest rework and ability changes, gives her an exciting new identity in the game. One that, so far, has seen her tearing through foes on the PTR server. But how big of an impact will these changes have on her position in the meta? We've broken down the new look Symmetra, and here's how she stacks up.
In those rare instances in the past, you'd pick Symmetra if you wanted to completely lock down an area. You'd plaster the walls with turrets, fire off Photon Barriers to block incoming damage, and melt away targets with her Photon Projector if they dared to come in close.
Essentially, she was a very strong defender on a control or choke point. On top of that, her Teleporter ultimate could get reinforcements back into the fight in the blink of an eye, which was perfect when defending early capture points on maps such as King's Row and Temple of Anubis. It also forced opponents to seek out its hiding spot so they could cut off the charge of incoming defenders.
However the problem you always ran into was what you would lose from the team if you chose to run her. Do you reduce the amount of healing you have available by drafting her in one of the vital support slots? Do you weaken your frontline by running only a single tank? Or do you cut a more impactful damage hero from your squad? In the end, all of these losses seem far more significant compared to the minor gains in defensive options Symmetra could provide.
To address that, Blizzard has morphed Symmetra into the role of a frontline fighter – one who's been given a significant boost to her damage dealing capabilities, while also maintaining some of the quirky utility skills she's been known for in the past. Her Photon Projector primary fire no longer locks onto targets, but it comes with increased range and slower damage drop off to ensure she can keep up during longer fights.
Elsewhere, the alternative fire charges up faster, moves faster and explodes on impact to offer some more reliable burst damage. It's nothing too drastic, but bumps up the skill needed to dish out damage to her full potential. It has pro players such as 'Jake' from the Houston Outlaws excited, but where things get even more interesting is with her abilities.
First, sentry turrets. These can now be fired out as projectiles, and will settle on the first solid surface they reach. You can only deploy three now, but they've been given a boost in damage, health and slowing effect. It's a nice change that allows Symmetra to be more responsive on the battlefield. Instead of running around plonking down turrets, you can hide them away in hard to see places or start chucking them down in the middle of a fight to give you some extra firepower.
Next up is her teleporter. In its transition from ultimate to a basic ability, there's obviously been a reduction in power, while still opening up other possibilities for some wild and ridiculous plays on the fly. Instead of starting in the spawn room, the entrance to the portal is now dropped directly at Symmetra's feet and you can place the exit a short distance away.
So, what you can do is set up a path to some higher ground or hard to reach locations to give your allies a positional advantage – perfect for a Bastion or Torbjorn to set up on. For the 200 IQ plays, though, you can even send through Junkrat's Rip-Tire or an exploding D.Va mech to catch the enemy team off guard. The possibilities sound extremely cool, and it'll be interesting to see how high level players start using it, especially as ways to move their entire team across parts of the map instantly. Check out some of the uses below.
That brings us to the last part of Symmetra’s rework, her new Photon Barrier ultimate. No longer just a piddly little shield that scoots across the map, it's now become a towering and imposing wall that practically slices through the entire map. It's so high and wide that she can completely shut down many long range heroes and cut snipers out of the game for some time. Meanwhile, opponents will have to make a difficult choice: stay back until the barrier fades, find a way to burst through it or try to push forward into a likely disadvantageous position.
It also feels like Blizzard's next step to address the impact of heroes with barriers as part of their kit. For a while, only Reinhardt (and to some extent Winston) were so common in competitive play, because of the team-wide protection that came from their barriers. Since then, the addition of Orisa and Brigitte have diversified options there somewhat, and Symmetra's Photon Barrier is another new spin on that concept.
Will all of these changes will make Symmetra an auto-pick from now on? It seems unlikely. At best it should make her a more viable pick in a wider number of situations, without usurping the spots of top tier DPS heroes, like Tracer, Genji or Widowmaker. However we may see her more often on certain maps, where her abilities can be exploited to hold down an area or outmanoeuvre opponents. A small bump in her popularity is what we can hope for then, and maybe a few highlight reel-worthy teleporter plays.