Greetings, Overfreaks! In case you missed it, Blizzard rolled out its latest patch on Nov. 15th, and it’s a doozy. A new character, new board, new modes, plus a lot of tweaks… it’s a whole new level of gameplay! Having taken a day to explore most of the changes, let’s look at the good and the bad.
New Character: Sombra
We’ve all waited with bated breath for clues about the latest addition to the roster, and we weren’t disappointed with the amazing trailer that came out a couple of weeks ago. But hints, cool movies, and moves lists mean little… it’s all about the play. So, how is she?
AWESOME. I’ve only gotten to play her a few times because everyone wants to try the latest. What I did see of her was a fun mix of flanking and support that sets up the enemy for her teammates to destroy. Her primary attack is close to Tracer’s with a short range burst of damage; it’s a little less power and slower on the reload, but it has slightly more ammo. Beyond that, she has a whole slew of new abilities to mess with others.
Essentially, you use her Thermoptic Camo (to stealth and speed boost) or Translocator (to teleport) for getting around the enemy. Once there, Hack nearby Health Packs (to make them exclusive to your team) or even save it to interrupt abilities, especially Ultimates. With the target weakened, it’s the perfect time to finish them off with your Machine Pistol; even better, as an Opportunist you can see who’s below 50% through walls, letting you direct them to their targets. When the team moves all in, through out your EMP to really screw with the enemy!
Of course, this is just the basic strategies, but there’re so many more strategies. Throwing a Translocator and teleporting through the air, firing down on targets from above? Hacking turrets or shields to destroy a turtling team’s defenses? Sombra is going to be a ton of fun, at least once everyone stops playing her. The only real problem is that she’s support with no heal, so she’ll take a valuable slot (like Symmetra).
New Board: Ecopoint – Antarctica
Button up those coats, because it’s time to head to the furthest reaches of the globe. The new map has you battle in the base where Mei was once stationed. You’ll find yourself running through the halls of this Antarctic research station, trying to catch your opponents off guard.
This board has a lot in common with parts of Volskaya Industries, although on a much tighter and smaller scale. Unfortunately, that’s because this is only an Arena map used for 1-v-1 or 3-v-3 in the new Arcade mode (which we’ll talk about next). While fun for the moment, it’s nowhere near the scale of Eichenwalde and it’s a bit too similar to Volskaya in appearance. This map doesn’t feel very inspired and might grow old after a while.
New Mode: Arcade Mode
Ever get excited for the week’s Brawl, only to become bored with it after a few matches? Well, now they’ve created a brand-new series of Brawl-like games under the “Arcade” menu! Here you can find 1-v-1 duels, 3-v-3 elimination matches (don’t die!), the fun “Mystery Heroes,” the new Brawl mode (which puts you in a random ruleset from any of the original Brawls), and “No Limits” (basically the old Quick Play rules).
Even better, when playing these modes, you have a chance to earn Loot Boxes by winning! Winning a duel or elimination match nets you a box each week. Even better, winning any Arcade mode game builds up a counter that gets you boxes at three, six, and nine wins, also reset weekly. As Loot Boxes are the crack of the Overwatch world, you know we’ll all be participating in these matches even more! The downside? Pick-up groups suck just as much as Competitive Play, so try to get some friends to tag along if you want those wins.
Buffs and Nerfs
Of course, no patch would be complete without tweaking characters in the name of “Game Balance.” All Ultimate costs were increased and you can no longer charge them off non-player damage (like turrets). Several characters had abilities reduced: Ana no longer buffs speed with her Nano Boost, Lúcio’s Crossfade heal was reduced a bit, and Zarya’s Barriers no longer produce quite as much damage boost. I’m disappointed in the Lúcio nerf, as his survivability with those health ticks made him great for harassing.
However, in exchange, a variety of characters have seen buffs or changes. D.Va moves a bit faster while firing and has more health, plus her Ultimate was balanced to meet the new increased costs (so it occurs at roughly the same time as before). Pharah and Soldier 76 do a bit more damage, and the former gets a boost to her Jump Jets, while Widowmaker’s Kiss charges faster and her mines don’t hurt her. Two fun changes: Torbjörn swings his hammer faster, the better to build turrets, while Mercy (finally!) regens health if she’s out-of-combat for a bit.
No, Season 3 hasn’t started yet, but it will soon! Season 2 officially ends on Nov. 23rd, and Season 3 starts one week later Nov. 30th. This small downtime will hopefully keep people from getting bored and back into the competitive side of things. All the planned changes are ready to be implemented when the Season drops, which will hopefully answer several complaints. Still, that’s what they promised with Season 2, and we know how well that went.
So, there you have it, everything that came about with this latest patch in Overwatch. I’ve had a blast playing through the new modes, and Sombra is impressive. A shame the new map isn’t that different (and is a small one limited to two Arcade variants), plus some of the nerfs are a bit disappointing. Still, Blizzard seems to be coming up with some great ideas that keep the game new and exciting. Tell Winston to initiate agent recall, because it’s time to take care of the devious forces of Talon.
Unless you’re a double-agent working for them.
I see you there, Sombra.