Overwatch [official site], aka the Shooter You Sigh At While Watching It Walk By, has begun some Christmas silliness in its latest update, including a new brawl mode that pits two teams made entirely of professional annoyer Mei against one another in a cautious snowball fight. There’s also some new skins, emotes and all that carry on. More importantly, the changes to the hero Symmetra have been added.
Mei’s snowball brawl is a slow-paced and sneaky affair. Your gun’s usual fire modes have been replaced with the ability to fire a single snowball. You only have one shot but you can reload by slowly sucking up snow from glittering piles dotted randomly about the Antarctica map. Your ice walls and freeze-o-self abilities are still there but basically it’s a one-shot-one-kill ammo conservation brawl. Except when someone gets their ultimate, which here grants them a machine gun of snowballs instead of the usual blizzard.
I played some of this brawl last night and thought it was a bit naff. It takes one of the most interesting heroes, turns her gun into a one-hit version of Torbjorn’s gun, and plops you into the most uninteresting map. It’s definitely nowhere near as inventive as the Junkenstein Halloween event. Then again, it’s just a bit of daftness. Have a go yourself.
More interesting than the new rash of skins (Tracer the Elf, Torbjorn the Santa, etc etc) is that Symmetra’s new abilities are now with us and she is a much fiercer character for it. The shield generator ultimate is a positively murderous advantage to a defending team when well-hidden and protected. And the new oval-shaped shield she can project is surprisingly useful. Facing off against a mid-range offensive character, on a one-on-one basis, usually cost me my life as Symmetra. But now you can throw out the shield, either as part of a quick getaway or to cover your own advance while you fire at them in return. On maps like Temple of Anubis, you can also fire it right down the middle lane of the second capture point, neutralising any gunfire on its way up.
On top of all this, having six of her turrets available from the start (instead of the old three) means you can quickly set up a microwave oven in which to cook incoming enemies. And her gun has a slightly longer range now. Overall, she has become deadly. Thumbs up, Sym.