It’s Overwatch patch day, which means that up is down, black is white and dogs and cats are getting along famously, at least for the moment. Today’s update brings the planned (and rather controversial) overhaul to hard-light magician Symmetra, a Looking For Group feature for when you want a slightly more organised team of strangers to play with, and a new system of ‘endorsements’, providing gifts to players regularly favoured by their peers. Plus, there’s the usual bundle of balance patches, including… Oh.
Those mad bastards. They tripled the range of McCree’s Ultimate.
The changes to Symmetra are massive. Gone is her lock-on beam, letting her whittle down targets that stray too close to her part of the fight. In its place is a longer-ranged, straight-firing beam laser that does exponentially more damage the longer you can keep its beam on the target. Its altfire is no longer a chokepoint-dominating piercing blob, but a glorified rocket that travels faster and explodes on impact. She can’t even weave a spider-web of turrets anymore, with the total number deployable being lowered to 3 instead of 6, albeit with a damage buff to compensate.
At least her new Ultimate ability is impressive, and more reminiscent of her former self. It’s a simple, deployable energy shield that is so tall and wide that it bisects the entire battlefield across the axis she places it, and it can be re-oriented at will. It lasts 15 seconds, and has a prodigious 5000 health, meaning an entire team pounding on it will still take some time to break it down. It looks spectacular, and should be visible from nearly any point on the map. Oh, and her teleporter is now somewhat easier to use, which is nice.
The two new features in this update are Endorsements and the Looking for Group system. Endorsements are simple; you like how someone is playing, you give them a virtual pat on the back. Consistently well-regarded players will earn ‘periodic rewards’, although Blizzard haven’t explained exactly what that entails. They do warn that if you go and get yourself suspended or regularly warned by the moderators, you will find your endorsements nuked too, so don’t be a jerk.
Those wanting to play as a unit but not go to the effort of organising a proper team can now use the Looking For Group feature. You can set restrictions on what kind of players you want to team up with, and what role you reckon you’ll be playing in the team. Cleverly, you can’t just say you’ll play a support character and then immediately switch to Hanzo, either – the system holds you to your word, and will restrict you to the character type chosen.
Interestingly, there are also no longer ‘Offense’ and ‘Defense’ heroes, thanks to a multitude of updates blurring that line. Now they’re just known as ‘Damage’ types, although some are more adept at soaking than dealing it. And yes, they really did triple McCree’s range. Check the patch notes here if you don’t believe me. I guess it’s always High Noon somewhere in the world.
Lastly, this update brings a handful of tweaks and refinements to the Horizon Lunar Colony map, along with a bunch of hints and teasers as to the next playable character, which Matt deconstructed here. Smart money thus-far seems to be on a space monkey named Hammond riding some kind of spherical war-machine. Some kind of Super Monkey… in a Ball, then.