How do Overwatch’s new heroes change the game?
That character select screen is starting to look mighty cosy. Blizzard’s team shooter has sailed past its first anniversary bigger and brighter than ever, its roster swelling from 21 to 25 playable heroes thanks to a number of free updates. First came support sniper Ana. Her long-range healing abilities and powerful Ultimate changed both the casual and competitive meta. The common cold was instantly cured. Shares in grandmas went up 300%. Then came problem child Sombra, who hated Christmas and kicked puppies for fun.
Okay, so it was just that the new hack-attacker didn’t comfortably fit into the game at first. Her ability-disrupting kit was never quite enough to sustain her or her team, so picking her always guaranteed me an earful of abuse. It certainly had a few players concerned: was Blizzard out of viable ideas for useful new heroes? Fortunately, two new additions have rounded things out nicely.
The new anchor tank is a strangely adorable robo-quadruped. Orisa is her name, and aggressively enforcing safety at all times is her game. Although her relatively small health pool, low-impact gun and planet-sized head mean she’s too squishy to truly rival Reinhardt, her abilities are significant enough that her inclusion in a team composition can still knock opponents for a loop. Her E-key is Protective Barrier. It’s on a short cooldown and can be fired out in various positions to provide a 900-point shield of coverage to teammates. Left-shift, meanwhile, activates Fortify. Boosting her damage resistance by 50% for four seconds, it’s easy to dismiss as inconsequential, until you realise it counters mobility-slowing attacks.
With careful shield placement and attached to a good healer, she is a menace at choke points or on payload-pushing maps. And god forbid you meet an enemy Orisa around any convenient chasms (looking at you, Ilios well). Her right-click is a mini version of Zarya’s Graviton Surge. If it’s fired over an edge and you’re anywhere near it, not even a resurrection is bringing you back from being unceremoniously yoinked into the abyss.
The reign of the dive comp looks set to continue, because Doomfist is here, and Doomfist can fly right through a Reinhardt shield and punch him square in his ancient armour-clad jaw. While the new offense hero does have a short-range hand cannon to finish off low-health targets, it’s mostly all about the fisting (stop it), which, when done correctly, can absolutely decimate enemy squishies (okay, that one was me and I’m sorry). Hold down right-click to charge Rocket Punch: the longer it’s held, the further Doomfist will fly forward and the more damage he’ll do. It feels great when it connects, knocks an enemy back into a wall and delivers a knuckle sandwich with an extra helping of hurt. And, rather wonderfully for an FPS, Doomfist is all about combos. Chaining Seismic Slam and Rising Uppercut – one pulls
god forbid you meet an enemy Orisa around a chasm
enemies towards you, while the other launches them skyward – into Rocket Punch can be devastating. The downside is that Doomfist is very ability-dependent: once they’re all on cooldown, and you’re in the thick of it, it’s tricky to stay alive. The key is to be very particular about positioning. He’s also an excellent flanker, without putting in too much effort. To make the most of a dive comp, however, heading into the fray with a preplanned exit strategy is essential.
But there are ways to increase his survivability, and unsurprisingly, they involve more punching. Doomfist’s passive ability gives him +30 to his shields, which decays over time, for every enemy he kills. Being able to stay mobile and dangerous at all times in a fight is true Doomfist mastery – something that, like playing Genji and property ownership, will likely remain a distant dream for me. But there’s a silver lining to all of this, for me at least: the addition of Doomfist means a certain ability-hacking hero finally has a reason to be tolerated. I haven’t been called a cockwomble for picking Sombra since.