Barrier Meta’s Nerf Could Be Overwatch Esports’ Last Hope


by in Overwatch | Aug, 11th 2020

Overwatch’s barrier meta might have just been served its death warrant thanks to nerfs announced on the upcoming experimental card. These changes were met with widespread rejoicing that the game might finally, finally be headed back to its FPS roots and some of the design that it was originally known for before barrier heroes began to infest the meta. 

What’s Being Changed in the Overwatch Meta?


First of all, you have to be up to speed on what changes are coming, so let’s look at the changes that are on the experimental card in Overwatch right now.

BRIGITTE

Base health lowered from 200 to 150

Inspire

  • Total healing decreased from 130 to 90 (Healing reduced from 21 to 15 health per second)
  • Self-healing is no longer reduced by half

ORISA

  • Base armor reduced from 250 to 200

Halt!

  • Radius reduced from 7 to 4 meters
  • Projectile speed increased from 20 to 30

PHARAH

Hover Jets

  • Movement speed increased 20%
  • Regeneration rate reduced from 50 to 35 per second

Barrage

  • Duration reduced from 3 to 2.5 seconds

ROADHOG

Scrap Gun

  • Ammo reduced from 6 to 5
  • Damage per projectile increased from 6 to 7
  • Recovery increased from 0.7 to 0.85 seconds

SIGMA

Experimental Barrier

  • Health reduced from 900 to 700
  • Regeneration rate reduced from 120 to 80 per second

Kinetic Grasp

  • Cooldown increased from 10 to 12 seconds

SYMMETRA

Photon Projector – Primary Fire

  • Delay before losing charge increased from 2 to 4 seconds

Teleporter

  • Cooldown reduced from 12 to 10 seconds

ZENYATTA

Orb of Destruction – Secondary Fire

  • Charge rate increased 15% (0.6 down to 0.52 seconds per orb)
  • Rate of fire increased from 8.5 to 9 shots per second

Why Is This Good for Overwatch Esports?


Let’s be perfectly frank – Overwatch esports has not been in a good place for the majority of the 2020 season. Not only has the game dealt with numerous delays relating to the Coronavirus pandemic, but they’ve also been doing so in a year that had the entire league shift platforms. Not only that, but Overwatch has also been quite frankly boring to watch thanks to a meta that’s been dominated by heroes with Barriers, so seeing a nerf to that mechanic feels like a breath of fresh air.

There’s not much worse than watching an FPS and seeing your favorite players land shots only for it to do virtually nothing as only a barrier is destroyed and quickly replaced with another one. These lead to matches that are drug out and mostly come down to cooldown management – ultimately something that’s not been very helpful.

While the Overwatch League is ultimately not responsible for the balance choices made in the game, it very, unfortunately, does suffer because of them. They have done a good job, ultimately, of rolling with the punches but a return to more heavy FPS mechanics will make for more interesting highlights, better moments, and ultimately more for fans to get excited about as time moves forward — that is, IF the results of the experimental card are ultimately implemented in the game. So that’s where it comes back to Overwatch esports fans – tell the developers what you want. Test out these changes, and make sure you’re leaving good feedback for the devs on the forums.

Jeff Kaplan recently seemed to have genuine regret for taking hte game in the direction he has, with more MOBA elements than FPS, and has seen what that could look like by watching games like Valorant. It’s a good thing he’s got that inspiration now from games that are quite literally draining the Overwatch fanbase (and indeed, the pool of pro players) by the second.

The question is, will this new direction from Blizzard ultimately be the jolt that it needs to revitalize both the game’s player base and the flagging esports scene, or are these just the dying breathes of what could have been one of the world’s premier esports? We’ll have to wait and see to find out. 

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