Ever since the game launched back in May, Overwatch has seen numerous updates which touch on specific characters’ performance to make every hero as viable as the next. This hasn’t stopped some from being picked more than others though because of how useful their abilities are in certain situations, but even when their abilities should make them the ideal pick, a few heroes have been largely neglected over the game’s lifespan. One such hero is Symmetra, a Support hero with a very situational toolkit at her disposal.
Symmetra has been so underutilized that Jeff Kaplan and the development team over at Blizzard decided to completely alter many aspects of her kit, including the addition of a second ultimate ability, reworking her turrets, and completely removing her ability to hand out shields in favor of a more tactical option. These changes, currently being tested on the PTR, drastically change how she performs as a Support hero on both attacking and defending teams.
As she currently stands, Symmetra faces one main issue: She’s great on the first point, but is a very, very situational character. In most cases where a defending team fails to hold the first point, Symmetra will be swapped out for another hero because her abilities have such a long cooldown and take a few minutes to setup. During those few minutes, the enemy team will often be able to push through, making her a little useless compared to, say, a second healer or another direct damage dealer who can directly counteract the push without being limited by cooldown timers.
The main goal with her redesign was to eliminate the cooldown timer issue, making her require less time to properly set up her defenses when the team was pushed back. Blizzard also provided her with a few utilities that she can use while both attacking and defending, namely two new abilities being added in the overhaul.
Here’s an overview:
A new ability, Photon Barrier, has replaced Symmetra’s Photon Shield ability. This generates a large energy barrier in front of Symmetra that blocks enemy fire as it travels forward in the direction it was used.
A new Ultimate Ability has been added, Shield Generator. This allows Symmetra to choose between her Teleporter and the new option at will, which will place a device that grants additional shields to any ally within an effective range regardless of barriers, walls or obstacles between the player and Shield Generator.
The range on her primary weapon, the Photon Projector, has been increased from five to seven meters, allowing her to keep the beam engaged easier to direct damage to enemy heroes.
Sentry Turrets have been overhauled. Now you can store six turrets instead of the original three, and their cooldown has been reduced from 12 seconds to 10.
The Shield Generator is an excellent addition that can be used by both attacking and defending teams to bolster their defenses, giving every player an additional 75 shields to add to their current health pool. When combined with a great healer, this can often be the turning point for players of equal skill engaging each other where 75 points of protector can be life or death. Since the buff is also automatic and can be used through walls, it allows a Symmetra player to place the Shield Generator in a secluded area that the opposing team can’t see easily.
Her Teleporter is also a very viable option still, built for getting back into the battle quickly. Blizzard’s decision to change its health from 200 to 50, and increase its shields from 0 to 350, also means that a massive chunk of the Teleporter’s hit points can also regenerate — making it a target that enemy players must actively seek out and focus down instead of something a single player can simply destroy in a few punches.
Photon Barrier is one of the more creative additions to Symmetra’s toolkit, but a welcome one. When used, the Photon Barrier travels forward fast and dissipates when bumping into any surface. In certain situations, you’re able to use this ability to block enemy fire with your team in tow. That said, I found it better to use it creatively as a disruption tool since it travels so quickly across the battlefield against defensive heroes like Bastion or Widowmaker. If they had a line on me or my team, I would simply toss a Photon Barrier in their direction to give me enough time to step out of the way and find a better route. I’m not sure if that’s the intended use, but it does wonders either way.
Thanks to the additional cooldown reduction and storage capacity of her Sentry Turrets, players can also easily set their defenses back up when a point is lost or a specific defendable position it pushed by the enemy team. Instead of sitting and waiting to replace lost turrets, you’re now able to move about the map and place them as you please for the most part — creating different chokeholds that enemy players must fight through. It makes for a much more interesting and effective Symmetra compared to her original kit.
It may be a massive redesign, but it is also one that really works to build upon the weaknesses her current toolkit has on live servers. Essentially, Blizzard has worked to rebuild every weakness Symmetra has had since Overwatch first launched and fill a few gaps in the current meta along the way. While a few things may still be altered before the patch hits live servers, it’s going to be interesting to see how many players end up trying Symmetra in competitive team compositions because of her changes. Until then, she’s on the PTR for you to practice with.
Photos via Nicholas Bashore