The latest Overwatch update, which hit the public test region on PCs on Wednesday, adds a brand new map inspired by Winston’s backstory, two new legendary skins, and a series of balancing changes for Roadhog, McCree, and Reaper that fans can begin testing before the patch hits live servers. While the new map and two additional skins are certainly worth getting excited about, the most substantial addition included in this patch is Reaper’s reworked Passive ability — a massive buff who finally turns him into the offensive powerhouse he was always meant to be.
Before the latest patch, Reaper’s Passive ability, The Reaping, only allowed him to regenerate health by picking up Soul Globes from bodies of fallen enemies. This required Reaper to already have a competitive advantage over the enemy team to fully take advantage of his special skill, which put him behind many other Offensive heroes, like Soldier: 76 and Pharah, who could immediately benefit from their entire toolkit at the start of an engagement.
Now, Blizzard has changed Reaper’s passive into a more beneficial healing ability, which lets him turn 20 percent of all damage done into health of his own. There’s no longer health orbs to worry about retrieving from dead enemies as a result, and this effectively allows him to stay on the front lines and deal with heroes on the opposing team like his better offensive counterparts. But before you call the new damage-based healing ability overpowered, be sure to consider The Reaping only allows him to heal a small amount of his health with each shot, making it powerful only if the player using him is consistently hitting their opponent.
As such, The Reaping doesn’t prevent Reaper from being quickly eliminated by a coordinated group of players during combat, nor does it allow him to avoid being outmatched by a charged Zarya or decent Zenyatta with a Discord Orb. During my time with Reaper on Overwatch’s PTR, I was still required to flank and control my offensive pushes against the enemy team — otherwise, I couldn’t stay alive for very long. Since his new passive requires you to consistently deal damage to regenerate large portions of Reaper’s health, you also have to be careful about which heroes you directly engage. Roadhog can still kill Reaper with ease, and Soldier: 76 can combo him down with a nicely placed set of Helix Rockets, too.
However, Reaper’s reworked Passive ability is going to put him on the map in Competitive Play once again, provided it isn’t changed before hitting live servers. While playing PTR, I found myself standing toe-to-toe with heroes I previously couldn’t face directly, and I was able to keep myself alive while chasing down one or two specific opponents fleeing from a capture point.
Overall, Reaper’s new Passive ability is a welcome and necessary change, although Blizzard could still decide to turn it around before launching the update on live servers a few weeks down the road. Until then, we’ll just keep our fingers crossed that these passive changes stay for good.