Symmetra is a fan favorite character in Overwatch for many reasons, but it’s safe to say that her varied effectiveness in the game in her current incarnation is not one of them. Today in an Overwatch Developer Update, Jeff Kaplan of Blizzard explained the issues with Symmetra as she is now and outlined upcoming changes to the character Symmetra.
Symmetra is my most played character and I’m quite good with her if I may say so. That said, I agree strongly with Jeff’s assessment of the way Symmetra is best played currently.
To sum that up Symmetra’s current state:
- She’s highly situational—very strong in certain situations and very weak in others because her kit is not dynamic enough.
- Ultimate ability (Teleporter) is either overpowered or nearly useless. E.g. very useful on point A of control maps to nearly useless on point B, for example.
- Teleporter placement and defense requirements were a bit out of hand at high levels of play because a good Tracer, etc. can make short work of them.
- Symmetra initial setup is busy work—shielding everyone pre-match, racing to set up turrets pre-match.
- Symmetra’s gun’s short range made it hard to be as effective as alternative characters outside of confined spaces.
- Her charged shot is too predictable for clearing sniper nests effectively, but decent as a shield penetrator against tanks like Reinhardt and Zarya.
- Good Symmetra players have some of the highest win rates using her of any character (myself included) because she’s used when she’s imbalanced towards overpowered and abandoned in situations where she’s underpowered.
- Symmetra has poor mobility—turrets plant in one place, Teleporter plants in one place and can’t be moved, she must be in close range to hit with her primary fire, etc.
Kaplan essentially summarizes most of these, so they’re clearly aware of the issues with her as she currently exists.
Blizzard outlines a number of solutions to these issues in the video.
- Symmetra now has two choices for ultimate abilities: Teleporter and Shield Generator. The choice is made at the time the ultimate is activated.
- Shield Generator provides shields (which are stronger than her current shields) in an area of effect around it with the ability to go through walls.
- Teleporter now has more life, and it has its own personal shield (which can regenerate over time).
- The idea is for Symmetra to build a nest for Shield Generator and Teleporter and protect that nest.
- Her ability to give people shields independently is gone.
- She now has Photon Barrier, a shield that moves forward from her to protect the team in front of her. This is a major improvement to her mobility.
- Her turrets now stack to six (up from three) with a ten second (rather than twelve second) recharge rate per turret. Enables a much greater ability to re-establish turret locations.
- Slightly larger range for her primary fire ability.
Thoughts on the Solutions
This is probably a decent set of solutions to her problems with mobility and makes her a little less situational. In that sense, it’s a good starting point. Her Ultimates are still overly situational, which means she’ll still be overly strong in some situations, and overly weak in others.
- Photon Barrier as an active ability seems a lot more fun than her current Shield ability and gives her substantially more utility in Escort maps in particular.
- Shield Generator gives her utility in higher level play where people are dying less often. Teleporter is useless if nobody is dying, and if it is destroyed by an infiltrator before it is used, it’s a completely wasted Ult.
- Giving the Teleporter a shield is an elegant solution to the problem of it being weak. What happens on live right now is that even if a Symmetra player has a few turrets at the Teleporter and is close enough to help guard it, a good Tracer will down the Turret by pot-shotting it a few times making it very easy to dispose of regardless of defenses. This should help prevent that.
- A greater ability to re-establish turrets in new areas was needed and will definitely help with her utility on Escort maps.
- She’ll be less situational but still one of the most situational heroes.
- Both of her Ultimates are still immobile, meaning they’ll only have strong utility on Control maps and initial Assaults. They will still be highly situational on Escort maps.
- The turret cooldown time may need tweaking for it to bring her utility up high enough to justify using her in Escort maps after the initial Assault.
- The addition of Shield Generator is great to increase her Ultimate utility but may well be overpowered on Control maps depending on its range and the size of the shields, so it may need adjustment.
All-in-all, I think it’s a net positive for Symmetra players, and more importantly, it may bring her representation and situational nature more in line with some other characters on the fringe. That said, I expect tweaks to her turret cooldown and Shield Generator if nothing else.