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The 10 Biggest Changes Overwatch Has Made To Its Characters

by Brian Shea on Dec 29, 2018 at 03:00 PM

When Overwatch launched in 2016, it immediately garnered acclaim for how well-balanced and endlessly replayable it is. However, Blizzard was not satisfied resting on its laurels. Over the course of Overwatch's existence, Blizzard has continually tweaked, tuned, and reworked various aspects of its popular heroes.

These are the 10 biggest changes Blizzard has made to how Overwatch's characters play since launch.


10. Rest In Peace, Reaper Orbs
One of the biggest perks to playing as Reaper was that every character that died left behind orbs that the ghastly shotgunner would absorb and convert into health. In June 2017, however, the orbs were killed off in favor of Reaper simply self-healing a percentage of damage dealt. The grave cannot hold Reaper, but his orbs seem to be gone for good.

9. Junkrat Becomes Immune To His Own Bombs
In March 2017, the explosive-loving nut was given the green light to get even more aggressive as his bombs could no longer hurt him. While he'd later receive the ability to throw additional mines, being able to blast explosives without fear of hurting yourself allowed Junkrat to truly get wild with his strategy.


8. D.Va Gets A Missile Barrage
D.Va's Meka received a big upgrade in August 2017 when Blizzard installed a new missile system. While the upgrade came alongside a decrease to her powerful defense matrix, many fans agree the new offensive option was a fair trade. While just a few months later the missiles were nerfed, they remain a viable option in nearly every combat scenario.

7. Torbjörn Gets Nerfed On Consoles
Shortly after Overwatch launched on consoles, it quickly became apparent that Torbjorn was a major problem for gamepad players. Those who weren't playing on mouse and keyboard were being wiped out by well-placed turrets, so Blizzard evened the odds by reducing the damage of the auto-aim sentry.


6. Hanzo's Scatter Gives Way To A Storm
In April 2018, the arrow-based sniper was stripped of his most polarizing ability: the scatter arrow. In place of the geometry-based attack, Hanzo received storm arrow, an ability that lets him fire off arrows in rapid succession. The attack was so powerful that Blizzard announced that it was nerfing the ability just weeks after its implementation.

5. Torbjörn's Turret And Ultimate Get Reworked

The Halloween Terror event in October 2018 also brought a complete rework of everyone's favorite Swedish engineer. Torbjörn lost his ability to toss armor to teammates, but he gained more versatility with his turret. Instead of having to hammer the turret to level it up, it automatically reaches what was previously considered level 2. In addition, Torbjörn gained the ability to toss his turret short distances. His molten core was completely reworked. His previous ultimate, where he gained extra armor and a faster rate of fire, was renamed "Overload" and moved to a regular ability on a cooldown. However, it no longer affects his turret. Torbjörn's new ultimate retains the Molten Core name, but the ability changed to feature him spraying lava all over the floor, burning any opponents that step in it.


4. Mega Bastion Buff
February 2017 saw one of the biggest buffs any character has ever received, as Bastion received a boost for each of his modes (recon, sentry, and tank), as well as the ability to heal on the go. The changes were met with significant outcry from the community, to the point that Blizzard announced it was rolling back the changes within a week.


3. Symmetra's Shields
When Overwatch launched, Symmetra was a substantially different hero than she is today. Initially, she was able to give small shields to individual heroes, and only possessed one ultimate. Starting in November 2016, Blizzard changed her by giving her photon projector attack much more range and giving her the ability to bank all six sentry turret charges at once. Blizzard also reworked her by replacing her individual shield ability with a projected shield and granting her an additional ultimate option: a useful shield generator.


2. Symmetra's Second Shift
While Symmetra's first rework made her substantially more viable, a second rework in June 2018 transformed her a into destination character for many players. Her photon projector no longer locked onto nearby targets, but it became much more powerful. With her second shuffle, Symmetra went from the provider of shields to the bane of those who would hope to accomplish that task. If Symmetra aims her photo projector at a shield, it does standard damage, but it also grants her ammo as she fires while ramping up the damage she gets from firing at opponents normally. This means that as soon as that shield falls, she has a super-powered laser with a full clip of ammo to obliterate whoever is behind it. In addition, Blizzard’s second reimagining of the character drops her number of sentry turrets down to three, but allows her to throw them across the map, introducing an element of surprise. Blizzard also got rid of her shield generator ultimate and her projected barrier ability, and moved her teleporter ultimate to a short-distance standard ability that works on a cooldown. Tie this version of Symmetra together with a new ultimate ability that places a massive shield wherever you want, and you have character that is more accessible and viable in a broader spectrum of scenarios.

1. Mercy Takes Flight
In 2017, the Overwatch team identified a fundamental problem with Mercy's original ultimate: the fact that it revived every fallen hero within a certain range encouraged the healer to hide until her ultimate was ready rather than getting into the middle of the action. In fall 2017, Blizzard rolled out a rework that changed her ultimate to one that put her wings to good use, allowing her to fly around, healing or damage boosting everyone in proximity to her, while moving her revive a single-use ability on a cooldown. The initial changes were so drastic that Mercy became the only viable solo healer and completely turned the meta upside-down. Since its introduction, Blizzard has scaled back some of Mercy's powers, increasing the cooldown time on her revive, reducing the speed of her Valkyrie ultimate, and eliminating instant resurrections. Mercy is still one of the best healers on the roster, but she's much more balanced now.

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