Before Torbjörn’s rework I was very much of the opinion that everyone’s favourite Swede needed a little boost to his offensive capabilities and, to an extent, I believe Blizzard achieved this. However I feel this trend of making ultimates a regular ability is detrimental to the game not only in regards to balancing but also general gameplay.
We are only now just recovering from the reign of Mercy that took just over a year to rectify. In addition to this, the Symmetra rework had her teleporter ability moved away from her ultimate to a cooldown slot. We now have three heroes that have had their ultimates become regular abilities. This undoubtedly makes Overwatch a much more hyper-aggressive game than it was at launch; one of the best parts of Overwatch was the utility that each hero provided rather than focusing solely on their damage output. Torbjörn and Mercy’s rework has them occupying a more offensive role and while some enjoy it, it fundamentally alters the heroes functionality. This could be a problem further down the line as it undoubtedly indicates a power creep is well on its way.
I believe that Overwatch has an identity crisis; it wants to be accessible to the masses as well as the esports scene. While there is no harm in this, it makes balancing that much more difficult; attempting to make niche characters accessible in all aspects of play is rarely if ever achievable.
Not everything about Torbjörn’s rework is necessarily bad however as his new ability to direct his turret’s aim is actually amazing; it really adds some much needed synergy between Torb and his abilities. He can now throw his turret, another aspect of the patch that helps him compete with the game’s more mobile nature. The downside of this is that it is an unfortunate reaction to the game’s increasing emphasis on speed and mobility; Torbjörn’s rework is treating the symptom rather than the problem.
We all remember how for the guts of two years dive meta (team compositions that relied on fast movement and mobility abilities) seemed to be the only way to play Overwatch. As 2018 comes to an end we have seen many changes to the game that have added to Overwatch’s mobility creep. Buffs to heroes’ speed like Sombra, Hanzo and Symmetra have all altered their movement capabilities.
The only way to balance this is for the slower, more stationary characters to receive buffs to movement abilities of their own to allow them to catch up. This is a problem as the playstyle of heroes such as Torb, Symmetra and Roadhog were defined as traits that aided how we played these characters. With upcoming patches containing decreased cooldowns on McCree’s Combat Roll and Pharah’s Concussion Mine, the game seems to be fully endorsing its mobility creep.
What this inevitably leads to is everyone’s least favourite part of Overwatch: the overwhelming amount of crowd control or CC. To counter the more mobile nature of the game Blizzard resorts to introducing new heroes and buffing old ones to keep it in check. The CC is a reaction to the game’s mobility creep that began around this time last year after buffs to both Junkrat and Mercy. But what was not taken into account was the effect of CC on non-mobile heroes which made almost half the roster borderline useless as they simply cannot compete with the new build of Overwatch.
Builder heroes like Symmetra and Torb, the most stationary heroes in the game had the most appalling pick rates throughout the Overwatch League. It is no wonder they got reworked promptly after the season concluded as a way to compensate for this. From Mercy to Symmetra and now Torbjörn we are starting to see a trend of ultimate abilities becoming cooldown abilities. Ultimates are supposed to be game changing actions that (for the majority of DPS) provide massive damage output. Torb’s new Overload ability is essentially his old ultimate: Molten Core. An ability as powerful as it is currently live should not be on cooldown and that it can only lead to more damage buffs for the entire hero roster in the future.
Many Torbjörn mains have a bittersweet attitude towards the rework as Torbjörn’s ability to provide both him and his team Armor Packs was a great ability that provided an off-support function for his team. It was nice that not every DPS character needed to rely on damage to help their team. I believe Overwatch was better for this as since its inception it strived to be different from most other FPS games. This change has Torbjörn losing some much needed synergy with his team with extra damage to compensate. If this tendency continues, I believe Overwatch will lose its uniqueness.