Posted by Michael Mitchell @MitchFizzl
Gamer, writer, occasional pedant. Mitch lives up to all these adjectives and more by writing for Now Loading and Blizzard Watch. @Fizzl_CTR.
Michael Mitchell

As has become a semi-regular occurrence, Blizzard's Jeff Kaplan recently put out a video update for their popular shooter Overwatch with several points of discussion — including new maps and new heroes being in the works — laid out both in terms of the community's side and the developers' side.

One specific point that came up during the video was Symmetra. While a skilled Symmetra can totally kick butt, she's still not the most viable character in many of the game's situations. In the video, Kaplan discusses the turret master and gives us an idea of how Blizzard wants to change her. It's important to note, however, that Kaplan specifically addresses the time table on any potential changes — mid-November is the earliest we'll see Symmetra adjusted, but it will likely be longer. Blizzard wants to make sure they get the changes right the first time rather than rush something out the door for the sake of having an update.

There are no definitive changes spelled out, but we do know that their aim is to, essentially, make her better at more things. But since we don't have much more than that, let's hypothesize a few ways Blizzard could change Symmetra for the better.

Let's Start With What's NOT Going To Happen

There were a few things Kaplan discussed as non-options in terms of what Blizzard would do to redesign Symmetra. And seeing as we're about to mull over that exact topic, it's probably good to know what's off the table before we begin:

  • She will not get healing turrets.
  • In fact, she's not getting healing of any kind — her gun will not heal, her teleporter will not have a healing aura, no healing for Symmetra.
  • As a broad version of the above, her design philosophy as a whole is not going to change.

Okay, are we all on the same page here? No healing, no dramatic changes to her design. Now, let's hypothesize a few ways that this could be done!

Change Symmetra Out Of The Support Category

This is the easiest and most obvious change, and it's one that Kaplan mentioned as something they'd do before ever adding heals to her arsenal. It's also one that many of the game's fans have been requesting for a long time now.

Symmetra, as Kaplan readily admits, excels on first-round defense games — in fact, her win rate is actually very high, but that's mostly because she's being played only on these rare, specific occasions rather than across all types of games.

It would make the most sense, both in terms of team composition and in terms of future adjustments to her design, to take her out of the Support category. Sure, she can shield, but she's technically the only Support hero that can't do any sort of healing. Not to mention, her turrets scream "Defense!" and she's one of the strongest overall Support heroes.

Give Her Different Types Of Turrets

This follows the line of thinking that Symmetra would be re-categorized or a Defensive character, but it makes sense. After all, if she's going to be reworked to be more categorically defensive, she should probably have slightly different defensive capabilities.

Right now, her primary defensive ability is her turret placement. This works almost stupidly well when playing round 1 defense because you have time to set up an entire kill room that will demolish anyone who walks into it. Late-game, however, you have less setup time, which significantly diminishes the effectiveness of her turrets.

Moreover, in the heat of battle, enemies can destroy your turrets before they have a chance to activate, which means constantly playing catch-up. Were Blizzard to add more turret types, it would likely help make Symmetra more viable outside of round 1 defense games.

Off the top of my head, these could work in a few different ways:

  • A turret that activates immediately and can be placed faster/more often, but does less damage.
  • A very strong but slow-attacking turret that has only 1 or 2 charges.
  • A modifier that allows you to place multiple turrets at once.

Again, these changes are with the idea that Symmetra would shift more toward a defensive role. A variety of turret types would help Symmetra retain her turret-focused aspect but give her more viability across the board.

Add More Ways To Shield

This one falls more in the "keeping her as Support" category, but it would make her more viable in moments of chaos. Right now, she can technically shield her entire team, but doing so requires her to target each player, one by one, and cast the shield.

In the middle of a huge battle over a point, this is a rather slow process and your time would probably be better spent deploying turrets than it would be using your support-based abilities.

If Blizzard wants to keep her Support, then she needs more ways to actually support her team. One way to do this would be to add a way of mass-shielding her team. It would have to be on a longer cooldown than her regular shields, but it would be useful in keeping up with lots of incoming damage during team fights.

The other option would be to let her ultimate automatically shield those who come through it. Nothing is worse than stepping through the portal only to realize you've jumped into a team fight unprepared. This would give portal users a buffer and make the ultimate more beneficial to use in chaotic situations where you're team is desperately trying to push or defend a point.

Again, these are just spitball ideas that I think would help Symmetra in the ways Blizzard wants to. Blizzard may or may not be thinking along the same lines, but hopefully whatever the final result, Symmetra can be used in a wider variety of situations.

You can see the entire developer update, which discusses several other aspects of the game, below:

Finally, as a side note, I really love to see this sort of communication from developers. In an age where No Man's Sky can bounce back and forth between communication levels that lead it to being investigated for fraud and absolute, frustrating silence, it's nice to see Blizzard find a decent middle ground.

Kaplan is very clear at all times that some of these ideas may not make it into the game, but that doesn't stop him from openly communicating with the players in order to keep them up to speed. Personally, I hope to see this sort of thing from more developers in the gaming community.

How would you like to see Symmetra overhauled to be more viable?