Plenty of people have critiqued the Overwatch League for limiting balance changes to only take place between stages. I’m one of those people. Five weeks of Mercy dominance was painful, and the discordance between live balance changes and the Overwatch League’s sluggish iterations is jarring, to say the least. With Brigitte in the Overwatch League’s active roster next stage, things are about to get even worse.
Set phasers to stun
Brigitte is a lot of fun to play. There’s no denying it. In a casual setting, it’s easy to hop on and have fun knocking people around with Shield Bash or Whip Shot. In a competitive environment, though, things can be a bit more frustrating. Look at this clip of popular Twitch streamer aimbotcalvin playing Reinhardt, for instance. Or this one.
See the problem? Heroes like Reinhardt, who were already pretty vulnerable to crowd control effects from heroes like McCree, Ana and Doomfist, are especially vulnerable to Brigitte’s Shield Bash, which only has a five-second cooldown. Shield Bash also doesn’t require any real aim or timing, either. It’s making life miserable for main tanks everywhere, and coordinated OWL pros will be able to abuse Brigitte’s strengths even more than that guy solo-queuing for competitive.
Reinhardt isn’t the only one struggling, either. If the guy with 500 hit points can be shredded by Brigitte’s insane CC capabilities, how do you think the squishier heroes in Overwatch are faring? (Hint: Not well.) Until pros can figure out how to not be stunned all the time, Brigitte will fundamentally change how the game will be played.
Adapt and Overcome
While I might seem a bit negative here – and trust me, I’m far from rosy about the idea of CC-spamming gameplay in the Overwatch League – there is the faintest glimmer of hope. The way I see it, Brigitte will force pros to adapt. You can’t get around her, so you’re going to have to learn how to deal with her. Brigitte has her counters, like any hero, so something tells me we’ll see heroes like Pharah, Orisa and Junkrat played quite a bit, since their high long-range damage and CC nullifying abilities can often deal with her safely. That means teams with good projectile specialists and main tanks (like Houston, the Gladiators, and Philly) might have a bit of an edge in stage four.
Something tells me that’s not the only adaptation we’ll see, though. There may yet be some other counter-Brigitte strategy no one has thought of yet. Professional analysts and theorycrafters will be working overtime to find the perfect composition that nullifies Brigitte. It might take a couple weeks, but it will happen in time.
Or will it? Like the Mercy meta of stage one, oftentimes the only counter to an overpowered hero is to use that hero yourself. That’s what I consider to be the darkest timeline for stage four; every team being forced to run a Brigitte at all times, simply because there’s nothing stronger than her. Sure, Brigitte will change how the game is played, but I’m not sure that that means it will be better.
armchair analysis incoming
Now, I’m no Balance Developer or anything, but if I had to give some ideas on how to fix these issues, here’s what I’d do.
- Help Reinhardt. The poor guy can’t catch a break with all these young kids runnin’ around throwing flashbangs and punching him in the face. An increase in durability against CC would increase his survivability immensely. That would also increase the survivability of anyone behind him. Maybe make him immune to Shield Bash while his shield is up, or only have it root him, as opposed to dropping his shield entirely? You could also buff Charge just a smidge, making it so Brigitte can’t stop the several-hundred-pound man flying by on rocket boots. Just a thought.
- Nerf Brigitte. I know that it might be a bit early to really pull the reins back on her, and I know Blizzard loves to gather their data on live servers. The thing is, though, this might be one of those Bastion-style changes that needs to move a bit more quickly. Brigitte’s cooldowns are short, her utility is high, and her ultimate is one of the strongest in the game if you use it right, especially considering the armor it gives doesn’t decay naturally. Zarya and Zenyatta benefit heavily here, as their shield HP is damaged before touching their armor reserves. Jjonak with a constant 350 HP is nightmare fuel. So is Zunba with 550. So maybe a change or two before we see Brigitte on stage is in order?
- Diminishing Returns. This one is probably a bit more complicated, but would help reduced the constant-stun problem immensely. The idea with diminishing returns is that the more an ability effects you, the lighter its effect each time. With plenty of stuns to chain onto one person, it might be a good idea to dial back their combined efficacy if we want to avoid the Stun Meta.
Ultimately, Blizzard will only make changes if the community at large feels that they’re necessary. That includes specific feedback from the pros, too. Blizzard might not make any moves right now, but I’m fairly confident that change will come if there are enough people calling for change.
What do you think? Is it too early to comment on the need for Brigitte nerfs? Should we get through all of stage four before passing judgement? Or does Blizzard need to step up and act fast to save us from the next Mercy meta?
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