Time slows down to a crawl, every hair stands on end, a wave of nausea and cold sweat cascade over you and you feel like you are falling… you’ve just been told that your Overwatch main is getting major changes in the next patch. It happened to me and it could happen to you, so I’m going to talk a little today about how I coped, and also offer a little analysis on the hero changes in patch 1.15.01 .
It’s been a long road for D.Va mains, full of cruel, unexpected twists. Reassuring old certainties have crumbled in the face of Jeff ‘a-patch-a-day-keeps-balance-at-bay’ Kaplan and his team of capricious code imps, changeable as the weather. With one hand they buff-eth, and one hand they nerf-eth away. My daily goat-sacrifice prayer has fallen on deaf ears: ‘Don’t make her squishier again!’ I implored to the heavens, but with a cruel laugh a wave of his hand (actually, probably several hundred hours of coding and testing), he has left me at the mercy of the Tracers and Reapers. WOE, WOE UNTO ME! MY DEFENCE MATRIX SUNDERED! OVERWATCH IS UNPLAYABLE NOW!
Over the sound of my burning Kaplan effigy and the wailing of the professional mourners I had hired to attend my shrine to D.Va, I stopped to consider whether the changes were, in fact, not the worst thing to happen in the world. To help me in this undoubtedly balanced and even-handed analysis, I have broken the changes down, and even talked a little about what has happened to Mercy in the same patch for you poor, deluded fools who don’t scream ‘LUCIO IS BETTER’ into the mic for the rest of the match any time someone picks her.
What has happened?? And to whom?
The most mobile tank in Overwatch and surprise protest icon, D.Va, has received the following changes:
D.va has had her projectile-nullifying defence matrix nerfed. It now recharges a tad faster, but depletes at twice the previous rate while active.
She has also received a brand new ability: micro missiles, issuing forth a volley of tiny rockets. Plus she is now able to fire while using her boosters mobility ability.
The net sum of these changes are that D.Va is a worse tank, but has more versatile damage options.
D.Va‘s ability to get up in front of the entire enemy team and block their damage has been hit pretty hard, try to use this strategy like before and you will find yourself spending a lot of time mech-less. Good D.Vas will likely be adapting their playstyles to this, spending more time flanking and then flying into team fights at the opportune moment, but I still worry that for such a large target she has precious little protection now. As a squishy character hanging out around D.Va, like you would say a friendly Reinhardt or Orisa, always ran the risk of them whizzing off to chase a squirrel/sniper at the worst possible moment, and this is going to be even more true now.
If D.Va was flying towards you from a distance before and didn’t have defence matrix up, it could be a golden opportunity to get some hassle free critical hits in, now it’s a golden opportunity to eat rapidly increasing quantities of lead. Firing your fusion cannons while flying is pretty cool, but that’s not all: D.Va is now queen of multitasking. Micro-rockets, while taking a couple seconds to get off an entire salvo and not being the fastest projectiles, can be fired at the same time as your fusion cannons, or while your defence matrix is up, or while you are doing either AND boosting. Game-changer right? Suddenly D.Va is going to be able to kill things quickly, or defend while attacking a-la my recently buffed side-main Orisa. It’s taking a little while for my muscle memory to adapt to this new way of playing D.Va, but I am very much looking forward to barreling in out of no-where in a hail of gunfire to obliterate the enemy healer. Speaking of which, I got carried away and almost forgot:
Single target healer and former teamwipe-buzzkill Mercy has been considerably re-worked.
Her resurrect ability has been demoted from a Night King at hardhome day-ruiner to a more Thoros of Myr kind of affair. For those who don’t watch Game of Thrones, you can have my pity and this explanation: rather than being her ultimate and resurrecting her whole team, it is now an ability on a 30 second cooldown that only affects one team-mates still twitching corpse.
So what is her new ultimate? Essentially, she transforms into super-saiyan Mercy, better in every measurable metric. She becomes free-flying, her clip becomes infinite, her healing chains to additional targets, her resurrect cooldown shortens and her guardian angel power moves her further, quicker.
You will no longer be able to sully the glory of a glorious multi-kill D.Va ult with a cheap, CHEAP team rez that you only earned by hiding round corners healing the back line. But seriously, this is essentially the reason that the devs have cited, they want to see Mercy in-the-mix a bit more, and fewer team fights decided by which team has a Mercy with an ult. You are also no longer invulnerable during the casting of resurrection, which makes sense as it is no longer an ultimate and would too easily give her a get-out. The lack of an invincibility window, potential to rez at any moment and the potential for aggressive play with her ult will, however, make her an even more tempting target than before, so while this make-over was intended to get this old wallflower on the dance floor, the attention might be a little overwhelming.
While your ult has been demoted to an ability, you still have it, and a whole new ultimate on top as well! What’s more, the possibility of multiple resurrections is not completely out of the window, bear with me while I get detailed on some mechanics: activating her ult refreshes the cool-down on rez, lasts 20 seconds and reduces the rez cooldown to 10 seconds. Therefore it is possible to rez(1), ult and rez immediately (2), rez again in ten seconds (3) and rez once more as your ult ends (4). Considering that not very many games saw a full 5 team-mate rez before, Mercy’s capacity to get a team back on its feet is, while now riskier and more time-consuming, still intact. Her pistol always packed a surprising amount of punch to the unwary before, and the infinite clip and higher projectile speed during her ult is likely to bring Mercy killings to the masses rather than just the oblivious or overconfident.
And nothing will ever be the same
Obviously, these changes will have many knock on effects as far as strategies and interactions are concerned, far too many for me to list here in one article, but if I could make one observation on this front it is that the reduction of the bullet-eating defence matrix and Mercy‘s capacity to single-target rez at any time could well make the bastion frustration, especially prevalent at the lower level of play right now, much worse, potentially leading to him (or one of his counters) getting tweaked again next patch.
So maybe I will learn to love D.Va again even though she has changed, or maybe I will continue to drift away, finding comfort in the mechanical arms of Orisa (yeah, I have a type: real men love girls with high HP). Either way, you can’t stop change, only change with it or get left behind.
(DISCLAIMER: WHILE I AM A PASSIONATE OVERWATCH PLAYER, I AM PAINFULLY MEDIOCRE, THIS ARTICLE REPRESENTS MY PERSONAL OPINIONS AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE EXPERT ANALYSIS OR PRO-TIPS)