Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Overwatch - How To Not Die To Brigitte, As Tracer.

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I have discovered that I fucking hate Brigittes.  In the same way I hate Sombras - I like or love them, when they're on my team, and when they're on the enemy team, I hate them with burning passion of a thousand white-hot Suns - because as it turns out, I think, Brigitte is the closest thing Overwatch has to a hard Tracer counter.

Her existence on the enemy team makes it way, way harder for me to do my bread-and-butter work, and when it comes down to a one-on-one, I feel like she's better equipped than anyone in the game to instantly kill me (without the skill requirement of a Hanzo, Widow, Genji or McCree), and survive against me.

But let's back up.  Brigitte is the game's first official "hybrid" class - a combination of tank and support - but what does this actually mean?  She’s not as tanky as most tanks, and not as supportive as most supports - Brigitte's kit is effectively a sticky stew made up of the chopped-up limbs of Zarya, Reinhardt, Winston, Lucio, Ana, Torbjorn and McCree – gross in concept and terrifying in execution.  Let me explain.

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Lucio - Brigitte's Inspire ability (any ally in a 20-yard radius receives a buff that heals for 16 health per second over 5 seconds when Brigitte strikes an enemy with her melee or whip shot) means that as soon as you or someone else engages her, she's self-healing to about the same degree as an un-amped Lucio.

Reinhardt - Brigitte's barrier shield, obviously.  It's small, and only has 600HP, but it'll block a Pulse Bomb, D.Va ult or Meteor Strike, and allow you to advance against anything but a Bastion.

Reinhardt/Winston - most heroes in Overwatch require you to really aim at what you want to hit.  Rein, Winston (Sym, I suppose), and now Brigitte really don't need to aim.  Her flail has a nasty 6-meter range, hits all enemies in range with a cleave effect like Rein or Winston, and with two strikes per second at 35 damage per strike, puts out more damage than Winston (60 DPS), and slightly less than Rein (75).

Ana/Zarya - Prior to Brigitte's arrival, there was only one ability in the game that produced an instant heal effect - Ana's Biotic Grenade, which heals for 100.  Anything else - Mercy's beam, Lucio's aura, Zen's orb and ult, Ana's healing shots, Moira's spray or orb or ult - heals over time.  How much they heal per-second varies, but the point is Brigitte's Repair Pack produces a very, very unusual effect.

It heals for 150 hit points - instantly - and if the target is already at full health, they receive 75 armor that lasts for 5 seconds.  This makes it an ability that essentially provides the same life-saving potential as Zarya's Projected Barrier.  If a Rein charges your Bastion, for example, slapping Bastion with Repair Pack will ensure he survives the charge.  If a Tracer has dealt 100 damage to your Rein and smacks a Pulse Bomb on him, Repair Pack will save his life.  If a Genji dives on your Mercy and brings her down to 50 HP, Repair Pack will instantly heal her to full.  This ability is incredible. 
Biotic Grenade's cooldown is 10 seconds.  Projected Barrier's is 8.

The cooldown on Repair Pack - the largest burst-heal in the game, which will otherwise bestow armor - is 6 seconds.

Torbjorn - armor is a big deal - but rarely a large issue, as Torbjorn was the only hero to dole it out and remains a distinctly non-meta, unpopular pick at most ranks.  Armor reduces the damage that a Sombra, a Tracer, a Moira, Sym or Winston will do to you by a straight 50%, and cuts 5 damage off every incoming attack otherwise, so it has less of an effect on heroes like Widow, McCree, Pharah, Junk or Hanzo, who generally deal over 100 damage in a single shot.  Brigitte's Repair Pack will give a max-health ally 75 armor (for 5 seconds), but it's her ult - Rally - that's the big gun, here, as it provides a whopping 150 armor to all allies in Brigitte's aura, and unlike Repair Pack, this armor doesn't disappear after 5 seconds.  It sticks around until an enemy burns it down - which can take a while.

Finally,

McCree - stuns are rare in Overwatch.  McCree's Flashbang is the most prevalent, but all of Doomfist's cooldown strikes also come with brief, 0.5-second stuns.  And Flashbang's a killer - which is why it's got that huge ten-second cooldown.  That half-second is enough time for a McCree himself to obliterate most non-tanks, and if he can't it offers an opportunity for his team to get in on the action, and make sure the stun results in your death.

Brigitte's Shield Bash stuns for 1.0 seconds.  Outside of Mei’s (easily-escapable) freeze and Rein’s ultimate ability, it's the most devastating stun in the game.  Its cooldown is 6 seconds.

Shield Bash aside, I don't believe any single aspect of Brigitte's kit is particularly overpowered.  I've played a few rounds as Brigitte, and Shield Bash is just ridiculous.  Spam that thing on cooldown, and you're winning teamfights.  Hold it for clutch moments, and you're stopping Reaper, Moira and McCree ults in their tracks.  Fuck, I've had a Brigitte stun me out of Pulse Bomb.

I didn't even know I could be stunned out of my ult cast as Tracer, but here's Brigitte to show me better!

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Again - as a Tracer main - every single part of Brigitte's kit feels like it was designed to fuck with me, personally, and fuck up my shit.

Let me count the ways.

#1 - The Flail.  Tracer's unpredictable movement creates problems for skill-based heroes who need to aim and land their shots on my tiny, fast-moving hitbox.  This is no stop to Brigitte, who basically just needs to have you on her screen, and within range, to smack you with her flail.  I have swatted Genjis out of the air with Brigitte easy as pie - hitting a ground-bound Tracer, for Brigitte, is as easy as breathing.

"So just stay out of range of her flail," one could say - but that's no help, to me.  I need to be within 5 yards or so to deal reasonable damage with my pistols - and even at 6 or 7 yards, I remain within terrifying range of Shield Bash.

#2 - Repair Pack.  As detailed above, Repair Pack essentially functions as a Zarya barrier, permitting dive heroes five seconds of luxurious armored protection as they leap into your team, or granting a teammate being jumped by a dive a respite from the attack.  This really fucks with me.  I can't count the number of times I would have two-clipped a squishy, only to have Brigitte hit them with Repair Pack, come to intercept my assassination attempt and generally forcing me to back off.

Slapping an extra 150 HP on someone - or armoring them up - changes a two-clip gank to at least a three-clip.  That's five excruciating seconds, out in the open, trying to get a pick while the enemy team realizes what's happening, and turns to face me.  And sneaking up behind teams and getting quick picks is my go-to strat.

Brigitte stops that in its tracks, and ensures that while I might be gold on damage, it's not resulting in picks.

#3 - Barrier Shield.  Brigitte is such a problem for me that she becomes a major priority whenever she's on the other team - just begging for a Pulse Bomb - but it's pretty darned hard to stick her.  She's around the same size as Reaper, Zarya or McCree - not small, but certainly not a big, easy-to-hit target either, and if you accidentally stick her shield instead of Brigitte herself, you just wasted your ult.

Further, the barrier basically prevents me from doing any damage to Brigitte if I'm approaching the fight with my team - as I need to stay out of that crucial Shield Bash range, which drastically reduces my damage, which the shield can easily absorb - until I've flanked her. 

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#4 - The Armor, and That Damned Ult.  It's a helluva thing to try to jump a Mercy or Ana and discover she has 350 HP, 150 of it being armor that reduces my pistol DPS to 50%.  Thanks Brigitte. It’s this, when combined with Brigitte’s passive Inspire healing, that makes her entire team far, far harder to kill, and ensures that quick one-clip picks can’t happen, even without the threat of Repair Pack.  Quick, one-clip picks are how I try to start teamfights, and get the ball rolling, and Rally guarantees that the current teamfight is going to last a while before the opportunity really opens up to take out one of Brigitte’s allies.

#5 - Shield Bash.  This is The Big Gun.  This is what kills Tracers, decisively.  A half-second stun from McCree's Flashbang is often fatal – and the one-second stun from the 6-yard range, 6-second cooldown of Shield Bash is basically a dead Tracer, 95% of the time.

Brigitte herself can instantly kill a Tracer if she executes a simple combo on me – Shield Bash, melee, Whip Shot - I can't Rewind out of the stun in time to evade the final hit.  And she's got it on a six-second cooldown.

Its range is just beyond the range I need to be inside to put out reasonable damage, its cooldown is half that of Rewind, and if you get into a scrap with a Brigitte, Shield Bash’s hit box is generous enough that you’re not going to miss (unless the clever Tracer has predicted your bash, and juked it with Blink).

#6 – Brigitte, Herself.  Armor and heals, on their own, have never proven a real problem for me, in Overwatch – because armored heroes are relatively rare, and they all share another trait.  Winston, Rein, D.Va’s MEKA and Torbjorn are all large, wide, easy-to-hit targets (who don’t have the benefit of self-heal).

Brigitte is an anomaly, then.  Taller than Torb, but with a thinner hitbox than any other armored hero in the game, she’s just a leetle beet harder to hit than any other armored target, and her armor ensures that when I do get a bead on her, it just doesn’t hurt all that much.

And I haven’t even brought up Whip Shot, which extends far beyond Brigitte’s normal effective range, and will reduce me to around half health – forcing a retreat at least, if not a blown Rewind cooldown.  Every single component of Brigitte, from her size to her kit to her passives, are a bunch of problems for a Tracer.  They’re a bunch of obstacles to overcome, if not simply portents of doom. 
But there is yet hope.  Just because a Brigitte can easily kill you on Tracer doesn’t mean she will, and just because something’s hard doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

This is how you survive against Brigitte, as the best rootin' tootin' shootin' hero in the game - Tracer.

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I have too many clips saved on my PS4, right now, but if I was gonna' pull one to show off how to handle Brigitte as Tracer, it's a moment on a Volskaya defense last week.  We've been pushed back to the second point, but we're holding it well.  The enemy Tracer zips onto the point and starts making trouble, so I rough her up and bring her down to like 20 hit points, and she starts running back towards her spawn. 

I give chase.  She zips around the corner of the main choke to point B, and I follow.  As I come around the corner, needing nothing more than a melee's worth of damage to score this pick, I come face-to-face with her Brigitte, who's about eight yards from me.  

Turn right back around that corner, and return to my team. 

And that, in a nutshell, is how you handle Brigitte.  That's not to say you don't go kill her, or that you ignore her, but Brigitte is at an advantage in every direction in this matchup - you don't need to give her any more of a leg up.  

You treat a Brigitte like you treat a few other heroes.  You need to treat her like a Bastion, kinda.  Like a Junkrat, sorta'.  Like a carry DPS who would kick your ass if you straight-up dueled them, or a slick-ass support who's impossible to pin down and kill.  Lemmie' s'plain.  

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You've likely come across enemy carries that you learn, very quickly, not to duel, or enemy supports that are just impossible to kill, and are amazing at using their team to juke you.  There are two ways to handle these people, and they're how you need to handle even a half-decent Brigitte. 

Technique #1 : Don't kill her.  Kill the source of her power.  

If you treat her as a carry support, just know that she can't be everywhere at once, and she can't save everyone.  Brigitte herself becomes exponentially more powerful in the same way a Mercy, Lucio, Ana or Moira does - by surrounding herself with teammates.  If you can catch a flanker, a support, even a tank out on their own where Brigitte can't save them with Repair Pack or a Bash, cut them down.  

As you thin her team's numbers, Brigitte's options contract.  The fewer people she can heal, the less her heals mean - and once her team's been thinned a bit, you can join your team in taking her out. The most potent pick you can make, here, is whatever her Primary Healer is.  Brigitte is rarely without a Moira or Mercy backing up her relatively weak heals, and if you can spawn camp them out of the fight, Brigitte's team won't have the sustain to stand against yours.  

Technique #2 : Ignore Her Until The Crucial Moment.

If you treat her as a carry DPS, just keep in mind that almost everyone else on your team is better-equipped to give Brigitte problems than you are - to get her attention, and keep her aggression focused on them as they whittle her down to 200, 150, maybe even 100 hit points - so let them.  Instead of engaging her directly, act as a disruptor, zipping around and laying indiscriminate clips into her team, building your ult and generally being a nuisance. 

Keep your eye on her.  When your team's got her down to the point that she wants to retreat, or you just see that shield of hers break, removing the threat of Shield Bash, pounce.  Shearing 100 HP off anyone is easy as pie, for Tracer, and while your team is generally well-equipped to give Brigitte problems, if she's well-positioned, only Tracer can blitz back there and finish the job.  

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Technique #3 : She Is Junkrat and Bastion, Combined.

Like Junkrat, you never want to fight a Brigitte in an enclosed space - this forces you inside her effective range, where she will never miss, and your desperate blinks to evade her will force you to make more corrections to your aim than she'll have to.  She's favored to win. 

Treat Brigitte like she's a Bastion set up in Sentry mode.  Never approach from the front, and know that approaching from the side is some risky business.  All she needs to do is land that Shield Bash on you, and you're done.  Never from the front.  

Approaching her from behind, and be aware that she is essentially impossible to one-clip unless you're landing a full clip of perfect headshots - meaning that landing a single clip on her, at full health, will at best turn her attention to you, and you can anticipate quickly eating a Shield Bash in response (see: Technique #2!)  You can try to juke the Bash with Blink (not hard), but your effective range remains well inside her effective range with that flail - 2.5 seconds of which will end you - and outside that range, Whip Shot remains a major threat that feels like getting bodied by McCree or Mei.  She could spend 1.5 seconds holding down the melee button, and then tap Whip Shot, and you're dead.  

To even have a chance, you need the duel to take place at greater than 7 yards - reducing your damage output by half, at least, giving her lots of opportunity to block with her shield - and the added time it'll take to kill her is only getting you closer to her next shield bash.  It's risky, but doable.   But risky is a good synonym for "unwise."

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Technique #4 : Because You're Worth It.  There is one way to guaranteed-gank a Brigitte as Tracer, and here it is: come up from behind, and stick her with Pulse Bomb.  As Tracer, that is your one entirely assured, lethal move against her.  She likes keeping that shield pointed at your team, and she's about as hard to stick as a Zarya, Reaper or McCree - not an unreasonably small target.  

Respect an enemy Brigitte until she proves herself incapable - she's just too damned dangerous, to you, as a general rule - but she can be overcome.  Use her reliance on her team against her.  Use your team to weaken her.  Use your ult, and delete her.  

She can be sitting at 400 hit points, 200 health and 200 armor, and Pulse Bomb will still one-shot her.  

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Good luck!

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