Sunday, July 1, 2018

Okay, so let's break down Overwatch's 28th hero. (Also PTR patch and new Nendo!)

Yeah, I... obviously didn't find the time to write this up on Friday.  Or Saturday.  I was distracted by Hollow Knight and also I've been practicing McCree a little bit.  Annnywhooo...

Overwatch's next hero's official name is Wrecking Ball.  A genetically-modified capybara-sized hamster who escaped from the Horizon Lunar Colony, crash-landed outside Junkertown in the Australian wasteland and modified his escape pod into a vicious combat mech, he went on to become the champion of Junkertown's cage fights.  He can only squeak, but he communicates via a soundboard on the mech with a badass robot voice.

I'm not gonna' call him Wrecking Ball, for the record.  That is his official name, in the same way Lena Oxton's official name is Tracer, but Wrecking Ball really doesn't roll off the tongue like 'Hammond,' does it?  So I'mma' just call him Ham.

Ham is kind of a dive tank - more of a strict disruptor, like D.Va or Winston - but unlike D.Va or Winston, Ham has zero abilities for defending an ally.  He doesn't have something like D.Va's defense matrix or Winston's barrier -  he's never gonna' pop a bubble to block a D.Va ult or High Noon, he's never gonna' eat a Pulse Bomb or Spirit Dragon - he's more about keeping himself alive, while smashing into the middle of a tight enemy formation.  So let's break it down.

Health: 500 HP + 100 Armor.

Primary Fire : Hitscan machine guns.  5 damage per shot, 25 shots per second for 125 DPS or 250 with headshots.  Damage falloff begins at 15 meters, and maxes to 50% reduction at 25 meters. 

That's pretty-damn-low damage.  That's the lowest-DPS hitscan weapon in the game, but it's also the only tank in the game with an assault-rifle-accurate hitscan weapon (D.Va's shotguns are also hitscan, but have massive damage falloff and zero accuracy beyond 10 meters).

Ability 1 - Roll : Ham's mech transforms into a perfect sphere, allowing him increased movement speed. 1 second cooldown.  Also, he can't be headshot while in ball form. This sounds like nothing, all on its own - and all on its own, it is nothing, but...

Ability 2 - Grappling Claw : Ham fires a grappling line from his mech to any wall, ceiling or raised surface.  Once the grapple is in, it doesn't break unless you release it, allowing Ham to swing and significantly increase his speed. 

The physics of the swing and the speed he can get up to are less-than-real-world, at best.  Like he can be rolling towards the point, fire the grapple up into an archway and suddenly swing forward way faster than he was going, flinging himself up into the air - if you decide not to just swing around and around and around the arch, over and over. 

Once Ham hits high speed in ball form, he delivers massive (10-meter) boops to anyone he smashes through, similar to a Rein charge - along with impact damage, up to 50 at his highest speed.  The grapple doesn't have a time limit, but once detached it has a 5 second cooldown before you can use it again.

Ability 3 - Adaptive Shield : 15 second cooldown, lasts 7 seconds.  Adaptive Shield applies shield HP to Ham, depending on how many enemies are in the immediate vicinity (7 meter range).  It's 100 shields per enemy - so, yes, if Ham drops into a pack of 6 foes, he can have 1200 HP for the next 7 seconds. 

Interestingly, dealing damage to Ham's adaptive shields - unlike Sym, Zarya or Zen shields - don't give ult charge to the attacker.  So it's more like a Rein, Orisa, Winston, Brig barrier, except it's literally shown as his HP.  Here's hopin' that's a bug. 

Ability 4 - Piledriver : 10 second cooldown. Only executable from a height of 10 meters or more, Hammond (in ball form) slams down into the ground, dealing up to 100 damage to enemies (10 damage falloff per meter to a max range of 10 meters).  Enemies impacted are thrown 10 meters into the air. 

It's kind of like a super-powered Doomfist slam.  Finally,

Ultimate - Minefield. Ham deploys a huge field of 15 proximity mines radiating out from his mech.  1 in the center, surrounded by 6 mines, which are surrounded by 8 more.

Each mine has 50HP, and deals 130 damage on impact in an area of effect, meaning Minefield actually has a potential damage ceiling of... let me get a calculator... okay so each mine can theoretically do 130 x 6 damage = 780.  15 mines at a potential 780 damage apiece = 11,700 damage.  I think that's a new record, actually.  Like that'll never happen, obviously - you'd need a team being kept alive through a Zen ult or somethin' - but the point is 2 mines will kill any non-tank hero in the game aside from Bastion.  They're straight-up killers, and we now have YET ANOTHER FUCKING TANK ULT THAT CAN ACCIDENTALLY WIPE A TEAM WHILE TRACER'S ULT CAN'T KILL A FUCKING BASTION AND I'm fine, I'm fine. 

I'm fine.

In a lotta' ways, Ham is more DPS than tank.  He's very Doomfist, with all those boops and the slam and the need to use those to get environmental kills, or combo them with his weaksauce primary fire (Piledriver onto a squishy, snap your primary fire onto them and they'll be dead before they hit the ground.)

I believe part of his utility will be kind of reliant on the enemy comp.  He's not going to be much use against dive, but against the classic deathball comp (Rein with a buncha' DPS and healers standing behind him), he'll be a nightmare.  He'll fly in there at high speed in the ball, knocking everyone out of formation, smashing them with piledriver and surviving against their collective onslaught while his team pours in damage before escaping with another Grapple. 

Really, all the kit that isn't the ball form combined with the grapple seems like it's there just to allow the grapple and ball to work.  He's called Wrecking Ball because that is the most interesting, original and perhaps impactful part of his his kit.

The Grapple allows a Hammond to leap into the underworld of the final point of King's Row and fling himself up behind the enemy.  It creates the potential for insane flanks that would be impossible for any other hero, and really makes Hammond the most mobile tank overall.  One good swing, and he can clear half a map. 

Piledriver also combos well with his ult - slam into the ground, tossing enemies into the air, and when they land they're cushioned by a soft blanket of detonating proximity mines.  His 600HP puts him up there with fatties like Rein and Roadhog, but his exceptional mobility makes it him pretty damn hard to hit when he's swinging in huge vertical loops around the Anubis A archway. 

Personally, I feel like Overwatch needs anchor tank alternatives to Rein and Orisa - there's only 2 of them - but in fairness there were only 2 dive tanks until Ham showed up.  Why you would introduce a new dive tank when dive has left the meta thanks to Hanzo 3.0 and Brigitte is beyond me, but whoever came up with a swinging ball on a string for a hero was probably just too hyped to get it out the door.

Sombra will be a hard, hard counter to Ham, in the same way she can hamstring a Doomfist or Tracer.  Forcing him into mech form with those pithy little cannons and nothing else will be a death sentence, and the consistent DPS of a Torb, the burst of a Reaper or Bastion, will take advantage of that huge hitbox. 

Personally, I'm troubled by the Crowd Control Creep that's been infesting the game in the past year.  Doomfist is nothing but stuns and boops, Brigitte has the meanest stun in the game on a super-short cooldown in addition to a major boop ability, and now, Ham, with Piledriver and his ball-swing boops.

It's a lotta' boops.  It's too many boops.  It was already too many, and now it's more boops. 

So Hammond's coming - we can expect him on live servers in two or three weeks - but his PTR patch also included a ton of changes to several other heroes.

Bastion - in Sentry and Recon modes, his damage falloff at max range has been increased from 30% to 50%.  This is pretty big.

McCree - same deal, 50% damage falloff at max range instead of 30%.

Soldier - same deal.

Widowmaker - same deal for her gun in SMG mode.

Mei - zero damage falloff on her icicle.  This.  Is.  Huge.  

Hanzo  - Storm Arrows duration reduced from 6 to 5 seconds, cooldown increased from 8 to 10 seconds.   Not enough, says I. 

Sombra - can now stealth indefinitely.  Movement speed buff decreased from +75% to +50%, enemy detection radius increased to 4 meters, and can no longer contest objectives while invisible.

Sombra's translocator will now also be indefinite, but can be destroyed by the Sombra or the enemy team (has 5 HP).

Overall, this is a buff to low-skill Sombras and a major nerf to high-SR Sombras.  It gives her slightly more flexibility while removing some very meaningful utility.  Bad idea, Blizz.

Also, it totally pisses me off that Reaper, Sombra and Tracer don't have their max-DPS range adjusted.  How am I supposed to kill Pharahs when I'm dabbing them with a kitten's paw at 30 meters?  Fuck you, Blizz. 


A Junkrat Nendoroid is now available for preoder.  He's kinda' cute, but I'll admit those weird Ryuk eyes are freakin' me out. 

And that's your Overwatch news for the week!

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