The Sombra ARG has taken its sweet time, that’s for sure. Starting way back before the Overwatch Summer Games began, Blizzard began teasing fans with small lines of code, and shimmers in the back of trailers. After weeks of people decoding and cracking every little thing Blizzard threw at them, a website named A Moment in Crime went live. This website contained a countdown timer, which ultimately led to another small release. One thing led to another, with fictitious reports of hacking being posted on Twitter, character artwork leaks and finally at BlizzCon, Sombra was revealed.
First, let’s look at her design. Sombra is a 30-year-old female hacker from Mexico, whose overall look just screams cyberpunk. Her entire body is laced with technology, almost as though she is the human embodiment of computer software. Although looking rather villainous from the sharp claw like nails, her character shows a lighter side in her cinematic trailer, where she chooses to spare the life of Volskaya industries creator. Despite being shown to work with the illustrious Talon, alongside Reaper and Widowmaker, her character is portrayed as not entirely evil. Plus, the whole neon purple colours are awesome, so what’s not to like?
Sombra’s Machine Pistol
This weapon of choice is fitting for the character. The Tracer rate of fire, accompanied with Soldier 76’s range, is lethal at the very least. As a draw back on the range, the machine pistol’s spread is significantly higher the longer the weapon is fired. The extremely large clip size makes up for this, having 60 bullets per clip. This puts Sombra in a perfect position to shred tanks, in the same way that Tracer can. Sombra’s high mobility allows her to get around lines of defense and deplete health like it’s nobody’s business. The machine pistol may not have the greatest range and spread, but its damage at close range and clip size make up for this indefinitely.
The best way to describe Sombra’s passive is to compare it to Widowmaker’s ultimate. While Infra-Sight gives vision temporarily on all enemies, Sombra’s passive Opportunist allows her to see enemies that are below half health, wherever they are on the map. Being a very first strike assault character, this gives her a massive advantage over other assault characters. This passive gives her options, whether or not to chase down a kill, and even collect an easy kill that someone couldn’t finish. This means that she won’t always go into a fight blind, making it necessary for her to pick her fights a lot safer, as well as being able to call out enemy locations for the team. When it comes to deciding on how to approach objectives and fights, Sombra is a must-have for an attacking team.
It does what it says on the tin; this ability hacks. The wide range of what can be hacked is what makes this ability so useful. Having the ability to stop enemies from taking health packs allows for Sombra to be a viable pick on both offense and defense. While health packs are made only accessible to your team for a full 60 seconds, it increases the frequency of the health pack respawning.
As well as being able to hack health packs, Sombra can hack enemy turrets, for example, Torbjörn’s turret. This opens the door for teammates to either destroy it, or push past it, as the time it is disabled for is only brief. The final way in which Sombra can hack is enemies. Yes, that’s right, Omnic or not, you will be getting hacked. This variation of the hack ability blocks enemies from using their abilities, which can be the difference between winning or losing a fight. For example, when Sombra is encountered head on with a Tracer, if Sombra is able to hack Tracer without being taken out, it would stop her from teleporting back to her past position, and completely nullifies her mobility. Hack is sure to make for some interesting fights, especially with skill dependent characters.
Everybody predicted Sombra having an active camouflage, and this is just that. Thermoptic Camo allows Sombra to go invisible, as well as giving her a huge movement speed boost. Using abilities or taking damage while invisible will take you out of invisibility, and can make you extremely vulnerable. Tread carefully, as you are partially visible to enemies if you get too close to them. The correct way to utilise this ability would be to position yourself behind enemies, or use it to escape if you get into a fight you can’t win. This camouflage is not immune to the effects of Soldier 76’s ultimate, or Hanzo’s sonic arrow. Thermoptic Camo is both an offensive and defensive ability, so its uses are limitless.
Translocator is almost like an upgraded Blink, where instead of having to time your return to a previous location, you can set it in place. Instead of using this ability to escape, it can be used in a one-on-one fight to out maneuver an enemy. Translocator can also be thrown and teleported to before the translocator has even hit the ground. If you plan on diving in on a group of enemies to deal as much damage as possible, then teleport back to safety, you can do just that. If you want to throw your translocator into a group of enemies to unleash your ultimate, you can do that as well. Leave it in a safe spot or throw it right into the heart of your enemies, which makes creating game-changing plays with this ability all too easy, especially since it can’t be destroyed.
Sombra’s ultimate, EMP, is essentially a line-of-sight hack. It can be used to stop enemies using abilities, while destroying enemy barriers and shields. This includes Reinhardt shields, and completely removing the barrier Lucio provides with his ultimate. The ultimate itself is an area-of-effect ability, so positioning yourself in the middle of enemies is essential for this ultimate to maximise its effectiveness. While this can stop channelled abilities, it will not be able to stop abilities that have already been launched. Take for instance, Hanzo fires his ultimate, Sombra’s EMP does not stop the twin dragons, but if used when he is channelling his ultimate, it can be cancelled.
Sombra is a hero who can be utilised as an assassin-type character, being able to flank enemy teams and deal as much damage before returning to safety. Characters, such as Pharah, will benefit from having a Sombra on the team, seeing as Pharah is extremely efficient when taking down turrets and a Sentry Configured Bastion. A turret is much easier to take down when it can’t fight back. Sombra can synergise with an offensive team very well, being able to deliver health in the form of hacked health packs with a rapid respawn.
It feels as though Sombra is most at home when on a strong assault team, but still has her possibilities as part of a defense team. Denying an enemy team health packs when attacking an objective is vital, even more so considering Sombra doesn’t have a limit to how many health packs she can hack. Another point to make is that a team without a healer or many healing abilities will be punished hard by Sombra, and will be a character heavily sought out to counter pick.
While Sombra is extremely mobile, this doesn’t make her any less vulnerable than characters like Genji and Tracer. One good Roadhog hook will quickly disperse a Sombra, as her health is a meager 200. The timing of her camouflage is important, as coming out of cover directly in front of a turret spells disaster. Characters with the ability to gain sight on enemies, Soldier 76 and Hanzo for example, will completely ruin a flank from Sombra. Although keeping track of Sombra is easier said than done, it isn’t impossible. Placing traps on flanks as Junkrat is a way of halting her flank, as a flank can range from mildly annoying, to devastating.
While Sombra has still got the PTR to get through before being released, it’s fair to say she’s pretty overpowered. I can already hear the cries of Torbjörn players everywhere, “This is just a Torbjörn nerf, it’s not fair.” Well don’t worry, it’s very unlikely Sombra will pass through the PTR without a nerf. Her Translocator is on a six second cooldown from when it is used, not set down, which is ridiculous when put into perspective. It lasts for 15 seconds, is indestructible, and can be reactivated six seconds after being used. Her mobility may not be as ridiculous as Genji’s, but it will still be damn near impossible to burst her health down before she retreats.
Sombra’s overall feel is very offense-heavy, and being able to cancel all enemy abilities with her ultimate needs to come at a cost. The inevitable nerf is likely to come in the form of increasing cooldowns significantly, meaning her abilities will need to be carefully chosen, instead of used whenever they are off cooldown.
A neat conclusion to this is that she is pretty broken at this point in time, but most characters are at this stage. Sombra still has a ways to go before she is balanced enough for everyone to play, but her skill set is going to be invaluable in the seasons to come. Not only this, Sombra is arguably influential enough to change team compositions in the meta completely. Keep your eyes peeled for Sombra’s release, you won’t want to miss it.
Are you looking forward to playing Sombra? Leave your comment down below, or tweet us @GAMURScom.
Jordan Aldridge-Payne is an esports journalist for GAMURS and can be reached on Twitter @mrjordanap.