27 July 2016 - 13:06

Change for the Better: July 26, 2016

"Change for the Better" is a reoccurring series of articles that will discuss patch changes to Overwatch that will affect the professional scene.

Change often, Change for the Better

Just a week after the previous round of changes in Overwatch, Blizzard has released a minor patch to adjust one of the highest played heroes and one of the lowest played heroes. These characters are McCree and Ana, who both received attention from Blizzard to address some issues in their kits.

Grandma Have you Been Lifting?

Ana has seen almost no professional play while also suffering horrid win rates in ranked play. She does not heal as much as Lucio, does not do as much damage as Zenyatta, and does not have an ult that can save multiple players like every other support. However, Ana has two major advantages over Lucio and Zenyatta, which conveniently both got buffed.

Her first major advantage is something that puts Ana in an elite group shared only with McCree, Roadhog, and Mei. That advantage is crowd control on a basic ability. Ana’s Sleep Dart provides her the potential to deal with a wide variety of threats. Most notably, she can neutralize enemy ultimates like McCree’s and Reaper’s by quickly stopping the channeled ability from any range.

Another use for her Sleep Dart that was specifically buffed is her ability to deal with flankers. Technically the ability was bug fixed, but regardless, it added a half second delay between the target taking damage and the crowd control ending. This extra half second means that Ana now has enough time to left click, Biotic Grenade, and then melee attack before the target can react. This combination added onto the Sleep Dart damage deals 175 damage.

The result is that Ana is capable of completely comboing out a Tracer or, with the assistance of a single teammate, can easily send Genji or Reaper to the grave. This change makes Ana a bit more safe as her lack of mobility is now harder for a flanker to punish.

The second major advantage Ana has over Lucio and Zenyatta is her weapon's extreme range, which is only rivaled by Widowmaker. Ana previously had such a low fire rate, which heavily punished missing any shots as the downtime between doing any damage or healing was so large. However, Blizzard addressed this issue, granting Ana a 20% fire rate increase and a coinciding two round larger magazine.

Missing a shot on Ana is now less punishing as the downtime between shots is only one second. With the tick time on both her healing and damage also being one second, this change means there is no potential shot overlap, granting a theoretical 20% damage or healing increase. Obviously, 20% more damage or healing is incredibly powerful, but the unseen side of this buff is how quickly Ana can charge her ultimate: Nano Boost.

Nano Boost turns any dive hero into a monster, granting a 30% speed increase, 50% more damage, and reducing damage taken by half. Considering how prevalent diving heroes such as Winston and Genji are in the meta, combined with Ana’s newfound DPS and safety, it may allow everyone’s favorite grandma to find herself a place in the game.

From a Railgun back to a Revolver

A running joke this past week has been how McCree found himself a railgun and hid it from the developers. Many fans on reddit have questioned the usefulness of the PTR testing after the last balance changes came through. Fortunately, Blizzard has realized their mistake and taken some very appropriate measures.

McCree now finds his damage falloff ten meters earlier. What this means is that after McCree is 20 meters away from his opponent, his damage drops hugely. At 20 meters and closer, McCree can hit one headshot and one body shot and kill a 200 health character. At 30 meters, McCree takes three headshots to kill a 200 health target, and a further five headshots past 40 meters.

Formerly, McCree could two-shot most heros at 30 meters, but now has it cut to 20. This is a key point to note for a couple reasons. One is that most maps have corridors that are roughly 30-40 meters long that McCree can no longer dominate, and the second major reason is that Pharah’s Jump Jet propels her 20 meters into the air, conveniently out of two-shot range.

To be completely honest, I am not sure what this means for Pharah. In isolation, this change lets Pharah win duels against McCree as she can easily exit his lethal range and forces him to hit three headshots to kill her before Pharah lands just two rockets near McCree. However, Pharah players are not used to dealing with Zenyatta.

Zen adds not only another hitscan threat to her but the threat of Orb of Discord. The extra damage Pharah would take makes her still incredibly vulnerable to being shot down. The tradeoff is that if Zenyatta marks Pharah, then the enemy Winston becomes significantly harder for his backline to deal with.

I am really not sure if the tradeoff is worth it for the team running Pharah. On paper, it seems Discord Orb would still remove her too quickly. But the fact that Zenyatta is almost forced to Discord the enemy Winston makes me wonder if the McCree range nerf will allow Pharah to come back. My gut reaction is that this is not enough, but I still think it is an interesting point to consider.

Close Combat Cowboy

One key aspect of McCree’s kit that made him so powerful in the past was his prowess in close quarters fighting. The only AOE crowd control skill on a basic ability and the power to quickly dump twelve bullets into the enemy to shred any tank were invaluable. So, when Blizzard came around with the nerf hammer, they hit him hard, reducing the damage his Fan the Hammer dealt with each round. But now, Blizzard has seemingly given McCree this power back.

McCree has been gifted his tank shredding power once again as Fan the Hammer was changed to take less time in addition to the Flashbang animation, which now locks him for a shorter period of time. In conjunction, these two changes mean that now in the same time it previously took McCree to flash-fan-roll-fan, he can now add in one or two bullets to the combo.

This puts the full combo damage up to 610-680 without hitting any headshots. Another key breakpoint in this patch is that McCree can combo out any character in the game, including the bulky 600 health Roadhog. This is a very powerful change, as it will help counter the meta of Winston’s diving the backline like madmen.

My gut reaction tells me that overall, McCree has been buffed this patch. The damage falloff is not as massive as it may seem, especially considering how McCree is played currently. Often finding himself on the forefront of the fight, McCree is used as a chase hero, responsible for cleaning up stragglers after a battle to extend how long the enemy team is at a man disadvantage. These cleanup situations often allow McCree to get up close and personal, using his Lucio’s speed boost where his newfound Fan the Hammer and Flashbang buffs will shine.

Big Changes Bring Little Change

This patch brought interesting implications for two heroes that are the topic of a lot of discussion. But in the end, it will most likely bring little change. McCree is still going to excel at cleaning up fights and will actively perform better in close range situations. Even if Ana finds her way into the meta, it is going to be a similar playstyle to Zenyatta, responsible for providing healing and extra hitscan damage. However, the ability to chain Transcendence into Sound Barrier can give a squad free teamfight wins via effective invincibility, and that power is too much to pass up.



Patch Notes Here: http://us.battle.net/forums/en/overwatch/topic/20747615932

Image Credit: playoverwatch.com

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