Another three months gone by, another competitive season of Overwatch in the books.  Blizzard has shown no signs of slowing down updates for their latest game.  Season three wasn’t quite as big a shake up as season two was with a new hero and revamped skill rating system, but the last three months have certainly changed the game.

If you didn’t keep up with Overwatch due to the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I’ve got you covered.  With season four kicking off tomorrow, let’s recap season three and check the state of Overwatch.

A horrendous losing streak in early January didn't help my stats, but a new career high fo 2654 was nice!
A horrendous losing streak in early January didn’t help, but a new career high of 2654 was nice!

Keep your eyes up in Oasis

Season three saw the release of Overwatch’s second new map.  Oasis is a king of the hill map with a major focus on verticality.  One point has a floating lift to a second level overlooking the point, another has a small platform jutting out over the point, and the third has a boop-inviting hole in the middle with paths that lead to either spawn.  Pharah isn’t the only aerial threat when you play on Oasis.

The many platforms and stairs near each point add a ton of entrances to attack and defend.  It also makes team fights more chaotic with extra escape routes and areas to fall back to for help.  Oasis almost feels like a map out of Halo and is a great change of pace.  Oh, and watch out for the speeding cars.  They’ll one shot you!


Two holiday events mix things up

On the third day of Christmas, the Iris gave to me...
On the third day of Christmas, the Iris gave to me…

The success of Summer Games and Junkenstein’s Revenge led to two holiday events during season three.  First up was Winter Wonderland, an event packed with holiday cheer.  Maps like King’s Row and Hanamura saw light snow accumulations to help welcome the season’s additional skins, emotes, voice lines, and more.  My two favorite skins were Scrooge McCree and Nutcracker Zenyatta (above), both of which I was lucky enough to get.  We didn’t get Santa Roadhog, which I thought was a lock, but we did get Santa Torbjorn.  Pro tip – couple that skin with his heel clicking emote for maximum cuteness.  Winter Wonderland also came with a new 6v6 Mei-only brawl where her weapon fired one shot kill snowballs that reloaded by sucking up piles of snow.  Frankly, I wasn’t a big fan of this brawl.  Knockoff Rocket League Lucioball and the PvE of Junkenstein’s Revenge were far better.

Shortly after Winter Wonderland came the Year of the Roster to celebrate Lunar New Year.  I really liked the details on Bastion’s new skin and while Winston’s monkey king skin was practically guaranteed, I’m a fan.  The biggest thing to come out of this event was Overwatch’s first take on capture the flag.  Blizzard had said for months that they didn’t want to do a CTF mode since it goes against the team-oriented style of Overwatch, but the arcade is a perfect place to try new modes.  Capture The Rooster is a first to three match with a flag in each base that must be picked up and brought back to score.  The major problem with the mode is that any damage whatsoever cancels the timer to pick up a flag: a stray D.Va bullet, a Symmetra turret, anything.  It sucks to almost have a flag picked up only to be nicked and watch the timer reset.  Regardless, Capture The Rooster was popular enough that Blizzard has made it permanent in the arcade.


Symmetra 2.0, the beam-wielding beast

Don't let the smirk fool you. Symmetra is an animal.
Don’t let the slight smirk fool you.  Symmetra is an animal.

We didn’t get a new hero in season three, but the massive overhaul to Symmetra is the next best thing.  For starters, she is the first hero to have two ultimates.  Symmetra can now choose to place either the teleporter, which has had some health transferred to shields to make it a bit beefier, or a shield generator.  The shield generator is another stationary object that gives all friendly heroes in its considerable range 75 extra shield.  Symmetra can now place all six of her turrets right off the bat which makes her a more viable hero to swap to in the middle of a game.  Her old ability to give an ally 25 shield has been replaced with a projectile shield that moves in a straight line until it either is destroyed (not likely) or runs into something.

Symmetra is, plain and simple, annoying as hell to deal with.  The moving photon barrier is great not only for stopping incoming fire on defense but to use as lead blocker when attacking long, heavily guarded choke points like Anubis B.  The shield generator makes her a much more useful pick on second defense points and king of the hill maps while being able to set up microwaves/nests/rooms of death almost immediately means death can loom around every corner.  Symmetra has gone from a decent pick on defense point A to a viable pick in most situations.


Patches, patches, patches

Overwatch is very much a living game with regular patches and a dedicated (but, sadly, only on PC) test server.  Rather than release a large swath of changes in the offseason, Blizzard has been busy tinkering these last three months and dropped a major patch a few weeks ago.  Highlights include:

  • Swapping from group chat to team chat is as simple as pressing one button.  I love this change.  Communication wins games people!
  • Players can vote to stay as a team after a game rather than having to leave the queue and invite each other to a group.
  • Each hero can now equip multiple sprays and voice lines.  On a similar note, equipping a new skin/emote/spray/etc. shows you what you what is being replaced.
  • Roadhog’s broken hook has been brought down to earth with Hook 2.0.  Heroes are no longer pulled directly in front of Roadhog, but along a straight line towards him.  Any break in line of sight breaks the hook.
  • D.Va has been nerfed pretty hard.  While she was pretty unstoppable beforehand, her swap from 200 health/400 armor to 400 health/200 armor and a wider bullet spray have made her much less effective.
  • Kill feed now shows how hero X killed hero Y (regular shot, critical hit, ability, ult)

Overwatch has come a long way from hero stacking and no competitive mode to the constantly changing meta we see today.  What will we see next?  As far as a wish list goes, I’d love to see Mercy revives in the kill feed and some way to know where a teleporter is going to spit me out.  Rumors of a new hero, either Doomfist or someone else, are circling.  Season four kicks off tomorrow as Overwatch forges ahead.  Here’s hoping I can climb to diamond this season.

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