The end of competitive season four marks the end of the first year of Overwatch and with it an anniversary event including a dozen legendary skins, dance emotes for each hero, and a retooled arcade with three new maps and two new modes.  Jeff Kaplan also gave us some behind the scenes looks at each hero.  It’s great to see Blizzard taking the time to commemorate the great year Overwatch has had.

Season five kicks off in just a few days, so let’s take a minute to both recap season four and look ahead to the future.

Zen is still my main man and I hit a new career high of 2684. Progress!

Big changes to Bastion and Lucio

A brand new hero, Orisa, released in season four who I’ll get to in a minute.  On top of that, two existing heroes, Bastion and Lucio, received pretty extensive reworks.  While in turret form, Bastion now has increased bullet spread and cannot crit but takes 20% less damage.  His self heal now has its own resource bar like D.Va’s defense matrix and can be used while moving.  All in all, Bastion is far harder to kill now than he was before.  He can heal straight through certain ults and is practically unkillable by squishier heroes like Tracer.  The tried and true combo of Bastion-Reinhardt-Mercy is more devastating than ever.

Lucio’s changes weren’t quite as drastic but did change how he is played.  On top of slightly increased damage and projectile speed on his primary weapon, the range on his songs has been cut down significantly and a visible ring now shows what that range is.  The effectiveness of both songs has been ratcheted up to compensate for the decreased range.  Lucio now receives a speed boost when jumping off walls and his alt fire properly takes vertical orientation into account.

Outcry from the community led to Blizzard decreasing Bastion’s turret form damage reduction from 35% to 20% just a few days after his update.  After playing a full season both with and against New Bastion, I like where he’s at.  A hero that is literally a robotic turret should both deal heavy damage and be tough to bring down.  He should be able to handle flankers nine out of ten times.  I was a bit surprised that Blizzard released his patch as it was even after the PTR community spoke out against it.  As he stands now, though, Bastion is a suitably strong hero that needs to be attacked carefully.  Lucio’s floor has been raised considerably since he can no longer stand way in the back and remain effective.  His healing is far more useful now that it heals a decent amount, but the days of defaulting to Lucio when you aren’t playing well or want a slight break are gone.

 

Orisa, the first new tank, joins the fray

Mix one part of each other tank, cook until ready.

Lore time!  After an attack on the Numbani airport by Terry Crews Doomfist, local inventor and child prodigy Efi Oladele wanted to create something that could protect the city.  Orisa, the first tank added since release and 24th hero overall, is that creation.  Thankfully, Blizzard’s teasing of Orisa only lasted a fraction as long as Sombra’s.

Orisa’s kit feels like a mixture of other tanks.  Her main weapon is a gatling gun that she can fire while moving with a slight movement speed decrease (D.Va).  Orisa’s alternate fire shoot outs a single green orb that pulls enemies towards it (Zarya).  It’s perfect for pulling back an escaping hero, pulling an enemy off of a teammate or the payload, and, last but not least, booping.  Orisa’s fortify ability nullifies all movement-related effects for four seconds and gives her increased damage resistance.  Not only does she become unboopable™ but she isn’t effected by Mei’s slow, Reinhardt charges, Roadhog hooks, and more.  She can deploy a semicircle barrier at a target location to block up to 900 damage (Winston).  Orisa’s supercharger ultimate gives all allies in range a 50% damage boost, the same as Ana’s nano boost without its other effects.  It’s a destructible object like Symmetra’s teleporter or Junkrat’s trap, though, so it must be placed carefully and defended.

Jeff Kaplan mentioned in Orisa’s intro video that she is meant to be a complement to Reinhardt as the second “anchor tank”.  After playing about 15 games with her, Orisa may have that potential but as she currently stands she falls a bit short.  She can definitely dish out damage once you figure out how to properly lead her shots but her head hitbox is comically large.  Orisa is tied for the lowest total health pool among tanks at 400, 200 health and 200 armor, but doesn’t benefit from recharging shields.  She is certainly the easiest post-release hero to feel comfortable with.  Ana’s sniper/healer combo took players months to get used to and good Sombras are still hard to come by, but I felt useful with Orisa almost immediately.  My favorite time to play her is on payload assault by constantly advancing the attack front.

 

Battle against the omnics in Uprising

The second PvE event was the best Overwatch event to date.

If you missed out on the Uprising event in April, you missed the best event in Overwatch’s short history.  It took us back seven years to Tracer’s first mission when a group of omnics known as Null Sector launched an attack on King’s Row.  A great prelude comic set the stage for Tracer, Mercy, Torbjorn, Reinhardt, and Reinhardt’s amazing hair to break the line and take back King’s Row.

Uprising combined every Overwatch playstyle into one glorious battle.  Each round started off by capturing three consecutive points.  Once that was complete, a payload had to be defended for five minutes while it charged up before it could be escorted.  The escort literally ended with a bang as the payload blew open a fortified door where four proto-Orisa mini bosses stood between you and victory.  All of this went down with waves of standard omnic soldiers, agile bots with a payload-roasting beam, and Bastions that weren’t afraid to go into turret form.  Plays of the game were wild with dozens of eliminations.  While you could play Uprising with any combination of four heroes, I found playing with the canon set to be the most fun.  As far as difficulty goes, Uprising was tough.  Normal difficulty was a bit of a challenge and I wasn’t able to clear hard mode.  I didn’t even bother with legendary.

I’m not alone in praising Uprising as my favorite event so far.  It combined all types of gameplay, fleshed out some backstory for various heroes, and gave us some great skins.  Seriously, that Blackwatch Genji skin is dope.  Uprising also gives me hope that we’ll see more PvE events in the future and maybe, just maybe, a full PvE mode or campaign.

 

Twisting knobs and turning dials

Blizzard released a handful of patches over the course of season four, most of which have made heroes I like to play even better.  Hooray!  Notable changes:

  • Junkrat no longer takes damage from his own explosions.
  • Winston’s barrier cooldown now starts when he places it instead of when the barrier disappears.  His critical hit hitbox has also been reduced in size.
  • Mercy received two great changes: she becomes invincible for a few seconds while reviving and revived heroes are shown in the kill feed.  Finally!
  • A server browser for custom games has been added.  If you’ve ever wanted to play with no cooldowns, infinite ammo, or 1v6 boss battles, your prayers have been answered.
  • A second route has been added to Eichenwalde when attacking the capture point.  It alleviates some pressure on what was one of the hardest choke points to break through.
  • The two new arcade modes released during the anniversary event are both a lot of fun.  Limited duel is the same best-of-five 1v1 that we’ve had with an added twist of picking between three heroes.  The catch is that your opponent has those same three heroes to pick from.  Lockout elimination is best-of-three 3v3 with the winning team not allowed to pick the same heroes that they have won a round with.
  • An updated tiebreaking system went into place to lower the amount of draws on assault maps.  The percentage of a capture point taken now breaks ties with a minimum percentage of 33.3%.
Four seasons down and a bright future ahead.

Overwatch continues to burn bright.  It has come a long way in its short history with multiple events, three new heroes, arcade mode, and more.  Blizzard is busy laying the ground work for an official competitive league.  Since I won’t be part of that, I’ll settle for Doomfist in season five.  That and finally reaching diamond.  I can feel it!

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