Season five of Overwatch gave us a little bit of everything: a new map, a new hero, and an event. The official Overwatch League is also starting to formalize with teams, rosters, and salary information. Blizzard continues to show their commitment to making Overwatch a mainstay in the gaming landscape.
With season six just a few days away, let’s take a few minutes to recap everything that went down in season five and what to expect in the future.
Winston goes home with Horizon Lunary Colony
Horizon Lunar Colony, the first non-Earth map in Overwatch, is the first new two capture point map since release and Winston’s home. The map takes place within a base on the Moon and is surprisingly open. Points A and B both have multiple points of entry each with different levels of height making flanks a real threat. There is also a small section of zero gravity on the right side while attacking point A. It’s pretty weird to hear the sound cut out and see your jump height triple. This isn’t your parent’s assault map with a long and narrow firing lane for the defenders *cough Anubis cough*.
Overall, Horizon feels fairly balanced with a possible slight edge towards the attacking team due to the many flank routes. Games on Horizon are hardly ever a slog between the many vantage points and possible firing lines. Small details like being able to look at the Earth through a telescope, rows of computers, and a possible nod towards a future hero, Hammond, fill out Overwatch’s third post-release map.
Doomfist makes his long-awaited debut
After the attack on Numbani and creation of Orisa, it was only a matter of time until we would see Doomfist. That time came at the end of July. Akande Ogundimu and his rocket-powered gauntlet make up Overwatch’s 25th hero and the seventh in the attack category. He’s a high ranking member of Talon and he’s ready to mix it up.
Doomfist’s abilities obviously revolve around being close to his target, so his 250 health is sensible. His primary fire is small shotgun blasts from his left hand that regenerate over time instead of reloading. These are weak shots with high spread that are only useful for finishing off nearly dead foes. Doomfist’s alternate fire, Rocket Punch, is his bread and butter. After charging up, releasing a Rocket Punch sends Doomfist flying forward to punish the first enemy he hits. Any enemy struck by Rocket Punch is flung backwards potentially into a wall for even more damage. Once in the fray, Rising Uppercut can launch both Doomfist and his enemies into the air. It’s also useful as an extra jump for reaching high places. Seismic Slam can be used whenever Doomfist is in the air as he slams into the ground and pulls enemies towards him. Doomfist’s ultimate, Meteor Strike, sends him into the air with a small window of time to come crashing straight down like, well, a meteor. Each of Doomfist’s abilities triggers his Best Defense passive that gives him a small amount of temporary shields up to a max of 150 that decay a la Lucio’s Sound Barrier.
Playing as Doomfist almost feels like playing a fighting game rather than playing Overwatch. Landing a Rocket Punch that slams an enemy into a wall always feels good. Combos like Rising Uppercut into short range Rocket Punch have excellent boop potential. His ultimate may seem overpowered at first, but the very middle of a Meteor Strike only does 300 damage. That being said, combining with Graviton Surge is a good idea. Doomfist is another in your face hero like Tracer and Genji but he doesn’t have anywhere close to their mobility. Rocket Punch can be used to escape but if it’s on cooldown or you get hacked by a Sombra, it’s game over. The temporary shields granted by his passive help offset the risk of charging in fist first. It’ll take a while before Doomfist settles into the competitive scene as he has a fairly high skill floor for being truly useful.
Summer Games 2.0: Lucioball Strikes Back
Did you think the Summer Games wouldn’t return just because the Olympics were in an off year? Guess again! August marked the second annual (?) Summer Games. All of the old skins that you may have missed due to a coin shortage or bad loot box luck were back at the normal 1000 coin price. There were also a handful of new event skins at the traditional 3000 price. I really like Greek Goddess Mercy and Grillmaster: 76 but the only one I bought was Junkrat in his cricket uniform.
Skins, highlight intros, and sprays weren’t all though. Lucioball made its triumphant return with a new stadium in Sydney and a few tweaks. Players could no longer be booped and Lucio’s ultimate was changed to grant super speed and jump height instead of pulling the ball towards you. Copa Lucioball, a full-blown competitive mode with placement games and skill tiers, was also available. Jeff From The Overwatch Team mentioned that this three week competitive season within the arcade was a bit of a test run. Lucioball isn’t my favorite mode so I only played a handful of regular matches, but I absolutely love the idea of miniature seasons for different modes within the arcade.
Hero tweaks and other changes
Each Overwatch season comes with its own batch of changes to the core gameplay and season five may have been the busiest one yet. Some of the highlights, in no particular order:
- Roadhog saw another set of big changes: ammo count increased from four to five, fire rate increased by 30%, and overall damage decreased by 33%. One hit kill hook combos are still possible if you hook a squishy hero and get every pellet to crit, but Roadhog is much less intimidating than he used to be.
- Reaper’s healing orbs have been replaced with a new passive that steals 20% of damage he deals back as health. He has a lot more sustainability now that he can heal mid-fight instead of after a kill. The sound effect on his Shadow Step was also lowered by 50%. All in all, Reaper is a lot scarier.
- McCree’s Deadeye lock-on timer has been drastically reduced. The glowing, yelling, stationary target that McCree became while using his ult was a bit much anyway.
- Zarya’s ultimate now stops all mobility skills similar to Junkrat’s trap.
- Everyone’s favorite shieldbearer, Reinhardt, now swings his hammer 10% faster. It may not seem like a lot, but it’s definitely noticeable.
- Loot boxes now give duplicates at a much lower rate while giving credits at a higher rate to compensate.
- A new highlight system allows you to capture highlights in-game. Up to five highlights are stored for the current day and up to 36 can be saved off.
- Full crosshair/reticle customization for various shapes, colors, and opacity was added.
Season five may have been the busiest in Overwatch history, but season six looks to be even busier. Already announced features include deathmatch and free-for-all arcade modes, a new map, and major updates to Mercy. Season six will also be the first season implementing the new two month timeframe and the best-of-three format in competitive mode for control maps. I doubt we’ll also get a new hero, but who knows? I’m already chomping at the bit to get my placements done and push for diamond.