The latest Overwatch hero, Brigitte, is now live on the public test realm. This is the second new support hero that Blizzard has released in a row, but she’s much more than a walking health pack for Genjis to yell at. Brigitte shows a unprecedented departure from hero class design. We have never seen a support/tank hybrid in Overwatch, and her arrival challenges the meta as well as the conventional support role. Brigitte addresses many of the current issues in Overwatch, but she is not without her faults. Here’s our analysis of three problems Brigitte solves, one she doesn’t, and one she creates.
Currently the meta is mostly mechs and monkeys. DVA and Winston have dominated the online ladder as well as the pro scene. The strategy revolves around one simple goal, devote all of the tank’s resources to removing one vulnerable enemy, preferably a support, then snowball and win the fight.
An early pick creates a tremendous advantage, especially at higher levels of play. The power of defense matrix dives and the versatility of monkey mobility have been a nightmare for support players everywhere, and until now, there was no real answer for dive compositions. While Zenyatta’s discord orb could help soften up beefy tanks from a distance, he’s extremely vulnerable in close quarters combat, as are most supports. Usually the only way players could answer dive heroes was with their own dive heroes, multiplying the problem and stagnating the meta.
Brigitte is another story. She can give armor to the dive target, her attacks penetrate Winston’s shield and DVA’s defense matrix, she has not one but two knock-backs (both on a very short cooldown), and she has a personal shield to protect her from distant threats. If she can land her flail on close range enemies (like DVA or Winston) she gets a huge area heal, twice the size of Lucio’s healing aura. If teams devote all of their resources to taking out one hero, especially in close range, Brigitte can punish them for it, meaning we finally have a counter to dive.
Even without the dive compositions, support heroes found themselves constantly in danger. Most support heroes have difficulty dealing with offensive pressure, and they are always the first targets of discerning players. They just don’t have the tools or crowd control to protect themselves. Zenyatta was somewhat the exception, but like his mentor Mondatta, Zen is vulnerable to snipers.
Brigitte doesn’t have any of those issues, she comes with base armor and has a shield to protect herself from stray sniper shots. Her ability to give other heroes armor also reduces sniper effectiveness, shots that would normally kill instead leave allies injured, giving them the precious seconds they need to seek cover or heal. The fact she has not one but two forms of crowd control makes it difficult for a flanking Genji or Reaper to make plays, and her ultimate can give safe passage through chokes, or provide an answer to a Zarya ultimate. All factors considered, Brigitte creates an additional safety net for support players to fall on, and she can stand toe to toe with the strongest threats in Overwatch.
Until Brigitte arrived, support players had to rely on their tanks to create space, or their DPS teammates to protect them. Needless to say, neither was very common in online play, especially pub matches. This created a very stressful experience for what was already the most underappreciated and abused class in the game. Players that would start on support heroes, looking to help team composition, would eventually become frustrated with constantly dying. The inevitable complaint from tanks and DPS players about not receiving enough healing would be answered by support players blaming them for their deaths. This could result in teamwork breaking down, players blaming each other, and was the perfect breeding ground for a toxic experience.
Now that Brigitte exists, support players constantly being focused down can break that cycle of negativity. Brigitte is just hard to kill, and very satisfying to play. Instead of switching off support, players can now have a fun and satisfying experience while filling a vital role in team composition. Merely by existing as an option, Brigitte can stop toxicity before it even starts. While she certainly won’t remove toxic experiences from the game, she can absolutely provide another way out.
What Brigitte doesn’t fix:
The Tracer issue
At low and medium levels of play, Brigitte will make life as a support much, much easier. But at high levels of play there is a problem that she doesn’t address, Tracer. Tracer is in the top 3 pick rates right now, right behind DVA and Winston, and she’s not going anywhere. Brigitte’s attack is very short range, and while her stun has the same distance as Roadhog’s hook, her stun is not a guaranteed kill. The long travel time of the move means Tracer can dodge it on reaction, and blink’s cooldown is faster by a full second. Brigitte’s shield doesn’t help either, ask any Reinhardt player and they will tell you that shields provide very little protection against a decent Tracer. While her armor does make her more difficult to kill, she doesn’t have very much of it, and she will lose duels quickly.
All told, Brigitte makes flankers have to pay attention to her, but she doesn’t counter them, and she’s actually more vulnerable to them than she is to tanks, because she can’t land her flail on faster, distant targets, meaning she cannot heal herself in those duels. She can hide in close quarters areas, but on capture points or payloads Tracer will have a field day with her. The recent buffs to Sombra’s hack may address Tracer’s popularity, but relying on DPS to protect her is exactly what Brigitte doesn’t want to do. The death of dive may create answers we haven’t seen yet, but for now it looks like Tracer will just have another shield to dance around.
The Problem Brigitte creates:
Brigitte’s arrival is a buried treasure for the infamous “pirate ship” strategy. Putting an Orisa shield on the cart and throwing a Bastion on it makes for a difficult push to stop, often causing teams to sail to victory on certain maps. Dive could counter this strategy in close quarter areas, but Brigitte is excellent against that counter, and can give Bastion even more armor on demand.
Her ultimate makes the strategy significantly stronger, the armor it gives persists until destroyed and the short range doesn’t matter when the team is clustered on the cart. Her shield, while small, can also help protect the ship from a flanking Pharah or deflecting Genji, and she can stun channeled abilities that would normally answer it, such as Moira’s coalescence or Roadhog’s whole hog. Brigitte solves much more problems than she creates, and she’s great for the health of the game. But players better keep their eyes on the horizon, because the pirate ship just got a rudder.
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