About a month ago, Overwatch’s latest Hero, Brigitte, was formally introduced into the game. Interestingly enough, she was not activated in Competitive mode until the start of season 10, ostensibly for the purposes of balancing. Now that season 10 has begun, however, it appears as though a lot of the same complaints that people had about Brigitte in Quick Play are carrying over to Competitive. While we all know that people love to exaggerate about things, there is always a kernel of truth in even the most grandiose lie, or so the saying goes.
Chief among the complaints about Brigitte is that she can more or less delete or otherwise invalidate a huge portion of Overwatch’s Hero roster with seemingly little effort. Brigitte’s shield makes frontal attacks almost impossible, her abilities are highly disruptive to anyone who gets close, and her only real, exploitable weakness is that she herself has to be within melee range to contribute anything to a fight. For all intents and purposes, most Heroes simply cannot beat Brigitte in a 1v1 scenario. They can force Brigitte to retreat, they can pressure the rest of Brigitte’s team to force her to switch, or they can gang up on her, but the disgustingly low cooldown speeds of her crowd control abilities means that she can (in a rather ironic twist of fate) fight back at close range better than Reinhardt can.
On the flipside, Brigitte’s weaknesses can be crippling to the rest of her team. If she can’t get into melee range and if she can’t stay with her teammates, then she may as well not exist. Furthermore, Brigitte’s passive healing ability is abysmal, almost pathetic in the face of coordinated damage. By contrast, her active healing ability is powerful, but it’s not consistent. Given the importance of healers in Overwatch, this is definitely not the most comforting thing to hear, yet it is a fact of life if Brigitte is on the team. Like most people’s teenage years, Brigitte is a bit too awkward to fit into more traditional team comps for now, forcing everyone else (the enemy team included) to change their playstyle to accommodate her.
In any case, perhaps the largest problem with Brigitte is that there is not really much of a middle ground with her—she’s either completely useless or she completely neuters a team. There is little doubt that her ease of use contributes a lot to this feeling. Spectacular or even an acceptable ability to aim isn’t an integral part of playing her well, her abilities are far too forgiving for the amount of value that they provide, there is relatively little coordination needed to using her, she can survive relatively poor positioning, and her Ultimate ability is a no-brainer to use. For all the complaints that people have against other “no aim, no brain” Overwatch Heroes, at the very least they generally tend to be either easy to kill or relatively unimpactful. By contrast, if you see a Brigitte on the other team, you may as well prepare for a very annoying time trying to kill anyone if your team isn’t displaying a comparatively high level of coordination, and may your deity of choice help you if you are playing a Tank Hero who has to get in close to enable the rest of the team to do whatever it is that they do.
To be fair, it’s not entirely unexpected for new Heroes to be considered more powerful than existing Heroes. After all, no one would ever get excited about new content if it’s noticeably worse than release-day content. The degree to which new content is more powerful than old content is concerning though, and it’s not limited to Overwatch. Hearthstone, another Blizzard game, is notoriously bad at keeping classes relatively balanced after the release of every new expansion, and there is certainly no way that a new player can ever hope to compete with existing players simply because the new cards tend to annihilate whatever cards you can scrounge together at the beginning. Brigitte appears to be a symptom of the same effect but swung in a polar opposite direction, where new players can compete with relatively experienced players by mere virtue of picking an easy to use healer who also happens to have Tank-like levels of durability and respectable damage to boot.
That’s not to say that Brigitte is the most overpowered thing to ever grace Overwatch, but it would also be naive to say that she is a very interactive (or perhaps more accurately, respectable) Hero to play against. Heroes must sacrifice something in exchange for ease of use, otherwise people will feel like they’re trying to fight the game rather than another player, and right now, it doesn’t appear as though Brigitte is sacrificing much of anything. At the very least, Blizzard should look at the nature of her crowd control abilities so that they aren’t so consistent, but as they are now, she is far too well-rounded for any Hero, much less one that is supposed to be a healer. On the bright side, at least Brigitte makes everyone equally miserable, not just dive Heroes, so by that metric she is incredibly well-balanced.
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