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Symmetra Rework PTR Impressions

Michael Bitton Posted:
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Blizzard’s Jeff Kaplan filled the Overwatch community in on plans to rework Symmetra in a new developer update video released yesterday. In the video, Kaplan stated that the changes would be hitting the PTR soon, but this wasn’t Soon™, but more like almost immediately. With the patch on the PTR, we decided to jump in and check out the updated Symmetra. Read on for the breakdown and our take on the changes.

LMB: Photon Projector

Symmetra’s primary fire got a “small” quality-of-life change that extends the lock on range of her beam. I say “small” in quotes, because the increase seems a lot larger than I would have expected.  The notes say the range was increased from 5 meters to 7 meters, so, a 40% increase. Not exactly small. I can already tell she’s going to be significantly more annoying with just this change alone. The beam always hurt, but the problem was that Symmetra had to really put herself out there to get you with it. I’m not saying she didn’t need some help in this area given her abysmal pick rate, but I’m always wary about these sorts of changes.

RMB: Energy Ball

No changes.

SHIFT: Sentry Turret

On live, Symmetra has a total of six turret charges, but she can only store three at any given time. This means you have to place your three sentries down and then wait for the last three to fill in before you can place the remaining three. It’s a huge pain and doesn’t allow Symmetra the ability to quickly move her turret nests with the flow of the typically quick paced matches found in Overwatch. On PTR, Symmetra gets all six charges at once, allowing her to adapt and quickly set up at the start of a match. Sentry turret cooldowns were also shaved by two seconds, which is a nice bonus.

E: Photon Shield Photon Barrier

Keeping people shielded after they respawned was always a huge pain in the ass and not very exciting, so Blizzard’s dropped the entire thing and replaced placing individual shields on allies with a new ability called Photon Barrier. Photon Barrier is a sort of Reinhardt shield (1000 health instead of 2000) that Symmetra can project outwards. The shield will keep moving until it collides with an object, making it great for supporting an offensive push. It’s a kind of weird ability to try and get used to, but I can see it being pretty impactful on coordinated teams. It’s also fairly intuitive to understand on uncoordinated teams. If you see the shield going out, you don’t need anyone to tell you that you can use it as cover to move up.

Q: Teleporter AND Shield Generator

Symmetra is now the first character in the game to have two ultimate abilities. Don’t worry, she can still only spend her charge on a single ultimate at a time, so it’s not as if she can place down both her teleporter and her new shield generator. Symmetra simply has the choice when placing her ultimate between a teleporter and a shield generator.

Blizzard didn’t want to lose this key ability, especially since it is already perfectly useful in a number of different situations or maps, but the team did want to make Symmetra less focused on being situationally useful, and her brand new shield generator ultimate is set to do just that. This new deployable has a massive spherical area-of-effect without regard for line-of-sight and provides a massive +75HP in shields to your allies who remain within its range. Certain characters such as Genji, Tracer, Mei, and Reaper are going to be absolutely terrifying with all of that extra HP, so I guess we’re lucky that we have everyone’s favorite hacker, Sombra, to serve as a direct counter to what is sure to be a potent ultimate ability for Symmetra. 

Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the shield generator ends up replacing the teleporter in some situations where the teleporter would normally be perfectly warranted. Why bother dying and getting back to the fight quickly when you can just not die in the first place? Imagine trying to break through Symmetra shields and Torbjorn armor. Ugh.

Additionally, the shield generator and teleporter now have most of their health in shields, so you’ll need to expend that much more effort to bust up these deployables since they regenerate the vast majority of their health if not fully taken out.

Have you tried out the Symmetra changes on PTR? What are your initial impressions? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!


Michael Bitton

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB