Earlier today, the Overwatch dev team’s Geoff Goodman announced a series of changes to the ever-controversial hero, Brigitte (aka Brig). Included in the changes were: a Shield Bash damage nerf, being reduced from 50 to 5 (!); a reduction to her Inspire passive, from 1.5 seconds to 1, along with an increase in its longevity, expanding from 5 seconds to 6; and an increase in her E-ability healing from 80 to 100. Overall, her support aspect was buffed, while her damage output was nerfed.
The changes come after months of complaints from the competitive Overwatch scene, stemming from Brig’s excessive viability, by which I mean to say, her overpowered kit. Passive self-healing, an extra 600 health in the form of a shield, two crowd control (CC) abilities, and the potential to win a 1v1 with about any DPS in the game (namely Tracer, which serves as an explanation as to why the British time-traveler has seemed so dormant): who would have thought that such a toolset would yield such dominant results? Certainly not the Overwatch dev team. The hero has remained without harm for the past several months, as aforementioned, and has spurred the stagnation of the competitive meta for this same period. The inescapable grip of GOATs-related compositions is palpable – we now have GOATs, ZOATs, DOATs, FLOATs, MOATs… at some point, we’re gonna run out of acronyms, and we’ll just have to call the comp by its true name: absolute garbage. Previous comps have been dominant, yes, but at least they were somewhat entertaining to watch or play; even Quad Tank seems like a bright spot in the meta’s history relative to GOATs.
Why is this particular comp so unfun? Keyword: stuns. Team presses W, Brig presses right-click and shift, enemy Reinhardt dies, the team wins. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. In standard GOATs, the number of stuns at any one time for one team, from my perspective, seems to be at 4: two from Brig, one from Rein, and one from Ana (note: this does not include ultimates, as the number would increase to incorporate Rein Shatter and Zarya Graviton). These abilities make the game nearly unplayable for DPS, hence why we rarely see them played (save for a possible Sombra or Doomfist, which implement multiple more stuns; it is unfortunate that the only alternative to a three-three GOATs comp is one based on more stuns); however, for a Main Tank player in a role that is required in all metas, life is truly constant agony, as such players are constantly the target of each and every stun in the game. Players of every role like using their skills; GOATs meta -Brig meta – does not allow this for anyone. In brief, pressing W isn’t fun.
However, with the upcoming arrival of these new nerds, I suspect we’ll see a significant drop-off in Brig and, subsequently, in GOATs. As hopefully it’s made clear, GOATs are founded upon stun principles; with the earlier nerf to Brig’s Shield Bash, which disabled her ability to bash through shields, this principle has been uprooted, saving a Reinhardt from a bash, stun, kill combination. Now, with the decimation of the ability’s damage, Brig seems less likely to gain any value when she actually lands the bash, as I don’t think she’ll be able to auto-kill an unfortunate squishy that she happens to catch, including a Tracer. Brig’s inability to provide sufficient threat to diving DPS now may very well enable the role to be reintroduced, thus diminishing the reliance on GOATs. Brig’s healing, nice as it may seem, does not reinforce the role that Brig needs to play in GOATs, being that of a crowd control hero; thus, I think her role will be detrimentally impacted. Well, I hope. I suppose GOATs could continue to be played, but I personally don’t see why. A nerf so apparently significant won’t come without consequences, and I anticipate a critical meta realignment as a result. In fact, seeing Sombra come solidly into the meta wouldn’t surprise me, but I’ll wait for competitive to define that, not me.
Overall, I think the nerfs indicate a more positive direction for the meta, as they draw away from the strength of stun-based GOATs and put at least some of the power back into the hands of DPS heroes. Of course, I’m not a professional player, so it is not within my jurisdiction to define the next meta. Only time will tell whether Overwatch moves toward a more skill-based system, or if the game will remain in a disenchanting stasis of stuns. For the sake of players and viewers alike, I pray for the former.