So, Hero 28 has finally been added to Overwatch: Wrecking Ball. Amidst much speculation, fan-favorite Hammond has finally made his in-game appearance, in a massive metal ball?
Wrecking Ball is a new off-tank hero—some people argue that he could be a main tank, but his shield is only personally effective, so it’s more accurate to class him as an off-tank. His mobility rivals D.Va and Winston, as his ball configuration can reach massive speeds, and his grappling hook can catapult him to huge vertical heights. On top of this, his adaptive shield can temporarily boost his HP to 900, recalling Roadhog’s “Take A Breather,” and his Piledriver animation looks like Seismic Slam on steroids. His ultimate is not to be dismissed either, as it is a powerful area-denial move, which can delete low-HP targets in a tense CP battle.
So, let’s examine what impact Wrecking Ball will have on the storm/stun meta.
Hanzo’s nerf—making the duration shorter and cooldown longer for Storm Arrows—alongside the buffs to Soldier, Mccree, Mei, and Sombra, have already changed the way DPS will function next season. Hitscan will finally be resurrected from the dead, and we won’t see as much arrow spam. However, it is the static heroes who will be most affected by Wrecking Ball.
A triple support/dual tank/Hanzo composition will be annihilated by Wrecking Ball. The Brigitte/Rein chokehold, with a Zarya/Hog and Zen/Lucio hanging out in the backline, won’t know what hit them. Think of Hanamura A, for example. All Wrecking Ball needs to do is grapple to Junkrat’s crow’s nest on the top-left of the first choke, and boom—Piledriver straight down into the choke. Cue adaptive shield, with 900 HP, and Wrecking Ball can stay alive long enough for his Soldier/Mccree to pick off the stragglers. No more six-in-a-room static defense.
This isn’t to say that grouping up won’t work, or that shield comps will become obsolete. Wrecking Ball will rely heavily on game-sense. He didn’t get that three star difficulty rating for no reason. However, the Volskaya Orisa/Brigitte shield-rinse/stun strategy will now be more susceptible to aerial attack, and adaptive shield is a fantastic answer to stun spam. Even Doomfist will have a hard time with Wrecking Ball, as after his Rocket Punch, he will be left with far less mobility and face to face with a target with over double his health-pool.
He Came in Like a Sentient Hamster in a Mech
Wrecking Ball won’t like Orb of Discord. Despite his mobility, escaping effectively will require a lot of skill, and Discord invites a team to wail on a target. In this situation, 900 HP worth of ultimate charge goes to the opposite team. Also, hitscan heroes have a huge hitbox to feed on. We’ll see a lot more Deadeyes, and a lot more Tactical Visors. On the flipside, turrets that target Wrecking Ball will leave the rest of the team alone, and do negligible amounts of damage to him. He can draw fire away from the team like a bubbled Zarya, allowing advancement into a turret-defended area, and subsequent free ultimate charge for healers.
Wrecking Ball will force Overwatch to become faster. A metal ball with tank status that can grapple around Eichenwalde’s middle castle in a split second is quite literally an eponymous wrecking ball. Static defense will need to be ready to defend an aerial assault at any given time, without getting too distracted to deal with an infantry advance. Points will need to be monitored more closely, with all checkpoints being susceptible to rapid advancement at any given time. Lastly, players will need to get used to Minefield. Like Mei’s Blizzard, this area-denial ultimate will work best on the point, and it has serious damage potential.
Wrecking Ball may look a little silly, but he’s the best thing for Overwatch right now. The meta is supposed to be dynamic, and I’ll be damned if the introduction of Wrecking Ball doesn’t induce serious changes to the competitive scene.
The Hero We Need: The Wrecking Ball Overwatch Meta in Competitive
Don’t forget that the Overwatch Summer Games event starts next week. Blizzard has already shown off some of the great new skins, but we have yet to see any for our little hamster meta-wrecker. Maybe a beach ball?