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For those that are unfamiliar with the game Overwatch, it is an ambitious crossover of FPS and MOBA while being a spiritual successor to the wildly popular Team Fortress 2. You have heroes that require a high degree of aiming skill, heroes that rely on wild cooldowns to zip around the battlefield and dodge fire, heroes that provide mobile cover for their teammates and even a hero that can resurrect dead teammates on the spot. Trying to combine the mechanical elements of games such as CSGO with team-focused cooldown centric gameplay of a League of Legends style MOBA has presented several balance challenges for the game. If you lean to making the cooldowns the focus of the game, you alienate the people that have grinded days’ worth of aim training and practice, whereas if you balance it too far into the mechanical side you make the cooldown centric heroes largely irrelevant and it turns into ‘who can click more heads faster’. For instance, Winston is a high HP tank with relatively low aim requirements, but requires intense map knowledge and cooldown usage, and to balance that they gave him a very low damage per second output and lower team support through shielding than other shield tanks, for instance. On the other end of the spectrum you have Widowmaker, a sniper that can kill most heroes with a single headshot but while her cooldown, Grapple Hook, allows her to disengage from aggression, it does little to support her team and a Widowmaker missing shots is among the most useless teammates you can have. Blizzard had actually done a pretty good job as far as balancing the strengths and weaknesses of the heroes, at least until Brigitte was released.

For about a year into the lifespan of the top level pro scene there was one team composition (the 6 heroes you pick out of the 29 hero lineup) that was far more common than any other, the dive comp. Dive comps relied on high mobility to quickly pounce from target to target quickly eliminating the opposition. When you were the target of the dive, usually as a support, you did not have very much reaction time to do anything at all before the coordinated fires of the enemy killed you. After over a year of tired and abused support players complaining on the Overwatch forums, the balance team decided they wanted to make a support that could punish the popular dive heroes D.Va, Winston, Tracer, and Genji while also being able to heal and survive as a support to Rein based comps. Not only did they want her to have that utility but Support has, traditionally, been the variety of heroes most associated with the cooldown-MOBA side of the game so they wanted to keep her accessible so the lowest support players could play her if the dive heroes were beating them up. But they went too far.

Brigitte, in her infinite adorableness, because a veritable nightmare for players that had spent the past year or more perfecting their dives. She could single handedly force 6 players on the other team to swap because her kit was so good at punishing them. But worse than that was that her kit was extremely easy to use and hard to mismanage. Her primary fire was essentially a slightly better version of Winston’s weapon in terms of reach and damage. She had the strongest knockback ability in the game that also dealt 3 times the damage of comparable knockback skills. Her stun was unavoidable, went further than comparable stuns, did 10 times the damage with half the cooldown. Her healing required her to do damage, which wasn’t hard and had the largest AOE healing in the game attached to it alongside a short cooldown, long range, auto-aiming burst heal that effectively fully healed 75% of the cast, and if you accidentally hit a teammate that wasn’t low, it gave them over-healing, the only ability in the game to do so. Due to the high damage numbers she had, she could put 190 unblockable damage out every 4 seconds when she was released. In a game where most heroes have 200 HP, that’s pretty terrifying considering she is also healing herself in the process. But that’s not all! She also came equipped with a 600 health personal shield and 250 health making her effectively the 4th highest HP hero in the game at the time. And if that wasn’t enough she could up that even more with her ultimate that stacked another 150 armor to her and her teammates of overhealing. With all of her abilities able to ignore barriers, her burst damage being in the top 5 of the cast, her ‘tankiness’ being at least top 3 between her high health and self heal, and her healing not being terrible either, every comp could find a way to use this menace. She went far past her initial design of being a support’s answer to dive and ended up being ran in every single possible comp as a counter to nearly every single possible comp.

The implications of having a hero with virtually no mechanical skill become such a mainstay were mentioned earlier, the players that had spent so much time becoming mechanical gods were getting destroyed by a hero that took about 15 minutes to master mechanically. And it wasn’t a matter of not playing the matchup correctly. Brigitte’s main weakness is her range, but given her ability to tank damage, and Overwatch being an objective based game, there is only so long you can avoid going into her ‘zone of anti-fun’ as I called it before you have to get on point. And once you were there, it didn’t matter if you had the best aim bot in the game on, you were going to get destroyed and teabagged by a sweet Swedish girl.

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