The developers of Blizzard's multiplayer shooter Overwatch are constantly monitoring whether its 22 heroes are balanced. One hero in particular, the support character Symmetra, is on Blizzard's list to modify significantly in the near future. Here's a brief overview of why.
Overwatch's Symmetra is too situational
To evaluate whether an Overwatch character needs to be buffed (made stronger), nerfed (made weaker) or otherwise changed, Blizzard looks at a wide variety of factors: community feedback, how frequently a hero is chosen relative to the others, and how frequently a character is on the winning side of a match, for example.
Symmetra is "one of our least-played heroes, [but] you have to read the stats with a little grain of salt there," Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan said in an interview with Business Insider. "She's a hero who's very situational and she actually gets played a fair bit, but she gets switched off of. What happens commonly is players will play her on defense on the first part of a point, and then when they've lost that point, then they'll switch off of Symmetra."
Later in the interview, he continued, "Now, a character being that situational is not really desirable to us, so even though I can kind of justify why it happens, that doesn't mean that I believe that it's right. So Symmetra is a hero who's on our list right now to take a good look at and really investigate."
Basically, Symmetra's abilities — like her fragile turrets and extremely close-range attack — make her a viable pick in only very specific scenarios. Other characters, like Soldier: 76, are much more versatile heroes who are likely to be useful in a variety of situations.
What changes will Symmetra undergo?
Exactly what Symmetra might look like in the future is anyone's guess, but Kaplan has been pretty clear about what you shouldn't expect.
"There's a lot of pushing for Symmetra to be something that she's not, [like making her turrets heal people]," Kaplan explained in a video on YouTube. "We're not really interested at this time in exploring Symmetra as a healer. We know she has been categorized as a support character in Overwatch but that doesn't necessarily mean, to us, that she needs to be a healer. If that means we have to move her out of the support category, we would rather do that than completely shift the character's design to something she was never intended to be."
When will Symmetra be buffed?
The earliest Kaplan estimates Overwatch players might see changes for Symmetra is mid-November, but he notes in the video referenced earlier that it could take longer, depending on the success of the changes to her design.
If the first iterations of her changes don't work, it will take longer. Eventually, though, players will see those changes on the game's PTR — public test region — where players can test updates before they roll out to the official version of the game.
Whenever those changes eventually hit, Mic will let you know.