Earlier this week, talking head Jeff Kaplan posted a developer blog a lot of the Overwatch community has been waiting for: the redesign of Symmetra. He started by acknowledging that the old Symmetra had certain situations in which she was powerful—after all, we saw Team Korea’s Symmetra pick at the Overwatch World Cup—but that she was too niche to be widely used.
There were plenty of jokes, before, about how Symmetra didn’t really fill her supposed role of Support. The closest she got was her applied shield, provided a shrug-worthy 25 points of shield. That’s not enough to make the difference between living and dying on any character that might be killed by a headshot from Widowmaker or Hanzo, and it’s not enough to matter for higher health tanks. Really, she was a defense hero, focused around denying areas with her sentry turrets and shortening the walk back from spawn thanks to her teleporter.
Against expectations, rather than giving her more supporting options, Symmetra’s redesign seems to have given her the ability to serve as an off-tank. With her new ability Photon Barrier, she joins the ranks of characters like Winston and Reinhardt, who can deploy shields to protect their team. Symmetra’s shield actually functions like a projectile, moving forward at about the speed Symmetra can walk. From early tests on the PTR, it seems to have about half the health of Reinhardt’s barrier, and more than Winston’s. This could mean an end to the era of the Required Reinhardt, since Symmetra can provide a similar advantage to her team.
In addition, Symmetra will be the first Overwatch character to have a choice between two ultimates. The first, Teleporter, works pretty much the same as it used to. It will be a bit harder to destroy now, thanks to a higher health bar, a portion of which recharges as a shield.
Her other ultimate is Shield Generator, which grants all allies within a certain radius a hearty 75 points of regenerating shield. This means that on maps where distance from spawn isn’t a serious concern, Symmetra is still an absolutely viable character.
There’s also an assortment of quality of life changes—her maximum “charge” of sentry turrets has been increased from three to six, making quick placement more of an option, and the range on her primary fire’s tether has increased. You can go here to get a closer look at the changes to Symmetra, which are now live on the PTR.