Within the last week, Blizzard unveiled Patch 188.8.131.52 for the main game alongside a new PTR update, each with numerous changes to specific characters in the game. Each change has major implications to how the game will be played and hints at the direction the developers want to take the game.
Junkrat, along with Reaper, are the two heroes Blizzard has tweaked the most this year. Junkrat's grenade impact damage has been increased and in the PTR, his grenade projectile speed is also buffed. It appears Blizzard has molded Junkrat to pack an even bigger punch at longer ranges. It might require more aim to get the most out of the new changes, but they will allow Junkrat to shred through shields and punish heroes grouped close together, such as in GOATS, from a distance.
Reaper's Lifesteal ability has made him a terror (especially at lower ranks), but at higher levels, crowd control abilities have made Reaper see seldom use, though it seems like his survivability and sheer damage will make him a strong counter to the tank-heavy meta. Much of Reaper's shortcomings tie to his Shadow Step ability, deemed nearly useless by many players. Blizzard added more flexibility to this ability on the PTR so Reaper can re-position more fluently. But will it be enough to make Reaper viable? Perhaps more skilled players will set the standard with clever flanks, forcing other players to be more aware on the battlefield.
Sadly, Lucio is no longer the speedy healer he once was. His speed aura and Amp ability have been harshly nerfed. As an integral part of the GOATS composition, the lack of speed will make less mobile compositions vulnerable to projectile spams. But with the new Knockback ability, Lucio will remain a popular pick on maps with key environmental hazards and ample space to wall ride.
Zarya has been such an important hero that teams who had their Zarya picked off first had a mere 7.8 percent chance to win the ensuring team fight. A fully charged Zarya, with her charged-up beam and huge explosive radius, was a one woman army. Although she was not significantly nerfed, her explosive radius has now been standardized, and she will have to aim more to chip away at enemies with her alternate fire. In other, she will no longer be such an unstoppable force on her own.
Finally, Zenyatta's Orb of Discord will pack less of a punch upon its enemies, much to the relief of main tank players. The Orb of Discord usually meant the death of the Reinhardt player as soon as he lowered his shield, but nerfing this Orb will force Zenyatta players to be more accurate with their Orbs of Destruction if they want to maintain the same amount of damage as before. It also means main tanks will be less prone to dying first in fights.
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