Overwatch Hero Designer Says Sombra Rework: “Sombra Didn’t Have The Correct Building Blocks”
In the ever-evolving world of Overwatch, change is constant. The recent news of the Sombra rework in Overwatch 2 Season 7 has ignited discussions and anticipation among players. Andre Abrahamian, a member of the Overwatch 2 Hero Design Team, recently offered insights into the motivations and creative process behind the Sombra rework.
Check complete details of the transformation and the challenges the design team faced in bringing the hacker extraordinaire back into the limelight.
What was the Sombra’s Previous State?
Before we explore the rework, it’s crucial to understand where Sombra stands in the Overwatch roster. Sombra was known for her elusive nature, hacking abilities, and unique Opportunist skill, which allowed her to see low-health enemies through walls. While her kit was intriguing, it posed several challenges for the design team. Players often found it hard to engage fully with her abilities, leading to a somewhat lackluster experience.
The Motivations for Change:
Andre Abrahamian kicks off the discussion by emphasizing the importance of each hero having clear strengths and weaknesses that can be finely tuned for balance. Heroes should make an impact on the match, offering both opportunities and counterplay. Sombra, in her previous state, didn’t quite fit this vision.
The overarching goals of the Sombra rework were twofold. First, the design team wanted Sombra to feel more involved in battles, encouraging players to commit to engagements actively. Second, they aimed to maintain Sombra’s core identity as a hacker while enhancing her gameplay.
According to Abrahamian, it was rooted in the belief that Sombra’s original design didn’t provide the necessary “building blocks” for her long-term place in the game. In his own words, “Each hero should have clear strengths and weaknesses that can be tuned accordingly. A hero’s impact on a match should be felt by you, your team, and the enemy team.” Sombra’s abilities needed an overhaul to make her a more engaging and strategically significant character.
Challenges with Sombra’s Abilities:
As the design team delved into the rework, they identified specific challenges within Sombra’s kit. These challenges revolved around her Translocator and Stealth abilities.
Translocator: The Translocator posed an issue as it was rarely used as a form of counterplay due to Overwatch’s fast-paced gameplay. It was challenging for players to locate and exploit Sombra’s Translocator effectively. In Overwatch 2, with the reduction in stun frequency, catching Sombra became even more elusive. Players often used the Translocator in safe zones, leading to a rinse-and-repeat strategy of solo engagements, which was against the cooperative spirit of the game.
Stealth: Sombra’s Stealth ability also presented challenges. The team discussed its strengths, such as the ability to Hack while using Stealth, activating Stealth at any time with the cooldown available, and its indefinite duration. The design team wanted to address these concerns to create a more balanced experience.
The Journey of Hack:
Hack, one of Sombra’s iconic abilities, underwent significant changes throughout the rework process. The team considered how Hack could be used while invisible, leading to multiple iterations and discussions. The goal was not merely to nerf Sombra but to introduce more counterplay options and make her gameplay more engaging.
The Birth of Virus:
During the rework, the design team explored various ideas, including an ability called “Cybernetic Wire” that dealt damage in an arc, with bonus damage to enemies at low health. Although this concept seemed promising, it was deemed too oppressive due to its area of effect nature. However, this exploration paved the way for the introduction of Virus, a new skill shot ability.
Virus offered several advantages over Cybernetic Wire. It gave enemies time to react to the damage over time effect, promoting a more balanced and interactive gameplay experience. Virus also synergized effectively with Sombra’s Machine Pistol and encouraged players to initiate hacks before utilizing Virus for maximum effectiveness.
The Final Sombra Rework:
The culmination of iterative design and extensive playtesting led to the Sombra rework we see in Overwatch 2 Season 7. The changes aim to make Sombra a more engaging hero to play while providing a less frustrating experience for her opponents. With a quick teleportation feature for Translocator, a passive Stealth that grants enemies time to react, and the lethal Virus ability, Sombra’s new kit promises to breathe fresh life into the character.
The Sombra rework serves as a testament to the dedication and creativity of the Overwatch Hero Design Team. Overwatch 2 Season 7 is poised to introduce exciting changes, with Sombra leading the charge. As the Overwatch community eagerly anticipates the release of Season 7, the Hero Design Team remains committed to maintaining a dynamic and engaging gaming experience for all players.