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Lucio and Symmetra are the latest heroes to spark the accessibility debate

When does a hero’s kit become too easy, or too inaccessible?

Blizzard Entertainment

Overwatch currently faces a challenge with the rebalancing and adjustment of heroes that comes with every patch: dealing with player accessibility. Overwatch prides itself on being an accessible game with a variety of heroes that can be played by fans of all skill levels; as someone with health problems, I’m always confident loading into a game. If I can’t play Pharah because I’m not able to deal with the movement and precision needed, I go ahead and lock in Torbjorn. However, two heroes have reignited the debate around hero accessibility: Lucio and Symmetra.

Recent wall-ride changes to the PTR made Lucio a much easier wall rider, but lowered his skill ceiling by making it far more difficult for him to do high skill tricks. Those changes are currently under heavy iteration, and we may see a Lucio who’s much more nimble in the future... but fans spoke out. They disliked the idea that Lucio’s skill floor was lowered, along with his skill ceiling. For many players, its important for them to have the ability to express high skill mechanics in game and be able to outplay opponents by being better at a hero.

But there is another group of players that are concerned. Mercy’s previous kit, for instance, was much easier to play. In certain situations, you could nearly play one handed. Now, her ultimate demands a player’s full concentration and the use of both hands. Mass Resurrection was likely bad for the game, but removing it leads to a much more difficult hero. It’s one thing to have to relearn a hero due to balance changes, its another thing to have to struggle to re-learn your old favorite while coping with a disability.

While discussing the next Symmetra rework, Geoff Goodmann shared that Symmetra’s primary fire will no longer lock on.

Yes. We’re still trying some things but whats working pretty well right now is her primary fire changed to no longer lock on but works as a straight beam that is fairly thick and has increased range. It still has the potential to gain extra damage by dealing damage like it does now, but instead of going 30/60/120 dps it is currently 65/130/195 dps. However, it now takes a combined 2 seconds of damage to ‘level up’ to the next tier of damage instead of 1 second. This means the weapon has significantly more potential but it is more difficult to get it to max power. Also, when hitting a barrier it currently generates ammo instead of consuming it. This means not only is she good at taking down barriers themselves, but she is good at just generating charge off barriers and using that charge to take down enemies as well.

Her alternate fire is still a charge-up large projectile, but it has a bunch of important changes as well. First off, it charges to max charge in 1 second, down from 2 seconds. Next, the projectile speed has increased significantly, currently it has changed from 10 m/s to 30 m/s. Lastly, instead of piercing enemies, it now impacts enemies/environments and explodes, dealing area damage around it. We’ve been heavily iterating on how much damage this ball deals now, but a direct shot has been hovering in the area of 130ish, with a large % of the damage coming from a direct impact (rather then the explosion).

I’ll say it here again, we are still pretty heavily iterating on this stuff so this is all subject to change, but we like to try to give you guys some insight as to whats going on with her rework as it stands today.

All of these Symmetra changes sound interesting and compelling, but disabled players enjoyed having a hero in the game who required no aim. While there are certainly alternatives, some players are concerned to see their potential pool whittled down further.

As Overwatch continues to evolve, this will be a struggle developers continue to have to deal with. The game is meant to be for all players, but it’s also meant to be a continually evolving competitive experience that proactively solves underplayed characters and balance problems. As Lucio and Symmetra continue to be iterated on and tweaked, we’ll see whether it is possible to prioritize all players while updating a hero who needs help.