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The Lunar New Year patch nerfs Brigitte, buffs Reaper

It’s about to be the age of Reaper

Blizzard Entertainment

UPDATE: This patch has gone live with the Lunar New Year event.

Today’s PTR patch marks the first update Overwatch has gotten for 2019, and it shows the balance changes we can immediately expect. As always, these gameplay buffs and nerfs will be tested on the PTR, but barring any unexpected results, we can eventually expect them to hit live servers. They should shake up the current competitive metagame, so let’s see what changes Blizzard has in store for us.

Damage reduction from armor reduced from -5 to -3

Developer Comments: Before this change armor reduced all incoming damage by up to 5, maxing at half of the normal amount. This change reduces the damage reduction to 3, while still capping at half. This change will be mostly noticeable on heroes that fire quickly or in a burst of shots (such as shotguns), and which do more than 6 damage per shot. For example, Soldier: 76’s Heavy Pulse Rifle will now do 16 damage per shot to armor, up from 14, an increase of 15%. Armor was a bit too strong overall, especially when being healed quickly and often. This change will help more heroes fight against higher armored enemies.

The first change hits armor across the board, with rapidly firing heroes getting a buff to their damage against heavy armor. This will hit champions like Brigitte, who armors up her allies; now, characters like Reaper or Soldier: 76 will be able to tear them down a little quicker.

This is followed up by a nerf to Brigitte herself.


Now has a maximum duration of 30 seconds

Developer Comments: Sometimes Rally could cause a snowballing effect where it was too difficult to deal with the increased health of Brigitte’s allies before she built up another one. This change puts a cap on how long her Rally effect can last to make it a bit more manageable in those situations.

Rally is meant to allow a team to bundle together and push forward, but that’s meant to be a short-term buff, not an ongoing effect. Rally will now stop after its maximum duration, meaning that teams will have to use that window efficiently to push a point or secure a payload.

D.Va also gets a minor hit, although it shouldn’t stop talented players from gobbling ults and saving allies.

Defense Matrix

Cooldown increased from 1 second to 2 seconds

Developer Comments: This change allows D.Va’s enemies to try to play around her Defense Matrix by increasing its downtime between uses.

This tweak shouldn’t seriously affect D.Va’s power, but it means that bringing up the Matrix will become more of an active decision and less of something players reflexively hit in combat.

Finally, everyone’s favorite spooky ghost gets another buff. Reaper’s life steal now heals him for more damage — combined with the nerfs to armor, he should be in a much better spot.

The Reaping

Life steal increased from 30% to 50% of damage dealt

Developer Comments: Reaper’s passive is one of the main tools he has which allow him to play aggressively when near his enemies. This change allows him to keep the pressure up as long as he can stay near his enemies enough to keep dealing damage. This change is particularly effective versus tanks, as they tend to do less damage than damage heroes, and also take more damage from his Hellfire Shotguns due to their larger hit volumes.

Reaper’s been the beneficiary of a few buffs, so we’ll see how his balance lands if these changes go live. As it is, it looks as though he’ll become a potent anti-GOATS pick; when the enemy bundles high health heroes together with a Brigitte, we might see teams pull out the Reaper to shred them apart.

In addition to today’s PTR patch, we saw an Ana lore drop that teases an upcoming mission, meaning that 2019 is off to a great start for Overwatch fans.