It looks like Overwatch’s least played hero, Symmetra, is being looked at by Blizzard and getting some major updates soon.
Symmetra, who relies on small shield buffs for teammates, 6 mini-turrets, and a teleporter to get teammates back in the match faster, gets demonstrably less play than most other heroes. Symmetra’s lack of use isn’t a cut and dry issue, director Jeff Kaplan explains to Business Insider: “She’s a hero who’s very situational and she actually gets played a fair bit, but … What happens commonly is players will play her on defense on the first part of a point, and then when they’ve lost that point, then they’ll switch off of Symmetra.”
“Now, a character being that situational is not really desirable to us,” Kaplan goes on, “so even though I can kind of justify why it happens, that doesn’t mean that I believe that it’s right. So Symmetra is a hero who’s on our list right now to take a good look at and really investigate.
“I don’t have anything really specific to talk about right now, [but] I think those changes wouldn’t see the light of day until November, though, because we want to do a bunch of internal testing. It’s one thing when we do something [minor] — like, we have a change to Junkrat on the [Public Test Realm] where his Ultimate activates faster, but it’s a very incremental, safe change — whereas the type of changes we think need to happen to Symmetra require a lot more internal testing and discussion.”
Symmetra certainly has earned a reputation as an accessory. Now that the make-up advisory when selecting teams doesn’t recommend a “builder”, she’s never called for; she’s not an attacker, high-damager, defense hero, sniper, tank, or even healer. She works best on a team that has every other base covered, and she’s somewhat redundant with a Torbjorn or Mercy in play.
Her abilities are pretty varied, which means she doesn’t have a specific use: Her minor, one-time-per-life 25-Shield boost only really helps if every fight is even. Her turrets are incredibly useful, but easily destroyed, and can’t usually take someone down alone, unlike Torbjorn’s turret. Her short-range laser gets stronger the longer it’s locked on, and her slow-moving charge shot passes shields, but Symmetra is so low-health that without proper backup she can’t get aggressive. Her teleporter, which warps players from the base to the teleporter, is great, but the teleporter can be destroyed, and Mercy does a similar job– and also heals.
There are plenty of directions for Blizzard to take Symmetra, perhaps by swapping one of her skills for something that ties her otherwise diverse skillset together, e.g. making her more aggressively or defensively specialized. How she will actually change remains to be seen. Blizzard will clearly put the time in; they’re still reworking Mercy.