Overmix: With the Sure Shot

Gonna be review 1 of 2 here today, since I missed yesterday and @Ventain‘s contest ends tomorrow! First up is @Lugger2‘s submission of the archer Enya:

C78s4fcXgAISV4C.jpg

Artwork and design credit: Lugger (Artstation)

Basics:

  • (E-Ability): Enya deploys a rain from electric arrows that creates an electrified area. Enemies caught in that area are slowed and take damage; those who linger too long are paralyzed.
  • (Q-Ability): Enya creates a big arrow which travels and deals damage through the air in a line. That arrow knocks back the first enemy in the way and stuns it if the enemy hits a wall. It passes through any enemies in encounters.

Review:

Role: Given the properties of the hero being focused on area denial, it’s safe to say that Enya should be classed as a Defense hero and specifically also a Sniper.

LMB/RMB: I would assume that Enya’s primary fire is the light/fire arrows she’s depicted with. While they’re not specifically called out, the notion that they might deal damage over time when they hit would be a way to differentiate them from Hanzo’s standard arrows, but it’s also reasonable for them to just be stylish arrows. (However, damage-over-time arrows that deal aggravated damage on successive hits would contribute to mastery of the hero.)

E-Ability: At first blush, there needs to be a way to differentiate this from Mei’s Ultimate, which appears to do the same thing (area slow, ticking damage, eventual paralysis). One way to do it would be for the E to trigger an alternate arrow (much like Hanzo switches between Sonic and Scatter Arrows), which, when it lands, generates a damage and slowing aura around it. However, Enya can continuously fire these arrows (up to a maximum number of charges) in order to stack the effect on a single target (or target area) or hit different areas in order to cover different entrances to the area. The damage could be multiplicative (that is, the more arrows overlapping in a particular area, the greater the damage and slowing effect) but it likely should not be AS damaging as Mei’s Ultimate even at max stacks. (I would nominate calling the ability “Snare Arrows” in this case.)

As a starting point for an ability, it’s a great place to start, and the visual of Enya peppering an area in order to visibly deny it to the enemy is pretty unique. Moreover, if the arrows have a similar effect when she lands them on a target, it means that when Enya can land multiple shots on a target, she’s able to pin them down from a long distance. This contrasts well with Mei’s function of pinning people down at a close distance.

Q-Ability: This is a great subversion of Hanzo’s Dragon Strike, since instead of a huge, slow-moving damage field, it’s instead launching a mini-Reinhardt at a target and taking them out of the fight. (The fact that the art depicts a Reinhardt-shaped enemy being hit by it is wonderful irony ^_^ ). Moreover, it doubles down on Enya as an area denial specialist, since one ability punishes players for stepping into an area she’s prepared against them, while this ability removes them from the area completely without necessarily killing them.

Mechanically, it might be interesting to have the ability do more damage based on how far the struck hero travels. So if the hero is hit and then immediately hits a wall, they take a little bit of damage and are pinned (a la getting hit dead-on with Reinhardt’s charge) but if they go a longer distance before hitting a wall, they take much more damage and are THEN pinned. And in circumstances where the arrow hits them, they don’t hit a wall, AND they aren’t carried off the map, then it does enough damage to kill them.

The only thing I feel that Enya is missing is a movement ability of some kind. Hanzo has his wall-climb passive that lets him get up to perches. Widowmaker has her grappling hook to reach higher perches. Because the art depicts Enya on the same elevation as her targets, I like the notion of her being a sniper that stays on the ground (especially since that’s important for her to launch her Q into someone most effectively). What leaps to mind first is something like Disengage, like hunters have in World of Warcraft, where she’s propelled backwards a short distance. That would let her get out of hotspots quickly, and also combo well into her launching her Q into a nearby enemy. Learning how to control a backwards jump properly would contribute to the mastery of the hero.

Assessment:

In terms of providing an alternate to Hanzo that brings a number of different tools to the table, Enya really delivers. Probably the best thing about this design (aside from her art, which has exactly the kind of vibrant color to it that makes Overwatch so bright and hopeful) is that it helps to emphasize that different heroes are going to be more effective at performing certain tasks on maps. Looking specifically at Defense/Snipers, Widowmaker excels at taking advantage of very high positions and getting headshots at the furthest distances. Hanzo excels at taking advantage of mid-height positions, temporarily providing sight on blind spots, and can punish with Scatter Arrow at any range. Enya excels at denying entry at choke points, and aiding takedowns for fleeing enemies, all while being situated on the ground.

Overall, she’s a great design, both in terms of her kit and the wonderful art she’s depicted with. ^_^

Advertisements

Overmix: Timey-wimey spacey stuff

Another prominent art colleague on Twitter, @Frenone, has been kind enough to let me critique her submission for @Ventain‘s contest. So let’s dig in:

C76k5DrXkAALgfd.jpg

Artwork and design credit: @Frenone

Basics:

  • Role: Defense
  • Quasar Jet: Cygna’s primary weapons are her bracers, which emit high-power jets in opposite directions with high accuracy at middle-long range.
  • Gamma Rays: Cygna emits short-range but high damaging gamma rays.
  • Wormhole: Cygna can briefly warp space-time, creating a wormhole for her team to travel a short distance.
  • Cosmic Cleanse: Cygna can absorb matter from nearby opponents, slowing their speed.
  • (Ultimate) Black Hole: Cygna turns into a black hole herself, pulling all nearby enemies towards her, trapping them in her Event Horizon. Those within short range will be torn apart by the strong gravity.

Frenone also provided a bit of additional context for her abilities on her Patreon.

Review:

Role: Assigning her to the Defense role is actually pretty key here, since the big thing about Defense heroes is their function as area-denial specialists. I just wanted to call that out in specific because I don’t think a lot of people grok the notion that punishing the enemy for being in the wrong place is 100% what Defense heroes are about.

Quasar Jets: I asked for a bit of clarification on how these work, since it wasn’t immediately evident from the ability description, and Frenone’s response was this:

So with that in mind, this makes Quasar Jets a VERY interesting skill since you don’t really get to aim the jets; they fire off perpendicular to Cygna, meaning they’re only going to directly hit enemies that are OUT of her field of view, unless they’re right on top of her. Given that they’re also supposed to be accurate at mid to long-range, that means that she’ll threaten more distant targets, but she won’t actually be able to aim at them directly.

Gamma Rays: The idea that Cygna emits a damage aura around herself really doubles down on her as a Defense character, because she specifically makes it bad to be close to her. It also makes it important for her to be closer to the frontline, which among Defense heroes is really only something that Mei does at the moment.

Wormhole: It feels like a big deal to give a hero an on-demand line-of-sight teleporter when Symmetra’s teleporter is still a thing, but if you constrain it to line-of-sight (meaning it would work like Reaper’s teleport) and you constrain it with a reasonably long cooldown (like 10-12 seconds) with a small window for usage (2-3 seconds for folks to run through it, and maybe Cygna doesn’t get to use it herself) then that helps to balance it out. Allowing other heroes on your team to get to places that they generally wouldn’t be able to get to (aka putting Ana on an actual sniper perch) was one of the perks with Mei’s icewall that doesn’t generally get used, so having something purpose-built for that could be awesome.

Cosmic Cleanse: The way the ability is written, I’m not 100% certain if this is intended to be a passive AoE slow or an activated ability. I’m going to angle for “activated ability” because that’s the more balanced option, but also because that’s where Cygna mastery will come into play: using CC on a nearby enemy, forcing them to stay in her gamma ray slow-death bubble, while she keeps murdering them with jet blasts and charging up her Black Hole is going to make her a very brutal Defense hero. To me, that means that Cosmic Cleanse needs to be somewhat difficult to land (or a very close range ability), because if successfully landing it gives Cygna a noticeable uptick in her ultimate charge, getting good at landing it and surviving long enough to pop the ult is going to be a big deal.

Black Hole: Part of the obvious concern with Black Hole is that it feels a LOT like Zarya’s Graviton Surge, since it would effectively draw nearby enemies to a centralized point and deal damage over time to them. A way to avoid that would be to flip the ability on its head: instead of Graviton Surge, Cygna’s Black Hole causes enemies within a wide area (e.g. the size of Mei’s Blizzard) to get snapped on top of Cygna after a short delay, and THEN take a hit of damage from the impact (like a much ruder version of Orisa’s Halt!). The further away an enemy is, the more damage they take.

The key is this: D.va, Winston, and other heroes with big movement abilities can escape Graviton Surge’s draw, avoiding the damage and all the focused fire coming with it. Black Hole would punish players trying to escape more harshly, in addition to drawing them into Cygna’s gamma ray bubble, and if you combine this with other ults that want people in one place at one time (High Noon, Self-Destruct, Graviton Surge, Earthshatter, look it’s a long list) it combos really well.

Assessment:

This is a great kit that draws on some fantastic science. That said, I feel like it almost might be too much: Quasar Jets make her a threat at mid to long range, while Gamma Rays and Cosmic Cleanse make her a big threat in close range, and Wormhole conceivably lets her either close the gap with a hero who has spent an escape already or send an ally after them. And all of this is capped off with Black Hole, which punishes people who are in her general area. She’s a bit TOO powerful in that respect, to the extent that at least one ability would have to get pared off or altered noticeably in order for her to get balanced out. If I had to nominate one, it would actually be Quasar Jets, since that concentrates her threatening range to the space around her, which would then emphasize the black hole motif that she’s all about to begin with.

That still presents some issues: as a Defense hero that focuses on this much area denial, Cygna REALLY makes herself a high priority target for the enemy team to try and take down just as a quality of life measure. Because she’s so concentrated on a short-range area, she won’t have any answers to snipers trying to take her down for exactly that reason (Mei, by contrast, can create cover for herself, has Ice Block as an instant escape/self-heal, and can at least use her RMB to threaten enemies at range). It might swing the pendulum too far in one direction, which is why even without Quasar Jets you’d still need to finesse the total design some more.

I really want to call out Quasar Jets for a moment, because on the one hand, it’s an ability that looks great when you’re looking at Cygna. If she runs up and starts spinning around while spamming that, it just amplifies the notion of her being the center of a ball of death who will ruin the day of anyone who comes up to her. It’s beautiful, and I think it would just be a wondrous site to behold.

What I’m unfortunately stumbling over is the part where a) spinning around while in first person is not going to be something players can sustain and still move with precision on a map in order to avoid incoming fire or effects (aside from whether or not players get sick trying to do it quickly), b) not being able to aim where the shots actually land won’t give the player the visceral feeling of successfully landing shots on targets, and c) as cool as the ability is going to look for other players, I just don’t think it’s going to look good to the Cygna player personally.

Now, all of that being said, this is still a fantastic starting point in terms of developing a kit for a character and getting a sense for what she brings to the cast of existing heroes. I think there’s a way to make Quasar Jets work (perhaps she has a weapon that fires rounds that spawn quasar vortexes on the ground, so the visual of the jets is retained but she still gets the visceraliy of landing shots), but I also think that editing down Cygna’s breadth of abilities would help to concentrate what makes her awesome.

Big kudos to Frenone for giving me permission to critique the design. ^_^

Overmix: Taste the Back of My Crystal Fist

Okay, brief backstory: my buddy @Ventain on Twitter decided to run a contest for folks to design their own heroes for Overwatch. Since I’d just spent a bunch of brainspace trying to suss out who the next hero was going to be based on the trickles of information during a brief social media campaign, my creative juices were flowing and I decided to submit. Another artist I follow, @Faebelina, entered as well, and tweeted out her entry, and because I really like this hobby of critiquing OW hero designs from a gameplay standpoint, I asked Faeb if I could post my thoughts up here.

So let’s get started!

Artwork and design credit: @Faebelina

Basics:

  • Role: Support (Healer)
  • Shard Projectiles: Mira shoots shards from her crystal gauntlet that damage enemies.
  • Healing Aura: Mira’s crystal gauntlet heals allies in a cone in front of her.
  • Crystal Traps: Mira places a crystal trap that effects a small area, healing allies and slowing enemies (3 charges).
  • Diamond Skin: In difficult situations, Mira can coat herself in a shield of diamond to escape, making her immune to damage but also preventing her from using any other abilities.
  • (Ultimate) Prismatic Shield: Mira drops a large crystal creating a prismatic barrier reflecting incoming damage back to enemies for 4 seconds.

Review:

Shard Projectiles: Because of the range Mira will be sitting at, and because she doesn’t have any movement abilities, I’m initially thinking that Mira’s primary/secondary fire should allow her to have some ability to threaten targets at a distance. But when you consider that all of the other support-healers have got accurate long-distance threat abilities, there’s value in having a support-healer who is more dangerous up close, especially given her Diamond Skin escape.

So all that said, LMB feels like a crystal shot that fires a projectile similar to Mei’s alt-fire, but with less lead time, less accuracy, and faster reload. Since she will generally be facing her allies in order to heal them, she’s generally going to be spraying into the pack in order to get hits in. I imagine her having a fairly small clip and a moderate reload time, because the idea of her holding up that gauntlet and having it kinda accumulate energy that crystallizes around it sounds pretty awesome visually.

For her RMB, though, I really like the idea of it being a brutal punch with that crystal gauntlet that’s like shotgun damage at close range (consequently requiring her to reload more frequently). Her melee (Mouse4) would still be the slash with that crystal sliver in her left hand, but this RMB hit would just punish anyone who closes with her. Would really diversify her from other healer-supports (aside from Lucio’s boop).

Healing Aura: Depending on the dimensions of the cone, Mira is going to be a fairly mid-line support, which places her close to the pack (like Lucio) but generally not as close as Mercy or as far back as Ana (Zenyatta can be anywhere in LoS after he drops his orbs, so he’s a wildcard). Part of the challenge is going to be how well she can keep a moving pack healed when she needs to be aimed at her allies for her passive healing to work.

Crystal Traps: To an extent, I think you could drop the slow component and just amp up the healing aura around the trap. I say this because when you combine this trap with Symmetra’s turrets (which already slow a target) you’ve basically got a reason for allies to run into Symmetra’s turret nest to get healed (and draw in enemies looking for the kill who then get carwashed). What’s great about dropping these on the payload is that it’ll amp up the passive healing folks get from pushing the payload, which Mira would be sitting behind anyway for cover. It’s a perfect payload-focused build.

Diamond Skin: Part of me sees this as too similar to Reaper’s Wraith Form or Mei’s Ice Block, which makes me want to add a different component to it. Generally speaking, though, a Support who has a get-out-of-death-free card can be really sticky if she’s still got someone else around to heal when the effect ends. There’s probably a need to differentiate it more from Zenyatta’s ult, but it’s a great starting point for an ability. Off the cuff: shorten the immunity time frame, and give her an AoE damage explosion when the ability expires (b/c crystal shards are flying off of her). This doubles down on her being dangerous to have in melee range.

Prismatic Barrier: I love a damage-reflecting barrier, especially since it will straight-up murder folks like Roadhog, Reaper, or Pharah with big AoE damage ults that are hard to aim or cancel. I also love it because it’s a fresh mechanism and those are going to get harder to come by as more heroes get added to the game (though Orisa is a demonstration that you don’t need fresh mechanics to put together a hero, natch).

Assessment: 

Mira’s got a wonderful kit to complement her art. She fills a niche of a melee support hero who’s got some tools to survive toe-to-toe against other brawlers, and her ult punishes heroes who fire blindly into it. Drawbacks are that her only escape is Diamond Skin and her ult can whiff if people get wise to the damage reflection, and if her allies are too spread out then her healing is more limited than Lucio’s and she’s got no way to catch up to them.

Overall, that’s exactly the kind of rock/paper/scissors design that works in Overwatch as a game (aka “easy to learn, difficult to master”). This is one of the more grounded and reasonable designs I’ve seen for hero concepts so far, and you can’t beat the kind of heart that Faeb is able to instill in her artwork. So count me as being reasonably pleased with this design; if my own entry in this contest ends up not winning because Mira wins the prize, I ain’t even gonna be mad. ^_^

Reddit Remix: 3/24/17, Jediwatch

My response:

Reflecting beams: the reason why Genji’s bullet deflection works from a design standpoint is because the trajectory of the projectile is changed from one value to another. That logic doesn’t work for the beam weapons, because they don’t adhere to the same logic. Specifically, Zarya’s beam has a fixed endpoint (reflecting that endpoint somewhere else would just read VERY weird visually), while Symm and Winston’s beams latch onto a nearby target and deal damage while that target is in range.

I could see an ability that spawns an energy singularity that acts as a decoy target for Symm/Winston’s beams and maybe draws Zarya’s beam into it while in range, but that doesn’t mesh with the Jedi kit you’re prescribing here. TL;DR: There’s no way to do a Jedi trick that duplicates Genji’s deflect for beam weapons.

Force Push: I don’t see this being functionally different from Lucio’s RMB or Pharah’s E. It matches the kit, but it’s not particularly unique.

Force Lightning: This could be pretty visually spectacular, and fits the kit. I could see a mechanism where the damage dealt is distributed across enemy targets (aka: the fewer enemy targets, the more damage they take) and perhaps an additional part where allies get a temporary lightning aura that acts like Winston’s beam weapon for a brief period after leaving the Ult area.

Force Jump: I like the idea of being able to do an enhanced jump, but I don’t think it needs to be Genji’s double jump. Maybe holding down SPACE lets you charge up a jump, and releasing it launches you up?

Saber Slash: Short range, fast melee attack, no ammo… nothing wrong with this if you can build the rest of the kit to support it.

Saber Toss: Medium range, deals damage in both directions… I don’t get the self-damage component, that doesn’t make any sense if the weapon flies back to you anyway.

So to review: yeah, all of the abilities generally match a complete kit of replicating a Jedi-like character, but mechanically some of the abilities range from flat-out not working to simply not really bringing anything interesting to the table.

What role were you thinking of? Offense? Defense? That might give some more guidelines on what you want the hero to, which could influence the abilities.

For example, let’s kit this hero out for Defense, meaning that the greater objective is denying an area to the enemy.

  • E: Singularity – Spawns a black hole (fixed location) that draws nearby enemy fire (including beam weapons) into it for 2s. (It’s like a fixed Defense Matrix, but has a shorter duration and can eat beam weapons.)
  • Shift: Vortex – Spawns a wind tunnel in the direction you’re aiming for 5s. Heroes in the path of the tunnel are pushed in the tunnel’s direction. (So aim it up and it can work as a launchpad to move friendly heroes to a higher location, but aim it along the ground and it will push heroes who walk into it away from the source.)
  • LMB: Saber Slash – Melee range, deals aggravated damage to energy shields.
  • RMB: Saber Toss – Mid range, deals damage to targets while in flight.
  • Q: Lightning Field – Short range area around hero deals lightning damage to enemy heroes. Ally heroes in the field gain a lightning damage attack that strikes a nearby enemy within 3s from leaving the field.

This hero operates on area denial by being able to absorb fire using E, move enemies (and/or allies) using Shift, threaten enemies with LMB/RMB at short/midrange, and can turn a chokepoint into a very deadly area using Q. The aggravated damage to energy shields makes the hero especially dangerous to Symmetra and Zarya, but also to Winston’s bubble, Reinhardt’s shield, Orisa’s shield, and enemies defended by Symmetra’s Shield Generator, Zarya’s bubble or Lucio’s ult.

Taken from a high level, it’s like a defense version of OG D.va with a few tweaks and a modified version of Mei’s Ice Wall.