Screenshot via Blizzard (Licensed)
That troglodyte with his stupid turret ruining all your Overwatch matches is finally getting nerfed—on console, at least.
Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan dove into a Reddit thread discussing Torbjörn’s impact on the console game, stating that his turret damage will be reduced by 30 percent in a console patch slated for mid-to-late July. That’s welcome news for fans of the game on Playstation 4 and Xbox One, as the Reddit thread in question was certainly not the first to cover the same topic.
Torbjörn is one of those Overwatch heroes that’s easy to hate. We’ve all seen the Play of the Game where his corpse rolls off the edge of the map as his turret wreaks havoc elsewhere. He’s frustrating to play against because the person playing him sometimes doesn’t need to play at all to be effective. But does that mean he deserves a nerf?
Overwatch balance is a difficult topic. Many factors affect how powerful every individual hero really is, ranging from whether a team is attacking or defending to the player’s skill level to even what specific checkpoint of a map you’re playing.
Everyone loves to hate Torbjörn because he’s annoying to play against, but looking at the statistics it’s clear: he deserves the nerf. Master Overwatch scrubs Battle.net profiles to provide statistics like hero win rates, and Torbjörn dominates the standings, especially on console.
Torbjörn’s win rate sits at 59.8 percent on the PC platform, but on PS4 and Xbox One he’s at a whopping 69.1 and 68.6 percent respectively. His pick rate is much higher, too, topping 60 percent on console while hovering around 40 percent on PC. It’s not uncommon to see teams set up defenses featuring four or five Torbjörns and one or two Symmetras, a veritable army of turrets waiting to mow down every unsuspecting foe, according to one Reddit user, and it’s “destroying” the game on console.
“I love Overwatch,” he writes. “It is quite possibly my favorite game - period. Like, out of all the games I've played since I was 7, I have had more hours of fun, hilarity, OMG moments, teamwork, lack thereof, and just general enjoyment from it. I'm at a place now where I just don't even want to log in.”
Part of the problem is that even if Torbjörn isn’t unbeatable, beating him isn’t fun, especially with the limitations of a console controller. Aiming with a joystick is not as precise as using a mouse, so even peeking a corner when you know where the turret is located often takes just a bit longer to nail it. That 30 percent damage nerf should be just what the doctor ordered, giving players a bit more of a window to shut the turret down before dying.
This will be the first balance change to hit the console version of the game and not the PC. Presumably, that future patch Kaplan mentioned will include other changes, like some console-specific bug fixes and presumably more console specific balance changes. Symmetra, after all, the game’s other turret class, has a similar win rate similar to Torbjörn on console. It’s a lot tougher to flail your cursor around as Winston and clean up all those little turrets with a console controller limiting your range and speed of motion.
There are other differences between the console and PC games that balance changes could address, but it remains to be seen how heavy handed Blizzard wants to be with the two different metas. The console balance patch won’t come out until July due to first party certification; Blizzard won’t be able to push updates as quickly to those platforms, meaning it must be more careful with every update it sends out.
Plus, there could be another solution to some of these balance issues—getting better at the game.
Sitting alongside Torbjörn at the top of the win rate standings are Lucio, Symmetra, Bastion, and D.Va, but if you watch esports games, only Lucio regularly hits the lineup. The higher the level of play, the less effective heroes like Torbjorn and Bastion become, relegated to situational roles defending certain points with specific strategies. Higher skilled players are easily able to outposition, outflank, and spam down static defenses, especially with superior coordination and teamwork. In theory, lower skilled players should learn to overcome these obstacles the more experienced they get with the game.
That’s something to which more and more players are becoming savvy, in part perhaps thanks to Blizzard’s response to the Bastion issue. A gif of its Twitter responses to the hate quickly became a popular Overwatch meme.That’s a bit more diplomatic than screaming “l2p,” but the response amounts to the same. Of course, that’s easier said than done, and console players at least have a physical deficiency thanks to their control scheme, so don’t begrudge them that balance patch. Plus no one can complain about nerfing Torbjörn. Screw that guy and his stupid turret.