[Serious] PTR Sombra: Why we have these changes


#1

Blizzard’s philosophy is to make every character unique in design, gameplay, and personality. No two characters in Overwatch are alike. So when changes have to be made to character’s abilities, the Overwatch Team keeps the theme of the character in mind.

Since her release, Jeff Kaplan has been adamant about Sombra’s role as a disruptor in Overwatch.

"One area, where we might not see eye-to-eye on with the player-base, is we don't expect Sombra to ever be a vicious assassin. [...] We see her more as a disruptor—a back-line disruptor—than a front-line flanker or assassin."
   
– Jeff Kaplan, Developer Update - January 17th, 2017

The current changes on the PTR reflect the ideology of Sombra as a disruptor—an infiltrator who takes opportunities and distracts the enemy team while giving information to her teammates. However, many Sombra players are skeptical of the changes and believe that it will only hurt her more.

To address these concerns, we should identify the problems with Sombra’s current kit as she tries to execute the role of disruptor. If you are unfamiliar with Sombra’s abilities, you should read about them before engaging with this post. (I can’t link them here, sorry).

 

It’s not about Hack

In a perfect world where bugs don’t exist, Hack is a strong ability. It stops enemy abilities mid-cast and prevents other abilities from being used for 6 seconds. Being Hacked feels like an eternity of helplessness.

In the past, the Overwatch Team has tried making changes to Hack that fortifies Sombra’s role as a disruptor. Changes we have seen are:

  • Cooldown reduced from 12 seconds to 8 seconds – (Jan 12, 2017)
  • Cast time reduced from 1 second to 0.8 seconds – (Jan 12, 2017)
  • Cast time further reduced from 0.8 seconds to 0.65 seconds – (Feb 27, 2018)
  • Hack disables more abilities, most of which are movement related – (Feb 27, 2018)

Hack’s cast time was buffed to allow Sombra to more consistently cast it within the short time she was present in an engagement. However, this didn’t provide counterplay for the enemy as Sombra could teleport away shortly after Hacking a target.

  • Now goes on a 2-second cooldown when interrupted by damage – (Mar 20, 2018)
  • Now more consistently interrupted when targets break line of sight – (Mar 20, 2018)

The 2 second cooldown nerf to Hack allows enemies a chance to fight Sombra and encourages her to think through and position before her engagements.

But Sombra has a problem—consistency. Not with casting Hack, (although we know there have been bug issues in the past, but that’s another post), but with consistently providing pressure and being present in fights. Sombra’s inconsistent presence in fights results in fewer opportunities for her to cast Hack and disrupt the enemy.

 

It’s about Mobility and Consistency

The Overwatch Team’s goal is have Sombra fill the role of a disruptor. Sombra is intended to be a character that lurks close to the enemy team, disrupts / startles enemies with Hack, takes advantage of poor positioning, and punishes enemies for having low HP. However, Sombra’s current kit does not permit her to do these things consistently.

The Bungee Effect

Translocator can be used to aggressively reposition in a fight, however most Sombras will use Translocator defensively by setting it at a safe location, usually on a health pack. She’ll run out in Stealth, position behind a target, attempt to kill or hack them, then teleport back with Translocate whether her mission was successful or not. In some cases, Sombra has to travel a great distance to get to a fight—only to Translocate away and be very far from the action again.

Worst case scenario, Sombra isn’t in a position capitalize on enemy mistakes and she needs to blow cooldowns in order to reach a favorable position again.

As a result, Sombra engages an enemy with Translocator placed, Stealth on cooldown, and only Hack available (which goes on a 2 second cooldown if she take 0.1 damage), leaving her only option to Translocate away—this is the Bungee Effect. Sombra spends so much time traveling back-and-forth that she lacks a consistent presence in teamfights.

Forcing Sombra to teleport away in the middle of a fight is incredibly valuable to the enemy team and gives them the advantage to fight 6v5. And, to be clear, this should be valuable to the enemy team. It provides counterplay and requires meaningful decision making by the Sombra player. However, in her pre-PTR state, the Bungee Effect directly leads to her inconsistency to provide pressure and fulfill the roles of an infiltrator and disruptor that the Overwatch Team wants for her.

 

What the PTR changes are

In the past, the Overwatch Team has tried making changes to Hack that fortifies Sombra’s role as a disruptor. However, none of those changes really addressed the Bungee Effect. Sombra was still spending more time and resources getting to a position to cast Hack than she was able to take advantage of landing one.

Let’s talk about the changes to Sombra’s kit on the PTR and how they directly reflect the Overwatch Team’s vision of her as a back-line disruptor:

SombraPTR - Jun 28, 2018

  • Stealth
    • Now lasts indefinitely
    • No longer can contest objectives while invisible
    • Enemy detection radius increased from 2 meters to 4 meters
    • Movement speed buff decreased from +75% to +50%
  • Translocator
    • Now lasts indefinitely
    • Can now be destroyed (has 5 health) after being deployed on the ground
    • Can now be recalled (canceled) by Sombra (2 second cooldown)

Developer Comments: These changes allow Sombra to more easily play as an infiltrator and scout for her team, as well as give her time to pick and choose when to reveal herself to ambush her enemies.

Not mentioned in PTR patch notes

These changes reverse the roles of Stealth and Translocator, with the aim to bring consistency to Sombra’s role as a disruptor.

Stealth

Stealth has been used as the primary tool to reposition and travel, thus the drop to +50% bonus movement speed appears unfavorable to many players. Stealth is no longer an offensive tool used to get behind the enemy as quickly.

However, Stealth now has an infinite duration allowing Sombra to lurk around the enemy team and take advange of opportunities as they unfold. Sombra has more freedom with her movement on the PTR. She can now use Stealth in conjunction with Translocator to quickly access flank paths and freely position behind the enemy without being on a 6 second timer.

While Stealth is not as aggressive of a repositioning tool as it’s pre-PTR counterpart (move speed now 50% from 75%), it has become a protective shroud that keeps Sombra safe and unnoticed as long as she stays within it. Sombra can now exert her presence more consistently and for a longer duration than she ever could before.

Translocator

In the Bungee Effect, Translocator has primarly been used as a “get-out-of-jail-free” ability allowing Sombra to escape death by the skin of her teeth.

With the PTR changes, Translocator can now be “recalled” by Sombra using the interact key (F). It’s put on short 2 second cooldown, and allows Sombra to advance her base of operations by setting it in a new location with the safety provided by Stealth.

Translocator having the ability to be destroyed now means it should be placed thoughtfully in locations that are difficult for other characters to access. Translocator should no longer be carelessly placed on a Hacked health pack as it is too easily discovered, and should now be hidden from plain sight.

Translocator has a 4 second cooldown, 2 seconds shorter than Stealth, and can be reliably used in combat as an aggressive repositioning tool as it is indestructible while flying through the air.

 

Conclusion

The aim of the PTR changes is to clean up the Bungee Effect and provide consistency to Sombra’s role as a Disruptor and Infiltrator.

  • She now has more consistent presence in fights.
  • She can pick and choose her engagements more freely.
  • Stealth now enables Sombra to wait for the right moment and protects her from harm.
  • Translocator can still serve as a safety net when placed intelligently, but can now be used to aggressively re-position within the safety of Stealth as well as during fights.
  • Sombra should spend less time running to a fight and more time being present in it.

These changes may require a change in playstyle, but it’s well worth it to provide consistency to Sombra’s presence on the battlefield. It won’t make Sombra kill anyone faster, but she was never intended to do that in the first place. If players can understand the role Sombra was intended to fill as a Disruptor, I think they will better understand and appreciate these changes.

TL:DR;

Sombra is a Disruptor. Not an Assassin.

The PTR changes help Sombra accomplish her role as in Disruptor more consistently.

  • Infinite Stealth makes it easier for Sombra to be in proximity of the enemy team and be present in fights.

  • Translocator can now be canceled, allowing Sombra to advance her position into enemy territory.

  • Translocator is now a permanent safety net as long as Sombra places it out of reach of the enemy.

  • Read the damn post.


Give Me 1 Chance to Change your mind about Sombra [FACTS not opinion] 2.5k views :skull:
#2

A thoughtful post. That said, I’m not convinced the changes will succeed at their intention. One thing I don’t think you addressed is the larger detection radius in stealth (2m -> 4m), which makes it much easier for enemies to find Sombra when she’s invisible and somewhat undermines the ability to remain in the back line for longer.


#3

Thank you, it’s greatly appreciated.

Infinite Stealth will let her stay behind enemy lines for longer for sure. The larger detection radius is inconvenient, but I think it can also serve as a teaching tool.

Sombra should never decloak that close to the enemy as it’s far to loudly heard. As a result, Sombra should decloak farther back before engaging.

Again, the larger detection radius is inconvenient for going through the choke, but Sombra shouldn’t be entering through a choke anyways because bullets will break her Stealth. Sombra should be taking flank paths in Stealth with Translocator. She still has +50% movement speed and will out run anyone who tries to run in her direction.


#4

I just read this on Reddit! I appreciate the thought you put into this, and I don’t entirely disagree, but for me the problem isn’ t that I hate the direction, it’s that they waaayyy overcompensated for the buffs. The speed I can handle, as with the contesting thing, but the vision radius is not only a much bigger nerf than it sounds on paper, but also makes navigating symmettra’s turrets genuinely impossible in many flanks and chokes, something that will most likely be a common problem by the time these changes hit live.

I’d also argue that the translocator health is not a necessary counterbalance and outright the worst part of the changes. It seems to encourage hiding the thing as far back behind your own team as possible, further solidifying what you’re calling the Bungee Effect.

With some changes to the pretty egregious and overcautious downsides they baked in, I’d be glad to try and learn a new , hopefully better style of Sombra play. I know some disagree, but I’d be satiated for the time being if they reduced the vision nerf and were rid of the breakable translocator outright, or at least gave it far more health than something as throwaway as a venom mine.

EDIT: oh also why does it make a super loud noise now? i understand what they were going for but i genuinely don’t think it’s necessary


#5

It´s always the same with her. We all know that Sombra currently is at the bottom of a well. What she needs is bugfixes and straight buffs.
I said it before: I´m not totally against the infinite durations of stealth and invis. However what grinds my gears is that they think it is necessary to compensate said “buffs” with so many unessesary drawbacks. It´s like they think Sombra plays like the spy from TF2 and instakills everything… at least they handle it like that…


#6

I think this will encourage players to bring Translocator with them into the fight as opposed to leaving it behind them. It’s indestructible while in the air, so Sombra can throw it in a direction and teleport to it before it hits the ground.


#7

I disagree that an otherwise unnecessary nerf should be put in place as a teaching tool! That’s like if Tracer took damage for using up all her blinks, because it’s generally not a smart way to play her.


#8

If these changes are going to go through like they are, then she definitely needs damage threshold for stealth. I think 50 damage to distrupt hack and to decloak her since she’s basically forced to go through chokes now because she doesn’t have the speed to make up for the necessary jumps.


#9

If these changes go through I doubt that damage threshold would be enough. She would lose way too much that a simple buff would make up for it.


#10

They patched many bugs this past Tuesday, including the notorious LoS bug with Hack.

  • Fixed a bug that prevented Sombra’s Hack from interrupting Symmetra’s Teleporter placement
  • Fixed a bug caused Sombra’s Hack to be interrupted by thin environment objects (e.g. lamp posts)
  • Fixed a bug that prevented Sombra’s Translocator from being destroyed when it was thrown off a level

The PTR changes are buffs to Sombra’s playstyle as a disruptor. She should be more consistently present in fights.


Haha, I’m not saying it’s a wanted nerf! But I don’t believe it’s as bad as players make it out to be. I just think it’s inconvenient.


#11

About that: 2 Of these bugs were introduced during the last PTR cycle. They never made it out it though, so I don´t get why they are praised as bugfixes at all. The lamp post thing was, but thats about it, which means it only fixes 1 bug she had on life.
However, hack is still the same mess as before.


#12

The LoS bug was a huge problem prior to Tuesday’s bugfixes. Before, Hack would break even with clear LoS of the target, and the community would joke that LoS broke on a dust particle. It may only be one bugfix, but it’s a significant one.


#13

I just finished playing a game like this defending on Hanamura. Overall, I would still say these changes make her too passive. On first point i played mostly behind enemy lines, waiting for a good hack opportuinity, and didn’t really find one at all (though this is partially due to the nature of the enemy team’s composition). Instead, i found myself waiting until one of the enemy squishies took around 150 dmg inside the choke point, and backing out until I could get the drop on them from about 4-5 meters, and could tickle them with my watergun for two seconds until they died. I found more value when the enemy got on the point, where i could hack them and use my team to shut them down.

On second point, I noticed that it was impossible to get behind the enemy well, bc they were running a sym/widow/moira, spread out in their backline. i could get one pick occasionally, but it was difficult, as these are very 1v1 based heroes, and it was risky to deal with them. I often found that if I placed my translocator aggressively, It would get killed by random splash damage mid battle, no matter where it was placed, and I honestly found more value just keeping it on me to escape to a highground, or wherever it would be inconvenient for the enemy to chase me. Once again, it was still more useful for me and my team, to just sit with my thumbs up my butt on high ground or behind a shield, for the enemy team to push in on us, so I could get a high value hack off for them.

My K/D ratio was 12-3, with me getting 6 assists from 12 enemies hacked and 3 enemies EMPed. It was difficult much more difficult to build my ult then usual, as the new style is way more passive, and I couldn’t get very much damage done, at around 2.7K damage, because I have to wait to find a low health enemy, or finish someone in a teamfight, though this is usual territory for Sombra. I also couldn’t get many assists, because I was more seperated from my team, and we lost first point because they didn’t have the man power to hold it, leading to me playing mostly on the point for the second area, instead of trying to get high value disruption in the enemy backline like the Overwatch team seems to want Sombra to do.

Fixes that I would like to suggest to make the new Sombra on PTR less passive would be to

A) Reduce the detection range, as 4 meters is very hard to deal with on inside areas, and the constant whooshing gives you away very often. I would suggest somewhere from 2.7-3 meters, as this gives you more flexibility in many maps where they are very close quarters with few flanking options, like Dorado, or Route 66 area C

B) Reduce the effects that give her translocator away so blatantly. I understand that this is now a more powerful ability, but the huge light beam and smoke and the buzz that can be heard from 20 meters away, through walls, is a bit overkill. In addition, I would get rid of the bright and shiny explosion when you use translocator before it hits the ground, as it makes Sombra extremely predictable, unlike any other character using an escape ability.

C) increase her damage potential, both in 1v1 situations, and in teamfights. This can be achieved by increasing her damage or reducing her spread. As of right now, she can only be useful finishing off low hp targets, so I would suggest making her guns falloff range 15-30 meters, instead of 15-25, as well as upping her damage from 2.4-8 to 2.8-11, increasing her damage potential, and giving her more opportunities if she is to be used further from her team, making her much more self-sufficient.

D) Allow Hack to cancel reload. This would give her much more value within a teamfight, by upping her APM, giving her a better skill ceiling, and letting her contribute more in these situations. Most other heroes can cancel reload with their central abilities, so why can’t she?

E) Make translocator instantly reload her gun. This would benefit a more aggro style within teamfights by allowing you to teleport above the enemy and EMP, or get a high value hack, and keep fighting, or give you more opportunities to finish off low targets. This can even be lore compatible due to how she stole her tech from Tracer’s chronal accelerator!

All in all, though these buffs do help some with her pre-teamfight viability, and if used aggro she can stay near the enemy team at all times, what she really needs are buffs to her mid-fight viability, as this would give her more opportunities like Blizz seems to want her to have.


#14

Which character has the escape ability that isn’t visible?

Tracer leaves a line pointing to where she blinked to.
Moira leaves a line behind her as well.
Winston is a gigantic ape who can easily be seen.
Reaper is visible throughout his escape.
Genji is also followed by a trail when he dashes.

When using your translocator in battle, you leave a detectable trace as well. The difference is, if you use it when it has been placed away from the fight, you only have a general idea of which direction Sombra has gone. By the time you run that direction, she will have already entered stealth again, and you’re setting yourself up to be ambushed.

Using it in the middle of combat to try to distance yourself from enemies is a good strategy, if you can pull it off successfully, but using it to get a few feet away should have it’s disadvantages. It shouldn’t be a “get out of jail free” card. It should be a “wow, that was close, better time this just right so I can enter stealth again” which takes thought and pre-planning, even if only a split second.

The point of the translocator is to have an ‘Oh Snap’ button once you’ve been detected and focused. It’s not meant to be thrown in the middle of combat and to be effective that way. You can certainly do that if you choose, but the visibility of the device is going to be the disadvantage.

I don’t see where reducing the effect would be a bad thing though, it is especially bright and easy to see right now. The other characters mentioned above, with the exception of Winston and Reaper, only leave faint lines. I could see the reduction in visibility in the translocator unit in flight, as well as the actual act of translocating being less visible without a huge impact to the overall pace of the game. I don’t think it would be an unfair advantage.


#15

Question: It’s been mentioned she is a scout. Why do we need a scout in OW? Its such a fast paced game and we already know what heroes they’ve picked (check tab key), where they are on the map, etc. I’m not getting this.

Second, please include animation like discord to let teammates know an enemy is hacked.


#16

When you use Translocator there is already a thick beam of what looks like orange squares that leave an after image pointing at where you went. When you use Translocator in midair, it also explodes with a big flash, attracting even more attention. What if Tracer’s recall showed you exactly where she went, instead of just playing the recall animation? That would be a huge nerf to tracer players, so why do that to Sombra?


#17

The closest I would use to get being a scout would be following the enemy in from 5 meters away as they go to a capture point, or after a team kill to follow them from spawn. Another possible result of these changes is a lack of usage on payload maps, as she would be more useful on Assault and Control.


#18

i understand your point of view and you have truth in your words but it doesn’t mean it’s the best truth. it doesn’t matter what the devs wanted her to be when they released her. it’s about what the players want her to be now. the people who play and love sombra have gotten used to her and play her as a disruptor and sometimes an assassin. thats what we want. these changes encourage a slower, passive, cautious play style and thats not what we want. doesn’t matter if the changes will make her easier for more people or give her a higher win rate, the sombra mains find her more boring and less fun. every high sr sombra main disagrees with the rework. i hit gm as a sombra main and if these changes go live i’ll prob stop playing overwatch. i’m already playing less. but thank you for posting it’s good to get multiple points of views and ideas so the devs can make the best decision.


#19

Huh. Nice post.

I got the end and my only real thought was that she sounds like she’d be fine if they just gave her health regen during stealth. Then you wouldn’t sacrifice so much time bungee jumping to health packs and would be a bit more free to use the teleport semi-aggressively. She’d still have to pop in/out of combat, but with less travel time.


#20

I really like how much ideas and thoughts you put in this post. The post is very objective and now I understand what the developers are trying to make Sombra into instead of thinking “The player-base is always right and we know what Sombra’s development should be going”. Although I can see Sombra being a disruptor, I have to question why the developers doesn’t want “Sombra to ever be a vicious assassin”. If we round up the offensive roster (I’m not a fan of the new “damage” category at all): Doomfist, Genji, McCree, Pharah. Reaper, Soldier: 76, Sombra, and Tracer, you can observe that half of the heroes are considered assassins. The four are Doomfist, Genji, Reaper, and Tracer. Doomfist is actually the epitome of an assassin, because he literally dives in and kill a squishy hero with his Rocket Punch and runs away (hit and run style). Genji is pretty much the same and Reaper and Tracer are flankers that attempts to assassinate squishy heroes and then disrupt the team (they don’t initiate disruption like McCree or Pharah). That being said, Sombra was the same, but does the job in a lesser degree. She hacks, then try to go in for the kill on helpless heroes. They don’t want to make heroes be similar in every aspect, but they also don’t want Sombra to be an assassin while there’s other heroes that does the same job?