After the requisite time in the public test realm, Blizzard's pipsqueak tank Wrecking Battle has entered public play. Unsurprisingly, a hero with 600 HP and a grappling hook has made Overwatch real weird.
First things first: Wrecking Ball's abilities. The ravaging rodent is equipped with quadcannons - similar to Orisa's arsenal, but with a smaller magazine. They do 5 damage per bullet, with the guns taking around a second to reload.
There's also a personal shield, which grants 100 HP of shields for every enemy within 5m upon activation. It's super useful on control points, and very handy for a lot of the Brigitte/Reinhardt/ground pound compositions that are floating around. Taking damage to the shields doesn't charge your ultimate (which drops 12 mines that do 130 damage a pop) though.
But really, it's all about this:
Wrecking Ball comes equipped with a grappling hook that grabs onto anything in short-to-medium range. You can grab onto objects that are horizontally adjacent, allowing you to swing around in a circle like the above, or you can hook onto something above or below to swing in a loop:
Slamming into someone will do 50 damage - not a great deal - but the knockback is pretty significant. You can also do up to 100 damage with the Pile Driver ability, which you can only activate while in the air (but you don't have to be grappling to use it, which lets you keep the grappling hook in your back pocket for a quick escape).
The movement and knockback are important, especially with Brigitte's popularity right now. Torbjorn's shield-support daughter is exceptionally annoying if she's able to close the range on any DPS or fellow support characters, as many of them (bar Moira) lack the movement or abilities to escape once she's in range. Soldier 76 and McCree can't whittle down the shield - or her - fast enough to avoid getting whipped to death, and Brigitte's bash and burst heal/armour are versatile enough to make her a pest in a lot of compositions.
Does Wrecking Ball change all of that? Not exactly. The hamster's roller derby party can be suspended with normal stuns, such as McCree's flash or Brigitte's shield bash. But Wrecking Ball's range of movement - and especially the knockback - is tailor-made for knocking a close-knit group of heroes off the payload or out of position, at least once players have got the mechanics downpat.
In a post on the PlayStation Blog, Overwatch producer Adam Gershowitz explained that Wrecking Ball was designed precisely to be polarising. "From the very beginning we pretty much knew he was going to be a tank, simply because it made perfect sense with his size and our vision for his role on a team as a disruptor," Gershowitz said.
And disrupt he will. Dropping into the middle of a team fight with 1000 or 1100 HP is an utter nightmare. Just think of the final point on maps like Volskaya, where at least three or four defenders are likely to be within 5m. Or Oasis's City Centre when Wrecking Ball can drop in from the top and swing straight through the shield. Or the first point in Horizon: Lunar Colony, where Wrecking Ball should (with or without support) have no troubles dropping in from the top ledge. The beams on the second point are great for grappling, too.
But the weirdest element of Wrecking Ball will be how much he spreads the fight across the map. Wrecking Ball isn't a tank that leads the line for the hitscans and supports to do their job in the background. It's a hero designed to live on the flanks, swooping in to initiate.
That'll have some interesting repercussions for how people move around the map, although initially it'll be chaos as players roll into the middle of fights accidentally, flailing around while they learn how the movement works.
At the very least, Overwatch's Quick Play is going to be a little weird. And once people get the hang of the little hamster, competitive play will be even weirder.