What would you do if you could control gravity? Would you float everywhere? Hurl boulders at people? Yell all the time about a mysterious melody that haunts your every semi-lucid moment? Overwatch’s newest hero, the unhinged, accidentally evil astrophysicist Sigma, can do all of that and more. He’s fun to play, but he definitely takes some getting used to.
When I first started playing Sigma on Overwatch’s PC public test server earlier today, I felt uncomfortable. Despite the fact that his notably naked toesie-wosies hover about a foot off the ground at all times, he moves at a glacial pace, like most tanks. His primary attack — two “Hypersphere” projectiles that look like they were stolen from a Destiny merchandise stand — also travels a bit more slowly and arcs in a more exaggerated fashion than you might initially expect, and it has a fairly limited range.
Taken together, these things make him feel a little awkward, perhaps even vulnerable. This makes sense: He’s a barely-coherent old man whose powers come from his mind, not his brittle body. Even in those early uncomfortable moments, though, Sigma begins to reveal just how tricksy he can be. His orbs, for example, ricochet off walls, and even if they don’t nail a target square between the eyes, their impact results in an area-of-effect distortion that pulls enemies ever so slightly toward them. This can be used to disrupt aim.
It’s the rest of Sigma’s kit that turns him into a potential force to be reckoned with, though I’m still unsure how well he’ll mesh with other tanks right now. Most importantly, he has a portable shield, which likely means players will use him as a main tank like Reinhardt, Winston, and Orisa. Like his other abilities, his shield takes some getting used to.
It’s similar to the floating shield Symmetra had several thousand major and minor revisions ago, except that Sigma can stop his wherever he wants and recall it with a quick button press. It’s versatile, but it has some drawbacks. You’ve got to recall it and not re-deploy it in order for it to start recharging, and it has a cooldown after it’s been busted. This means you can’t be quite as reactive as when you’re playing, say, Reinhardt, and you’ve got to have good positional awareness, because Sigma is a sitting duck without a glowing blue wall to hide behind.
Despite an almost complete lack of mobility abilities, Sigma can, to a limited extent, mitigate threats from enemies who get all up in his face. Two of his most interesting abilities, Kinetic Grasp and Accretion, serve multiple purposes. The former allows him to freeze projectiles in midair and convert them into additional shields for his HP bar, while the latter lets him smash bull-rushing fools with a big ol’ rock, resulting in a brief stun.
Both can be used to buy you some time when enemies are crashing into your personal space, but they’re also versatile tools in their own rights. Currently, Kinetic Grasp can eat powerful ults like Zarya’s Graviton Surge and Hanzo’s Dragonstrike, à la D.Va’s Defence Matrix. Sigma’s ability does, however, have a longer cooldown and more limited range than D.Va’s devourer of all things big and flashy, so hopefully he won’t slurp up the game’s balance, too. Accretion, meanwhile, actually has better range than Sigma’s regular attack, though you’ve got to be smart about how you arc it.
Then there’s his ult, which seems, at this early phase, pretty darn monstrous. Sigma rises into the air, temporarily gaining an enormous boost in mobility. While in this state, he can select a large, circular area of space on the ground. Enemies in this area will be lifted up into the air and slammed down, knocking off 50 per cent of their full health total.
Not only is this devastating from a damage perspective, but it can be used to move entire teams out from behind shields or lift them off points they’d bunkered down on. It can also combo extremely nicely with abilities ranging from Roadhog’s hook to McCree’s “Deadeye” ult. It feels like an absolute tide-turner, although I haven’t gotten to test it as much as I’d like in conjunction with other heroes since, surprise, everyone on the PTR is playing Sigma right now.
Sigma’s only been playable for part of today, meaning he’s still buried under a heap of questions so dense that not even his airborne feetsies can breathe. How will he synergize with other heroes and compositions, especially with the game-changing 2-2-2 role lock just around the corner?
Are his abilities tuned well, or will they need some nerfing and buffing before he hits live servers? Why does he not wear shoes? I mean, on the one hand, if I could float, I guess I wouldn’t need them, but on the other hand I wouldn’t be floating through a series of bullet-riddled battlefields that have already claimed countless feet as casualties.
For now, though, Sigma is certainly a complex and unique tank, even if some of his abilities hearken back to ideas that Overwatch has already experimented with before. I’m excited to see what players do with him once he’s in the fray for real.