Orisa

Overwatch’s new hero Orisa, released yesterday on the PTR, is an “anchoring tank,” in the words of Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan. Her moveset affixes her to her allies, buffing and protecting them in turns. She boasts a killer gun that fires from extreme distances, but one-on-one, she’s not much of a challenge to take down. Strong as hell, but not strong enough to solo-tank, Orisa is a hero who will depend heavily on her team’s strategy.

After several PTR games, a few of her strengths and weaknesses are apparent. Be warned: My read on Orisa may change as Blizzard modulates her prior to her release on console and as Overwatch’s meta accommodates her.

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Orisa’s kit is reminiscent of Zarya’s. Her “fusion driver” gun has huge range and is relatively easy to aim from far away. It also deals a ton of damage, a little like Bastion’s. “Fortify” wraps her in temporary armor that reduces damage intake. She can throw out a 900-HP protective barrier that curves around her allies. And, most reminiscent of Zarya, Orisa’s secondary fire “Halt” is a sort mini “graviton surge” that she can fire every seven seconds. It’s a projectile gravity ball that pulls nearby enemies into it and slows them down.

Here’s a livestream from yesterday. (Be warned—I hadn’t yet figured out that, by clicking my mouse twice, I could direct her “Halt” to stop mid-air.)

I’m most excited about her “Halt” ability. It can pull enemies from around corners into plain sight. It can drag several scattered enemies together so your team can focus fire. And, yes, it moves a sentry-mode Bastion. I like to throw it out to see whether anyone’s hiding in a room and, when they’re surprised, mow them down with Orisa’s primary fire. Also fun is pulling snipers off ledges. It doesn’t pull heroes through Reinhardt’s shield, which, to me, feels fair.

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Orisa’s ultimate attack is a “supercharger” that boosts team damage. Its range is absurd, buffing far away allies with long, blue energy threads. Luckily for enemies, those lines indicate where the supercharger is, and because it’s an item, it can be destroyed. On a defense map, “supercharger” will become a crucial counter to enemies’ more cohesive pushes.

From what I can tell, defense maps are where Orisa thrives. Her mixture of long-range attacks and more local buffs and shields makes her great at holding down choke points from behind her team. And when her allies are surrounding her on a defense point, she can pull enemies out into the open for her team to focus fire. But, for the same reasons why she’s killer on defense maps, Orisa’s also excellent on attack payload maps. She can throw her shield up on the truck and then move behind it, firing at enemies from far away.

Especially when she’s buffed by Mercy, Orisa’s gun puts her up there with other DPS heroes in terms of gold kills. Given her gun’s power, I could see players being tempted to flank with her or challenge enemies one-on-one. That would be a mistake: She’s not a solo-tank, and unlike Reinhardt, isn’t an excellent damage-absorber on her own. Against a Reinhardt’s hammer, or other short-range heroes, she doesn’t stand much of a chance by herself, even with her “fortify” move. Without a movement ability, she’s done for on her own and out in the open.

Most importantly, Orisa is a blast to play. She’s powerful and dynamic, someone who coheres her team in all the best ways. It’s a little confusing that the Overwatch team decided to reel in Bastion’s buff before introducing Orisa, since she’s such a good counter to him. But, hey, perhaps the Overwatch gods are just waiting for us to shift our playstyles to accommodate the some new, mysterious meta.