Last week Blizzard teased the release of the 24th Overwatch character: Orisa. While not a full-fledged short, the moving-comic style introduction video for the character gave her and her creator, Efi, an interesting backstory based out of the already established Overwatch city of Numbani. While many people may be disappointed that this reveal wasn’t for the much anticipated Doomfist, Orisa’s story provided more information about him, so I have to imagine he’s next on the list of Blizzard’s new characters.
In addition to the comic backstory, Blizzard released a developer update about Orisa and the dev team’s hopes with the character. According to Jeff Kaplan, Orisa is intended to fill the role of an anchor tank. Currently, that role lies almost exclusively with Reinhardt, whose 2000 hp barrier allows teams to move towards objectives safely and engage the enemy team without being completely exposed. Orisa is supposed to be able to anchor teams with her “Protective Barrier”, a 900 hp barrier she can launch a considerable distance that spans a width of just over half of Reinhardt’s shield. 900 hp on a barrier isn’t very much, so Orisa has a couple of other interesting abilities to help her with both surviving and crowd control.
Orisa’s “Halt!” ablility is inspired by Zarya’s Graviton Surge ultimate. While not nearly as powerful as Graviton, “Halt!” can be fired a short distance, slows nearby enemies, and then pulls them to its center on detonation. Players have already found this ability useful for pulling enemy Reinhardts up off the ground to allow another ultimate like Earthshatter to connect by traveling under his shield. The ability is also useful for pulling enemies around corners and can be used in tandem with high critical hit damage heroes like Widowmaker and McCree to ensure that a headshot lands.
Orisa’s final ability is called “Fortify”. This ability introduces an entirely new state for Overwatch, as during “Fortify” Orisa cannot be affected by CC or “Crowd Control” ablilites. “Crowd Control” abilities are abilities that move or stun a character. These include Lucio’s boop, Pharah’s concussion missile, and even Reinhardt’s ultimate. “Fortify” also grants Orisa a 50% reduction in damage taken while it is activated.
Orisa’s most interesting and important attribute, in my opinion, is her primary fire. Orisa’s primary fire is a fast moving, projectile based machine gun with 200 rounds of ammunition. Orisa can keep firing her weapon for 16 seconds straight, and nothing interrupts her weapon’s fire. She can use all of her abilities and even her ultimate without ever stopping her primary weapon’s fire. Orisa is the first character in the roster to have such a characteristic, and it should allow her to apply an incredible amount of pressure on an enemy shield.
The trade off for Orisa’s wide range of techniques is her health pool of 400. This smaller amount of hp compared to other tanks combined with her large size is going to force Orisa players to be very smart with how they deploy their barrier and how they use their “Halt!” ability. An Orisa left out in the open will take lots of damage, and Roadhog will have no issues landing hooks on her. Despite this, Orisa will allow for some very interesting and refreshing team combos, and her “Supercharger” ultimate might bring back into the meta certain heros that can deal massive damage when boosted.
Overall, I feel like Orisa is a fantastic addition to the roster… but not enough to dethrone some of the current meta centerpieces. Reinhardt is still going to be very powerful, and Roadhog is going to pose a problem for Orisa players for some time until they learn how to control engagements better. Her abilities are very unique and lean heavily on follow-ups from teammates. Due to this dependence on team-play, I fear that Orisa may face a similar fate as Sombra, where she is incredibly powerful in larger, well coordinated teams, but difficult to use effectively in solo queue. We’ll have to wait and see what the exact numbers on her abilities are when she moves to the live servers, and what characters synergize well with her playstyle.