The first stress exam weekend for Overwatch , the new upcoming character-based team shooter from Blizzard, kicked off today, introducing a huge amount of new players to the highly anticipated title.

To prepare for the influx of neophytes, Blizzard also introduced a key balance patch with repercussions for both the competitive and public gamenerfing the sniper class, Widowmaker.

No character has caused as much caterwauling in the beta than the iconic sniper class of Overwatch , and for obvious reasons if you look at her kit.

Shes a sniper class, an avatar of the one-shot-one-kill mantra in a game where it often takes more than that to mow down targets. Shes the only character that can attack from any range in video games, inducing her unbelievably dangerous when positioned as far away as possible from her targets. Her venom mine and amazing assault rifle let her to win close-range fights against even mobile tanks designed to shut her down, especially when shes receiving a damage boost from video games medic, Mercy, one of the most popular strategies in competition and public play.

In most games, a powerful sniper who lords over long-range combat and is capable of one-shotting most of the characters in the game with a headshot( or all of them, with a injury boost) has a weakness: A lack of mobility that makes her food for characters who manage to close the distance and reach her. But in Overwatch , that isnt the suit: Widowmaker has a grappling hook, enabling her to move anywhere on the map, instantly escape foes who do get close, and reposition to the optimal places to kill the foe team in seconds.

Oh, and thats ignoring her ultimateliterally a wallhack. Yep.

When Widowmaker is in the server, it wholly changes the route everyone has to play the game. You need mobile tanks like Winston and D.Va to pressure Widowmaker to make space for your team. Your squad needs to play safe and cant peek corners to spam or scout, because Widowmaker can kill you in one shot. And rue the day the mobile class you have that can actually get on top of a Widowmaker shooting from a ledge get picked off, because then she has free reign to move around the Z axis of the map and destroy you. No other hero solely changes the way an adversary squad must respond to playing video games. Picking a Pharah, for example, certainly elicits a response, like forcing a foe to swap to a hitscan hero like McCree.

Regardless of her ability to completely change the style a competitive match plays, Widowmaker is probably the best pubstomping hero in the game. No hero dishes out as much injury as she does, and its easy for even a semi-skilled player to stimulate the adversary teams lives a living hell with her wallhack and mobility.

So in many ways, its not surprising that Blizzard chose to nerf her ahead of inviting a new wave of players. While a few heroes like Genji and Mei received small changes, the biggest ones came to Widowmaker.

Her scoped damage was reduced slightly, according to the patch notes. Testing shows that instead of 170 damage with a fully charged body shot she now deals 150. In addition, sniped shots devour 3 ammo, entailing Widowmaker can no longer freely spam her dangerous weapon.

In addition, Mercy received a nerf that immediately impacts Widowmaker: Her damage boost ray now increases injury dealt by her target by 30 percentage, down from 50 percent.

The changes combine to put Widowmakers damage at a different breakpoint. Previously, a fully charged bodyshot dealt 170 injury, leaving 175 -health heroes like Widowmaker or Mercy at five health, requiring a quick second shot to finish them off. A charged body shot plus Mercys pre-nerf damage amp dealt a whopping 255 damage, one-shotting every hero in video games except for tanks and even one-shotting many of them with a 510 damage headshot.

Now, that same boosted shot does 150 damage up to 195 with a Mercy boost. That means any hero that isnt squishy like Widowmaker, Zenyatta, or Mercy will survive a shot. Most offense kind heroes, like McCree, will survive with 5 health, entailing Widowmaker will need team support or another shot to finish them off. That also makes a headshot deal 390 injury, which wont one-shot any of the tanks currently in the game.

All in all, thats a pretty big but welcome change to Widowmakers dynamic. Shell still be incredibly dangerous at range, especially with a Mercy damage boost, but she wont be nearly so penalizing. Now players dont have to fear getting one-shot so easily as they walk around the map.

Other significant changes from todays patch include a reversion of a recent nerf to Mercy and her resurrection ultimate. Blizzard added a casting time to it in a patch on Nov. 9, hoping to add some counterplay to one of the most powerful abilities in the game, but the way it worked turned out to be awkward and present bad quality of life for players. Of course, that brings the ability back to its pre-nerf state, and even with the damage amplification nerf Mercy will be a required component of every competitive squad composition. Blizzard has discussed other nerfs to the ability, like reducing the scope at which it picks up teammates, but none were applied in this current patch. Expect some at a later date.

Of course, most people playing Overwatch this weekend will play with no knowledge of what Widowmaker was like before this patch. But thats probably a very good thing for them and for the future of the gameno one class should have as much impact as she did before this nerf. Whether this nerf genuinely mitigates that impact remains to be seen, but its a move in the right direction both for public play and for competition.

Screenshot via Blizzard

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