How Will Orisa Affect Overwatch's Competitive Meta?

How Will Orisa Affect Overwatch's Competitive Meta?

With Orisa nearing her official release across all platforms, we stop to wonder, what does this mean for Overwatch's current Reinhardt-essential meta?

The dawn of Orisa is nigh. On March 21st, Overwatch’s 24th hero will abandon the binds of the PTR, and gallop onto consoles and PCs in the main game. But Orisa’s been incubating for longer than usual. First, she was already nerfed only a few days after popping up on the PTR. Later, Blizzard announced that Orisa would be in the PTR a bit longer than the other newer heroes announced in the past. Along with other frequent changes in the PTR, Orisa seems to be ushering in not just a change to Overwatch’s meta, but a change in how balance changes will be tested in the PTR and beyond.

Orisa seems to be being promoted as an alternative to Reinhardt: she has quite a bit of abilities, a weapon with a wider spread (though still poor for long distance), a barrier that might plummet poor Winston’s status within the game’s competitive meta. While Orisa seems on paper like a conglomerate of abilities we’ve seen in other heroes (a damage booster like Mercy’s, but stronger; a barrier more similar to Reinhardt’s than Winston's soap bubble; etcetera), in action, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

So I have a couple theories on how the competitive meta might shift once Orisa is officially on the roster. In scenario one, Orisa completely overtakes Reinhardt as a team’s anchor. Honestly, not much would change with this. If anything, other barrier-sprouting heroes like Zarya or Symmetra might be a popular combination. In scenario two, both Orisa and Reinhardt could be used quite frequently, but not often together. Again, retaining the ideal balance of two tanks, a few offense or defense, and two-to-three supports. Alternatively, in a maybe worst case scenario, players will find Orisa and Reinhardt to be a dynamic duo on teams by leveraging the potential for barrier stacking, and a return of the dastardly three tank, three supports meta.

The problem with scenario three is that, along with barrier stacking, it also blossoms the potential for other barrier-wielding heroes—like Zarya or Symmetra—making the other team’s lives very difficult—or at its worst, rendering a match boring. As ultimately, the other team would instead inevitably line up and protect a Bastion as to they try to pelt down a flurry of barriers.

Yet, scenario one also seems the least likely of the bunch, at least in the entirely replacing Reinhardt sense. There’s something Orisa lacks that Reinhardt has: mobility. On cooldown, Reinhardt can charge his way across enemy lines, taking out a foe or knocking back someone in the process. Orisa, on the other hand, is just painfully slow all the time. This could be buffed slightly, like instating a passively faster walking speed. But as it stands, Orisa is simply too slow and non-agile currently to be a viable replacement for Reinhardt, unless a player is prepared with a Lucio to constantly escort an Orisa to boost her speed.

Editor's pick

Orisa Will Be Out in Overwatch Next Week

Editor's pick

Did Blizzard Just Tease The Next Overwatch Hero?

All in all, I’m eager to see the results of Orisa being a full-fledged addition to the Overwatch roster when she goes live across all platforms on March 21st. Until then, all we can do is test out all the hero changes in the PTR, and patiently wait for Blizzard to announce whatever event or new map they have up their sleeves next. Plus, how the inevitable introduction of to the much-anticipated Doomfist will shake things up in (hopefully) a few months from now. (I mean, he has to be the next hero, right?)

Caty McCarthy

Features Editor

Caty McCarthy is a former freelance writer whose work has appeared in Kill Screen, VICE, The AV Club, Kotaku, Polygon, and IGN. When she's not blathering into a podcast mic, reading a book, or playing a billion video games at once, she's probably watching Terrace House or something. She is currently USgamer's official altgame enthusiast.

Read this next

"There is a Benefit for Lying [About Loot Boxes]"

THIS WEEK IN BUSINESS | The industry, academics, and watchdogs weigh in on the loot box debate for the FTC in a week full of big issues.

Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony and Other Game Companies Unite Around the Issue of Loot Box Odds

Several publishers are set to disclose odds by 2020 at the latest.

Overwatch's New Hero Sigma Can Bend Gravity, And His Toes

In the battles of Overwatch, he's a real footsoldier.

Sigma, Overwatch's Newest Hero, is a Gravity-Bending Mad Scientist

I guess one mad scientist was not enough for Talon.

Another Blizzard Co-Founder Is Leaving After Almost 30 Years With The Company

Only one of the original co-founders is left now.

Meet the Creators Behind Awesome Overwatch Workshop Creations Like “Last Man Bouncing”

For some, the Workshop is "one of the best things to happen to Overwatch."

More Analyses

A Fresh Look at New Super Mario Bros. U on Switch: Does it Measure Up to the Classics?

Where does New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe rank alongside Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World?

The State of Destiny 2 After Forsaken: A Game That Can't Shake Its Troubles

Forsaken was a solid start, but it wasn't enough to pull everyone back.

Sorry Pokemon Fans, Your Gold-Plated Cards from Burger King Aren't Worth Squat

Burger King's Pokemon cards from 1999 look kind of nice and they're fun to remember, but they're barely worth the cost of a milkshake.