After being teased for the better part of a month, the Winter Wonderland event has now finally made its way to Overwatch! There's a whole bunch of new cosmetics and taunts to collect, a festive brawl where you get to obliterate Mei's face with snowballs, a snow-covered version of King's Row and Hamanura, and perhaps most importantly, Symmetra's big rework that should make her an actual character once more.
If you're wondering what all of these changes and additions might look like in game, wonder no more as Blizzard has also released a brief preview trailer. Have a look:
The Winter Wonderland event will last from December 13 to January 2, during which all of the standard Loot Boxes will be replaced with a more festive version. Much like how it worked in the previous two events the Loot Boxes are guaranteed to contain one holiday themed item, but outside of that its pretty much random. As such, I would recommend not purchasing any skins with in-game currency until the very last day, simply because random chance is indeed random chance, and you might just get the item you seek by simply playing the game.
And if you want to improve the rate at which you gain Loot Boxes, you'll be happy to hear that the Arcade is currently offering five of them for free! You will need to win nine Arcade games in order to get three of them, and to grab the final two you'll need to snag a win on each of the two holiday themed brawls. This is probably going to take you a couple of hours, but there's no need to get all of it done today as you still have around six days until the next cycle of free Loot Boxes, so don't force yourself to play something you might not enjoy.
As for the patch notes, here's pretty much all of the relevant changes (specifically for Zarya and Symmetra):
• Added a new "Boop" unlockable voice line for Sombra
• Players can now select the 1v1 Mystery Duel and 3v3 Elimination game modes from the Custom Game menu
• Added a "Stay as Team" feature, which allows players to remain grouped with their teammates after the match has ended
• Photon Barrier (New Ability)
- Replaces her existing Photon Shield ability
- Generates a large energy barrier in front of Symmetra that blocks enemy fire as it travels forward
• Shield Generator (New Ultimate Ability Option)
- Symmetra's Ultimate ability now offers a choice between Teleporter and a new option: Shield Generator
- Shield Generator places a device that grants additional shields to allies within its effective radius (regardless of barriers, walls, or obstacles between them and the Shield Generator)
• Photon Projector (Primary Fire)
- Range has been increased from 5 meters to 7 meters
• Sentry Turret
- Turrets that can be carried have been increased from 3 turrets to 6 turrets
- Cooldown has been reduced from 12 seconds to 10 seconds
• Photon Shield
- Replaced with the new Photon Barrier ability
- Health has been decreased from 200 to 50
- Shields have been increased from 0 to 350
Developer Comments: We wanted to address two main issues with Symmetra. First, on the whole, we felt that she didn't feel active enough. Second, due to the nature of her Teleporter, she felt weak in certain situations on different maps and game modes.
To address the first point, we replaced her more passive Photon Shield ability with a much more active ability: Photon Barrier. Now, Symmetra can help lead the charge on offense or help shut down a big push on defense by actively blocking damage for your team.
For the second point, we noticed players would often switch off of Symmetra once they found themselves in a situation where her Teleporter wasn"t as useful. For example, when playing her on defense on an Assault map, players often used her to defend the first capture point, then quickly switched to another hero if that point fell. To help her feel more useful in more situations, we've given her an alternative to her Teleporter. The Shield Generator is just as important for the enemy to deal with, but is useful in more situations.
The turret changes allow her to rebuild her turret nests faster. Even if all her turrets are wiped out, it's now easier for players to build them all back up before the next push.
We're also increasing the range on her Photon Projector to make it easier for her to build up and keep a powerful charge on her target.
• Particle Barrier/Projected Barrier
- Attacks like Reinhardt's Fire Strike or Hanzo's Dragonstrike that deal damage to both the barrier and the hero within the barrier, no longer deal damage to the barrier twice
Developer Comments: This is a bug fix, but we think it's significant enough to warrant a separate note. We've had a long-standing bug that caused "piercing" damage to hit Zarya's barrier twice. Sometimes this benefited Zarya (for example, jumping in front of Reinhardt's Fire Strike was a good way to generate a large amount of energy quickly), and sometimes it really hurt her (Genji's Dragonblade, for example, would cut through her shield in one swing, instead of two). This change isn't intended to buff or a nerf to Zarya. We're simply trying get her abilities working as they should, and we'll keep an eye on how it affects her balance.
I've only had one serious game with Symmetra in it, so don't take this as any sort of experienced overview, but she really does feel powerful right now. The Shield Generator is ridiculously strong, especially for mobile tanks like Winston and D.Va, while the new turret changes allow you to constantly reposition your kill rooms without worrying about overly long cooldowns. But perhaps the most interesting addition is the new Photon Shield as it pretty much guarantees that Symmetra wins any 1v1 against non-tank enemies. Long story short, she definitely seems viable now, and perhaps just a bit too strong given the ridiculous range on her ultimate shield buff. But let's leave balance discussions aside for later, ideally when everyone has had enough time to get used to her being a 'thing' again.
And to end all of this on a festive note, here's a couple of my favorite holiday themed skins released with the Winter Wonderland patch: