I love robots, as evidenced by most of my gamer tags over the years featuring an allusion to them. Robotgirl. Robotsandcake. I adored the now defunct Real Robots magazine, its buildable mascot, Cybot, and all the playable robot characters in Overwatch number amongst my favourites (except you, Bastion). So, when Orisa was announced as Overwatch’s 24th playable hero, I couldn’t help but mirthfully chuckle at how much my PSN name was increasingly making me sound like a sycophant towards our Omnic overlords.
Lacking an adequate PC meant that I was unable to jump on the PTR to try Orisa out up until now, so imagine my delight in waking up yesterday morning and discovering that she’d been released, on all platforms (although it’s worth noting that, as of writing, Orisa is unavailable for Competitive Play). What better opportunity to try her out and compile some of my impressions of her playstyle?
Orisa occupies a curious position in the Overwatch lore. Numbani, in spite of being adorned with posters of everyone’s favourite diminutive Brazilian DJ, felt like one of the maps least connected to the overarching narrative. Doomfist’s gauntlet may have been there, which tied it to the titular organization, yet none of the playable heroes had a personal connection through hailing from there. Well, at least until now. Unlike the previous additions to the original playable roster, Ana and Sombra, Orisa has no other connections to the Overwatch cast, which is emphasised in her biography, which lists her as 1 month old. She’s an intriguing outlier.
Orisa has been categorised as a Tank, cheerfully proclaiming upon selection “Your safety is my primary concern!” as she subsequently disregards her directive to shred through the enemy. However, much like Sombra, her abilities veer somewhat into other categories, namely Defensive and Support, particularly her Halt! Ability, which is great in chokepoints, and her Supercharger ultimate, which provides an entire team damage buff. Her other abilities, Fortify, and Protective Barrier, are what really cements her as a Tank, and a unique one at that.
In general, Orisa moves much more quickly than I anticipated, at 2.75 metres per second when not firing, which is roughly the same speed as D.Va. What threw me off estimating her movement speed was the difference in the way the screen shifts to reflect her quadrupedal gait, which, credit to Blizzard, is a mark of their work in making each Overwatch hero truly distinctive. In fact, in Orisa’s case, her expressive eyes are the apogee of her appeal as a character, glowing red when deploying Halt! and turning into ‘X’s when hit with a melee attack.
At 12 rounds per second, and 150 ammunition, Orisa’s Fusion driver has one primary firing mode that deals sustained damage for at least 12 continuous seconds before she needs to reload. I notice that that the damage falloff over distance seemed minimal, if any at all, but due to her fired projectiles moving at 66.66 metres per second, I did need to compensate for this over long distances by aiming slightly ahead of a moving target. It feels punchy, and it’s great to have something that outclasses sentry mode Bastion’s shredding abilities.
Lasting for 4 seconds with a mere 10 second cooldown, Orisa’s Fortify is a boon, able to negate and reduce the damage on numerous other hero abilities. Similarly beneficial, Orisa’s Protective Barrier, whilst only possessing 900 HP, has a 12 second cooldown that begins regardless of whether or not the previous barrier is still standing, and can be fired at various distances. Supercharger is a fairly neat ultimate that necessitates good synergy with teammates and/or other ultimates to work effectively, and provides a damage boost, functioning like a more versatile Mercy damage boost. Lasting for 15 seconds, in spite of its ability to be destroyed by a foe, Orisa’s ultimate will no doubt be useful in some decisive team pushes. The only ability I find myself perplexed by is Halt! which, in spite of having an 8 second cooldown has an abysmal range of 7.5 metres, and requires a bit of finesse in order to pull off effectively.
Whilst having so many defensive capabilities ultimately mitigates her low health pool (200 HP with 200 armour), Orisa’s size is still her weak point. Owing to her resourceful kit, she makes for fair game for an enemy Sombra to hack, and with Orisa’s girth presenting an already huge target, it’s pretty much game over if her team lacks any other tanks. In fact, continuing a trend Blizzard set with Sombra, it’s rather difficult to categorise Orisa has a clear-cut tank, given her health and her abilities. She’s not primed to absorb damage so much as augment existing defence, and even though her alt is utilisable in making a push for an objective, it’s also beneficial for a team who needs to stand their ground and defend a point.
In summation, Orisa is a much more accessible hero to get to grips with, and whilst she lacks any compelling backstory due to her relatively young age, she has charming potential, and I’m holding out hope for a comic or animated short. Whilst she won’t be able to be used as a team’s primary tank (at least, for now), her kit ensures that she’ll still be a valuable addition to a team, with some great damage dealing potential.
Jump online, give her a go! At least, if you can pick her fast enough…