Wrecking Ball Analysis: Forging a New Type of Tank

written by Athena

 

Welcome Hero 28, the 7th tank! Blizzard announces a new hero every few months and they did not disappoint. The newest hero, Wrecking Ball, is here! This is literally a hamster in a metal ball. He is neither omnic nor junker. Reactions vary from OMG Blizzard are you high to BEST HERO EVER! There is quite a bit of backlash with the name “Wrecking Ball” aka “Hammond” in the Overwatch community forum. It’s not practical mid-battle to call out, “Wrecking Ball back right.” Like many other heroes (Junkrat is Junk or Rat/Roadhog is Hog/Brigitte is Brig), I expect his name to be shortened by the players to something more practical such as Ball or Ham.  

wb3.jpgpictured: Hammond singing, I came in like a shreking balllll

 

Like all new heroes and updates, you are either going to love or hate Wrecking Ball. For me, Wrecking Ball does not fit into the world Blizzard has already created. Every character has had a touch of realism, whereas now there is a cartoon rolling around squeaking. When I heard rumors of a hamster, I thought it was a prank. Then I saw the developer update. Jeff Kaplan explains communicating with Hammond when he says, “Hammond cannot talk…. However, the mech which he highly modified has communication abilities.”  OK, he’s starting to grow on me, but seriously, a cartoon hamster? This changes the entire atmosphere of Overwatch. It seems as though Blizzard felt pressure to put out a new hero and grabbed an early concept idea that should have remained locked in the vault.

 

That said, I have had a ton of fun researching his abilities through the Blizzard Forums and first-hand on the Public Test Region (PTR). Blizzard has already fixed a couple bugs with his ultimate charge and decreased his grappling claw movement speed by 2 meters per second. Wrecking Ball is more of an off-tank with his damage output and squishiness, than a main tank.

wb2.png

Wrecking Ball has Quad Cannons, like D.VA’s, as his primary weapon. These are machine guns that destroy foes with a high rate of fire and damage. Goodbye Pharmercy! Another hitscan is in town.

 wbgun.jpg

 

Wrecking Ball’s ability to Roll gives him great mobility, whether he’s crashing into the enemy team or going for a quick escape. He transforms into a ball and he gains momentum as he rolls and can be combined with Grappling Claw to hit top speed. At top speeds, Hammond’s armour glows with a fiery intensity that damages and knocks back any nearby enemies. This ability loses momentum when crashing into the environment or enemy heroes. He is not exposed when swapping between roll and walk modes. His ability to roll out is fun and if you make friends with the enemy, you can work together to build a giant metal hamster snowman.

wb8.jpg

Much like Widow’s Grappling Hook, Hammond’s Grappling Claw can latch onto most surfaces. However, holding down the right mouse button will allow him to continue to use the Grappling Claw to swing around like a wrecking ball. Release right click to slam into enemies or roll away in the direction of your choice. There is a 5 second cooldown to use this ability again. Using the Grappling Claw to swing around as a 6 stack of Wrecking Balls is deadly as it is beautiful. You can execute this carousel of death on any payload or point with a column or bridge that can easily be latched onto. One Wrecking Ball is disruptive, but 6 is an impenetrable ring of death. At higher levels, this ability is the key to owning the other team.

wb9.jpg

His ultimate ability is Minefield. As the name implies, he throws mines onto the ground that damage enemies when triggered. This ability could protect your support, block an entrance, or be rained down on the enemy after letting go with Grappling Claw. The mines glow when active with a spread of 6 meters, duration of  20 seconds and damage output of 130 per mine. We can see how this ability provides special zoning coverage with that damage output ensuring enemy squishies either need to run or destroy those mines before entering the affected area.

Adaptive Shield is a personal shield that increase in usability with more enemies nearby. It is a miniature version of Zarya’s personal shield and highly applicable should you find yourself in the middle of the enemy team, just click E and roll/grapple away. Alone adaptive shield provides 100 shield points with a cooldown of 15 seconds. In the midst of 6 enemies adaptive shield provides 700 shield points (1300 HP). It would seem that blizzard is insistent on bringing back the dive meta with this ability. Here they have given Hammond a kit to charge into the enemy team, spread them out, deal some splash damage, and get out without feeding enemy ultimate charge.  

Piledriver is a unique ability to Doomfist Wrecking Ball. This ability allows Hammond to slam down and crush enemies while dealing 100 damage. Like Doomfist’s seismic slam combined with rising uppercut, enemies are tossed into the air. Widowmaker pairs well with Hammond for this ability.

Wrecking Ball is hard countered by many heroes. Those who disrupt the flow of his movement, such as Winston, Reinhardt, or Symmetra, will slow Hammond down while heroes with stun abilities, such as McCree or Brigitte, will stop him in his tracks. Also, Zen can easily take out an entire minefield with his Transcendence ultimate to clear the path for his team.

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To wrap up our newest hero, Wrecking Ball, depending on how you play him he’s not quite as strong as a main tank (Rein, Orisa, Winston), but he is a strong dive/off tank. He plays like D.VA meets Doomfist and flirts with Zarya. It seems he will be best utilized in 3-tank dive compositions with Winston, D.VA, Wrecking Ball, Lucio, Brigitte, Mercy/Moria. Widowmaker and McCree also play well with him as he throw enemies into the air for them to pick off. As Kaplan says, “he’s really something different. He’s really out there.” I hope his dance emote is him doing the running man inside of a hamster wheel.

 

For more information about Wrecking Ball check out these resources:

https://playoverwatch.com/en-us/news/21901631

https://www.reddit.com/r/OverwatchUniversity/comments/8ume16/wrecking_ball_discussion_thread/

PTR Patch Notes June 28, 2018: Official BattleNet Forum

PTR Patch Notes July 5, 2018: Official BattleNet Forum

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