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I know all the Overwatch news is surrounding the introduction of Orisa, Overwatch's new tank hero and the 24th on its roster, but I want to talk about another hero who has seen some changes this patch: Junkrat. Luckily for me, these two stories overlap.
You see, Junkrat has had a long history of being either undesirable or completely useless, and the Overwatch team has spent the better part of the last few months insisting that that isn't the case, including, in the video above, introducing a hot new strategy to make Junkrat useful. In the video, Orisa uses her halt ability to pull the enemy McCree, Hanzo and Symmetra into a tight area where Junkrat then detonates his explosive ultimate ability, the RIP-Tire, killing all three of them. POTG.
There are many problems with this. First off, I just want to offer my condolences to any team out there that has a McCree, Hanzo and Symmetra. Tough break.
Secondly, it's becoming obvious that Blizzard has reached a breaking point when it comes to Junkrat. They must know he isn't very good, but they're desperately grasping at straws to make him look good. I thought they hit max desperation when game designer Geoff Goodman insisted that players should make use of D.Va's defense matrix to protect Junkrat's RIP-tire. Don't worry, Goodman was appropriately ridiculed for that sound bite, which has since become something of a meme in Overwatch circles.
Let's forget, for a second, that you can sneeze on Junkrat's RIP-tire to destroy it before it ever gets a chance at a lethal hit, and let's focus on Junkrat's actual problems.
Credit where credit is due, the Overwatch team did make it so Junkrat no longer harms himself with his own explosions. Even though that never should have been the case to begin with, I still say thank you. This will make Junkrat a lot more viable in close-range duels which would usually end with a loss or a draw, so good on you. And Junkrat is very good at breaking down barriers, which, especially with Orisa's addition, is a huge benefit to a team.
That being said, the principal issue with Junkrat still hasn't been addressed. Most heroes have what you could call a counter, but it doesn't render them useless. That's not the case with Junkrat. If the opposing team has anyone that can do reliable burst damage, say a Hanzo, Widowmaker or Pharah, you might as well switch off. He does fine against tanks, and OK against close-range DPS heroes, but those burst-damaging heroes completely shut him down. He'll do fine at the lower levels of play, because teams are often reluctant to switch heroes or simply don't know how to shut him down.
And then there's the issue of team composition. Junkrat fits in a strange category that makes him not quite a tank, not quite a DPS, certainly not a healer, and not really the best for defense. So he's going to take up one of those roles, which means you'll have one less. Do you really want a Junkrat instead of a second DPS like a Pharah? Do you really want him instead of a second tank or a second healer? Do you really want him over much stronger defense heroes like Symmetra, Bastion or even Torbjorn?
Probably not. In fact, at tournaments, he's almost non-existant and picking Junkrat in standard competitive play is bound to induce at least one or two groans from your teammates in teamchat. At best, you'd rather have someone else. At worst, he'll get his face stomped into the ground repeatedly.
They need to do something to increase his survivability, perhaps by giving him some shields or armor, or maybe by simply increasing his health to 250. They also could do something to buff the RIP-Tire, itself. I would suggest making it explode when destroyed rather than simply evaporating. Changes like that would certainly make him harder to counter and more viable, but right now, no matter how much insisting Blizzard does by contriving ridiculous scenarios like the one in Orisa's intro video, he's not a good pick.