Overwatch's new healer/tank hybrid Brigitte smashed onto the game's live servers last week, and I've been swinging her extend-o rocket flail ever since. She's only playable in Quick Play games for now, but she'll join the Competitive roster for the start of season 10, expected to begin in late April or early May.
That gives players a good chunk of time to figure out how to make the most of her versatile kit before taking her into ranked games. With that in mind, I spoke with some of the best support players in the game—Daniel "Boink" Pence from the Houston Outlaws, Won-sik "Closer" Jung from the London Spitfire (via a translator), and Stefano "Verbo" Disalvo from the Los Angeles Valiant—to analyse Brigitte's strengths, weaknesses, and where she might fit into the meta.
If you want to check out all her abilities first, read our handy guide.
Strengths and favourable matchups
The pros agree that Brigitte shines when she's dealing with flankers. Her 50-damage Shield Bash ability stuns enemies for one second, and if you can land it on a Genji that's managed to get behind your team then they're as good as dead. "Her shield and stun ability combo is something I see being particularly strong," says Verbo.
She's especially good against Tracer. If you catch the slippery Brit with your Shield Bash you can quickly follow it up with a regular melee attack and cancel into your Shift ability, Whip Shot, to kill Tracer in one combo. "The major standout match-up Brigitte has is against flanking Tracers," says Boink. "Brigitte can third-person peek a corner using her shield, and if a Tracer ends up coming from that direction, Brigitte can one shot combo her without the Tracer being able to react.
Closer thinks she'll be good at dealing with dive heroes in general. Her Whip Shot pushes back any enemy it hits, knocking Winston's jump off-course, for example. "I think she's designed to counter the four main divers in Winston, D.Va, Tracer and Genji," he says. "Her entire kit is designed to deter dives. She can shield her team minorly, she can push away any of the divers, and she can get area-of-effect healing, which is really good against dive comps."
That AOE healing is her passive ability, which heals your team when you deal damage. But arguably her most useful ability is her Repair Pack, bound to E. It heals a friendly for 150 hit points, and if they reach max health it can also add 75 armour. Closer says that armour will go a long way if you can target your team's healers or DPS heroes because it will provide them "a lot of longevity and give an advantage in long, drawn-out fights". Boink points out that it's also useful as "pre-emptive" healing for heroes that like to commit behind enemy lines, such as Genji.
In general, the pros like how versatile her kit is, as well as her short cooldowns. Here's Boink: "I think her kit is pretty strong because of her low cooldowns and decent burst damage. Forced movement (Whip Shot) and stuns (Shield Bash) are very strong in Overwatch, and having them on low cooldowns can make her a lot stronger than most people anticipate."
In testing, I've found her to be generally good in 1v1 matchups up close because of that shield stun ability and her 250 HP pool. She's also, I've found, a hard counter to Reinhardt: your regular melee attack has much greater reach than his, and it penetrates his shield. So does your Shield Bash, which means you can get him to drop his barrier, or cancel his Earthshatter. In the clip below, I time my Shield Bash just as a friendly D.Va bomb goes off, killing the Reinhardt and the Lúcio he was trying to protect.
Weaknesses and counters
Brigitte's Whip Shot can catch enemies at mid-range, but if she's faced with a hero that can deal damage from a distance, she's stuck. "She is kite-able and possibly vulnerable to poke comps that [keep their] distance," Closer says.
While her shield will block Widowmaker headshots, it offers little protection against Pharah and Junkrat. Her lack of mobility means she has trouble getting away from their explosive damage, says Boink. "Brigitte may not have a bad matchup versus Widow, but…she has a terrible matchup against Pharah and Junkrat and offers almost nothing to her team when trying to deal with them."
Her healing output isn't particularly strong, either. Her Repair Pack is powerful, but her passive ability doles out less health than Lúcio's (16 health per second vs 16.25 health per second), and requires you to deal damage to keep it going. It does have a wider range, but it still seems unlikely that she'll be able to fill the primary healer slot. "I think her AOE healing is pretty lacklustre," says Boink, "so she might have trouble filling a pure support role."
Where she will fit in the meta, and in team comps?
The consensus is that Brigitte will likely act as a second healer, staying near her tanks. "Brigitte does not have much mobility or range," says Verbo, "so playing in the middle of the pack allows her to heal up the frontline and protect teammates in the back from enemy flankers."
However, the pros are split as to how easily she'll slot into the meta. Closer thinks her flexibility means she'll fit several different compositions. "She's a hero that's really good at hindering dive comps, and giving them a rough time as they try to enter. I think she'll mostly be used alongside the likes of Reinhardt and Zarya to make the comp beefier," he says.
"I don't think this hero needs much time to adapt to. She's pretty straightforward, I'll probably be able to apply her to the meta directly as soon as she's available."
But Boink is less convinced. "It doesn't matter how good an individual hero is, it matters how the hero compares to others you could run in the same position. If you want to run her as a support in a dive composition, she is either replacing Lúcio or Zen. How does she compare to those two heroes? Is it really worth removing one of them for her?"
The main issue is how vulnerable her lack of mobility and range make her to getting killed by heroes like Pharah and Junkrat, he says. "I think she potentially loses too much to the anti-tank dive compositions, which may limit her use on defense. Most of the compositions she could be used in can lose easily to an anti-tank dive comp [that includes] Pharah, Junkrat, [or] Widow. [She] amplifies these problems, instead of offering something against them."
However, he thinks Brigitte could help create a new three-support composition because of her damage potential, "but that requires much more testing for a definitive answer". "My first theorycraft composition is Reinhardt, D.Va/Zarya, McCree/Soldier, Brigitte, Lúcio, and Zenyatta on King's Row defense, with the option of running both off-tanks instead of a DPS. It could be awful, but I think her best option of fitting into a composition is one like this."
I'd love to see a three-support team work, and I'm eager to try Boink's suggestion out.
Does she need any buffs or nerfs?
The pros all agree that Blizzard has done a stellar job balancing Brigitte. Her abilities are strong, but her downsides mean she's far from an automatic pick. And although her abilities seem simple, managing her cooldowns will require a lot of concentration. Plus, each skill has an "opportunity cost," says Boink, which means players won't be able to spam them out as they come off cooldowns.
"She could use Whip Shot to [trigger] her passive, but then she doesn't have it for the Doomfist punch or the Winston leap. She could Shield Bash to get out of a dive, but then she doesn't have it for the enemy flankers. If she saves these abilities, she risks herself or her team dying, so these decisions are judgement calls which provides a decent skill ceiling for a hero where many people may see easy-to-use abilities."
The only improvement that the pros suggest is buffing her passive healing, either by extending its range or boosting its power. On the nerf side, Closer says that Blizzard could afford to lengthen the cooldown of her Repair Pack skill.
If you've played with Brigitte, what do you think of her? Will you be picking her in ranked matches? And how will she fit into your favourite team compositions? Leave your comments below.