Here are Symmetra's new abilities and all her changes

Today Blizzard announced the details of Symmetra's long awaited rework, and the revamped version of the hero is now playable on the PTR. Symmetra still feels very similar to play, but she now has a second Ultimate, a brand new ability, and a lot of tiny tweaks that change her for the better.

You can find the official patch notes here, but they aren't very detailed. We've gathered some gifs of all her changes, along with hard numbers and early impressions of each. 

Photon Projector (primary fire)

Let's start with the simple stuff. Her primary fire now locks on from seven meters away, a buff up from five meters. Besides the slightly increased distance, her primary and secondary fire are pretty much unchanged. The rest of her kit got more significant alterations, so it's nice to see some parts of Symmetra are stable. 

Sentry Turrets (shift)

While her turrets function essentially the same as before, they did receive a rather hefty quality-of-life buff. You can still only place six turrets at a time, but now you can hold all six charges ready to go, allowing you to canvas an area in lasery death all at once. You also start the match with all six turrets charged, meaning the setup phase no longer feels like a race to build your hallway of death before the opposing team floods in.

Additionally, the cooldown for each turret charge has been reduced from 12 seconds to 10. So you'll still be using you turrets the same way, but they'll be easier to set up and less frustrating to redeploy when an angry Winston takes them all out. 

Photon Barrier (E)

Here's the biggest change: Symmetra's old E is gone. Instead of giving a 25 health shield to individual allies, she can now press E to use Photon Barrier and send out a shield similar in size and shape to Reinhardt's. The barrier will travel in a straight line in the direction you are looking when you use the ability and won't stop moving forward until it is destroyed or the center of it hits a wall, at which point the shield breaks.

Photon Barrier has a 10 second cooldown, which starts counting down the moment you use the ability—meaning it doesn't wait for the previous shield to break. I'm not sure what the total health of the barrier is, but it moves forward so fast it likely won't break from damage often. [Update: Folk are telling us it has 1000 health, probably more than it will ever need.]

You can see me chase the barrier in the gif above, and it's going about the same pace as Symmetra's regular movement speed. This does make me worry a little, as you don't want Lucio's speed boost to make you outrun your own defenses if you are using Photon Barrier to push. 

Even though I think the cooldown might be a little low right now, I like this new E. Along with Sombra's hack, it seems to be another attempt by Blizzard to make Reinhardt less vital to a team without simply nerfing him. And Symmetra's passive shields haven't gone away entirely, they've just been moved to her new ultimate:

Shield Generator (new ultimate)

Symmetra's Teleporter is still alive and well (and actually buffed), but now she has a second ultimate to choose from. When her ult is charged, you can press Q to select the Teleporter, and then Q again to swap to the Shield Generator: a new structure that provides 75 shield hit points for any teammate in range.

And that range is pretty huge, ignoring walls and terrain. It's hard to say exactly how far it reaches out with no visual indicator, but here are some distances we observed: 

  • Placed in the room to the left of the car on point A of Hollywood, the effect would reach all the way to the end of the western buildings beyond it.
  • Placed at the attacker's spawn door on Volskaya, it reached through the choke and touched the small room next to point A, just past the truck.
  • Placed on the center of point B on Volskaya, it extended about half way into the open snowy area beyond the main choke.
  • Placed right behind the fountain on the center of Anubis point A, it reached just past the first choke.
  • Here's a gif of me on the exact edge of its range on Route 66:

Leaving the range of the generator will cause you to lose your shield after a short delay, somewhere between six and eight seconds from what we could tell. But reentering that range instantly gives you the shield back. 

The generator itself lasts until it's destroyed and has 400 health, 350 of which is shields. The teleporter is now equally as tough, making it significantly harder to take down even when you know where it is. But also like the teleporter, you can't gain any ultimate charge while the generator is active. 

This means it's extremely risky to place the generator instead of the teleporter on the first defense point. A teleporter will eventually destroy itself by running out of charges, but the generator won't. If you place it too far forward and the enemy team manages to take the first point without destroying it, they can simply leave it standing for the rest of the game. Your team won't benefit from it, and you won't be able to generate a new ultimate. So place wisely, people.

[Update: As many commenters who are smarter than me have pointed out below, the generator will is refunded when a point is captured just like the teleporter. And if it isn't, you can just be not as dumb as me and swap heroes briefly to remove it. Duh.]

Also, interestingly, the shield effect does stack with other Symmetras'—another reason to be happy they removed hero stacking from Quick Play. 

Tom Marks
Tom is PC Gamer’s Associate Editor. He enjoys platformers, puzzles and puzzle-platformers. He also enjoys talking about PC games, which he now no longer does alone. Tune in every Wednesday at 1pm Pacific on to see Tom host The PC Gamer Show.