Overwatch Winter Wonderland patch 1.43 – is the shield meta over?

This Winter Wonderland brings more than just snow, with shield nerfs, a complete rework of Skirmish, and more


Overwatch’s Winter Wonderland is back and the game is nice and wintery again. Don’t you just love it when Blizzard World looks festive and King’s Row is frosty? It’s simply a delight. With the seasonal event came new hero balancing, and it looks like Blizzard is trying to take steps to prevent the shield tank meta with balancing across most Tank characters.

This has had a knock-on effect to Widowmaker rebalancing with her Grappling Hook. Torb and Genji are also looking a little healthier after this patch but not dramatically.

Before all that though, the game feature that most people ignore, Skirmish, is getting a polish. Between games, players can, and would, run around a map aimlessly and sometimes alone waiting for a game. Many turn this feature off after they learned the maps – I know I have. Since role queue implementation, and the subsequent high Damage wait times, it’s likely that Blizzard felt pressure to rework Skirmish, which is now called While You Wait.

The patches notes read, “Now you can choose between a variety of game modes to play while you queue for a match. When in queue, players will now be prompted to pick from the following game modes:

“Practice Range – Practice your skills—solo or in a group—against training bots
Skirmish – Spar with other players without keeping score
Deathmatch – Compete for the top place on the scoreboard
Custom Game – Select a custom game from the Custom Game Browser or create your own. (If you want your custom game to be available for everyone to play, make sure to choose the setting: ‘Allow players who are matchmaking.’)

“All While You Wait game modes are optional and can be accessed by a single player or as a group. Only your group leader can select the mode for their team.

“Note: You don’t have to leave your queue after a match ends to play another While You Wait mode. In order to access the While You Wait menu, click on the game mode you’re queued for and choose a While You Wait option from there.”

But of course, there was hero balancing too. Like I said, it looks like Blizzard is actively trying to avoid the shield meta, by both nerfing shields for Sigma, Reinhardt, and Orisa, and then buffing Zarya and D.Va. Note D.Va got nerfed heavily during the days of the dive meta so buffs will be tentative. There are developer comments included in the notes, which do mention the team will be keeping a close eye on shield tanks, so more changes wouldn’t be a surprise.

General Updates

Armour damage reduction increased from 3 to 5


Orisa – Changed

Base armour increased from 200 to 250
Protective Barrier
Health reduced from 900 to 600
Cooldown decreased from 10 seconds to 8 seconds

Sigma – Changed

Experimental Barrier
Health reduced from 1500 to 900
Barrier health regeneration rate reduced from 150 to 120 health per second
Kinetic Grasp
Cooldown reduced from 13 seconds to 10 seconds
Damage-to-shield gain ratio increased from 40% to 60%

Reinhardt – Changed

Barrier Field
Health reduced from 2000 to 1600
Movement speed penalty reduced from 50% to 30%
Steadfast passive
Knockback resistance increased from 30% to 50%

Developer Comment: The above changes to armour, Orisa, Sigma, and Reinhardt are aimed at decreasing the overall amount time players spend damaging barriers while improving the individual heroes in other areas. This is a significant change to the pace of the game and we’ll be monitoring these heroes closely to ensure they retain impactful gameplay in the tank role.

Moira – Nerf

Biotic Grasp
Healing reduced from 4 to 3.25 (80 HP/s to 65 HP/s)


Developer Comment: Moira’s primary heal has proven to be too potent, largely due to its ability to heal multiple targets.

D.Va – Buff

Defence Matrix
Cooldown decreased from 2 seconds to 1.5 seconds


Developer Comment: With role locks in place there is some room to improve D.Va’s impact as a tank, so we’re partially reverting a previous change which increased Defense Matrix’s cooldown.

Widowmaker – Nerf

Grappling Hook
Cooldown increased from 10 to 12 seconds


Developer Comment: With barriers having less uptime, Widowmaker will be even more effective at locking down long sight lines. This change weakens her mobility so she can still be reasonably countered.

Torbjörn – Buff

Cooldown decreased from 12 to 10 seconds


Developer Comment: Torbjörn has difficulty in extended team fights once his turret is eliminated and Overload has been used. This change allows Torbjörn to be able to rely on his Overload more often.


Genji – Buff

Increased from 24 – 30



Developer Comment: As average hero survivability has gone up over time, Genji can sometimes have difficulty finishing off his targets. Loosening his ammunition constraints will help give him a small boost.

Zarya – Buff

Particle Cannon (Secondary Fire)
Explosion radius increased from 2 to 2.5 meters
Ammo cost decreased from 25 to 20


Developer Comment: Zarya’s overall damage output is in a good spot but the secondary fire was left feeling a little too weak after the last set of changes.


We’ll have to wait and see what this does for the shield meta on the whole, but it looks like there might be more opportunity to play Off-Tank in the future metas.

Right now though, I’m going to enjoy playing the seasonal challenges and hoping I get that cool Reaper Rat King skin.

PCGamesN logo Free newsletter