In the past few weeks, there has been a renewed uproar from the Overwatch community about the support hero Brigitte’s role in the game. Professional and amateur players alike have taken to Twitter with tongue and cheek demands to “Delete Brig” as well as more grounded complaints about how her design makes Overwatch less fun to play.
While many heroes have been linchpins of the Overwatch meta over the years, no hero has elicited the disdain of the Overwatch fan base like Brigitte. Since her release in 2018, she has been a constant source of frustration for developers and fans with her uncanny aversion to balancing.
Players hate Brigitte for numerous reasons which touch on both micro and macro issues in the game. On a micro level, players don’t like playing with or against Brigitte because her kit feels cheap and oppressive. On a macro level, many resent the fact that Brig has enabled some of the most game-breaking metas in Overwatch history.
Why players hate playing against Brigitte
Brigitte straight counters dive heroes
Upon initial release, Brig immediately put an end to the dive meta because she served as a direct counter to core heroes like Tracer, Winston, Genji, and D.Va.
The dichotomy of her nature is the fundamental challenge when it comes to balancing Brigitte. As a hard counter to a certain style, she is an all-or-nothing proposition. Either Brigitte serves her role of shutting down dive, in which case she feels oppressive and overtuned to fans of those heroes, or she fails to serve her role, in which case she is useless. This design offers very few options when it comes to counterplay.
In a Soldier 76 versus Pharah duel, Soldier has an advantage on Pharah. However, Pharah players still have access to counter-play the hitscan heroes by moving around the map, playing from the ground, and taking unique angles. However, if you are a Tracer dueling a Brig, there is nothing you can do to gain the upper hand other than avoiding her completely.
Straight counters are not a very fun way to implement counterplay into a game. They make Overwatch into a game that is primarily about counter-picking enemy heroes correctly instead of outplaying them. This is perhaps the greatest sin of Brig’s design.
Brigitte’s abilities are the most oppressive in the game
Even when you are playing a hero who isn’t straight countered by Brig, she is not very fun to play against because of her oppressive kit. Her stuns, boops, and tank-like abilities are all designed to keep enemies from doing what they want to do. If Brig is on the field, everyone has to play around her.
While there are other heroes who have access to either a stun or a boop ability, Brig has access to both, which can be combined together to execute a powerful combo. Making matters worse, both her Shield Bash stun and Rocket Flail boop are pretty easy to land and have low cooldowns. Her ability to dictate the terms of many encounters makes her a frustrating hero to play against.
Brigitte is perceived as a cheap hero pick
Much like how Moira in the past, Brigitte is considered by many to be too easy to use in comparison to the other support heroes. It turns out, getting killed by someone you perceive as easy to play is rage inducing for many players.
Most supports in Overwatch force you to make a choice between your various abilities. Lucio has to choose between giving his teammates healing or giving them speed. Mercy has to choose between damage boosting or healing teammates. The skill in these heroes is figuring out the right balance of your ability usage for any given situation.
With Brigitte, you can essentially use all of your abilities as quickly as possible with very little consideration for prioritizing and with relatively short cooldowns. You can use your AOE healing ability while also dealing damage and delivering armor packs.
Since she is seen as easy to play, many players consider her to be a cheap hero. When you are stunned by Ana, you know she landed a highly skillful sleep dart. Getting stunned by a Brigitte, on the other hand, feels low risk on the part of the Brigitte player and requires very little skill to pull off. And it all adds to the ever-mount frustration towards the hero.
A brief history of Brigitte’s impact on the competitive meta
On a macro level, Brigitte’s release represented a fundamental shift in the design philosophy of the Overwatch development team. Brig was the first DLC character who was designed to very specifically counter a strategy, and she remains the heaviest handed DLC hero to this day.
Her release delivered some serious and long-lasting consequences for the state of professional and competitive play.
The rise of GOATS
Brigitte’s addition to the game in 2018 enabled the GOATs compositions, a composition that featured three tanks and three healers.
The GOATS team composition included Reinhardt, D.Va, and Zarya as tanks and Lucio, Brigitte, and Zenyatta (or Ana or Moira) on support. When properly executed, this brawl composition was nearly impossible to stop without mirroring it, leading to a year of Overwatch League without any real DPS play at all.
Brigitte was the primary enabler of GOATs. The composition benefited greatly from her very powerful Rally Cry ultimate, her multiple sources of healing, and her brawly playstyle. Her utility was so high, that she effectively removed DPS heroes from the competitive meta for a full year.
In 2019, Overwatch developers tried to rework Brigitte to make her more balanced, cutting her shield health in half and replacing her instant heal armor pack with three charges of smaller heal-over-time packs. Even this significant rework didn’t manage to kill the GOATs. In the end, the role lock rule that forced a 2/2/2 composition ended the GOATs meta, but that still didn’t solve Brigitte’s fundamental issues.
The rise of Genji and Tracer meta
In 2020, the Overwatch community discovered the power of Brigitte’s armor pack ability when applied to flankers like Tracer and Genji. At the time, when Brig’s armor pack was applied to full health teammates, it would give them an overheal of 75 armor. That overheal was reduced to 50 in February 2020, but that was still significant, and it turned dive heroes like Genji and Tracer into unstoppable killing machines.
Flanking heroes are balanced around their low health pools, so if you add 50 armor to them they become much tankier than originally intended. And so, the new Brigitte + Flanker combo became meta on all skill levels.
In the strangest of ironies, Brig’s Armor Pack overheal revived the dive playstyle, even though she was designed specifically to counter it. That meta eventually ended when Blizzard removed her overheal altogether, killing the Brig/Flank strat, and going a long way to addressing one of the core issues with the character.
With the October 2020 nerfs, many players heralded the end of the Brig era. But you can’t kill Brig — no one can. In 2021, she is just as dominant as ever and an absolute must pick for anyone who is on the upper end of the competitive ladder.
Blizzard doesn’t have to delete Brig, but they have to do something
Despite balancing Brigitte with a sledgehammer approach, Blizzard can’t seem to reign her in. She is just as big in the 2021 meta as she ever was. Her fundamental character design is just too inflexible, making her very difficult to effectively balance.
Many have called, with varying levels of seriousness, for her to be deleted from the game entirely, but that, to say the least, is unreasonable. It would be the strongest possible admission of defeat, eroding the trust in the longevity of new Overwatch content.
Considering the continued failure of small nerfs to Brig, the best solution is probably to do yet another significant rework of her kit. The rework would need to rethink her abilities and her role in the game. The developers were forced to make a huge rework of Mercy after she dominated the first year of Overwatch, so perhaps we will see them try their hand again at redoing Brigitte’s design too.
A reimagined role with a reimagined kit could improve Brigitte’s reputation and revitalize the diversity of the Overwatch meta. We need Brig 3.0 in the near future if Blizzard wants fans to stick around until Overwatch 2 eventually releases.
Aaron is an esports reporter with a background in media, technology, and communication education.