I recently took a stab in the dark at what we could expect from Overwatch 30’s hero, Baptiste. I focused on the issues the large quantity of CC cause and the desperate need for a primary healer. The current cast of Ana, Mercy, and Moira just don’t cut it. My general conclusion was that a high skill cap, a primary healer with okay damage and a boatload of utility was what Overwatch needed most from Baptiste. He’s available of PTR right now if you want to check him out first hand. Well, let’s dive in and see what Blizzard ended up giving us.
It’s a little early to envision what role Baptiste will play in specific comps but it would appear we’ve finally gotten another primary healer. Overwatch head developer, Jeff Kaplan, spoke in a recent developer update video explaining that they hope Baptiste will fill the primary healer role. He seems viable in both dive and more brawl heavy compositions although his healing isn’t necessarily as optimal for dive as Ana or Zenyatta’s are. Baptiste possesses surprisingly strong peel potential thanks for various parts of his kit, which we’ll cover further down the article. Blizzard rates him as a 3-star difficulty hero which is a very fair stance to take. Baptiste certainly has an impressive skill cap and feels like a hero that will only get more exciting to watch as professional players learn how to play optimally with him. Potentially, a very exciting addition to spice up the Overwatch League too with teams that possess support all starts likely to benefit the most.
Baptiste’s Biotic Launcher utilizes a three burst round, moderate damage primary fire. To balance his damage potential, the Biotic Launcher has a relatively slow fire rate, meaning you will be rewarded for good aim but heavily punished for missing your shots. Without any kind of damage boost, the primary fire cannot one shot any heroes above 150hp. Each burst round takes 0.3 seconds to fire but is separated by a 0.35-second recovery between shots. There are no animation cancel techniques that can speed this up. Within the first 20 meters, Baptiste’s burst fire will suffer zero fall-off damage. After this, it will begin to drop off until it hits its minimum damage at 40 meters. He has 45 rounds of ammo in each clip, which allows for a substantial amount of suppression fire without having to reload. The primary negatives of his gun are that it suffers from considerable recoil and the recovery between shots is sizable enough to be exploited by flankers and divers.
Baptiste’s secondary functions as his primary healing technique. He fires grenade canisters that heal either upon impact or within their moderately sized splash healing hitbox. The grenades fire as arcing, fast projectiles and heal 60hp across a three-meter radius. The clip size is 10, meaning Baptiste can pump out a potential 600 healing with just his secondary fire without having to reload. Also, reloading at any point will completely restock both your healing secondary and burst fire primary rounds. Fired grenades pass through fully healed allies similarly to how Ana’s primary fire. However, whilst a very effective and relatively reliable healing tool, the Biotic Launcher’s secondary fire does not self-heal at all
Regenerative Burst is Baptiste’s primary method of sustaining his own health. It heals 30 health per second up to a total of 150 HP over 5 seconds. Despite its overall lack of healing on paper, Regenerative Burst is actually a fairly strong ability. It heals across an impressive 10-meter radius, offering both yourself and any surrounding teammates that same top-up healing. When combined with his secondary fire, Baptiste pumps out an impressive 105 HPS if both healing abilities are active without either his ultimate or an Ana grenade impacting said heals. A more likely healing rate when variables are removed is around 75 HPS, which is still pretty strong for an area of effect healer. For comparison, Lucio’s Amp It Up only does 50 HPS, albeit over a larger radius.
Regenerative Burst is on a long cooldown of 15 seconds so Baptiste players will probably want to keep it for either clutch healing situations or to keep yourself alive. There is a cast time of 0.3 seconds so technically stuns can cancel it but the window is probably too small for this to be an actual issue in game. Since Regenerative Burst works purely on activation and not line of sight, as long as your teammate was within range when it was cast they will continue to get the full 150 healing over 5 seconds. Conversely, teammates that weren’t in the initial cast’s area of effect will not start receiving healing even if they enter it afterward.
Arguably Baptiste’s strongest ability overall, Immortality Field is likely to be a game changer. Much like the name suggests, Immortality Field is an area of effect ability that grants complete immunity to all damage for up to 9 seconds. Fortunately, there’s a catch. The Immortality Field is projected down by an aerial generator with 250 health that can be shot down. The generator can also be shut down by a Sombra E.M.P or hack, using CC to break an opponent’s line of sight to the generator, knocking someone out of the field, or a Mei freeze. The Field ignores barriers and will last a further one second after the generator is destroyed.
When I say immunity to all damage, I mean immunity to all damage. D.VA Bombs, Bastion Spray, a point-blank shotgun shell to the head, literally every ultimate on the game (well, other than E.M.P and Blizzard) hitting you right in the face at once. As long as Immortality Field is active and you are standing within its area of effect, your health pool cannot drop below 20% of its maximum value. This ability seems particularly strong when it comes to dealing with flanking ultimate like Genji’s Dragon Blade and Tracer’s Pulse Bomb. Some quick reactions can completely waste these ultimates as long as you can keep whoever is dived within the Field. It can also be very strong within Zarya’s Graviton Surge as it effectively protects everyone inside the Grav until it is destroyed. If I had to guess, Sombra is going to become a lot more important with Baptiste’s introduction. Especially if teams want to keep Zarya as strong as she is now. When Zarya’s Grav goes out and Baptiste is in it, your team has to put 250 damage worth of resources into the generator before touching the opposing team. Alternatively, you can have a Sombra, have her E.M.P the Grav and either have Baptiste’s Field completely negated or prevent him from throwing it out at all whilst he is affected by E.M.P. A better Baptiste could hide and throw in the Field after the E.M.P has gone off though, so there’s still effective counter-play involved.
Passive: Exo Boots
Baptiste’s passive ability, Exo Boots are a charging vertical jump that allows for Baptiste to reposition and rotate to high ground with ease. The Exo Boots are charged by holding the crouch button. The on-screen lines give you feedback on how charged the jump is before you use it. A full charge takes 1 second of crouching, Interestingly enough, even when hacked, Exo Boots continue to function. This makes escaping from a pesky Sombra easier than you would think with good positioning. Pressing the crouch button again cancels out the existing charge. The charge also doesn’t last forever so you can’t hold onto it for an escape later on.
This actually makes Exo Boots a little tricky to use mid-fight as they require you to basically sit still for a whole second to charge up. Obviously, this makes you a very easy target, something you’ll want to avoid at all costs being your team’s primary healer. It is excellent for rotations and high-ground positioning though as well as escaping diving opponents such as Winston and D.VA. Similarly to how Widowmaker can use her hook to bait these off of high-ground and jump back up afterward, Baptiste can do much of the same but to a more efficient degree. After all, Exo Boots are passive and therefore never on cooldown. Be aware though that CC that knocks you around can interrupt Exo Boots from charging up properly.
Ultimate: Amplification Matrix
Finally, we have Baptiste’s ultimate ability. Amplification Matrix is a placed barrier of sorts that doubles the majority of damage that travels through it. In the video above you can see how initially I cannot one shot the Practice Bot yet when Amp Matrix is placed I easily shred through the poor guy’s health. People have managed to capture some pretty funny moment using Amp Matrix including these four kills with a single Reinhardt Firestrike. It’s pretty strong but also situational and very easy to play around. Consider it to be similar to the likes of Deadeye and Tactical Visor as they produce very good potential damage but have obvious drawbacks such as requiring line of sight on the enemy to get serious value. It’s a pretty solid zoning tool too and teams can either sit in front of it and try to tank damage or give up space to avoid it entirely. It can’t be hacked but Sombra’s E.M.P will permanently destroy it.
Amp Matrix appears to be very strong when coupled with niche compositions such as Pirate Ship. Pirate Ship involves two sets of barriers surrounding a Bastion that camps the payload. It’s far from unbeatable and suffers badly from D.VA’s Defence Matrix but having double the damage for 8 seconds makes diving a Bastion a pretty scary prospect. If you don’t deal with him quick enough your entire team is going to die very fast. It also amplifies healing that passes through it which in turn stacks with Ana’s Bio Grenade. That makes for some pretty crazy potential healing if you choose to use it as a make-shift defensive ultimate rather than the obvious offensive ultimate it’s probably designed to be. I doubt it has the capabilities of competing against Zenyatta’s Tranquility or Lucio’s Sound Barrier in this regard though. Also, just for clarity, Amp Matrix is not a shield of any kind. It can be placed inside a shield but it itself will not prevent damage from passing through. It will only double the damage you fire through it.
In conclusion, Baptiste appears to be a pretty fantastic addition to the game’s roster. I wanted a primary healer, I got a primary healer. I wanted a support that has lots of utility, he has a more than enough utility to go around. High skill cap? Yep, he’s most certainly got that going for him too. He doesn’t necessarily counter CC in the way I was hoping hero 30 would be but his Immortality Field pretty much counters everything including CC so that sort of works.
I think Baptiste is strong but right now he probably appears stronger than he actually is. People haven’t learned to focus down the Immortality Field and instead tend to just pump meaningless damage into literally invulnerable enemies. I’ve seen a couple of teams just throw four or five ultimates and have them all cancelled out at once which makes it seem like Immortality Field is out of this world. The reality is that this is just poor ultimate usage and a half-decent team will realize either baiting out Immortality Field or destroying it as soon as it appears isn’t that hard to do. After all, if you push a Baptiste to low health, he either dies or uses it as a last resort. Once it’s already out, you are free to use ultimates as usual without having to worry about its impact. Remember, it’s on a really long cooldown so Baptiste players really only have one opportunity per fight to use it.
Long cooldowns, in general, are a huge weakness of Baptiste and a key part to why his kit is so high skill. Wasting them too early makes you a sitting duck for dive targets but not using them soon enough could leave your team hopeless in the early team fight. His healing is pretty good but not necessarily better than existing heroes such as Ana and Moira. I think smart usage of either Bio Nade still has as much potential as it did before. No doubt Baptiste could be irritating at lower levels of play where people may not coordinate well enough to deal with his kit but at higher levels, I suspect intelligent play will be required to get value out of him. I’m not going to guess how he’ll operate at the very highest level as I’m by no means a professional coach. It should be fun to see support specialists like NYXL’s Jjonak, Fusion’s Boombox and other OWL stars show the world what Baptiste can do at his best though.