For anyone who has been around awhile, they know Dogface use to dominate the PVP scene. Then along came Panzer who was nigh unstoppable until the nerfs started rolling in. At first it was a trickle of nerfs for her, then a flood. After her was Shiv, but she quickly got a flat 10% damage nerf so her reign didn’t last very long. That and 4-Cep came along shortly after. Now we are looking at the new king of PVP which is 4-Cep.
You may ask yourself what do all of these heroes have in common? The answer is their insane burst. Dogface starts off slower, but once his bronze and silver are active he decimates opponents. He has fallen out of favor after a few rounds of nerfs though, and since better options have come along.
Panzer and 4-Cep start the destruction the second they come out the gate and because of this they are incredibly powerful. Shiv just needs a kill and then her burst damage goes nutz.
To really emphasis this burst problem you just have to look at Panzer. The design behind her is incredible burst within the first 20 seconds of a match, then her DPS drops way off and it takes her a long time to do any sort of real damage again. However, because she can usually make a match 5v4 within the first 15-20 seconds, this made her one of the strongest heroes in the game for a time. It is all about that up front burst damage. Coming back after losing a hero or two is incredibly difficult unless the opponent has heroes that basically do nothing beyond the first several seconds of a match.
Meanwhile on the other end of the spectrum you have heroes who really suffer due to their ramp up time. Hivemind, Xianjiu, and Halloway take around a minute to get all of their clones or drones out. This, along with the fact that they are front line energy heroes means they usually go down super quick before they can even get to 50% power. In PVE they are pretty terrible choices because of the ramp up time and they are usually pretty weak for the first few waves of a level.
Other heroes like Odachi need to wait until an opponent is at 50% health before their damage really starts kicking in. Due to his low hp, this rarely happens before he is dead himself. Other heroes have the same issue such as Astrix, Kunoichi, and Siren. They all have decent damage, but their hp is too low for it to really matter. Before Astrix or Siren can get their powerful abilities off, they are usually killed. Cinder would also fall into this category because she needs to destroy a lot of cover before her damage ramps up.
Then you have heroes like Prophet and Irezumi who literally have to keep stacking DOTs or buffs on before they can do any real damage. Halloway also kind of falls into this category because his silver needs all doubles up to do any real damage (if it even lands). The problem here is these abilities take forever to power up, and even once they are max power they STILL aren’t that strong.
Phantom shot only does 194k damage. Each Amp Up charge provides an additional 75k energy damage. Best case after 1 Amp Up is 269k dmg. At absolute full power it only does 655k damage. That’s not even enough to one shot most other 10*, 5 bar heroes. It’s also next to impossible to get unless the enemy has a bunch of bot heroes since you would get max of 4 charges from normal hero kills, and then need 2 more Amp Up uses. Of course he will be dead long before he even gets half way there. Compare that to Panzer’s Breach and Clear which doesn’t require another ability and can do a total of 266k mech damage to a full health target. That ability is available almost instantly too.
Heroes like Ryker and Heckler do decent damage, but it’s more slow and steady and not as bursty. Because of this it’s hard to really get a kill with them. Clyde has decent burst, but he is one of those low hp heroes and a lot is left up to chance with his stun working or not.
Finally you have the heroes with AOE type abilities, who seem decent on paper but are pretty terrible in actuality. Maven and Ghoul are two prime examples who suffer here. Even the AI easily dodge their abilities making them mostly worthless. Cinder also suffers here because both of her abilities rely on a target standing still, and with the cover destruction ramp up it really keeps her from being competitive.
So, what’s the solution to this? Well for one, I think the drone and clone heroes should start off any match with at least 1 or 2 bots activated. This would drastically shorten the ramp up time and make them at least decent right off the bat. Cast went from 1 to 2 turrets and he actually is a decent hero now. Not OP, but not worthless either. He gets both turrets out relatively quickly.
Odachi could probably stand to have his abilities start at 75% hp instead of 50, and use a slight armor and/or hp buff. The same goes for Kuno, Astrix, and Siren. Give them more durability so they can last long enough to actually get their abilities. As for heroes like Maven, Cinder, and Ghoul, their abilities just need to be sped up so they land and/or go off easier.
I know this isn’t a fix all as some heroes like Mauler and Ronin had good runs, and neither has particularly high burst. Mauler had some insane stun locking briefly, while Ronin was a mix of higher burst and buffing a bunch of weaker heroe’s hp dramatically (and in turn, his own damage). Other heroes like Fortress, Halo, and Savage also were incredibly powerful for brief periods of time, but that was due to other issues (insane health regen coupled with high damage from ability on Fortress, Lightning Rod doing insane damage and being triggered by tons of things, etc.).
However, I think addressing the underlying issue and buffing the dozen or so heroes I listed would make them at least semi-competitive in PVP without the need to nerf other current favorites any more.