Blizzard is again experimenting with balance changes in Overwatch, and it’s launching a new PTR update to enlist players’ help in testing them. This latest patch deals with three characters specifically, not including Hanzo or Symmetra, who were recently highlighted as being in line for some adjustments.
In terms of what is in the patch, Mei receives some significant buffs. The duration of her freeze ability has been increased from 1 second to 1.5 seconds, which Blizzard hopes will better provide her with the ability to take on speedy enemies in particular. Additionally, the alt-fire on her weapon is gaining a few additional shots to provide her with more opportunities to pull off a headshot. In the developer video update below, director Jeff Kaplan explains that Blizzard thinks Mei is close to being balanced but believe she “could use some help,” hence the buffs.
Next up is Sombra, who will no longer charge up her Ultimate through hacked health packs. She’ll now primarily earn her Ultimate by dealing damage, and some unspecified changes have been made to her weapon as a result. Her Translocator’s duration has also been extended, giving her more time to act before it expires.
More importantly, her Hack ability now takes less time to use, and it affects enemies in some new ways. This varies from character to character–when hacked, Genji loses the ability to double jump, while Pharah can’t use her hover jets. Kaplan describes this as an experiment; it’s not confirmed that these effects will make it into the live game, and it’s possible that others could also be impacted by Hack.
Finally, Doomfist’s weapon will now recover ammo much more quickly than before. This change actually briefly went live as part of the recent live game update by mistake, but it has since been rolled back.
A recent developer update video covered upcoming balance changes to a variety of characters. Two of those–Mercy and Junkrat–are now available in the live game, and we’re seeing the Mei changes tested in this new PTR patch. Hanzo was also mentioned during that, but we’re still not seeing any adjustments to him. In the new developer update, Kaplan discusses the character and–more specifically–many of the proposed changes that have now been ruled out.
One such proposal involved replacing Scatter Arrow with a new ability that allowed him to shoot a single, sniper-like shot very quickly, even through barriers, but it was found to be too frustrating for players hiding behind barriers who were killed by it. Another change included a new ability being assigned to the reload button that would let him activate certain abilities more frequently. Blizzard also tried making Scatter Arrow only activate when shooting at a wall or ceiling (rather than the floor), but this was deemed to be too much of a nerf, which is not the intention. The studio is now looking at a new ability that lets him rapidly fire a series of arrows, and this is something that could be tested on the PTR in the future. Blizzard is also exploring a horizontal leap that’s primarily meant to get Hanzo out of danger’s way.
Kaplan also promised that Symmetra is still being discussed, though he has previously stated that she’s unlikely to ever be a character that makes sense in all situations. Additionally, making Torbjorn more viable is another item on Blizzard’s to-do list.
Overwatch players on PC can check out the changes that are currently in testing on the PTR. There’s no word on when these changes will make it to the live game on PC, PS4, or Xbox One, but bear in mind that these adjustments could be tweaked further or eliminated altogether. In the meantime, everyone can take part in the new Lunar New Year event, which introduces a variety of new Year of the Dog skins and cosmetics.
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Author: Chris Pereira
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