Blizzard has not shied away from introducing changes that have drastically altered Overwatch since the game launched almost four months ago. They've added a new hero, Competitive Play, and just announced a new map coming to the game next month. Besides that, heroes have been tweaked numerous times. Heroes like D.va, Zenyatta, and McCree have changed heavily over the past couple of months. In line with this kind of attitude, yesterday Blizzard revealed that they plan to keep this ball of change rolling.
PC players can now participate in the latest PTR (Public Test Region) that will put the latest Overwatch patch that Blizzard has ready to the test. The PTR is available in all regions of the world except for China, and is only playable on Windows PCs. For the full details on the PTR itself as well as the directions explaining how you can participate, check out the full blog post here. For the remainder of this article I plan to cover some of the biggest changes coming in the next patch, and trust me, there's plenty to go over.
Competitive Play Changes
Season 2 of Competitive Play launches on September 6th, and with it, plenty of new changes. Most notably, the new season will do away with Sudden Death, add skill rating tiers, and extend the time bank system to other maps. I hope you didn't get too used to Competitive Play the way it was, because Season 2 is overhauling the game mode almost completely.
The biggest change coming to Overwatch with the start of Season 2 is definitely the introduction of skill tiers. Anybody who played through the placement matches for Season 1 is familiar with the original rank system. You were given a rank anywhere between 1 and 100, and that rank went up or down depending on whether you won or lost. Well, this system will be receiving some massive changes. Now, instead of a 1-100 point scale, you'll be given a skill rating of somewhere between 1 and 5000. This skill rating will still go up or down depending on how well you are playing, but your overall tier won't change as often.
These are the tiers and what kind of skill rating you'll need in order to be a part of that tier:
- Bronze - 1-1499
- Silver - 1500-1999
- Gold - 2000-2499
- Platinum - 2500-2999
- Diamond - 3000-3499
- Master - 3500-3999
- Grandmaster - 4000-5000
It is also important to note that players in the Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond tiers will not drop in tiers, even if their skill rating falls below that cutoff. However, this does not apply to the last two tiers. If you drop below a skill rating of 3500, you will no longer show as being in the Master tier.
With the addition of this new rating system, also comes the addition of skill rating decay. Players in Diamond, Master, and Grandmaster tiers that haven't participated in a competitive match for 7 days will lose skill rating at a rate of 50 rank points every 24 hours. However, it is impossible to drop below a skill rating of 3000 through skill rate decay. All you have to do to halt skill rate decay is participate in one match. As for the top 500, players that haven't participated in a match of Competitive Play for 7 days will immediately drop out of the top 500.
Also, it's important to note that this addition brings with it some new restrictions. Players with a skill rating difference of more than 500 will no longer be able to group up with one another in Competitive Play. Additionally you need to win at least 50 games before you can be in the top 50o for Overwatch.
Don't worry, the main purpose of competitive points isn't changing. You're still going to be able to save up for your gold weapons the same way you did before. However, because of the changes coming to sudden death, the value of competitive points needs some reworking.
First and foremost, all existing competitive points from Season 1 will be multiplied by 10. On top of that, the cost of golden weapons will also be multiplied by 10. So no, you're not any closer to getting that golden weapon that you've been saving up for. The changes make sense when you take into account the fact that matches can now end in a draw. If you win a match in competitive play, then you receive 10 competitive points, but if the match end in a draw, then you receive only 3.
The last major change to come to competitive points is the soft cap on how many points you can save up. Players with more than 6000 points at the start of Season 2 will no longer collect points by playing competitive matches.
Blizzard caught a lot of slack with the implementation of the coin flip to help decided matches that go into sudden death. The coin flip put far too much to chance, and it has been Blizzard's intention to get rid of this mechanic for a while now. Well, today is that day. The new patch would eliminate the coin flip entirely and instead implement the time bank system into more game modes, and if this system fails, the match will simply end in a tie.
For those unfamiliar with the time bank system, it is the current sudden death system seen in Assault maps like Hanamura. After the initial rounds of a match have ended, and both teams are tied, each side has a chance to attack again using the amount of time left over from the round before. This system is now being carried over to both Escort and Hybrid maps like Dorado and King's Row. The basis of the mechanic will remain the same, however. For example, if both teams are able to push the payload all the way to the end of Dorado, then each team will attack again and try to push the payload as far as they can using whatever time they had left over. Whoever pushes it farther at the end of sudden death, wins. For a full breakdown of the time bank system, check out this Battle.net forum post.
With this addition comes the possibility of matches ending in a draw now. When matches end in a draw, both teams will receive 3 competitive points, but the skill rating of all players from the match will remain unchanged,
There are some more general changes coming to Overwatch as well. All heroes will be receiving a new sit and laugh emote. When playing as Symmetra, activating her "ultimate status" pin-wheel voice line will cause her to announce how many uses her teleporter has left. Leaver penalties are being tweaked a bit too. Players must now complete more matches to clear their penalty status.
The general change that might shake the Overwatch meta the most, however, is Blizzard reversing a change they made recently to projectiles. Projectiles were recently reduced in size, making it harder to land shots with them, but now, they are returning to the same size they were at the game's launch. Yes, that means that Hanzo will go back to hitting everything under the sun with relative ease.
Another change that I'd like to bring up may not be game changing, but it's still worth a mention. You know the infamous chat message "gg ez"? Well, Blizzard is familiar with it too. With the recent update, if you type "gg ez" into the chat, a very different message will be sent out to everybody. Overwatch is replacing the phrase with lines like "It's past my bedtime. Please don't tell my mommy" and "I feel very, very small... please hold me..." Good for Blizzard, showing their sense of humor while combating trolls.
Here it is. The moment you've all been waiting for. Who's getting nerfed and who's getting buffed? Well, a total of nine heroes are receiving balance changes, so let's go through them all one at a time.
First up, D.va. Her change might possibly turn out to be the least noticeable of all the balancing changes in the end. The only difference we'll be seeing with her is an increase in time before her defense matrix begins recharging again. This change was made simply to decrease the effectiveness of simply tapping her defense matrix on and off repeatedly.
Next, Hanzo. His buffs might end up bringing the biggest impact to the current meta of the game. His maximum projectile speed has been increased by 30%. His speed decrease when aiming has been reduced to 30% (formerly 40%). Combine this with the fact that projectiles are now bigger in size again, and Hanzo might just become a formidable threat once more.
Mei's ultimate will be receiving some buffs in the upcoming patch. The projectile that she uses to initially cast her Blizzard can now pierce barriers like Reinhardt's shield. Before if you were to throw it at a shield, it would bounce off of it, but not anymore. Besides this, the radius of the Blizzard has been increased from 8 to 10 meters.
McCree's Deadeye is receiving a slight change in the way it uses up his ultimate charge. Before, if you started to use his ultimate but then cancelled it, the ultimate's charge would be reset back to 50%. Now, however, Deadeye drains the ultimate charge bar the longer you use it. Basically, his ultimate works just like every other hero's does now.
In an attempt to bring Mercy back into the current Overwatch meta, Mercy's staff now heals allies 20% faster than before. On top of this buff, allies she resurrected can now begin moving slightly faster after the resurrection than before. It used to take 3 seconds for allies to be able to maneuver around, but now they can move just 2.25 seconds after being resurrected.
Now we move onto what I'm sure will be some of the more controversial changes coming to a single hero, and that is Genji. Most notably, Genji's ultimate duration has been decreased from 8 seconds to 6 seconds. Next, Genji's dash attack will no longer auto-cancel a melee attack like it did before, meaning that you will no longer be able to get a free melee shot in before using Swift Strike. His dash was also nerfed so that it no longer did damage to traps like Junkrat's bear trap of Widowmaker's mine. Lastly, double jump no longer resets when wall climbing. It'll be interesting to see how the community reacts to these nerfs.
Lucio will be revieving a small nerf as well. The boost in movement speed when he uses his Amp It Up ability is being decreased from a 100% increase in speed to a 70% increase.
You know that annoying thing that would happen sometimes with Roadhog's hook where it would drag you to weird places and slide you along walls in disorienting ways? Well, this is being fixed. Now, if you moved out of Roadhog's line of site after he hooked you, when he starts to reel you in you will be reset back to the spot where he initially hooked you.
Zenyatta has grown in usage at an astonishing rate since his last buff, so it was only a matter of time before he was nerfed back down to level the playing field. His Discord Orb will now only amplify damage done to that enemy by 30% instead of by 50%. However, his primary fire orbs are actually receiving a buff in damage. They will now do 46 damage each instead of the previous 40.
And those are the biggest changes coming to Overwatch being tested in the latest PTR. Again, if you want to read up on everything concerning the PTR, as well as the complete patch notes, see here. The patch is expected to launch alongside the start of Season 2 on September 6th.
What do you think about some of the changes coming to Overwatch? Which hero balancing updates surprised you the most? Which are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comment section below!