The Overwatch PTR (Public Test Region) has had an update according to the game's official blog. The update adds in some story elements for the game's heroes, makes a minor change to the Eichenwald map, and changes how Lucio plays as a character.
Overwatch's Lead Writer Michael Chu had previously commented that Blizzard was looking to integrate hero lore and story elements into the game less than two weeks ago. In regards to this feature, Mr. Chu had stated, "[...] you’ll probably see the results rolling out little by little in future patches." Now we're seeing the first trickle of this feature into the game. Nearly all heroes have had a text blurb added to the Hero Gallery page, and a selection of skins have blurbs relating to that particular skin that expands on the hero's story.
The first point on Eichenwald is being opened up just a bit. The Die Zaubertröte store to the right of the bridge archway now has a relatively straight path to the other side. While this will give attackers a little more room to move, this is a relatively conservative change to make for opening up new routes on the map as it still presents a somewhat unified (albeit wider) front. You can see elements of the hero lore additions to the game as well as the Eichenwald map changes in our gallery:
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Lucio is being reworked in this update. His projectile speed has been increased by 25% (from 40 to 50) and his alternate fire now factors in vertical orientation. (This means that the game will push away enemies differently if you are at a different height relative to them.) His Crossfade (AoE healing) has been reduced from 30 meters to 10 meters, but his healing rate has been increased by 50%. His Sound Barrier Ultimate has had its radius reduced from 30 to 20 meters as well. These changes reduce Lucio's ability to cover multiple teammates at once, but he's getting an upgrade in mobility to compensate. Lucio's movement speed is now increased by 30% while he's wallriding and he gets a boost of speed when he jumps off of a wall. The Overwatch developement team has detailed their reasoning for the changes in the following Developer Comments:
Developer Comments: Lucio has often felt like a must-pick due to his raw healing output and the versatility of providing a speed bonus to your entire team. The goal of these changes is to keep those elements feeling strong, but making them harder to apply to everyone on your team at all times. The end result is that he should feel stronger with teams that he can stay close to but not as strong when on teams with heroes that are often spread out (such as Pharah, Widow, Genji, etc). Much of Lucio’s character power was tied up in his large passive auras, which caused other elements of his kit to be weakened over time in an attempt to balance him. Now that his auras are more focused it will allow them to be much stronger and allow Lucio to be more active in his role.Additionally, the mechanics of Competitive Play have been slightly changed to try to reduce the amount of Draws. Once a round is complete, a yellow tick mark will appear on the capture icon showing the opposing team's progress. Once sides have switched, the opposing team now only needs to get past that tick mark by a thin margin to win (Whether or not they successfully capture the point). This change is similar to the tracking system for Payload and Escort missions that already exists for Competitive Play.
Finally, players can now save presets for Custom Games. To access this feature on the PTR, players have to right click on the map image or game name inside of the Game Browser. The ability to create Custom Games was announced in early February 2017. There are also a number of bugfixes that have been implemented that we won't cover here - for all the details, click through to the patch notes to read up on the latest changes!
What do you think of the first step to integrating hero lore into Overwatch? Do you think the changes made to the Eichenwald map will be sufficient to give attackers a little more of a fighting chance or do you think that the change is too conservative? What do you think of the changes made to Lucio? Let us know in the comments below!