The team at Blizzard have lately been releasing quicker patches for Overwatch. These patches are also pushed to live faster. But the most recent Overwatch PTR patch has some very questionable changes.
Along with hero pools arriving on the test platform, there have been nerfs to heroes that aren’t even currently played. Are these changes being made because the developers see an issue in the future? Or could this be an example of change simply for change’s sake?
Available now on the Overwatch PTR is a new system called hero pools. Much like map pools, this system locks out 4 heroes a week that will be unavailable to play. Overwatch’s Jeff Kaplan has stated that these heroes will not be chosen randomly, but rather based on the most played heroes in the previous week.
This change is very similar to hero bans, but the control won’t be in the hands of players. I find it odd that hero pools are being released as well as a faster balance process. It could lead to unnecessary changes, and the game doesn’t have that many brokenly overpowered characters. Nonetheless, hero pools should lead to increased match variety and less stale experiences.
PTR balance changes
Similar to Doomfist’s recent Uppercut nerf, players will regain control faster after being hit with Piledriver. Any change that allows a player more input on the outcome of a fight is a good change. Abilities that restrict movement aren’t that fun to play against. If you play Zenyatta or Baptiste, you’ll have a little more control over an encounter with Wrecking Ball.
This change is the first one that confuses me. Symmetra is considered weak because of her lack of mobility and sustain once in a fight. Increasing the damage of her ranged secondary fire doesn’t change this, and it adds to the amount of spam already in the game.
A damage boosted Symmetra, either by Nanoboost or Orisa’s Supercharger, will now be able to one shot 200 HP heroes. Her secondary fire is already quite random and difficult to lead, as well as easy to dodge. This change simply confuses Symmetra’s position in the meta even more. On top of being a builder hero and having a weird beam that ramps up in damage, now she can spam from range. It just doesn’t make any sense.
Brigitte hasn’t seen meta play since GOATS. She’s been in a weird limbo state since her small rework. Some players think she is incredibly powerful, others say she is practically useless. There have been rumors of Contenders teams running a Lucio Brigitte support line, but it isn’t solidly meta.
I agree with the changes to armor over-heal. 75 extra armor is difficult to chip down for Dive heroes like Tracer and Genji, and it can make those same heroes oppressive. You don’t want to face a Tracer with 225 HP.
The heals per second change I heavily disagree with. All this change does is make it more likely that teams will play Moira instead. She has better range and mobility on top of more healing. For a hero like Brigitte who already isn’t meta, it’s really odd to see a change like this.
I’m going to preface this by saying that I play a ton of Widowmaker. I may have a small bias when judging nerfs for her. That being said, I don’t think this nerf makes any sense. Firstly, it won’t stop the perception that Widowmaker is oppressive. The truth is that in the right hands, no change to Widowmaker except nerfing her ability to 1 shot will change her oppressiveness.
Second, people have learned the muscle memory and timing of her charged shots. Just like I felt that the Hanzo arrow speed revert was wrong for disrupting muscle memory, I think this change is heading in the wrong direction. Instead of trying to nerf Widowmaker players, why not nerf her mobility and make her more vulnerable to counters?
Overall, this Overwatch PTR doesn’t seem to hold much value. It messes up with players’ muscle memory habits, nerfs heroes sorely in need of a buff, and adds changes that further confuse the role of a hero.
On top of that, we don’t see any nerfs for Mei, a hero still solidly in the meta and incredibly oppressive against mobile heroes such as Wrecking Ball and Winston. If these are the kind of changes brought with frequent patching, maybe they should slow it down.