We’ve previously discussed the beneficial aspects of adding hero bans in Overwatch. Blizzard’s Jeff Kaplan made an appearance on the game’s forums recently, to address why his team won’t be adding hero bans to the game. In this post, he also informed us of a developer update video that will be arriving next week.
Hero bans will not be added
Jeff provided a variety of reasons for their decision. The largest reason that hero bans won’t be added is the team’s belief that hero bans won’t solve the stagnant meta and will instead cause a meta to revolve around bans.
But just implementing hero bans does not mean the meta will move. Studying other games, the end result is usually a “ban meta”.
– Jeff Kaplan
I don’t entirely agree with this sentiment. Jeff talks about not implementing features from other games, but 2-2-2 role lock wasn’t an original idea. The team was hesitant to release that feature, but overall the game is better for it. To his point, no game is quite like Overwatch in terms of hero diversity. Overwatch heroes fill many niche areas, and the hero pool isn’t large. Ultimately, if there is a better solution for stagnant metas than hero bans, I trust the developers know what they are doing.
A new developer update is coming
Jeff stated directly that a developer update for Overwatch would be arriving next week. This update has been uniquely hyped by streamer Emongg, who has also posited that this update could bring back players who have left the game. If it isn’t hero bans, what else could get retirees to return?
There are a few possibilities. A 1-3-2 system could be arriving on the PTR. Jeff has told us before that this system has been experimented with for over 2 months at Blizzard. Although, this system would seem to contradict his post yesterday. He talks about not implementing “sledgehammer fixes,” and I believe role lock with a single tank would be incredibly difficult to implement. The amount of balance changes needed would count as sledgehammer fixes in my book.
Jeff’s post proved that developers are aware of the concern towards slow updates. The recent balance changes added to the PTR were pushed to live in a single week. Although the entirety of the patch lied dormant on the test servers for about a month, the balance changes were added and pushed swiftly. This update could mark the end of the PTR. Players have been wondering why the test servers even exist. There are no rewards for testing the game and the balance changes rarely change when going live. However, the PTR is valuable to gain player feedback and test for bugs. Changes have been made previously whenever feedback was negative or bugs were discovered.
Other possibilities are even more dramatic and unlikely. Would they implement a hero pool similar to the limited map pool released earlier this year? Probably not, as this would go against player choice. Developer updates have included map and hero announcements in the past. Would a new hero like Echo bring players back? Perhaps Emongg is just hyped for an Orisa rework, but the update feels bigger than that.
What’s the plan to bring back players?
I’d like to consider the possibility of a road map combined with faster balance changes. A small update to Overwatch in the last couple months added a change to Baptiste’s kit – without running it through the PTR. Perhaps the developers are now able to push patches to live while avoiding large downloads. This could lead us to a short PTR period and a shorter wait for updates.
I don’t think anyone would disagree that the best option for Overwatch would simply be more developer involvement. The fact that Jeff has been so active on the forums recently shows that he wants that interaction. After all this discussion about role lock and hero bans, perhaps the simplest solution is to just update the game more frequently.