Blizzard have just released the accumulated PTR changes from recent weeks (and a surprise or two) in to the wild ahead of the start of Season 4 later today. The headline feature is the Game Browser which ushers in an age of open experimentation, promoting a greatly expanded set of Custom Game features to the masses and giving players significant powers to rebalance the game as they see fit.
One change that was not previously seen in the PTR sees increased spawn times for defenders if they are outnumbered when an objective is being contested. Although clearly aimed at reducing the effectiveness of stall tactics, without any prior testing it remains unclear just how big an impact this might have on competitive play.
Elsewhere in the patch, the hero balance changes put the spotlight firmly on Bastion. In Blizzard's mission to make the hero "stronger and more flexible" some questionable changes have made it through the scrutiny of the PTR. At the time of writing Bastion can out heal a Dragonstrike, one of the classic counters to Configuration: Sentry, drawing derision from pros and pubbers alike.
Roadhog also received hefty buff with tightened Scrap Gun spread that was side note to more Hook changes only serving to further boost Hog's lethality at range. His fellow tank Winston benefits from a smaller head hitbox (which is currently bugged).
The backlash from professional Overwatch players in #protalk prompted a tongue-lashing from Slasher, reminding pros of their duty to give feedback in a timely manner:
"@everyone It has to come to my attention from Zan - whom I have no reason not to trust on this - that the majority of messages sent to him only came this past Sunday, which all of you should understand is way too late to make any adjustments to on the PTR or to the live patch. It has been said that prior to the dozen of so messages that he received on Sunday, Zan got a total of THREE messages from the nearly 600 pro players in this channel, along with the hundreds of Top 500 players in General.
Three. 3. THREE. That is completely unacceptable and YOUR OWN FAULT. While of course players need time to actually test the feedback, in no real world scenario does sending the feedback two days before the patch goes live is in any shape or form going to change the outcome. I sent half a dozen announcements along with personal messages in this channel instructing the players, especially the pros, to provide feedback. YOU HAVE TO DO THIS EARLIER THAN TWO DAYS BEFORE THE PATCH GOES LIVE, AND MORE THAN A TOTAL OF THREE PEOPLE DOING SO.
Yes it is hard to know when the patch will go to live from PTR, but in general it takes around three weeks, which has been generally the same timeline since the game has come out. As someone who gives a fair amount of flack to Blizzard for things, there is really no one to blame here but yourselves for NOT LISTENING AND NOT SENDING YOUR CRITIQUE IN A TIMELY MANNER. Instead of continually shitposting in this Discord channel - which is not read for feedback, because it is impossible - you NEED to send your feedback DIRECTLY. If I (and people like Morte) did not individually remind everyone in this channel to send feedback regarding 1 hero limit, you guys likely wouldn't have done it either. This is on you.
The good news from what I have heard is that patching the game based on the feedback that was finally recently given should be able to be done in the near future."
More balance changes may be coming sooner rather than later then, but for now you can check out the patch notes in full below:
New Feature: Game Browser
Starting today, every player can create their own, unique Overwatch experience and share it with their friends, teammates, or the entire world. Introducing the Game Browser.
An extension of Overwatch's Custom Game mode, the Game Browser allows you to adjust the settings on various maps, modes, and heroes to create your own tailor-made match. For example, if you want to increase the speed of Pharah’s rockets or remove the cooldown from McCree's Combat Roll, the power is yours. Once you're happy with your settings, and you're ready to launch your game, you'll need to set up permissions. You can limit the people who can join your game by toggling the "Friends Only" or "Invite Only" options, but if you want to put your strange creation to a real test, set your server to "Public" and click the launch button.
If you'd like to learn more about the Game Browser, click here.
New Mode: Capture the Flag
Capture the Rooster has been, without a doubt, Overwatch’s most popular brawl. We don’t want the excitement to end, so we’re bringing Capture the Flag to the Arcade as an ongoing game mode. Starting today, we’re adding Capture the Flag versions of Nepal, Lijiang Tower, Ilios, and Oasis, which gives you 12 maps to try when creating a Custom Game.
- New Hero Option: Nano Boost Sensitivity
- Allows players to adjust Nano Boost’s targeting sensitivity
- Reconfiguration time decreased from 1.5 seconds to 1.0 second
- Bullet spread increased by 50%
- Bullet spread is always at maximum (it no longer increases as the weapon is fired)
- Magazine size increased from 200 to 300
- No longer deals critical damage
- Bullet spread decreased by 25%
- Magazine size increased from 20 to 25
- Can now be used while moving
- Now bound to secondary fire (formerly Ability 2)
- No longer interrupted by taking damage
- A new resource meter has been added that depletes while Self-Repair is active and recharges when not in use
- No longer grants bonus armor
New Passive Ability: Ironclad
- Bastion takes 35% less damage while in Configuration: Sentry or Tank
Developer Comments: The goal of these changes is to move some of Bastion's power from Configuration: Sentry to Recon, while keeping its sentry mode a strong option, especially versus tanks and barriers. Overall, Bastion should feel stronger and more flexible with these changes.
- Defense Matrix
- Enemy shots no longer need to travel a minimum distance before they can be blocked
Developer Comments: Previously, there was a minimum distance a projectile had to travel before it could be destroyed by Defense Matrix. This made it nearly worthless in situations where an enemy was right next to your teammate, such as when Roadhog hooks your ally. This change removes that restriction so Defense Matrix should now reliably destroy projectiles regardless of how far they have traveled.
- Mei can now be targeted by allies while in Cryo-Freeze
- While performing a resurrection, Mercy now becomes temporarily invulnerable along with the allies being revived
- Caduceus Staff
- Zenyatta can no longer be targeted when Transcendence is active
- New Hero Option: Guardian Angel Sensitivity
- Allows players to adjust Guardian Angel’s targeting sensitivity
- New Hero Option: Beam Sensitivity
- Allows players to adjust targeting sensitivity on Mercy’s Caduceus Staff beams
Developer Comments: Mercy’s Resurrect has always been very powerful, but it often forces her to sacrifice herself to use it well. There have been changes in the past that attempted to help her in this area, but haven’t done enough to solve it. This change means that once she uses the ability, she will always survive long enough to be with her team again.
- Scrap Gun
- Spread decreased by 20%
- Chain Hook
- Targets are now pulled to a location 3.5 meters away, up from 2 meters
- Cooldown increased from 6 to 8
Developer Comments: The Roadhog changes overall reduce the power of his hook a bit, but his gun is now more effective when not using the hook.
- New Hero Option: Hack Sensitivity
- Allows players to adjust the targeting sensitivity on Sombra’s Hack ability
- Sentry Turret
- [CONSOLE] Damage per second increased from 21 to 25.5
Developer Comments: Back in July, the damage per second from Symmetra’s turrets was reduced by 30 percent. We’ve been keeping an eye on her over the past few months and decided to restore about 15 percent of that damage. On PC, her damage is still 30.
- Rivet Gun
- Ammo is now loaded earlier in the reload animation
- Build Turret
- [CONSOLE] Damage increased from 10 to 12
Developer Comments: Like Symmetra, the damage from Torbjörn’s turrets was also reduced by 30 percent in July. After monitoring his effectiveness, we’ve decided to give his turret a small boost, restoring about 15 percent of the damage. By contrast, the damage from Torbjörn’s turret on PC is still 14.
- New Hero Option: Grappling Hook Sensitivity
- Allows players to adjust Grappling Hook’s targeting sensitivity
- Critical hit volume reduced by 15%
Developer Comments: Winston's head hit volume was just abnormally big, making him take more damage than he otherwise should. This change brings it more in line with other heroes.
- New Hero Option: Projected Barrier Sensitivity
- Allows players to adjust Projected Barrier’s targeting sensitivity
- New Hero Option: Harmony Orb Sensitivity
- Allows players to adjust Harmony Orb’s targeting sensitivity
- New Hero Option: Discord Orb Sensitivity
- Allows players to adjust Discord Orb’s targeting sensitivity
- Skill ratings below 500 will no longer be displayed.
Developer Comments: We’ve noticed that some players have been deliberately throwing their matches in an effort to reach the lowest attainable skill rating. We obviously don’t want to incentivize this behavior, because Competitive Play works best when everybody is trying.
MAP BALANCE CHANGES
- Respawn Delay
- When attackers outnumber defenders while taking a control point on Assault, Escort and Assault/Escort maps, the defenders’ respawn time will slowly increase until it hits a maximum value or the defense manages to gain the upper hand.
Developer Comments: Until now, stalling an attack by repeatedly throwing yourself at the point has been a common defensive strategy on Assault, Escort and Assault/Escort maps—even when the attackers have a decisive advantage. Typically, this tactic doesn’t change the outcome of battle; it simply delays the attackers’ progress.
- A second gate no longer closes after the payload passes through the castle doors. Instead, rubble from the damaged doorway partially blocks the entrance.
Developer Comments: Once the offensive team gets through the castle entrance, the map becomes very heavily stacked in the defense’s favor. This change will give the offense more entrance options, which should improve the map’s overall balance.
- Fixed an audio bug that prevented the point capture sound from increasing in pitch as the capture progressed
- Fixed an issue preventing key bindings on the communication wheel from displaying properly
- Fixed a bug causing some key bindings to revert to default after the first round of a Control map
- Fixed a bug that allowed commendation cards to be recalculated and transferred to a new player after the previous recipient left at the end of a round
- Fixed a bug that caused the “experience gained” audio effects to continue playing, even after the players left the game lobby
- Environmental damage to barriers no longer counts toward the "Damage Blocked" statistic
- Fixed a bug that caused Roadhog bot to spin around after hooking a target
- Fixed a bug preventing “60 seconds remaining” and “30 seconds remaining” voice lines from playing during the second round of a match
- Fixed a bug preventing Lucio’s “Sound Barriers Provided” statistic from being properly calculated
- Fixed a bug preventing Reinhardt’s Charge from properly pinning targets
- Fixed a bug preventing Reinhardt’s shield from displaying cracks at low health with the Wujing skin equipped
- Fixed a bug that allowed Roadhog to turn freely while pulling a hooked target
- Fixed an issue that allowed Sombra’s Translocator to become stuck in the air
- Fixed a bug preventing Tracer’s ”Clock’s Tickin’’ spray from matching the thumbnail in the Hero Gallery
- Adjusted the collision in the attacker spawn room on Eichenwalde to prevent players from getting stuck in the pipes
- Torbjörn can now construct turrets on the stairs in Oasis
- Fixed an issue that caused Highlight Intros to clip into the roof of a building on Lijang Tower