Overwatch’s competitive season two patch just hit the public test servers, and it’s a doozy. Nerfs, buffs, laughter, tears of delicious, delicious salt—it’s all here.
The centerpiece of this PTR patch is, of course, competitive season two. The skill rating system has been overhauled and divided up into tiers, and sudden death is dead, unloved and unmourned. You can read more about that here.
Balance changes, however, are the real order of the day, and some of them stand to have craterous impacts. Here are the biggies:
-The Blizzard projectile now pierces barriers
-Radius has been increased from 8 meters to 10 meters
Developer Comments: Mei has an interesting toolkit, but her ultimate often felt like it was too difficult to use effectively. Consequently, it felt weak compared to many other ultimate abilities. The freeze effect has been piercing barriers for some time now, but the projectile would still be blocked. Now, you can throw it down exactly where you want it, so it’s much easier to utilize the full radius effectively.
-Healing-per-second has been increased by 20%
-Resurrected allies will be able to maneuver after 2.25 seconds (reduced from 3 seconds)
Developer Comments: Resurrection now allows teammates to jump back into the fight more quickly, which should help Mercy survive after activating her ultimate. Mercy’s healing is also getting a boost to solidify her role as a strong, single-target healer.
Double jump no longer resets when wall climbing
-No longer deals damage to traps like Widowmaker’s Venom Mine or Junkrat’s Steel Trap
-No longer bypasses Junkrat’s Steel Trap
-No longer interrupts quick melee attacks
-Duration of Genji’s ultimate has been reduced from 8 seconds to 6 seconds
Developer Comments: Genji was a little too difficult to pin down, and these changes will balance his speed. Swift Strike no longer cancels the recovery time from a quick melee attack, so players will no longer be able to get a free melee attack before using Swift Strike. Lastly, Dragonblade’s duration was long enough that it often felt too difficult to reasonably counter.
Orb of Discord
-The amount of damage amplified by a target with Orb of Discord has been decreased from 50% to 30%
Orb of Destruction
-Damage has been increased from 40 to 46
Developer Comments: Zenyatta is in a far better place since the last update, but the strength of Orb of Discord has turned him into an almost mandatory pick. These changes reduce Orb of Discord’s effectiveness, but his damage-dealing potential has been increased. The amount of damage that he delivers should feel largely unaffected by the change.
D.Va, Hanzo, McCree, Lucio, and Roadhog also received tweaks, albeit less massive ones.
Basically, though, Mei is now significantly more powerful and tactically versatile, Mercy is a goddamn single target healing machine (I wouldn’t be surprised to see this buff reduced a bit before the patch goes live on the main servers), Genji is grounded because he’s been a bad, bad boy (and players couldn’t figure out how to counter him), and Zenyatta’s Orb of Discord isn’t quite as ridiculous as it used to be. I’m mostly glad about these changes—Mei and Mercy have needed buffs for ages—but I worry that the Genji nerf might be going overboard. We’ll see.
Other important changes:
- There’s now an option for all characters to see allies’ health bars. THANK GOODNESS.
- Blizzard says they “reverted a recent change to reduce size of heroes’ projectiles,” which might mean hitboxes are uncomfortably large again. I haven’t gotten a chance to measure this change, but I’m curious/worried. In the meantime, Blizzard explained, “Altering the size of projectiles in flight had too many unintended side effects to keep in the game, at least in its current form. We will continue watching this and make additional changes if necessary.”
- Watchpoint: Gibraltar’s first checkpoint has been removed. Guess it’s not necessary after some other balance passes. That’ll take some getting used to!
- Lucio goes less fast now. I understand why (he was basically a mandatory pick), but I’m sad.
Now for the usual disclaimer: Blizzard is only testing these elements of the game, and they’re all subject to change. Right now Blizzard’s planning to launch the second season of competitive mode on September 6, but even that’s not set in stone. Regardless, it looks like we’ve got some interesting times ahead. What do you think?