Sometimes, Overwatch force-feeds its players unwanted changes, like giving its robot turret Bastion an overpowered self-healing arm or breaking porcine tank Roadhog’s hook. On these days, the sky falls. Other days, it’s Overwatch Christmas, complete with a big ol’ sack of crowd-pleasing balance changes. Yesterday was one of those days: Blizzard solved its two-year-old Hanzo problem.
Balancing Overwatch’s roster of 27 unique heroes is like balancing 27 spinning porcelain plates while hundreds of thousands of people tell you what to do. The goal is for every hero to be playable—or even necessary—in a good amount of situations, but not all of them. Back when Mercy was too strong, playing a game without her was risky. On the flip side, the hero Symmetra has about 30 seconds of play time in the Overwatch League total, and that’s probably all from players trolling.
Yesterday, Blizzard released a big, beautiful and comprehensive balance patch that’s making players very happy. Most notably, two years after “Hanzo main” became a slur, players can finally stop ridiculing each other for picking the archer hero. Now, he’ll do more reliable damage and be a little more mobile.
Since his release in 2016, Hanzo’s had an over-powered “scatter arrow” ability that shoots a ton of arrows that can bounce around a room, and the rest of the time, was considered pretty weak and hard to handle. Blizzard’s rework entirely removed “scatter arrow.” It just wasn’t very fun to play against. Now, he’s got “storm arrows,” six arrows he can rapidly fire at full power, and a lunge ability that lets him leap horizontally. Also, he can use his his “sonic arrow” ability, which lets him see where enemies are, more often.
“Hanzo is now much more mobile with his new Lunge ability, and with the combination of the bow projectile speed increase and the new Storm Arrows ability he can now deal his high damage more consistently than ever before,” Blizzard wrote. Today, Hanzo feels like a way more threatening sniper. He can one-shot squishy heroes with relative ease if played by a competent aimer. And he can get out of the way faster if danger is heading towards him. Everybody in my Overwatch Discord has now decided they’re a Hanzo main. Good thing I’m not playing against them.
More good news: nerfs to Blizzard’s grenade-launching hero Junkrat. As a self-professed hater of chaotic, DGAF-incarnate hero Junkrat, yesterday’s tweaks filled me with maniacal glee. My biggest issue with him is that he’s frustrating to play against. His high-damage grenades bounce around at random and his RIP-Tire ultimate ability can, sometimes, feel like it’s coming out of nowhere. Now, his grenades’ projectile size is smaller, so he’ll have to aim with more care, and it’ll be harder to maneuver his fatal RIP-tire, which can take out a whole team in one fell swoop. All of this, Blizzard says, intended to lower “some of the most frustrating parts about playing against Junkrat.”
Some other good news: Overwatch’s too-powerful new hero Brigitte got a small nerf to her stunning “shield bash” move that’s making life miserable for tanks. More nerfs are on the way for her ultimate ability, too, so those who complain that she’s got a 58% win rate in Overwatch’s competitive mode might have a little less to complain about. Also, Lucio’s “wall ride” ability just got way stronger.
Overwatch’s full patch notes are here.