Overwatch is Making Big Changes Including Hero Pools for Competitive Play
Hero pools, experimental cards, and "aggressive" balancing is coming soon to Overwatch.
Today Blizzard released its first Developer Update video for 2020 on the official Overwatch YouTube channel. As per normal, lead director Jeff Kaplan sat down to speak about upcoming changes and additions coming to the game. These topics include balancing and the introduction of hero pools for competitive mode and Overwatch League.
In the past, PC players were able to opt into a Public Test Region version of the game where they got to try out the most updated version of the game before it would come out to the public so the changes could be tested beforehand. Sometime soon in the future Overwatch will add a new function known as the “experimental card.” The experimental card is said to appear every now and then that will allow players on all platforms to try out potential changes that the development team is looking at pursuing. These tweaks will not always revolve around buffing or nerfing a character and instead could focus on making alterations to a specific game mode or map.
Kaplan wanted to be transparent in saying that all the progress that one makes while using the experimental card will carry over. When it comes to the Public Test Region you get early access to the upcoming patch, but whatever you earn doesn’t transfer over. This way will allow players to play with changes being considered while still being rewarded for it.
On top of the experimental card, Kaplan explained that the team is changing its balance philosophy. “Now we are going to balance more aggressively targeting the meta, and moving you off the meta as frequently as possible,” said Kaplan. With this new way of thinking the development team will buff or nerf heroes more often and won’t be afraid to revert the decisions that they make later if necessary. The goal of the Overwatch team is to take the community’s feedback and put it into action.
Kaplan continued to explain about more ways they are going to keep the meta moving by bringing hero pools into play. Hero pools is a mechanic to where certain heroes will not be selectable for use during competitive play forcing players to be more flexible regarding who they use. The hero pools will be implemented starting in March with Season 21 of competitive and the pool will change every week, but is possible to change in the future. Hero pools will also be a part of the upcoming season of Overwatch League.
These are all major changes coming soon to Overwatch and it will be interesting to see how the community feels about them. As an Overwatch fan myself I also felt that there weren’t enough balance patches leading to seeing similar team builds in competitive play, but now that the development team is going to be more open and ambitious it makes me excited for the future of Overwatch and it makes me want to jump back in now more than ever.