As we wait for the Overwatch League to kick off on December 6, Blizzard is giving players who have been on the fence or have never had an opportunity to play Overwatch another chance to experience the game, free of charge. Starting today and ending at 11:59PT on November 20, the MOBA/first-person shooter hybrid is free-to-play across PC, PS4, and Xbox One, with all content available and unlocked.
If trial players do decide to purchase the full game, all progress made and items unlocked will carry over upon upgrading. This is the fourth time in the 18 months since the release of Overwatch that the game has had a free weekend; the promotion ran in both September and November of last year—potentially to drum up holiday sales—and this past May to commemorate the game’s anniversary.
This is particularly good timing, as a significant new balance patch went live yesterday. The most noteworthy addition is Moira, a new healer/support hero that has been well-received and highly-anticipated since her debut at Blizzcon. Armed with the power to sap health from enemies and use it to heal herself and allies, Moira’s kit fits in nicely with the rest of the roster and appears to have plenty of competitive viability.
The balance patch contains important changes aside from the new hero introduction, however. Perhaps most relevant to the meta-game is the change to Mercy’s Resurrect ability, which now requires a 1.75-second cast time and slows the hero down by 75 percent. While she can still resurrect allies immediately during her ultimate attack, Mercy can no longer swoop down into the battlefield and instantly eliminate a teammate’s mistake at any time. Before this change, Mercy was ubiquitous in competitive play—almost a requirement, really—so this should hopefully ameliorate the situation.
Also helping to shake up the support meta is a buff to healing sniper Ana, who has had her rifle damage increased from 60 to 70 damage. Once the queen of the supports, this small change gives Ana one of her most important tools back: the ability to duel low-health, high-damage characters. Heroes like Genji and—crucially—Pharah can now be reliably eliminated again, especially if Ana can hit her signature sleep dart.
Rounding out the patch is a quality-of-life update for Winston, who can now see the health of his shield when he drops it on the ground, a new regularly-rotating slot for arcade game modes, and a host of bug fixes and minor tweaks. Thanks to Blizzard’s free weekend, you don’t even need to buy the game to see what’s new in Overwatch.