The last couple of days have brought some major changes and additions to the Overwatch test servers. Many of these alterations have been long-awaited by the community, but some come as a big surprise—and there are a few that no one asked for.
Starting with the good: Hanzo, one of the resident meme picks on the Overwatch roster, has received his promised rework. Gone are the days of his Scatter Arrow, which could annihilate almost any target with minimal aim and score some very questionable eliminations. In its place are the Storm Arrows, an ability that allows him to rapid fire six slightly underpowered arrows in rapid succession, preserving his tank-busting ability but removing the ability to easily one-shot squishier heroes. He’s also gained Lunge, a horizontal version of a double jump with a slight cooldown, and had the cooldown, duration, and radius of his Sonic Arrows reduced. Finally, his base projectile speed has been increased, which should turn Hanzo from a niche pick and community in-joke to a hero actually worth playing in the future.
The rest of the hero changes are a mixed bag. Some are excellent and much needed, like nerfs to the hitboxes of Brigitte’s Shield Bash and Genji’s Deflect, and a speed reduction for Junkrat’s RIP-Tire ultimate. However, surprising changes to Lúcio have made his Wall Ride ability much more consistent, but also much easier to execute—which has attracted the ire of some pro players already.
On a serious note I'm actually pretty disappointed about the Lucio changes. Seems like they're all designed to make the hero easier and lower the skill ceiling
— Scott Kennedy (@Custa) April 20, 2018
Rounding out the balance changes is a nerf to Tracer’s Pulse Bomb ultimate, which reduces the base damage by 100, and serves as one of the only nerfs the Overwatch mascot has ever had.
As for new additions, the PTR also sports Rialto, a new payload map that was first unveiled as part of the ongoing Retribution event (available until April 30). Taking place on a Venetian canal, the map has plenty of variation in high ground and openness, which should give both dive comps and deathball comps a chance to compete.
There’s one last feature on this PTR as well, albeit one that isn’t officially available yet. While fiddling with custom game presets, one user stumbled upon a vastly reworked version of Horizon Lunar Colony, the recently added Assault map that has attracted plenty of criticism from players and pros alike due to its unbalanced nature.
New high ground options on Point A mitigate what is currently a preposterously outsized advantage for the attacking team, while pushing back the spawn doors for the defending team on Point B will help keep ridiculous stall tactics at bay. It’s unexpected and has not even been mentioned as a project yet by Blizzard, but it bodes well that the dev team is willing to adjust their creations so heavily based on community feedback.
With the Overwatch League in full swing and the game’s two-year anniversary approaching next month, Blizzard seem ready to make some major—and generally agreeable—changes across the board. If you have access to the PTR, this content is available for you to check out now.