Over a year ago Blizzard announced that they were going to make more aggressive and frequent balance changes to Overwatch, but that barely came to fruition. There were definitely more changes than normal but none of them felt like they made a dramatic impact on the meta, maybe aside from the super Genji meta mid-way through the year. Here we are with Blizzard and the Overwatch League coming together to form an experimental patch through the aid of Overwatch League pros. In this patch 27 of the 32 heroes are getting changes, some more significant than others. I am not going to go through all of them but I will mention the ones that I feel could either be good or bad for the game. Also, something to mention, is that Blizzard has stated that by no means will any of these changes make it to the live game. Their only purpose is for the Overwatch League Experimental Card Tournament as well as for us to try them out.
The first change that I think would help the game in a good way is Ana being able to nano herself. Players have been asking for a while for Ana to be able to nano herself, joking or otherwise, but I genuinely do think this a good change. Right now every support except for Ana and Zenyatta has some sort of movement ability making them super susceptible to dive. While Ana has sleep and nade oftentimes after the first initial dive, Ana would be left with nothing and just die to follow up, most of the time an ult like Dragonblade. Ana surviving a Dragonblade when she is targeted is very rare unless either that Genji got CC’d in some way or was instantly killed. With this, it can be a counter play to an ult like Dragonblade. Also for those DPS Ana’s, go ahead and nano yourself to carry your team.
The second is the adjustments that Pharah is getting. Making Pharah more susceptible while on the ground and more resistant in the air is a nice change to Pharah. With the power of hitscan and Echo lately, Pharah has been seeing very little to playtime but now with this, I feel like it gives more sustain to Pharah if she is constantly in the air. This in turn means that the benefits of staying in the air are far greater and encourage players to learn the mechanics of staying in the air for longer. A 5% decrease of damage taken while in the air does not seem like much but a lot of the time would mean she can probably survive a bit longer against characters like Echo, McCree, and Soldier. Ashe and Widowmaker will still be difficult to deal with due to their ability to kill Pharah with one or two shots. I do not think this will be drastic to the meta but will be nice for all those Pharah players who have been left in the dust in the past months.
The Wrecking Ball changes are the last on the list for positive changes. Wrecking Ball has been dominating the meta for a couple of months now, up until very recently and something needed to be adjusted. The nerfs to his ammo and grappling claw are nice changes but those are not that important compared to the other two. Reducing Wrecking Ball’s size means that it is going to be a lot harder to hit him and honestly it is a good change because he has an obscenely large hitbox. It may make counterplay to Wrecking Ball harder but the other nerf that they added, in that you can now gain ult charge from his shields means that making him harder to hit is not as impactful. This is something I never understood from his release where you could not gain ult charge from his shields. This will mean that Wrecking Ball as a whole, while being harder to hit will not be able to sustain in fights as long since he does not want to give away too much ult charge. Heroes like Tracer and Sombra will rejoice at this with both usually being able to feed so much ult charge off a Wrecking Ball before, now it will be even greater.
Onto the changes I do not want to see is the one to Genji. I dislike the change to his Dragonblade. Increasing the duration by one second per kill may make his ult stronger but I honestly do not think that’s the way it should be. Right now if you have a Genji on your team you do everything you can to enable his blade and if you are going against a Genji you are doing everything to counter his blade. Currently, there is too much emphasis placed on his blade and I would like to see him move away from this playstyle. I would much rather see his blade becoming less impactful while the rest of his kit is more impactful making him more than just an ult bot. If you buff his ult then it will be even more important to shut it down. Not only now do you want to prevent the Genji that is blading from getting dash resets but now also extra time on his ult. While I do not think this will make Genji insanely overpowered I think it takes him in a direction that I do not want Genji to be taken.
Next up we have Torbjorn. Giving him the ability to have two turrets deployed at once is not great. While yes the damage and health have been nerfed making a single turret less impactful and easier to kill the fact that there are two makes it a lot harder for teams to crack. Having a quote, unquote 7th man is what makes the turret strong not the damage itself. Creating an additional angle with the turret or placing it to deter flankers is what the turret is meant for. Adding a turret means flankers are going to have a tougher time while the rest of the team has to deal with two more angles. What made the turret so strong against flankers especially was the fact that any damage from the turret meant going in would be more difficult especially for Tracer, so even if the turrets do less damage, just their existence is going to make flankers lives a living hell.
Lastly, giving extra HP to Tracer makes very little sense. With the number of movement abilities that Tracer has, it seems perfectly fair for her to have the lowest HP in the game. While the 175 HP puts her second-lowest, only to Pilot D.Va it makes counterplay to Tracer a lot harder. Back when Brigitte gave additional armor it made Tracer practically broken, doing that now and making it permanent while lower HP does not seem right. Tracer right now is one of the strongest DPS featuring in multiple different compositions in the last year. While I do not think she is broken in any regard, putting Tracer in capable hands can be very frustrating for the enemy team. Thus giving her an extra 25 HP will be even more frustrating. Just as an example a McCree, who is meant to counter Tracer will no longer be able to Flashbang+Headshot a Tracer to hill her. Either someone else will need to do damage or the McCree must land a melee, which against a good Tracer will never happen since she will play outside of melee range while Flashbang is up.
While I have only mentioned a few changes in the experimental patch notes, there are many others that would benefit and hinder the game. I know Blizzard said that they have no intention to bring any of these changes to the live game, but I would like to see them all at some point, good or bad. My thoughts on whether changes would be beneficial or a hindrance are not set in practice but more theory so seeing how they pan out in the game would be great. Even if they were in the game for a week and Blizzard realized they were not good for the game that is fine. I would much prefer that over small changes every couple of weeks that do almost nothing to the meta. While I do not think implementing all these changes at once would be a good idea I do think implementing them over time would be great. With no release date for Overwatch 2 and no new heroes and maps until release, I would like to see more changes made, to see a variety of gameplay. All in all, I am glad to see experimental patch notes like this, and seeing the suggested changes shows that pro players do not necessarily know 100% how to balance the game effectively but they do have some really good suggestions. Ultimately, I hope that Blizzard does implement more changes on a frequent basis in the coming months.