Yesterday, Blizzard released a new set of patch notes to the PTR headlined by the new replay feature. In addition, six heroes in the game received buffs and nerfs that could make it onto the next official patch. These changes come during a break in the Overwatch League season, which means that their weight may even play a factor in the remainder of the 2019 season. The stakes are, at that point, very high.
However, changes on the PTR rarely make it to the game itself without at least some minor tweaks coming into play first. With the changes on this particular PTR patch being more severe than some others have been, it’s clear that some changes need to stay and some need to go.
Changes That Need to Stay
This is something that the game has needed, at least in some capacity, for a very long time. An effective replay system can help an esports developmental scene drastically, especially when it comes to coaches and players without much time or resources at their disposal. But, replays can also be for the common player. Being able to go back to a match and watch the replay of the “Fatty-Shatty” that killed five opposing players is something people will do. Or, fans can make simple videos, like this one. Either way, this is something that has a little bit for everyone. It needs to stick around.
The explanation given on the Patch Notes forum page gets this one right. Baptiste just needed something slight to bring him closer to the levels of Zenyatta or Moira, which this seems to have done. With other changes being made to increase the power of bunker, this small change could go a long way for Baptiste’s usage rates.
One thing has become abundantly clear in the latest few patches – the developers desperately want to make Orisa viable. While this change makes sense (her reload is very long, after all), there is a sense in which it seems like Orisa/bunker is being force fed to the community. In any case, this is a change that makes sense on its own but there may be cause for concern after how many buffs Orisa has received in the past few patches.
Very small, quality of life change for Symmetra. Shouldn’t make her any more or any less viable.
Changes That Need to Go
McCree’s new machine gun buff is one of the few things that absolutely must be reverted from this set of patch notes. If this gets left alone, McCree would be an instalock pick on ladder, and maybe even in OWL, and it would effectively be the end of Pharah and Ashe altogether. Either make his bullets do less damage and keep the new rate of fire or maybe go up to .45 seconds fire recovery instead of the current .4 (it was .5 prior to the buff). Please Jeff, just don’t let this go live as-is. Please.
Nerfing Torbjorn? A rarely-played, niche character? This is as befuddling as it sounds. Yes, his secondary fire is quite strong with Overload but that is why the cooldown on Overload is fairly high. Torb needs a gun that can punish people who dive onto him while he has that ability available, so there isn’t a huge need to nerf him here. Overall, it would have been reasonable to do this in addition to a reduction of Overload’s cooldown, or something else of that nature; but just outright nerfing an already struggling character doesn’t seem to make much sense.
The Right Idea, Just Needs Some Work
This is a nice change for the professionals out there who are eating Graviton Surge’s but not so impactful for the average Gold ladder player. At the end of the day, the entire community knows that D.Va needs a nerf. So, in that sense, this move is a step in the right direction. Perhaps maybe too small a step, however. D.Va needs to get hit a touch harder by the nerf bug if her usage rate is actually going to drop. As it stands now, she’s still a viable pick in just about any given situation.
It took Christian “cocco” Jonsson retiring to get it done but changes have finally been made to 2 CP maps. Preventing snowball and shortening the overall time bank will certainly help but it seems these changes have become scapegoats for the real issue on Assault maps: spawn locations.
On maps like Annubis, the defensive spawn on point B is incredibly close to the point, which allows defenders to extend fights that should otherwise be over. While moving them further away could increase snowballing potential, it seems some change is needed to prevent defending teams from trickling back to the point to the extent that they are able to on these maps. This is something that could certainly be returned to later but, for now, the changes made should be kept and are positive.
Slowly Headed in the Right Direction
Overall, the changes that are coming through the PTR seemed to be aimed, again, at bringing in a new meta. However, with as gradual as many of these patches continue to be, it is likely that OWL will continue in a GOATS meta for the remainder of the 2019 Overwatch season. With this extended break between Stages 2 and 3, the iron is hot for change. It seems like the developers have struck, just perhaps not hard enough.
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