Director’s Take: Balance Updates for Season Five
As Season Four ends, I'd like to look at the game's balance. This season we saw a wide selection of heroes get played, and for the most part, the game felt fairly balanced. From a win rate perspective, Seasons Three and Four were some of the most balanced in recent Overwatch history! With this in mind, let's look at three different topics from Season Four and talk about how they will change in Season Five and beyond. Specifically, I’d like to go over heroes like Junker Queen and Lifeweaver, one-shots, and crowd control abilities in 5v5.
There were a few standouts from a tuning perspective in Season Four. In the midseason patch, Junker Queen was given a series of buffs, and she really started to dominate. Her win rate popped up by about 5%, and she went from being one of the lowest-picked tanks to one of the highest. For most skill tiers, Queen and Reinhardt were the two most picked tanks for the latter half of the season. However, at Masters and above, Queen is far and away the most picked tank. One of the big changes that we made was to increase the healing received from her passive. We like this addition to her playstyle, but it makes Queen too survivable, so we'll be reducing the health she receives from Commanding Shout from 200 to 150 to compensate. We'll also be increasing the cost of her ult by a small amount since she is getting it at a faster rate than before the midseason changes.
Lifeweaver is a really dynamic hero. Some of the plays that people have pulled off with him during Season Four were pretty astonishing. However, he's not powerful enough to be a solid pick for most players. Previously, we stated that we would like there to be a reason to pick new heroes over others in the roster. This is still our goal for new heroes—we want them to bring something new to the table. However, at the moment, we are looking for the best way to bring Lifeweaver to a baseline. Once people are playing him more, we will get a cleaner read on the character. Players will either start utilizing the varied parts of his kit, or we can look into adding something else into it. In Season Five, there will be quite a few changes (mostly buffs), coming to Lifeweaver. We’ll have specific details in the patch notes, but players can expect increases to his healing and damage output, a heal on Life Grip, a slightly reduced hitbox, and some quality-of-life changes to Petal Platform.
We’ll continue to monitor both Junker Queen and Lifeweaver and make additional changes if necessary.
The community has also voiced concerns over the number of one-shots from both Widowmaker and Hanzo. We'd like to reduce the frequency of these in-game, as well as shore up some of the extreme sightlines in some of our maps. Widow's damage falloff will change from 70-100 meters to 40-60 meters. The damage falloff scalar will also increase from 30%-50%. She will still have the ability to one-shot 200 health heroes at 50 meters or less, but further than that, it will no longer be a killing blow. Hanzo will receive a slight nerf to his damage so that he is no longer able to one-shot 250 health heroes. His Sonic Arrow will also be more recognizable by the enemy team--the intent here is to reduce his kills that feel like they come out of nowhere. We are constantly discussing the nature of one-shots in Overwatch 2 and whether they are healthy for the game in general.
Lastly, I'd like to talk a bit about crowd control abilities in-game. When we launched Overwatch 2, we made some significant changes to our combat model. The biggest was the shift from 6v6 to 5v5. A part of that change was to remove most of the crowd control abilities from our damage and support heroes. Overall, we think that this was a positive change to the game. At times, the original game felt like you were in a pinball machine. But we have a lot of high-mobility heroes in the roster, and a team can't always rely on their tank to take of them. So we're softening our approach here. We don't want to return to the state the game was in previously, but we feel like there is room for more CC, especially soft CC, in our lineup. We'll be making changes to both Mei and Cassidy for Season Five with this in mind. Mei's Endothermic Blaster will be updated. The primary fire will still slow targets, but it will also build up to an effect that will apply a much larger slow for 1.5 seconds. For players of the original game, this will feel familiar to the way her old weapon worked. Cassidy's magnetic Grenade will also get updated to deal less damage, as well as applying an effect that slows and blocks movement abilities.On top of these changes, we'll also be making some tweaks to several other heroes in Season Five. We can't wait for you to see them when the patch notes go live, as well as the other fun things we have coming to the game that season. As always, thanks for reading, and I'll see you in-game.