Developer AMA: Hero balance and design for future PvP
The Overwatch team hosted a live AMA on /r/Competitiveoverwatch to talk about the recent Overwatch League pro playtest. We welcomed Lead Hero Designer Geoff Goodman and Hero Designer Josh Noh to answer community questions about 5v5 and upcoming balance changes. In case you missed out, we’ve got you covered with all of the highlights below.
Hero Reworks Bastion and Sombra
Overall, the team is happy with Bastion's current tool kit after the recent rework and is working on adjusting numbers to get him into a good place. Geoff Goodman replied to a question about Bastion's performance from u/BarstMain.
GEOFF GOODMAN: Since this playtest, we've buffed him in several ways: He moves faster in sentry mode, his ult starts dropping faster (though the projectile moves slower so you can see it a bit more), his recon fire rate has been increased, and other buffs.
The tricky thing though, is when playing him it can feel like you still get thrashed pretty hard because he is such a large hero. He is very easy to target and hit with everything (especially when he gets discorded, etc.).
While both Sombra and Bastion’s massive reworks had already been through considerable internal testing, the team was eager to see how these heroes played in the hands of pros. Geoff Goodman further elaborated by responding to a question about pro feedback from u/TerminalNoob.
GEOFF GOODMAN: Obviously when you get her in the hands of pros with amazing game sense and coordination it makes confirming kills a lot easier. We've since focused a bit on her numbers and tweaked her down a bit to try to keep her under control while still allowing her new kit to play well.
Overall, both Sombra and Bastion's kit looks good, but we are still adjusting their numbers. We will continue to test and iterate both heroes as we continue development!
Hero Role Changes and Doomfist
As Geoff Goodman hinted during the Overwatch League Championship, the team has also been experimenting with changing heroes to different roles, including possibly transitioning Doomfist to the Tank role. Doomfist's kit is full of crowd-control and mobility, which makes it difficult to balance him as a DPS for future PvP. These types of abilities could make him an outstanding tank moving forward while staying true to the identity and lore behind the hero.
A possible outcome of this change could result in increasing Doomfist’s defenses. The team’s first impression is that he doesn’t feel quite like a tank without having at least one active defense ability, so we’ll likely experiment with that next.
Current tank play is something the team is paying close attention to with the transition to having one tank per team. They intend to work to resolve trends like Zenyatta’s Orb of Discord nearly always being on a tank, or Echo’s Duplicate ability being the best when used on tanks. Josh Noh outlined the team’s philosophy behind balancing in a response to a question about tanks in the playtest from u/IdocraseOW.
JOSH NOH: We're certainly still experimenting with many ways to ensure that tanks are powerful and satisfying to play in this new format. One of those experiments is seeing how far we can push tank base health up before the gameplay starts to breakdown.
Counter-tank play is also a topic on the Overwatch team's mind. High-damage DPS heroes are going to have their own limitations and trades-offs, and their roles are not always going to be taking out shields or tanks. Josh Noh outlined some details while answering a question about "tank-busters" from u/happychallahdays.
JOSH NOH: We have taken some tuning steps to make abilities like Storm Arrows and Echo's beam less lethal against tanks but still keep them powerful in other situations.
It is important to remember that these high-damage DPS heroes are not always intended to be tank-busters or shield shredders. The team is currently trying to find ways to make high-damage DPS and tanks feel good to play simultaneously.
State of Support
The Hero Design and Balance Team is also exploring what it’s like to be a Support hero in future Overwatch PvP. When 5v5 was first announced, they were concerned about Support survivability for heroes with less mobility. The team found that heroes like Ana and Zenyatta perform well because of their offensive capabilities in a 5v5 environment.
Ana and Brigitte have actually seen utility nerfs to their kits with the goal of making crowd-control more manageable moving forward. Geoff further explained this in a reply to a question about the impact of support heroes from u/Lopad_NotThePokemon.
GEOFF GOODMAN: It's not likely that we'll remove Ana's sleep dart, but other non-tank CC's we've been taking a hard look at and trying to change them to remove the CC component and buff it in other ways.
The healing reduction is meant to balance the fact that both teams will have one less hero dealing damage when we implement 5v5. The team is currently testing what this reduction will mean on an individual hero level. Josh Noh gave an insider perspective to this process in his response to a question about healing reduction from u/noah-keaglet.
JOSH NOH: A little peak behind the scenes for game dev: The blanket passive heal reduction with a new concept of being "in-combat" is a shortcut for us as designers to find an approximate value of what it should be changed by since to adjust the value from playtest to playtest, we only have to change that one number rather than edit every healing script value individually.
The team does, however, understand that having to heal large health pools between tanks when healing output is low isn’t ideal. They’re considering adding a bonus heal multiplier to tanks as their passive, but the solution to this circumstance could end up looking like something else.
Looking to the Future
The Overwatch team is excited to share more about the development of future PvP. Everything that was mentioned in the AMA is subject to more testing and changes, but we want our community to know that we are working hard to make Overwatch PvP an incredible experience for players.