Overwatch 2 Developer Blog: Tuning Hero Balance for Launch
October 4th is on the horizon and the team has been hard at work preparing for the launch of Overwatch 2. For today’s update, let’s take some time to talk about Hero Balance for launch day, and break down our philosophy and approach to balancing the game with our new seasonal model for Overwatch 2.
Balancing with Seasonal Releases
Overwatch 2 brings with it a new 9-week Season cadence that will consistently introduce new maps, heroes, game modes, and more for players to experience. For heroes more specifically, our plan is to typically release a new hero every other season, which combined with our ongoing additions of new maps and game modes and our regular balance updates, should reward different strategies and playstyles, keeping the game fresh and dynamic for years to come.
Importantly, each season will also see impactful hero balance changes as the season begins to support our goals of constantly balancing the game and keeping the live service feeling dynamic. This means new seasons will feel more distinct and special with balance changing significantly when we move to the next season. We are also prepared to make additional balance adjustments if the need within a season arises to manage hero balance and power and keep our game feeling fair and fun.
Season 1 Preview
The second public Beta brought with it an abundance of hero performance data. This, along with player feedback from the broader community and professional players, has been instrumental in defining the hero balance landscape at launch. Informed by this data and feedback, the Hero Design team has mapped out some balance updates that players from the Beta will recognize as changed from the end of our second public Beta test earlier this year. You’ll have an opportunity to see most of these changes in action first during the next Overwatch League tournament cycle, the Countdown Cup, starting on September 22nd. Until then, let’s dive into a preview of what to expect on October 4th.
- Commanding Shout
- Allied health bonus reduced from 100 to 50 HP
- Allied duration reduced from 5 to 3 seconds
- Temporary health no longer decays over its duration
- Cooldown increased from 11 to 15 seconds
Based on data and feedback received from beta testing and (more recently) from observing professional play, we believe the temporary health granted by Junker Queen’s Shout ability has proven too strong overall and enabled a dominating team composition at the very upper ranks of play. Reducing the health gain and duration while increasing the ability’s cooldown are intended to reduce the overall power of this ability and make its use more deliberate and less forgiving.
We’ll continue to monitor Junker Queen’s performance and win-rate, as well as broader player sentiment in the weeks following launch.
- Temporary health now grants 50% reduced ultimate charge instead of zero ultimate charge
Temporary health not giving ultimate charge added a lot of hidden strength to its effect, reducing consequences for riskier decisions and playstyles. This is particularly effective in instances where you can grant temporary health to other players. For the players doling out the damage, doing significant damage but gaining no ultimate charge can be particularly frustrating and unrewarding. With this change, our goal is to preserve some of the advantages granted by temporary health while adding a reward for players who contribute to their teams through damage dealt.
- Damage Role Passive - New Passive: Eliminations grant 25% increased reload and movement speed for 2.5 seconds. Does not stack with itself but will refresh the duration
- All heroes now refund up to 30% ultimate power on hero swap
Upon announcing the change for up to 30% ultimate power to transfer when swapping DPS heroes, we saw a lot of feedback asking why that wasn't a broader change for all heroes. After continued testing, we agree, and are making a change so the entire roster should have access to as we launch.
Of course, that means the DPS role once again finds itself without a role passive. So along with this change, we're introducing a new passive to DPS that increases their movement speed and reload speed by 25% for a brief window after getting an elimination. We believe that this change is the right balance of rewarding players who perform well in the Damage role without being overpowered. However, in future seasons, we may continue to experiment with what these passives do as we look to shake up the meta regularly.
- Base health increased from 250 to 275
- Base armor increased from 250 to 275
- Energy Javelin cooldown reduced from 8 to 6 seconds
For a hero rework that has been lauded as fun to play, hard to kill, and particularly potent for an in-your-face Tank playstyle, Orisa continues to be a challenging hero to balance, with one of the lowest win-rates in the game. Giving a hero more health is a reliable solution and increasing the frequency of her Energy Javelin should keep her feeling active and more effective as she charges down the front line.
- Boosters impact damage increased from 10 to 25
- Micro Missiles cooldown reduced from 8 to 7 seconds
- Call Mech ultimate cost reduced by 12%
D.Va has been slightly underperforming in comparison to other tanks in 5v5. Increasing the damage on Boosters impact will add more weight to that “rush-in” moment for her, leaning into her strengths as a fast-moving engager who can push deep into the enemy lines.
- Inspire duration reduced from 6 to 5 seconds
Even with the removal of stun from her Shield Bash, Brigitte continues to be very strong in 5v5, especially in team compositions that take full advantage of the passive healing provided by Inspire. This change doesn’t affect Brigitte’s raw healing per second, however it should make her overall effectiveness less generous in situations where she’s unable to reapply Inspire.
- Biotic Launcher primary fire damage increased from 24 to 25
- Biotic Launcher primary fire minimum falloff range increased from 20 to 25 meters
- Pressing Crouch during Guardian Angel now launches you straight up
- Angelic Descent can now be activated by holding Crouch while airborne
Mercy’s beta change allowing her to Guardian Angel cancel and boost where she is looking added a substantial amount of flexibility to her movement. However, boosting upward was difficult for many players, given that they needed to quickly look up before activating and then look down again to survey the battlefield. To address this, the Crouch input will now launch her upwards regardless of her facing direction. In addition, Crouch will also activate Angelic Descent while in the air, similar to jump. This adds a much-needed quality of life improvement when performing the vertical boost with Crouch.
- Ironclad passive is enabled again (20% damage reduction while transformed)
Since introducing the newly upgraded Bastion, we’ve tracked a general sentiment about his new kit being a bit too potent, particularly when in Sentry form. To address this previous concern, we removed the Ironclad passive with a goal of reigning in that perceived power. Now that we’ve had more time and game data to evaluate, we believe that returning the Ironclad passive will not push him over the edge.
- Hellfire Shotguns spread reduced from 8 to 7 degrees
- Railgun energy gain from non-player targets (barriers, turrets, etc.) reduced by an additional 50%
- Hack ability lockout duration increased from 1 to 1.75 seconds
The duration of Hack’s ability lockout often goes unnoticed, unless it’s being used as an active interrupt. While we’re not looking to go back to previous lockout numbers, we do want Sombra to have slightly more time to feel as though the ability is effective. This change stays in line with our goals for less crowd control abilities in Overwatch 2, and we’ll continue to closely monitor performance data and player feedback to ensure that this remains the case.
Like all of you, we’re eagerly anticipating the launch of Overwatch 2 on October 4th, 2022. The team has been hard at work on finishing touches and tons of new content for the months ahead. We’ll have much more to share about Overwatch 2 over the next several weeks leading up to launch.