Director’s Take – Looking ahead into Season 7 and BlizzCon
Hi everyone! We've had guest writers for the last two Director's Takes, but I'm back this week looking at Season 7 - how it started, how it's going, and what we can look forward to as it progresses.
This season marked the release of our latest Sombra rework. The hero keeps the same hacker fantasy that she's always had, but her playstyle is more active and engaged than it was previously. She also received a new ability, Virus. We've seen a lot of different takes on the rework and her new kit online - from dramatically overpowered to dramatically underpowered. But when you look at the data, she's trending in a great direction. Sombra's win rate quickly jumped 4-5%, with it being slightly higher at lower tiers and bottoming out in Masters and above around 46-47%. People are also still playing her quite a bit. Something we always observe with reworks or hero releases is a big spike, then folks go back to their mains. Sombra looks stickier initially and hasn’t been followed by the same drop-off. Perhaps she’s become a new main for players? We’re mostly happy with where she’s at as players get accustomed to her, but we are looking at the effectiveness of EMP and the frequency of her cooldowns..
We're also going to be releasing an update to Roadhog this season, including a reworked primary fire, changes to Take a Breather, and adding an all-new ability! Based on quite a few last-minute tweaks to the kit, he won't make our midseason patch, but instead will be coming later in the season.
We're happy with the overall state of balance in Season 7, but let's get into a little more detail based off our stats and community feedback. We have seen a lot of talk around supports and their rising power level in the meta. We're making a series of changes to many of the support heroes in the game for the midseason patch with the intent of targeting their utility and opening up windows of vulnerability. We want to be careful here in order to avoid some of the feelings of helplessness that Supports had at launch, but we want to lower some of the overall sustain and survivability that's present in the game currently. We’re also seeing a lot of talk around Orisa, Zarya, and Bastion. From a stats perspective, Orisa isn't one of our top-performing tanks, that spot goes to Reinhardt at lower skill tiers and Sigma at the high end. This could be one of those cases where she feels frustrating to play against but isn't giving that same value to her team. We made a small tweak to her at the start of Season 7, and we're currently in a wait-and-see with her. We're also planning a slight nerf to Bastion's Assault form for the midseason patch. The midseason balance patch will include the changes to Support and quite a few others and will be roughly comparable in size to the balance patch at the start of Season 7. We’ll be able to get into more detail in the next few weeks as we get closer to release.
Halloween Terror has always been the most popular event in Overwatch, and this year was no exception. We released a totally new game mode in Season 7 with The Trials of Sanctuary. It's one of the first times we've given players the ability to gain power, as well as new abilities, over the course of a game. We love the mode, and it looks like players do, too. On the first day of the season, over 35% of all player hours were spent in our Halloween modes. We're talking about what an expanded version of this mode could look like, a way to get even more progression and player choice.
Halloween isn't our only event this season. We have several more exciting moments coming in October and November. We just announced our collab with LE SSERAFIM® yesterday, and I can’t wait to share more. We can’t go into details for now, but it’s something that the team is really excited about. I can give a glimpse into what’s coming after, though. It's BlizzCon®! We'll be revealing our next hero at the event, plus a whole lot more of what's coming this year and next. Also, we've heard from players that they want to see us take a look at our competitive system as well as our Battle Pass. These are two of the top priorities for the Overwatch team. We'll be detailing the direction of our reworked competitive mode at BlizzCon. However, we'll be talking about a new take on our Battle Pass and shop changes a little later, most likely early next year.
Speaking of our shop... There was a bit of a controversy at the start of this season with the placement of our latest Moira skin in the Ultimate Battle Pass bundle. Some players felt like it was the best skin of the season and were upset that the only way to obtain the skin was to purchase one of our highest-priced bundles. We do sell an Ultimate Battle Pass bundle every season with legendary skins in it and will continue to do so. However, the lesson that we’re taking away from this moment is to make sure that we provide more ways to acquire some of our most popular skins.
That's it for the week. We'll skip our next Director's Take in two weeks since we'll be at BlizzCon. There ought to be enough Overwatch news there to keep everyone busy! Have a great weekend, and I'll see you in game.