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Director’s Take – Balance Preview for Season 8

Director’s Take – Balance Preview for Season 8

This is one of two remaining Director's Take Blogs for 2023! We'll release another one in two weeks and take the last part of the year off for the holiday season before we pick back up again in the new year. I'll be writing this one in a sort of turkey-induced fever dream and the next one just after we launch Season 8. This is when we'll release our newest hero Mauga, along with quite a few balance changes for the game. We'll take a look at those changes and touch on a few other topics as well.

We're making a general change to the amount of ult charge retained when swapping heroes, reducing it from 25% to 15%. We do like that this mechanic removes friction when swapping heroes, and think that it still should at 15%. However, there is a perception that it's almost always an advantage to counter-swap upon dying, and we're lowering this value to see if it has an effect on swap rates.

Let's look at changes coming to some of our heroes for Season 8, starting with some of the larger changes coming to our tanks.

We released a reworked Roadhog late in Season 7. Roadhog quickly became one of our top performing tanks, with a win rate somewhere around 54%. There’s been a lot of feedback around his kit, but we’re going to hold off from making any changes at the start of Season 8. Mauga has a lot of answers to Roadhog and we’d like to see where the meta settles a bit before aiming at the midseason patch for any balance adjustments.

There are times when Doomfist players use his Ultimate purely as an escape. It's a little disappointing to activate Meteor Strike and intentionally land on a health pack rather than enemy players!  Starting in Season 8, Doomfist will now regenerate 75 health per second while in the air. We're slightly increasing the cost of the ult in order to compensate for the buff.

Tanks are supposed to take and create space, and when Ramattra is in his base form, he can be a little too easy to ignore. So we're going to shift 100 of his health to armor, as well as slightly increase the size and damage of his projectiles to see if it helps.

Winston isn't the best matchup for other tanks. This is part of his kit, but the disadvantage feels too extreme, and we'd like to alleviate it a bit. In Season 8, Winston's Tesla Canon will now ignore armor’s damage reduction.

Moving on to a few of the changes to our DPS heroes, let’s start with Sombra. She's had a lot of moving parts recently, and we feel like she is in a much better spot. Her win rate hovers between 45-48% depending upon rank. However, her Ultimate still isn't as satisfying as it could be, so we're going to raise the ability lockout time of her EMP by 1.5 to 3 seconds and reduce the amount of damage it does from 30% to 25% of maximum health. This brings her ultimate more in line with her hero fantasy and is much sharper in its effect.

Soldier: 76 has enjoyed a lot of success in Season 7. He's a really well-rounded DPS, and the self-sustain from his heal can make him really difficult to deal with while he's in its radius. Rather than reducing the effectiveness of the heal, we'd rather open up larger windows of opportunity by increasing the cooldown from 15 to 18 seconds.

Does anybody remember how much damage Tracer's Pulse Pistols do? I wouldn't blame you if you don't, we've changed them a lot. If you guessed 5.5 damage per shot, you'd be right, but not for long, because we're changing them again - back to 6! The previous change to 5.5 was made to offset a bug with their falloff and spread. Now that those bugs are fixed, we're moving them back to their previous value.

Let's look at some of our Support changes. Brigitte was the best performing support hero since the last patch, and we are seeing your feedback that she is becoming a must-pick. We're going to revert the damage on Whip Shot to try to bring her back in line. We're also looking at the damage potential of Baptiste and will be lowering his primary fire ammo from 45 to 36.

I'd like to touch on one of the items mentioned in the last Director's Take. Specifically, the leave rate in Quick Play matches. Based on a recently implemented set of penalties for leaving too many matches, that rate has gone down considerably. There has been a bit of talk around that, specifically that some people view that mode as something that they would like the freedom to leave without worrying about those penalties. Different people play Quick Play for different reasons. Some people see it as their try-hard version of the game, some view it as a way to experiment with heroes, and others use it as their casual, just-for-fun version of the game. It's really difficult to have this part of the game be all things for all people. In the past, we've talked internally about whether we need a 3rd main queue in the game in order to have different areas to serve people of different levels of seriousness, but don't think that players would voluntarily move into the appropriate queue for their particular play style.

In regard to penalties for leaving Quick Play matches - the reasoning behind this is that frequent leavers do have an effect on the other people in the match, degrading its quality. There are some players that literally leave over 90% of their matches, and we could no longer stick to a black-and-white policy because of this. The policy is still very lenient—probably too lenient—where players need to leave almost a quarter of their most recent matches to trigger a light penalty. We'll continue to look at this and tweak these policies in an attempt to promote better match quality but without the harsher restrictions of Ranked Play.

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading, and we'll see you in game!

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