Difficulty in an FPS like Overwatch is understandable, given the twitchy nature of the genre, but the general theme of the latest Overwatch patch seems to be making the game and characters less difficult to play.
The highlight of the patch is the release of new tank Orisa, but scouring through the patch notes and developer comments, the word "difficult" showed up in 5 of the 7 comments the team made about changes to various heroes. For example, the last update buffed Bastion, but now his passive is being scaled back because he was "a little too difficult to deal with." Likewise, Junkrat's projectile speed had a range issue making "him difficult to use at long ranges, but the damage he took from his own explosions made him difficult to use at close ranges." Now, he is immune to his own explosions.
Sombra got a buff because apparently players weren't able to play her properly regularly enough. "Sombra can be devastating in the right hands, but infiltrating and harassing enemies could often feel difficult. These changes should increase her effectiveness and teamplay." And Zenyatta's Orb of Destruction got a slight buff because her "alternate fire often felt too difficult to use due to its long recovery time."
It isn't totally clear if these changes were made from a balancing standpoint, or if Blizzard is trying to make certain characters more accessible for meta stat purposes. But the wording of these dev comments seem to indicate the latter, while still seemingly addressing game play issues. Balancing is always hard, as game director Jeff Kaplan has explained previously, but its seems odd that issues with characters aren't picked up on the test servers before being finally implemented in the game. Bastion is a great example of buff one week, nerf the next. And this patch also reverted a couple Zarya abilities back to what they were a few patches ago.
Granted, the exact details of Blizzard's development process is a tightly kept secret, and the team has reasons for what it does that aren't general knowledge, but perhaps characters need more time on the PTR before being pushed to live to keep the constant yo-yoing of abilities more to a minimum.
Here are the full patch notes:
New Hero: Orisa (Tank)
Built from the scraps of the city’s decommissioned OR15 defense bots, Orisa is still learning how to optimally perform her function. What she lacks in experience, she makes up for in her steadfast dedication to keeping her city—and her creator, Efi—safe from harm.
Orisa is the sixth tank to join the Overwatch lineup, and much like her programming, her gameplay is engineered around protection. Her main weapon is a rapid-fire Fusion Driver, an automatic gun with good range and accuracy even at a distance—though it comes at a cost. Orisa’s movement slows down while she fires and players will need to plan for a lengthy reload time. Her alternate fire, Halt!, launches a graviton charge across the map, slowing nearby enemies as it passes, then pulling them toward it when it detonates.
Her Fortify ability boosts her personal defense, reducing damage taken and making her unstoppable for a short time. She can throw a device that creates a curved, stationary Protective Barrier, perfect for intercepting projectiles and shielding teammates from the front, sides, and above. Lastly, as her ultimate ability, Orisa deploys a high-powered Supercharger that beams a buff to allies within its range, increasing the damage they can inflict on the opposing team
- On Route 66, the attacking team is now given 60 additional seconds after pushing the payload to the first checkpoint.
Developer Comments: This change will bring Route 66 in line with the other Escort maps.
Custom Game and Game Browser
- When setting up a Custom Game, players can now disable or modify abilities activated with the secondary fire button
- Biotic Rifle
- Damage decreased from 80 to 60
Developer Comments: Ana’s kit has several strong components, which makes her difficult to replace. Reducing her damage output will make her less threatening on attack and reduce her dueling capabilities.
- [XB1, PS4] Bastion now takes 20% less damage while in Configuration: Sentry or Tank (formerly 35%)
Developer Comments: After the last update, Bastion became a little too difficult to deal with, so we’re reducing his new passive to give enemies more opportunities to counter.
- Total Mayhem
- Junkrat's explosion no longer hurt himself
Developer Comments: Previously, Junkrat’s projectile speed made him difficult to use at long ranges, but the damage he took from his own explosions made him difficult to use at close ranges. This change makes him more effective at close ranges, allowing Junkrat players to explore new strategies.
- Caduceus Staff
- The amount of increased damage that’s done when boosting another player is now tracked under the match statistics and on the Career Profile page
- Sombra’s teammates can now see hacked healthpacks through walls
- Sound effects and VO distance has been reduced to 15 meters when Sombra enters or exits Stealth
- Cooldown reduced from 6 seconds to 4 seconds
Developer Comments: Sombra can be devastating in the right hands, but infiltrating and harassing enemies could often feel difficult. These changes should increase her effectiveness and teamplay.
- Barrier Projector
- Ability cooldown now starts when the barrier is placed, instead of when it ends
Developer Comments: This change should help Winston do what he does best: distract the enemy team and block damage.
- Particle Barrier
- No longer protects Zarya from knockback
- Projected Barrier
- No longer protects allies from knockback
Developer Comments: This is actually reverting a change that we made a few patches ago, which made players immune to knockbacks if they were hit by an effect from inside her barrier. This had some negative side effects, such as making targets immune to knockbacks from effects that pierce barriers, like Reinhardt’s charge and Winston’s Primal Rage punches. Now, these will cause knockback again. This does not affect knockbacks from effects that originate from outside her barriers, such as Pharah’s Concussive Blast. Those will still be blocked by the barriers, not causing any knockback.
- Orb of Destruction
- Alternate fire cooldown has been reduced from 1 seconds to 0.6 seconds
- Weapon spread has been removed
Developer Comments: Zenyatta’s alternate fire often felt too difficult to use due to its long recovery time. This reduction should make it a more viable option. Also, his weapon has always had a very small amount of spread. This wasn’t enough to change the way he was played, but it would occasionally cause shots to miss that would normally hit their target. Removing this small variance should help him feel more consistent.
- When Teleporters, Shield Generators, and other player-owned objects are destroyed, the kill feed now properly displays the owner’s name
- Fixed a bug preventing Bastion and Torbjörn bots from taking a defensive position when turret abilities were disabled in Custom Games
- Fixed a visual bug that prevented your current medals from being displayed in the setup phase between rounds
Custom Game and Game Browser
- Fixed a bug causing players to respawn in the enemy spawn room after being pinned against a car by an enemy Reinhardt on Oasis
- A scoring requirement clarification has been added to the Capture the Flag settings, stating that each team’s flag will need to be secured before they can score
- Fixed a bug that could cause certain settings to be displayed on the Custom Game’s information screen even when they weren’t being used
- Fixed an issue preventing values from the “Ultimate Generation” setting from being correctly displayed
- Heroes and maps are now sorted alphabetically under the “Find Game” filters in the Game Browser
- Fixed a bug preventing Bastion’s Self-Repair ability from being disabled in the Custom Game settings
- Fixed an issue preventing Bastion’s walking animation from being triggered while Self-Repair was in use
- McCree no longer receives credit toward his on-fire meter when his Flashbang is used against Mei’s Ice Wall
- Fixed a bug that kept a successful Roadhog hook from counting towards the “Match Players Hooked” statistic when the enemy player was killed on impact
- Fixed an issue causing Zenyatta’s feet to clip through his robe while his Sanzang skin was equipped
- Fixed a bug causing Reaper's shotguns and D.Va's mech to appear unusually large on the main menu
- Training bots that are destroyed in the Practice Range are now displayed in the kill feed
- Fixed a bug allowing more than one player to enter the Practice Range
John Keefer posted a new article, Overwatch Patch Adds Orisa, Makes Other Heroes Less Difficult
The Zarya change just resets things to the way they are supposed to be now that bugs have been fixed.
" And Zenyatta's Orb of Destruction got a slight buff because her "alternate fire often felt too difficult to use due to its long recovery time."
Heh, Poor Zarya, doesn't even get called by the correct name.
Doh, I guess they are talking about Zen, but I didn't know Zen was a "her". Hmm..
pretty sure thats a typo because zen is a male. his voice is male
Did you assume Zen's robot gender???????
He identifies as an Apache Attack Helicopter, I'll have you know.