There have been a lot of Overwatch updates over the past 15 months, and unlike games that balance characters with slight tweaks to the numbers, the team at Blizzard have made some radical changes that completely overhaul character abilities. Many of the characters now work in a fundamentally different way than Blizzard intended at launch, from Reaper’s health orbs now just being a direct health gain for damage dealt, to Roadhog’s hook going through what feels like 100 changes, and of course the complete Bastion rework. Even Junkrat, who used to be hurt by his own explosions, is now immune to the damage from the grenades he shoots.
It almost feels like every character has undergone some level of change, making Overwatch almost a different game than it was at launch. Don’t get me wrong, these changes and updates are for the better, and I have welcomed many of them with open g̶o̶r̶i̶l̶l̶a̶ scientist arms. These updates help keep the game alive and fresh, and show that Blizzard cares about the continued success of Overwatch and the happiness of the people who play it.
The most recent update announcement, however, has brought to light a concerning element of these frequent and drastic changes. It was announced today that Mercy is getting a complete rework with how her ultimate ability functions. Resurrection no longer targets multiple players at once and is on cooldown as a standard ability, with a powerful boost called Valkyrie as her new ultimate. While these abilities sound great for gameplay, there’s one major problem with this update.
Mercy’s ult doesn’t resurrect multiple players anymore. This trophy that is already extremely situational to begin with, will become impossible once the Mercy changes go into effect.
Trophies are put into place as unlockable achievements based on a game’s launch state. I’ve previously talked about how Overwatch has one of the best trophy lists because it requires you to learn every character and mode, teaching you skills that can be used in the game rather than requiring arbitrary grinding or other mundane requirements. Yet as Blizzard fundamentally changes how characters are played, and rebalances various aspects of the game, some of those trophies start slipping away from that median, either becoming easier or more difficult to obtain than they were before.
Or in the case of this Mercy trophy, completely impossible.
Now there’s a high chance, given the number of console Overwatch players, that Blizzard will address this, replacing the trophy with something else related to her new Valkyrie ability, but it leaves me concerned with the varying degrees of difficulty that other not-so-obvious trophies will have due to how the game has changed.
In the same post about Mercy, they tease an upcoming D.Va rework that will cut her Defense Matrix charge in half, meaning it can’t absorb nearly as much damage as it could before. Sure is going to be tough — potentially impossible — to get the Shot Down trophy, which says “Prevent 1500 damage with a single use of D.Va’s Defense Matrix in Quick or Competitive Play.”
Many of Overwatch’s trophies already sit in a very specific place, requiring the clash between teams to come together in the perfect way in order to unlock. Each character has one trophy tied to their abilities, and one ultimate trophy for using their ult in a certain way, so any rework to the characters and the balancing of the game has a significant chance of impacting players’ ability to unlock at least one trophy.
When Overwatch launched you could stack the same characters in matches. A lot of the cooldowns, abilities, and power of the characters were different than we know now. The Overwatch trophy list was based on this launch game, and each subsequent character release has an additional two trophies that are based on their particular balancing at the time of release.
It’s hard to say how Blizzard could best handle this. It seems cheap for players who earned the trophy pre-update to change the requirements, but an artificial spike in difficulty — now to the level of being impossible to obtain — is unfair for newer players, or those have yet to earn those trophies. Sure, it’s all a small thing at the end of the day, but there are many players who want a fair shot at unlocking trophies. Overwatch the game works just fine and is a better experience for these frequent updates, but Overwatch the trophy list is suffering from a game that is not the same as when it released.