Big Changes Coming to Overwatch Including Hero Pools, Experimental Card, and Frequent Balance Updates

Blizzard Entertainment has announced that it’ll be introducing major changes to Overwatch with a patch in early February that’ll keep its meta fresh and address balancing issues.

Overwatch players have often complained about infrequent balance updates, especially when new characters are released. There are also concerns about the game’s meta, which sometimes discourages diversity and unfairly tilts matches in Competitive Play. Now, Blizzard plans to release more frequent balance updates and introduce Hero Pools that will disable a few heroes each week.

In addition to the above, console players will now be able to partake in testing major changes before they are released via the new Experimental Card system. Unlike the PC public test realm, the Experimental Card is designed to test balance changes, game modes, and other gameplay updates.

An official overview of the changes is as follows:

  • Balance Philosophy Update
    1. The team is looking to implement more frequent and impactful balance updates with the intention to deliberately change the meta.
    2. Additionally, with more impactful changes planned, the team is open to the idea of reverting changes when necessary.
    3. There have been a lot of requests recently for the game to undergo more rapid change to keep the game fresh, so this is our attempt to fulfill this request
  • Experimental Card
    1. The team will be introducing a new main card to the Play screen known as Experimental Card. This card will allow us to test major changes to the game that may or may not reach the standard game modes
    2. Because the Experimental Card is in the live version of the game, this mode will now allow console players to participate in experimental content testing
    3. Players will still be able to progress and unlock Loot Boxes when playing in the Experimental Card, offering even more incentive for testing unreleased content
    4. Unlike the PTR, the Experimental Card is not for bug testing. Instead, it will be used to experiment with balance updates, game modes, or changes to rules that we are investigating internally. While some of these features will reach live, the content within this game mode is not guaranteed to be released.
  • Hero Pools
    1. During Season 21, we will be implementing a new system called Hero Pools, where a few heroes will be disabled from Competitive Play for a given week. Each week will feature a new pool of heroes.
    2. We’re trying Hero Pools for Season 21, and depending on how it performs, it may not persist past that season. We are also going to keep a close eye on this system to see if the hero pool rotation cadence should be changed (e.g. weekly, daily, by match).
    3. The selection of heroes will be curated by the design team, rather than random assortment chosen by algorithm
    4. This will only affect the Competitive Play and will not be seen in the Arcade or Quick Play.
    5. The goal of this system is to allow the meta to change weekly and see more hero diversity in matches.

The patch, which has yet to be dated, will also implement new anti-cheat measures and bring Workshop quality-of-life updates.