Overwatch Is Overhauling How It Tests and Balances the Game

Blizzard is starting to look at its philosophy on Overwatch balance updates in a new way, the company announced this week. Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan outlined some of Blizzard’s thinking on how the game will be balanced and updated going forward in the latest developer update that focused on two main areas. Kaplan said that some of the changes Blizzard is thinking about will be pretty aggressive and that the balance team will be directly targeting the meta at times.

The talks of changes in balance philosophy began first by revealing a new system Blizzard is adding to Overwatch that’ll allow players to test some of those more aggressive changes. It’s called the “Experimental Card,” and it’ll feature tentative changes Blizzard wants players to try out to gauge reactions. These changes could be about gameplay, select game modes, or anything else Blizzard feels like letting players get their hands on.

One strength of this Experimental Card is that it’ll be usable by all players, not just those with access to the PTR. It’s separate from the servers where balance changes are typically tested and will be found in the main game itself for players to try if they want. Kaplan said that it being added to the main game means that players will still be leveling up their accounts and getting the normal rewards as if they were playing an everyday game.

The reveal of the Experimental Card led into the discussion about Blizzard’s new philosophy when it comes to balancing Overwatch.

“We’re also going to change our balance philosophy which is going to be: Balance more frequently, more aggressively, and be less concerned with trying something out and maybe pulling it back later,” Kaplan said. “We’re going to try some pretty aggressive balance changes to deliberately target the meta.”

Kaplan added that the current philosophy focuses on balancing the game for everyone, but the new one will focus more on the meta and attempts to move players off the meta.

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One of the ways Overwatch will certainly move players off of the meta is by banning certain champions from Competitive play which is another thing Blizzard is planning on doing. The same video announced the upcoming release of “Hero Pools,” a system where a few champions are banned during one week of Competitive only to be playable the next. This means players may have to move outside of their comfort zones and develop new strategies which is exactly what Blizzard wants.

Hero Pools will only be found in Competitive play, but you can expect the refined balance philosophy to affect all modes.