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overwatch Overwatch: Beta Patch Notes – March 1, 2016

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On the 1st of March, Blizzard released a big balance patch for the Overwatch Beta, completly changing the metagame over night.

A popular cheese strategy on the North American side of competitive Overwatch was fielding a lineup consisting of two Winston, two Lucio, and two Reaper. The strategy had its first real outing in the Gosugamers NA Weekly #4 where both team and EnvyUs ran this exact composition in the finals.


While the strategy had been very quickly figured out and has been deemed sub-optimal by European teams, it caused a huge uproar in various Overwatch forums. It seems like Blizzard took the concerns of these vocal users to heart and hit Winston and Lucio with a severe nerf. Additionally, Genji - who dominated the European metagame in Beta Phase 2 so far - has also been hit by the nerf hammer.
On the flip side, Mei and Junkrat got some love from Blizzard with significant buffs to their abilities.

The full patch notes read as follows:

Blizzard Icon Blizzard

A new beta patch is now live. Read below to learn about the latest changes.




  • The speed at which a payload moves has been increased for when one player is escorting and when two players are escorting
    • Max speed (when 3+ players are escorting) remains unchanged

Loot Boxes

  • All sprays and voice lines are now considered “Common”
  • All player icons and victory poses are now considered “Rare” (excluding default icons and poses)
  • “Rare” and “Epic” quantities of credits will now appear more frequently in Loot Boxes
  • “Legendary” quantities of credits will now appear less frequently in Loot Boxes


  • Several behind-the-scenes improvements have been made to the in-game matchmaker, especially for groups and players at higher skill levels
  • Players from Australia, South America, and Southeast Asia should no longer experience exceptionally long queue times

Social Wheel

  • Removed the cooldown when using voice lines
  • Added a short global cooldown when using any option in the communications wheel
  • Frequently spamming any option in the communications wheel within a short period of time will now lock you out for a few seconds (HI THERE!)

Hero Balance Changes:

We’re experimenting with some pretty significant balance changes this patch. Because this is beta, these changes are a little more aggressive than what you can expect to see once the game is live—but it’s the perfect environment for us try things out. Please continue to share your feedback with us and remember that everything in the Closed Beta is still subject to change!


  • Aim restrictions have been removed when transforming
  • Configuration: Sentry
    • Damaging Bastion’s core when in Sentry Mode will now cause double damage, decreased from triple damage

Developer comments: With the changes we made to Bastion’s overall survivability in Sentry Mode in our last beta patch, we felt that its core no longer needed to be so vulnerable. We also wanted to continue supporting Bastion’s “run-and-gun” playstyle, so we removed all aiming restrictions when transforming. 


  • Health decreased from 200 to 150

Developer comments: Genji is a fast character with a smaller character model, making him overly difficult to kill. To help address this, we’re lowering Genji’s health. This is just an experiment, and we want to see how he feels to play (and play against) after this change. Be sure to share your feedback!


  • Health decreased from 200 to 150

Developer comments: Similar to Genji, Lúcio is fast, small, and has a lot of mobility options. We’ve lowered his health slightly to compensate. Let us know how this feels!


  • RIP-Tire
    • Health increased to 150
    • If the tire is destroyed, it no longer detonates
    • Significantly decreased damage falloff within RIP-Tire’s detonation radius

Developer comments: Junkrat is able to dish out a ton of damage, but RIP-Tire in its current state feels a little weak. On the flip side, trying to destroy his RIP-Tire can sometimes feel a little hopeless once it gets too close to you. With these changes, we hope that players will feel more empowered to take out Junkrat’s RIP-Tire before it explodes; however, to compensate, the explosion itself is much stronger. Overall, using RIP-Tire should feel more effective, and countering RIP-Tire should feel more realistic. 


  • Endothermic Blaster
    • Primary Fire
      • Now has a minimum slow effect that’s applied instantly
      • The total time to freeze a target remains unchanged
  • Blizzard
    • Effective radius can no longer be blocked by barriers or payloads

Developer comments: Mei is intended to be a good pick against the faster, more agile heroes in the game. However, the way her primary fire previously worked, there’d frequently be situations where she’d hit an enemy target briefly, but not long enough to slow them down or follow-up with another attack before they were out of range or line-of-sight. Boosting her primary fire’s initial slow effect should help her keep up with her enemy targets more successfully. Additionally, Mei’s Ultimate now ignores barriers like Winston’s Barrier Projector and Reinhardt’s Barrier Field, which gives it a little more power and allows for more options when trying to counter heavy use of shielding abilities in general.


  • Guardian Angel
    • Can once again target the souls of dead allies

Developer comments: Players really enjoyed being able to use Guardian Angel on dead allies, and felt it allowed for more clutch plays and interesting movement options during combat. As a result, we’re reverting the change from a previous patch that removed Mercy’s ability to target and travel to dead allies using Guardian Angel. 


  • Barrier Projection
    • Shield health decreased from 1000 to 600
    • Cooldown now activates after the barrier expires

Developer comments: Even though it’s always been possible to destroy Winston’s Barrier Projection, it often felt impossible to do so in a normal situation unless you used your Ultimate. This resulted in many players just waiting for the barrier to expire instead of attacking it. With this change, it’s now more realistic for players to counter Winston’s barrier through normal damage. 


  • Projected Barrier
    • Duration decreased from 4 seconds to 2 seconds

Developer comments: Previously, Zarya’s Projected Barrier lasted much longer than her Particle Barrier, which made it very difficult for enemies to deal with. If a player wanted to avoid dealing damage to the barrier, they had to wait a full 4 seconds—which felt like an unreasonable amount of time in the thick of combat. This change makes Zarya’s Particle Barrier and Projected Barrier the same duration. 


  • Players will now receive a notification whenever Orb of Harmony or Orb of Destruction are returned from a dead target

Developer comments: This was a player suggestion that made a lot of sense to us. The notification helps you be more aware of the status of active Orbs of Harmony and Discord—which, in turn, allows you to more strategically re-deploy them. 

Bug Fixes:


  • Fixed a crash that could occur when getting a Play of the Game on a Control point
  • Fixed several crashes that could occur when logging into and out of the game client


  • Fixed an issue with the way Torbjörn’s turret oriented whenever its target moved out of line-of-sight

Loot Boxes

  • Fixed an issue with the lighting on several Loot Box rewards that caused skins and poses to appear darker than intended


While these changes are drastic, it remains to be seen whether some of the current balance changes will be reversed or altered in the not so near future, as the massive nerfs do seem a like a bit of an overreaction at this point. What can be said for sure so far is that the entire meta game has been changed drastically. Particulary Widowmaker and Tracer received massive indirect buffs and it is very likely that both heroes will see a lot more play in the upcoming tournaments.

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