Starym

Jeff Kaplan on Balance

Sign in to follow this  

7 posts in this topic

ZEutpKE.jpg

 

The Game Director himself talks in-depth about the state of balance in OW today.

In what can only be described as a gargantuan post, Game Director Jeff Kaplan takes on the topic of balance and how it applies to pros, regular players, competitive players and specific hero mains. In general he doesn't feel there are any OP heroes that break the balance, but there are many issues that need to be addressed, so let's get right into it.

Blizzard LogoJeff Kaplan (source)

I’ve been reading the feedback regarding the current metagame and a general desire for “radical” balance changes to mix things up. I’ll offer some of my personal perspective but I’m a little nervous doing that for a few reasons. Even though I am the Game Director and a spokesperson for OW, I don’t make decisions in a vacuum and I am only one part of a very awesome team. Not everyone on my team agrees with me and we have different opinions on the state of game and balance overall. We do have a lot of alignment, but we talk things through – a lot. And we don’t always agree. So I know this will become the “official” response on the subject but I am really offering this from a very strong personal viewpoint first and foremost.

The most controversial thing I’ll say here (hopefully) is that I believe the game is currently balanced. What I mean is that I don’t feel like there are any heroes who are way too strong to the point of breaking balance. That doesn’t mean that I personally don’t think there are some problems with heroes. While I believe moving Roadhog away from a 1 shot combo was a necessary thing we had to do, I’m not entirely satisfied with where he’s at right now. I also think we need to do some brainstorming when it comes to Mercy’s resurrect, for example. The ability is extremely powerful in a very unfun way for both Mercy and everyone playing against that Mercy. But it’s not doomsday. These aren’t game breaking issues. They are better fixed slowly and carefully as the overall game is not ruined by them. I’m just using these as examples.

But I think the game is balanced. Statistically, the things that are most unbalanced aren’t what you think they are. Symmetra and Torbjorn win rates are not balanced. They are too good. But this is why we don’t balance on statistics alone. I don’t sense a great community uproar over the fact that Torb and Symmetra are “overpowered” right now (at least, statistically).

As I said last week, the perception of balance is more powerful than balance itself.

I really do not like summarizing the feedback from a large community because I think it’s unfair to so many people. But in general, I am getting the sense that the real issue people are feeling is that the “meta” does not shift as frequently as they would like. My sense is that players start with the pro scene and work their way down and base this feedback mostly on pick rates. In the pro scene, it’s true that the teams settle into using a subset of the hero pool. We tend to see high level (let’s just say the top 3rd of all players) competitive slowly catch up to the pro scene with some considerable lag of weeks if not months. The rest of us – the vast majority of us – don’t really play this meta at all but we’re aware of it either through community discussion or because we enjoy watching the pro scene.

There are a lot of ways the meta can change but if I had to boil it down to three main ways (that we see in video games at least) I would point to 1) something changes with the balance 2) players innovate new strategies 3) the game forces meta change through mechanics.

To comment on all 3…

I like when the meta changes on balance only when the game is not balanced and something was adjusted to make the game more balanced. Another way of putting this is, I do not agree with the philosophy that we should just make balance changes solely to shift people off the meta. The game team should be constantly evaluating balance and making changes that are actually needed because a hero is unbalanced. But making changes to a hero because their pick rate is too high or too low is not my idea of responsible game balance. Symmetra’s pick rate is very low right now. We could make changes to make her a “must pick” in the meta (and thus shifting the meta) but I feel like, if anything, I am concerned about Symmetra’s balance and worried that when she does eventually make her way back into the meta she is not balanced properly. So to summarize: balancing heroes who are unbalanced is good, balancing heroes just to make them picked more or picked less is not good (in my humble opinion).

Regarding the meta changing because players have innovated a new strategy – well – this is the best-case scenario. We’ve seen this happen time and time again. This usually happens in a pro tournament where a team pulls out a new strategy and performs well. This was how triple tank rose into fashion. Innovating out of a meta is extremely hard. All players are very different. Some are highly creative and some are excellent at executing. Some at both. Having the time and freedom to innovate on strategy is difficult no matter what level of play you’re at. Pros have busy schedules and it’s not always easy for them to practice new, out of the box things – especially if their tournament schedule is hectic. But when all is said and done, to me personally, the meta shifting because players innovate is the best possible outcome.

Lastly, a game can force a meta shift through mechanics. The MOBA genre has huge hero pools yet without pick and ban systems teams would inevitably play the same comps over and over. The game – through the mechanics of picking and banning – is forcing variety. We could do this in Overwatch. We could prevent certain heroes from being played some or all of the time or we could let your opponent prevent you from playing your desired hero. We could also force you or allow your opponent to force you to play a hero you don’t want to play. Personally, I am not a believer in these systems for OW (while I understand and respect why they use them in MOBA). I prefer to think that OW allows you to be creative which is different than forces you to be creative. I don’t want to watch the best Genji player in the world play Zarya – I want to see him/her play Genji. And also, seeing how many of you “main” heroes because you love them, I don’t want the game – or your opponent – telling you you’re not allowed to play that hero.

We recently added 6v6 Elimination to the Arcade and I think the mode is strong enough to exist in Quick Play and Competitive. That mode is a good example of a mechanical “forcing function” where the game causes shifts to happen in pick rates and team comps. The winning team is forced to play 18 diverse heroes. I would be willing to bet that if that mode was considered competitive, eventually a meta would settle in where 18 heroes were mostly picked and 7 would be rather neglected. Again, I don’t think this is horrible or the end of the world – I think it’s reality.

There are games with a set meta that evolve very slowly or remain stable for long periods of time and this doesn’t mean the game isn’t balanced or fun or fun to watch. Most of the pro sports fall into this category. TF2 was largely played Demo/Medic/Scout/Scout/Solider/Soldier and that was sort of just… accepted. It was fun to play and fun to watch. Baseball isn’t terrible or broken because every team puts their strongest batter 4th in the lineup.

But maybe I am off on what the expectation is from players here? I know the desire – and mine too – is that during every match of Overwatch all 25 heroes are viable at any time. The reality of gamers and video games is that any perceived (whether real or not) advantage is going to cause players to assume that they must play hero x over hero y. A professional Overwatch player will not player hero x if he/she thinks hero y is even 1% stronger. We can balance the heroes to equality but if there is the slightest perception of advantage, it won’t matter.

Looking at the perception of the meta, it’s obvious that “dive” is the predominant strategy. Correction. It is the predominant strategy being used in the professional scene. The majority of Overwatch players play Quick Play as their primary mode. The top 6 picked heroes (over the last month) in Quick Play are Genji, 76, Hanzo, McCree, Mercy and Junkrat. For the statistical majority of Overwatch players who are not pros and don’t play Competitive, this is your meta.

It drives players crazy when I post stats like that because they want to know about Competitive and not Quick Play. The point I am trying to make by posting Quick Play is that the numbers show that that is what the majority of players are *actually experiencing* which is different from *perceiving*. But looking at Competitive only… here are the top 6 picked heroes: Mercy (by a long shot), 76, D.Va, Lucio, Ana and Genji. Interestingly, number 7 is Reinhardt. Next tank after that is… Wi… no Roadhog. So in the past month in Comp, that’s what you’ve been actually playing.

But let’s talk about the elite players… maybe the top 3rd of all MMR. Their top picked hero over the past month was…. Ana. Yes, Ana.

I don’t mean to discount your fatigue with the “dive” meta but I also want us looking at from a realistic standpoint. Dive itself is an interesting comp. It’s fun to play and watch. It features super high skill heroes doing very OW things. Watching top Genji’s and Tracers is fantastic. I don’t think dive comp is bad but I think what players want is to see more comps in addition to dive comp. I too would love for this to happen. But in a non-forced, non-damaging way. I don’t think we should just throw a balance grenade at the heroes to change pick rates. And I don’t think long-term for the game it’s good to start imposing restrictions on you as to what hero you’re allowed or not allowed to play. I think we also need to be careful about demanding drastic change. A few months ago we nerfed D.Va and we faced the ire of many very upset players who thought we “ruined” the hero and she would never be played again. There was mega thread after mega thread demanding she be buffed. We held our ground because we believed she was fine. We did not touch her. And now she is one of the dominant heroes in the dive meta – clearly not in need of a buff.

Players think that every change we make to hero has the intent of buffing or nerfing that hero. Changes to heroes are usually made to make the game better. That’s what we were trying to do with Roadhog. Our goal wasn’t a nerf – our intent wasn’t a nerf. Our intent was to try to remove a behavior that had become “not ok” with our player base – the one-shot combo. Maybe he needs to be adjusted again? Probably. I am just using this as an example that not everything is super black and white. There is a gray area in making the game feel good. Sometimes we need to hold our ground and not make dramatic swings to the game.

I know this post will be met with a lot of disagreement. The desire for dive comp to go away will not be satisfied from some of you until Winston and D.Va are nerfed into the ground. But we’re not going to do that. We are going to make balance changes to heroes when they need it – and we do this more frequently than you give us credit for. 3 months from now there will be a new meta. If you’re the type of person who feels like the meta should shift every 2 weeks, then you’ll probably be sick of that meta and wishing it was back in the good ol’ dive comp days… I just caution against wanting change for the sake of change. The meta will shift soon enough.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You have to add up about a year's worth of comments from Heroes dev to get as much as this. Lucky OW players you!

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't really get why people are against dive. It sure beats the ol' triple (even quad) tank meta with Ana. Dive is fun.

That said, and as Jeff points out, the "meta" rarely actually goes into comp play, especially not at lower ranks, and you can basically watch any GM/top500 streamer and see that it's rarely dive even in top500 games.

From an esports perspective I'm way more interested in watching dive 'cause the heroes involved are usually way higher skillcap (genji/tracer), downside being that it can be really hard to see what's going on.

It would obviously be best if a variety of different comps were meta at the same time, but that seems really unlikely.

Edited by Weltenfeind

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Funny, maybe it's all the HotS that I do, but I find myself honing in on what's super annoying to play against in OW very quickly. Symmetra and Torjborn are both incredibly obnoxious to fight against, especially while entrenched on maps that provide favourable conditions for it, such as Hanamura and Lunar Colony defending. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/7/2017 at 3:29 AM, Oxygen said:

You have to add up about a year's worth of comments from Heroes dev to get as much as this. Lucky OW players you!

Jeff has always been amazing at this. It's a shame reading the replies in the source, Many of them are toxic (and people even seem incapable of actually reading what he wrote). Stuff like that might make him less inclined to actually post in the future. Damn shame.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with this 100%.  I have read too many posts of people who want the meta to change radically and every two weeks.  You think you want that but you don't. It would be impossible to practice a team comp.  One week Roadhog is the king and the next he isn't but Ana is.  Then just as fast, she isn't Torb is and on and on.  I perfer time to size things up, and work with a team comp that people are familiar with and can use as opposed to just getting settled in to really work on finer details and have to change.  Its the same with those who want a new hero every month.  New heroes change the meta and so if you combine new meta with new heroes it equals a ton of chaos that is not fun to play. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Similar Content

    • By Starym

       
      There's a lot of stuff happening in Overwatch right now, with the free weekend, seasonal event and now a huge 50% discount on the game, getting the base edition price down to 19,99$/E and 29,99$/E for the collector's edition. So now's the perfect time to try the game out and then buy it cheap and continue your progress! The sale ends on February 27th and here are some of the things happening right now in the game:
      The new legendary skins for this year's event, and for more you can check out the official event page.
        
        
        
       
      Free Weekend details You can now change skins at the start of a match Big Mercy changes patch notes And here are the latest patch notes for the seasonal event and more:
      February 8 (source)
      PATCH HIGHLIGHTS
      New Seasonal Event: Lunar New Year 2018
      Get ready to ring in the Year of the Dog!
      This year, we’re celebrating Lunar New Year with over 50 new seasonal items including legendary skins like Red Phoenix (Zhu Que) Mercy, Black Tortoise (Xuan Wu) Zarya, White Tiger (Bai Hu) Genji, and Black Lily Widowmaker. Experience our updates to our Capture the Flag mode—including a competitive Capture the Flag mode and Sudden Death—on a brand-new map, Ayutthaya.
      To learn more about the new Capture the Flag changes, click here. 
      Hero Skin Selection
      Fashion-forward heroes, rejoice! Players can now change hero skins with the “Select Skin” dropdown menu in the Hero Select screen at the start of a match. Show off your favorite unlocked skins when playing solo or coordinate with your friends to be the best dressed on the battlegrounds of tomorrow.
      HERO UPDATES
      Doomfist
      Hand Cannon Damage reduced from 11 to 6 Number of bullets fired increased from 6 to 11 Spread pattern made more consistent Developer Comments: We have made a lot of progress with Doomfist’s movement in recent patches but we wanted to revisit his Hand Cannon. While the damage per bullet has been lowered, the number of bullets he fires per Hand Cannon shot has been increased which makes his overall damage output unchanged. Overall, these changes will help his Hand Cannon feel much more consistent.
      Reaper
      Death Blossom Now fires at players behind barriers Developer Comments: Previously, Reaper’s Death Blossom would target barriers but not the players hiding behind them. This change will make it more effective against shields and consistent with how other auto-target abilities work (e.g. McCree’s Deadeye, Symmetra’s Sentry Turret).
      USER INTERFACE UPDATES
      General
      Matchmaking UI now displays the game mode players have queued for while waiting for players Competitive Play leaver messages now display as a chat notification The Hero Select screen now displays the game mode and map type Heroes
      Zenyatta’s Orb of Discord and Orb of Harmony will now display its target’s hero name BUG FIXES
      General
      Fixed a bug that caused the mouse cursor to lose focus when using third party overlays (e.g. Discord) Fixed an issue that sometimes prevented the Overwatch League scheduled matches of the day from loading AI
      Fixed a bug that prevented bots from voting on cards at the end of the match on Hybrid and Control maps Competitive Play
      Fixed a bug that prevented capture progress UI on Assault and Hybrid maps from displaying the correct team colors Fixed a bug that allowed players to use the Hero Select screen during the loading screen at the start of a match Deathmatch
      Fixed a bug that prevented Widowmaker’s Infra-sight from functioning if it was used at the same time as another Widowmaker’s Infra-sight Fixed a bug that caused Torbjörn to collide with his turret Fixed a bug that caused Symmetra’s Sentry Turrets to continue targeting Junkrat’s Steel Trap after it was destroyed Fixed a bug that prevented players from being able to stand on top of enemy players Fixed a bug that allowed backfilling players to enter at 9th place during the match Fixed a bug that caused targets hacked by Sombra to appear purple instead of red Fixed a bug that caused the displayed hero on the lobby screen to appear in low detail when entering and exiting the Overwatch League screen Game Browser and Custom Games
      Fixed a bug that allowed players to summon infinite bots in custom games Fixed a bug that caused D.Va to lose her Self-Destruct ultimate if she died out of her mech when the “Spawn with Ultimate Ready” option was enabled Fixed a bug that caused the Victory voice line to play when a match ended in a draw while spectating Heroes
      Fixed a bug that caused airborne heroes to lose speed when changing direction Fixed a bug that prevented golden weapon visual effects from displaying when an Overwatch League skin was equipped Fixed a bug that caused heroes’ scoped shots to be calculated as misses in the accuracy statistic Fixed a bug that prevented Ana’s Candy emote from displaying when viewing Kill Cam footage Fixed a bug that caused Doomfist’s Rocket Punch to impact with D.Va’s mech before it materialized during her Call Mech ability Fixed a bug that prevented kills caused by Doomfist’s Rocket Punch from receiving environmental kill credit Fixed a bug that allowed D.Va’s mech to take damage before it materialized when using Call Mech Fixed a bug that prevented Genji from sheathing his katana after using his Whirlwind emote Fixed a bug that prevented Genji from using his Cyber-agility occasionally Fixed a bug that caused Hanzo’s Dragonstrike to be calculated in the accuracy statistic Fixed a bug that prevented Hanzo’s Wall Climb from activating occasionally Fixed a bug that prevented Junkrat’s Concussive Mine from dealing damage if it was deflected by Genji Fixed a bug that caused Mercy’s Caduceus Staff to disappear when using the Parasol emote Fixed a bug that caused Mercy to fly in an unintended direction if she was stunned during Guardian Angel Fixed a bug that prevented Mercy from destroying breakables she collides with in her flight path when using Guardian Angel Fixed a bug that caused Mercy’s Valkyrie flight controls to not be precise when using Resurrect Fixed a bug that caused Moira’s Biotic Grasp’s hits against barriers to be calculated as misses in her accuracy statistic Fixed a bug that extended the cooldown of Orisa’s Halt! by one second if it successfully pulled an enemy Fixed a bug that allowed Sombra to block Reaper’s Death Blossom if she used her Marioneta emote Fixed a bug that caused Reinhardt to have a blank expression during his Toast victory pose Fixed a bug that allowed projectiles to sometimes penetrate Reinhardt’s Barrier Field Fixed a bug that prevented Reinhardt’s Charge bonus damage from being dealt if the target was sandwiched between a charging friendly Reinhardt and a charging enemy Reinhardt Fixed a bug that caused Reinhardt to knock back a target instead of pinning them if he collided with an enemy at the start of his Charge Fixed a bug that prevented Roadhog’s canister from appearing when viewing Overwatch League skins Fixed a bug that caused Roadhog’s Chain Hook to clip the first-person camera when pulling in a target Fixed a bug that prevented Sombra’s EMP from canceling an enemy Sombra’s Hack if it was in progress Fixed a bug that prevented Symmetra’s Shield Generator from displaying in the Overwatch League skin preview screen Fixed a bug that prevented Torbjörn’s lava ball from appearing in his Batter Up emote if his hammer was equipped Fixed a bug that caused Widowmaker’s hair to not hang properly in the Hanging Around Highlight Intro when an Overwatch League skin was equipped Fixed a bug that caused Widowmaker’s Venom Mine to use Overwatch League team colors when an Overwatch League skin was equipped Fixed a bug that prevented Widowmaker’s Grappling Hook animation from playing when using the ability Fixed a bug that caused Winston to lose some upward momentum when using Jump Pack off small inclines Fixed a bug that caused Overwatch League team decals to disappear from Winston’s suit when he used Primal Rage Fixed a bug that caused Zenyatta’s Discord Orb to fly in an odd direction if its target died before arriving Hero Gallery
      Fixed a bug that prevented players from purchasing non-hero sprays Maps
      Fixed a bug that caused some heroes to get stuck behind the lamp post directly outside the first Defender spawn room in Blizzard World Fixed an issue that allowed players to reach unintended locations in Blizzard World Fixed a bug that prevented D.Va’s Micro Missiles from passing through piñatas on Dorado Fixed a bug that allowed Junkrat’s RIP-tire to travel under the trailer at the final point on Hollywood Fixed a bug that prevented Moira’s Biotic Orbs from bouncing off the wooden pillars on Hollywood Fixed a bug that caused the UI to show a fraction of a meter to go when reaching checkpoints on Escort and Assault/Escort maps UI
      Fixed a bug that prevented the hero portrait from displaying when watching Highlights when an Overwatch League skin was equipped Fixed a bug that prevented player portraits from displaying during the Play of the Game, Kill Cam, Spectating, and Highlights
    • By Zadina

      The Overwatch team is trying to boost some of the weaker heroes. This PTR patch brings changes to Mei, Doomfist and Sombra, while in the future we will see updates on Hanzo, Symmetra and Torbjorn.
      In a new developer update, Jeff "from the Overwatch team" Kaplan summarises all the new updates for the first three heroes mentioned above, while he details some of the ideas the team has had about Hanzo.
      If you can't or don't want to watch the video, all this information can be found in written form. Starting with the patch notes, we can see that Doomfist's ammo recovery rate is now faster and Mei's freeze lasts longer, while the cost of her alternate weapon fire cost has been reduced. Sombra gets some big changes: her Hack is now quicker, affects some targets in different ways and no longer gains ultimate charge from health packs. She also has extra time on her Translocator, while tweaks were made to her gun.
      Blizzard Entertainment
      Overwatch PTR Patch Notes – February 14, 2018
      A new Overwatch patch is currently in development and now available for testing. To share your feedback or report and issue, please post in the PTR Feedback or PTR Bug Report forums.
      Please note that the below patch notes only include changes currently available for testing on the PTR. While many of these changes will also be available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in a future patch, the PTR is PC-only and therefore will only reflect changes coming specifically to that platform.
      HERO UPDATES
      Doomfist
      Hand Cannon Ammo recovery rate increased from 0.8 seconds to 0.65 seconds per bullet Developer Comment: This change will help Doomfist more consistently be able to use his weapon as part of his combos.
      Mei
      Endothermic Blaster Freeze (slow) duration increased from 1 second to 1.5 seconds Weapon alternate fire ammo cost reduced from 25 to 20 Developer Comment: Increasing Mei’s slow duration helps her freeze targets that are particularly elusive such as Genji or Lúcio. Lowering her alternate fire ammo cost allows her to more safely use it without costing her the ability to freeze enemies.
      Sombra
      EMP No longer blocked by small objects (e.g. sign posts) Hack No longer gains ultimate charge from health pack healing Cast time reduced from 0.8 seconds to 0.65 seconds Now disables the following abilities: Genji—Cyber-agility Hanzo—Wall Climb Pharah—Hover Jets Lúcio—Healing Boost and Speed Boost (turns off current song entirely), Wall Ride Mercy—Angelic Descent Machine Pistol Machine Pistol spread reduced from 3 to 2.7 Opportunist Now activates when enemies’ health bars are at less than 100%, up from 50% health Translocator Duration increased from 15 seconds to 20 seconds Developer Comment: The goal of these changes for Sombra is to remove the necessity for her teammates to take damage and heal themselves with her hacked heath packs to try to get her ultimate charged up quickly. Her ultimate will now come up less often, but there are more abilities that are disabled by Hack so it is more effective when used. Previously, Opportunist would only activate when an enemy’s health bar dipped below 50% but now the passive will reveal all damaged enemies which should help Sombra identify targets to pick off. Overall these changes should make her more effective and less reliant on her ultimate.
      USER INTERFACE UPDATES
      Mercy
      Valkyrie No longer shows enemies’ health bars unless they have taken damage Developer Comment: This helps remove some clutter from Mercy players’ screens when they use her ultimate
      (Source: Battle.net App)
      Principal Designer Geoff Goodman made some clarifications on how Sombra's passive works on the PTR:
      Geoff Goodman
      Our patch note for her passive wasn't quite right, we're going to fix it very soon. Let me clarify what exactly is changing with it:

      On live, her passive actually does 2 separate things:

      1) It lets you see enemies through walls if they are less than half health
      2) It lets you see enemy health bars above their heads if they are less than half health (regardless of if you had damaged them or not)

      We're changing #2 so she can see health bars if they are injured at all, but #1 (wall hack) still requires <50% health to trigger. This allows her to have more information once she gets behind her enemies to plan the best way to attack. If you notice, this is also something Mercy gets when using Valkyrie and they both work the same way now. (source) Moving on to Hanzo, Goodman had posted a week ago about some ideas the team had on this hero (which Kaplan mentions in the video). They tried replacing Scatter Arrow with Piercing Arrow, a projectile that would pierce through barriers. They also experimented with a version of Scatter Arrow that didn't ricochet off the floor. Lastly, they added a new ability on Hanzo's Reload button (which is currently unusued) that would reset the cooldown of his arrows. All these ideas have been shelved for now.
      Two new abilities that will probably make it into the next PTR for Hanzo are a horizontal leap and a Volley that will allow him to shoot arrows in high sucession. Geoff Goodman clarified a few things about these abilities: the horizontal leap won't be replacing any of his other skills and it can be used like Tracer's Blink or as a disengage. Lastly, Hanzo can be mobile while casting his Volley.
      Geoff Goodman
      The way we have his leap working right now in our internal builds is that its a double-jump, much like his brother, but with a couple key differences. Firstly, it is mostly a horizontal leap (and its pretty fast), unlike Genji's vertical leap. Secondly, it has a small cooldown, which is necessary considering the amount of mobility it gives Hanzo now. Also, to clarify, you will leap towards the direction you are pressing, not the direction you are facing. This is the exact same control scheme we use for Tracer's blinks, so think of it like that.

      For his new ability called Volley, we're still iterating on it. For example, we've already changed the numbers of arrows fired from 5 to 6 and lowered the damage per arrow. Currently it lasts up to 6 seconds, and allows you to fire about 3 arrows per second (up to 6 total). Each arrow fires at "full power" but deals only 80 damage (instead of his normal 125). There is no charge time while in this mode, if you hold the button down you will fire the arrows in a full-auto mode. 

      This has been really fun so far in playtests. He has a lot more options during combat now, and deciding how and when to use your Lunge ability is really interesting. You can use both ability to leap around a corner and fire a bunch of arrows into a key target, but then you're leaving yourself really open to counter attack. You can also save Lunge when you know there is an enemy Winston looking to jump on you to make a quick leap back while firing tons of arrows into him and his barrier. (source)
       
       
      Wait a sec. Is Sonic arrow still on his kit or Will this jump substitute it? And If so... WHY??? Why take what Little utility he has for a stupid movement ability?!?!?
      No, this is a separate ability bound to your jump key. He still has Sonic Arrow. (source)
       
       
      will hanzo be mobile during that 6 second of channeling the volley?
      Yes he isn't really 'channeling' it, it just changes his weapon's fire mode for that time. You can even fire a Sonic Arrow as one of your 6 shots if you want. (source)
    • By Starym

       
      For those of you that aren't among the 30+ million Overwatch players, another chance to try the game out has arrived! This weekend brings another free ride with all the content available, including the most recent seasonal event, the Year of the Dog. And, as usual, if you choose to buy the game after the weekend, you get to keep your progress and those sweet, sweet skins and other cosmetics!
      February 16-19 (source)
      Attention, recruits! If you haven't already had the opportunity to suit up and save the world as one of the heroes of Overwatch, now's your chance.
      From February 16–19, we're calling on all prospective agents: assemble your team and dive in during the Overwatch Free Weekend on PC, PlayStation 4, or Xbox One!
      For this free weekend, we're making Overwatch's full roster of 26 heroes and 16 maps available for play in a variety of modes, including Quick Play, Custom Games, and the Arcade. Players will also have the ability to level up, earn Loot Boxes, and unlock a variety of different customization options.
      Plus, if you decide to purchase Overwatch after test driving the game, you'll get to keep any progress that you made during the weekend—just be sure to use the same Blizzard, Sony Entertainment, or Xbox Live account that you played on.
      For more details and to learn how you can participate, read on below!
       
      Deployment Schedule Installation and Play Instructions Free Weekend FAQ
      The Overwatch Free Weekend will run from February 16–19. PlayStation 4 owners with a PlayStation Plus membership, Xbox One owners with an Xbox Live Gold membership, and Windows PC users with a Battle.net account will be able to download and play Overwatch for FREE during this period—no special keys or sign-up codes needed!
      The free period will begin on February 16 at 11:00 a.m. PT and end on February 19 at 11:59 p.m. PT in all participating regions across all platforms. If you'd like to see when the weekend will go live in your region, check out the guides below. For additional time zone assistance, please visit timezoneconverter.com.  
       

       
      EUROPE: THE AMERICAS: ASIA: 19:00 GMT on Feb 16
      20:00 CET on Feb 16
      22:00 MSK on Feb 16
      11:00 a.m. PST on Feb 16
      12:00 p.m. MST on Feb 16
      1:00 p.m. CST on Feb 16
      2:00 p.m. EST on Feb 16
      3:00 p.m. AST on Feb 16
      3:30 p.m. NST on Feb 16
      5:00 p.m. BRST on Feb 16
      3:00 a.m. SGT on Feb 17
      6:00 a.m. AEDT on Feb 17
      8:00 a.m. NZDT on Feb 17
      3:00 a.m. CST on Feb 17
      4:00 a.m. KST on Feb 17
      4:00 a.m. JST on Feb 17
      The Overwatch Free Weekend may not be available on all platforms in all regions. See our FAQ for details.
       

      Before your watch can begin, you'll first need to install Overwatch on your chosen platform. Every platform is a little different—to install and play, please follow the instructions below.
      FOR WINDOWS PC (February 16):
      Step 1: Download and install the Blizzard Battle.net desktop app, if you haven't already, and launch it.
      Step 2: Create a FREE Blizzard account, or log in with an existing account. 
      Step 3: Click the "Overwatch" icon, located on the left-hand side of the Blizzard desktop app.
      Step 4: Select your region from the drop-down menu, then click "Install" to begin the installation process.
      Step 5: Once installed, click "Play" to begin!
      FOR PLAYSTATION 4 (Pre-download starting at 11:00 AM PST on February 13):
      Step 1: Turn on your PlayStation 4 and log in to your preferred local user. 
      Step 2: Go to PlayStation Store and select "Search" from the top menu. 
      Step 3: In the search field, type in "Overwatch."
      Step 4: Select "Overwatch Free Weekend" from the search results and then click "Download."
      Step 5: Once the download and installation process is complete, click "Start" to begin!
      FOR XBOX ONE (Pre-download starting at 11:00 AM PST on February 13):
      Step 1: Turn on your Xbox One and log in to your Xbox Live account.
      Step 2: Go to the Xbox One Store, then select "Search."
      Step 3: In the search field, type in "Overwatch."
      Step 4: Select "Overwatch: Origins Edition" from the search results and then click "Free Trial."
      Step 5: Once the download and installation process is complete, click "Launch" to begin!
      The Overwatch Free Weekend client will be available for download from February 16–19. 

      Q. In what regions is the Free Weekend available? 
      A. The Free Weekend will be offered in all regions on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. On PC, it will only be available in our Americas, Europe, and Asia gameplay regions—excluding Korea. For more information on which countries are associated with each of our Blizzard gameplay regions, click here.
      Q. What game content will be available during the Free Weekend? 
      A. During the Free Weekend, players will have access to Overwatch's full roster of heroes, maps, and a selection of features—including Quick Play, Custom Games, the Arcade, and Loot Boxes.
      Q. How many heroes are available in Overwatch? 
      A. There are 26 heroes available to play in Overwatch! To learn more about these heroes, click here.
      Q. How many maps are available in Overwatch? 
      A. There are 4 different game modes and 16 different maps available in Overwatch!
      Assault: Hanamura, Horizon Lunar Colony, Temple of Anubis, and Volskaya Industries Escort: Dorado, Junkertown, Route 66, and Watchpoint: Gibraltar Assault/Escort Hybrid: Eichenwalde, Hollywood, King's Row, and Numbani Control: Ilios, Lijiang Tower, Nepal, and Oasis Q. How many players does each mode support?
      A. Quick Play maps supports 12 players in a 6v6 format. The Arcade features alternate games modes and maps that support players in a 1v1, 3v3, 6v6, and free-for-all formats. 
      Q. What different play modes are available in Overwatch during the Free Weekend?
      A. There are a variety of ways to play Overwatch during the Free Weekend! 
      Quick Play: Jump into a game against other players of similar skill. Play vs. AI: Hone your skills against a team of AI-controlled heroes. Custom Game: Customize the rules and play a game with your friends or AI. The Arcade: Change things up with alternate games modes featuring different rules sets and restrictions. Players can also learn the ropes in a series of training modes: Tutorial, Practice Range, and Practice vs. AI.
      Q. Do I need Xbox Live Gold or PlayStation Plus membership to participate in the Free Weekend? 
      A. Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus are required to play during the Free Weekend. 
      Q. What languages are supported during Free Weekend?
      A. The Free Weekend will be supported in 13 languages across all platforms: English, French, German, Polish, Italian, Russian, Castilian Spanish, Latin American Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Korean, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, and Traditional Chinese.
      Q. Will my progress from the Free Weekend carry over if I purchase Overwatch  later? 
      A. Yes. Any progression you earn, including levels as well as skins and other items you get from Loot Boxes, will carry over to the full game if you purchase Overwatch® Game of the Year Edition on Xbox One or PlayStation 4 or any version of Overwatch on PC—just be sure you purchase the game on the same account you played on during this free weekend.
      Your stats will also be retained. (Trophies and achievements, however, have been disabled for the Free Weekend.)
      Q. Will PC and console gamers be able to play together during the Free Weekend? 
      A: No, cross-platform play is not available in Overwatch. 
      Q. Will there be any sort of maintenance planned during the Free Weekend?
      A. There's no downtime or maintenance currently planned for the Free Weekend. If this plan changes at any point, we'll be sure to provide information about major service interruptions in the official forums. For additional status updates, be sure to follow @PlayOverwatch on Twitter.
       
    • By Mournflakes

      Is Overwatch League Stage 2 Ready for Mercy Changes?
      In an article I wrote just a few weeks ago, I broke down what we could learn from the first seven days of Overwatch League. One of the first things I mentioned was the fact that Mercy had, by far, the largest play time of all heroes. As we head into week 4, Mercy’s reign as “Queen of the League” has not ended. In fact, her use has increased, with her pick rate extending into 95% of matches, a whopping 8.75% more than the next most-picked hero (D.Va 86%.)  However, today marks the end of the Queen’s reign in competitive play due to her changes in the most recent patch, and questions remain as to how she will affect the league in the future. Here are some of my speculations.
      1.       The Mercy changes won’t affect the league until the end of February
      No one is sure how patch changes will affect the Overwatch League, but the main talk of the town is that patch changes will cross over between Overwatch League stages. As the league is currently in stage 1 week 4, we will probably see the Mercy/Junkrat patch hitting the league at stage 2 week 1. Stage 2 week 1 will start February 21, so I don’t expect to see the patch hit the league until then.
      2.       Zenyatta will become king of Overwatch League supports.
      Also something I talked about in my article from week 1, Zenyatta sees a high amount of Overwatch League playing time. In fact, Zenyatta is present in 78% of all Overwatch League play. This percentage currently places Zenyatta as the third-most played hero in the league. Once Mercy has her wings clipped, it is likely that Zen’s play time will only increase, making him the number one picked support in Overwatch League. In my opinion, this change may even push Zenyatta to take the number one spot as the most played hero in Overwatch League compositions. Let’s see if Zen can transcend his way to the top!
      3.       Other supports will see a dramatic increase in play time (except Symmetra)
      With Mercy falling back down to earth, the void she leaves needs to be filled by other characters. Part of Mercy’s dominance as a support was because other heroes could not match her kit. The other support heroes weren’t broken, Mercy was just super overpowered, and was almost impossible to pass up in league play (thus the 95% play time.) However, now that she stabilized, I imagine that other support heroes will see a dramatic uptick in play time. I think Mercy will still get picked, but I know that Ana, Lucio, and Moira will be way more viable with the Mercy nerf in place. It will be interesting to see who will be the second most picked support, and it’s something that I will be looking into once the patch hits the league.
      If I had to guess, I would say that the play time after the nerf will see this distribution of support heroes
      From greatest to least:
      ·         Zenyatta
      ·         Ana
      ·         Mercy
      ·         Lucio
      ·         Moira
      ·         Symmetra
      What do you think? Will Mercy still be the top picked hero in Overwatch League play? Will Zen be the new top? Will Mercy sink to the bottom of the barrel? Tell us what you think by commenting below!
    • By Starym

       
      The Year of the Dog event is upon us and we have all the info! New skins, emotes, highlight intros, CTF map and rules await, with the patch notes adding Doomfist tweaks, a Reaper ult buff as well as a whole lot of bug fixes!
      And here are all the new legendary skins, with Genji and Zarya seemingly the winners this time around!
        
        
        
      For last year's skins (which are still available) and the emotes and highlight intros, check out the official event page.
      February 8 (source)
      PATCH HIGHLIGHTS
      New Seasonal Event: Lunar New Year 2018
      Get ready to ring in the Year of the Dog!
      This year, we’re celebrating Lunar New Year with over 50 new seasonal items including legendary skins like Red Phoenix (Zhu Que) Mercy, Black Tortoise (Xuan Wu) Zarya, White Tiger (Bai Hu) Genji, and Black Lily Widowmaker. Experience our updates to our Capture the Flag mode—including a competitive Capture the Flag mode and Sudden Death—on a brand-new map, Ayutthaya.
      To learn more about the new Capture the Flag changes, click here. 
      Hero Skin Selection
      Fashion-forward heroes, rejoice! Players can now change hero skins with the “Select Skin” dropdown menu in the Hero Select screen at the start of a match. Show off your favorite unlocked skins when playing solo or coordinate with your friends to be the best dressed on the battlegrounds of tomorrow.
      HERO UPDATES
      Doomfist
      Hand Cannon Damage reduced from 11 to 6 Number of bullets fired increased from 6 to 11 Spread pattern made more consistent Developer Comments: We have made a lot of progress with Doomfist’s movement in recent patches but we wanted to revisit his Hand Cannon. While the damage per bullet has been lowered, the number of bullets he fires per Hand Cannon shot has been increased which makes his overall damage output unchanged. Overall, these changes will help his Hand Cannon feel much more consistent.
      Reaper
      Death Blossom Now fires at players behind barriers Developer Comments: Previously, Reaper’s Death Blossom would target barriers but not the players hiding behind them. This change will make it more effective against shields and consistent with how other auto-target abilities work (e.g. McCree’s Deadeye, Symmetra’s Sentry Turret).
      USER INTERFACE UPDATES
      General
      Matchmaking UI now displays the game mode players have queued for while waiting for players Competitive Play leaver messages now display as a chat notification The Hero Select screen now displays the game mode and map type Heroes
      Zenyatta’s Orb of Discord and Orb of Harmony will now display its target’s hero name BUG FIXES
      General
      Fixed a bug that caused the mouse cursor to lose focus when using third party overlays (e.g. Discord) Fixed an issue that sometimes prevented the Overwatch League scheduled matches of the day from loading AI
      Fixed a bug that prevented bots from voting on cards at the end of the match on Hybrid and Control maps Competitive Play
      Fixed a bug that prevented capture progress UI on Assault and Hybrid maps from displaying the correct team colors Fixed a bug that allowed players to use the Hero Select screen during the loading screen at the start of a match Deathmatch
      Fixed a bug that prevented Widowmaker’s Infra-sight from functioning if it was used at the same time as another Widowmaker’s Infra-sight Fixed a bug that caused Torbjörn to collide with his turret Fixed a bug that caused Symmetra’s Sentry Turrets to continue targeting Junkrat’s Steel Trap after it was destroyed Fixed a bug that prevented players from being able to stand on top of enemy players Fixed a bug that allowed backfilling players to enter at 9th place during the match Fixed a bug that caused targets hacked by Sombra to appear purple instead of red Fixed a bug that caused the displayed hero on the lobby screen to appear in low detail when entering and exiting the Overwatch League screen Game Browser and Custom Games
      Fixed a bug that allowed players to summon infinite bots in custom games Fixed a bug that caused D.Va to lose her Self-Destruct ultimate if she died out of her mech when the “Spawn with Ultimate Ready” option was enabled Fixed a bug that caused the Victory voice line to play when a match ended in a draw while spectating Heroes
      Fixed a bug that caused airborne heroes to lose speed when changing direction Fixed a bug that prevented golden weapon visual effects from displaying when an Overwatch League skin was equipped Fixed a bug that caused heroes’ scoped shots to be calculated as misses in the accuracy statistic Fixed a bug that prevented Ana’s Candy emote from displaying when viewing Kill Cam footage Fixed a bug that caused Doomfist’s Rocket Punch to impact with D.Va’s mech before it materialized during her Call Mech ability Fixed a bug that prevented kills caused by Doomfist’s Rocket Punch from receiving environmental kill credit Fixed a bug that allowed D.Va’s mech to take damage before it materialized when using Call Mech Fixed a bug that prevented Genji from sheathing his katana after using his Whirlwind emote Fixed a bug that prevented Genji from using his Cyber-agility occasionally Fixed a bug that caused Hanzo’s Dragonstrike to be calculated in the accuracy statistic Fixed a bug that prevented Hanzo’s Wall Climb from activating occasionally Fixed a bug that prevented Junkrat’s Concussive Mine from dealing damage if it was deflected by Genji Fixed a bug that caused Mercy’s Caduceus Staff to disappear when using the Parasol emote Fixed a bug that caused Mercy to fly in an unintended direction if she was stunned during Guardian Angel Fixed a bug that prevented Mercy from destroying breakables she collides with in her flight path when using Guardian Angel Fixed a bug that caused Mercy’s Valkyrie flight controls to not be precise when using Resurrect Fixed a bug that caused Moira’s Biotic Grasp’s hits against barriers to be calculated as misses in her accuracy statistic Fixed a bug that extended the cooldown of Orisa’s Halt! by one second if it successfully pulled an enemy Fixed a bug that allowed Sombra to block Reaper’s Death Blossom if she used her Marioneta emote Fixed a bug that caused Reinhardt to have a blank expression during his Toast victory pose Fixed a bug that allowed projectiles to sometimes penetrate Reinhardt’s Barrier Field Fixed a bug that prevented Reinhardt’s Charge bonus damage from being dealt if the target was sandwiched between a charging friendly Reinhardt and a charging enemy Reinhardt Fixed a bug that caused Reinhardt to knock back a target instead of pinning them if he collided with an enemy at the start of his Charge Fixed a bug that prevented Roadhog’s canister from appearing when viewing Overwatch League skins Fixed a bug that caused Roadhog’s Chain Hook to clip the first-person camera when pulling in a target Fixed a bug that prevented Sombra’s EMP from canceling an enemy Sombra’s Hack if it was in progress Fixed a bug that prevented Symmetra’s Shield Generator from displaying in the Overwatch League skin preview screen Fixed a bug that prevented Torbjörn’s lava ball from appearing in his Batter Up emote if his hammer was equipped Fixed a bug that caused Widowmaker’s hair to not hang properly in the Hanging Around Highlight Intro when an Overwatch League skin was equipped Fixed a bug that caused Widowmaker’s Venom Mine to use Overwatch League team colors when an Overwatch League skin was equipped Fixed a bug that prevented Widowmaker’s Grappling Hook animation from playing when using the ability Fixed a bug that caused Winston to lose some upward momentum when using Jump Pack off small inclines Fixed a bug that caused Overwatch League team decals to disappear from Winston’s suit when he used Primal Rage Fixed a bug that caused Zenyatta’s Discord Orb to fly in an odd direction if its target died before arriving Hero Gallery
      Fixed a bug that prevented players from purchasing non-hero sprays Maps
      Fixed a bug that caused some heroes to get stuck behind the lamp post directly outside the first Defender spawn room in Blizzard World Fixed an issue that allowed players to reach unintended locations in Blizzard World Fixed a bug that prevented D.Va’s Micro Missiles from passing through piñatas on Dorado Fixed a bug that allowed Junkrat’s RIP-tire to travel under the trailer at the final point on Hollywood Fixed a bug that prevented Moira’s Biotic Orbs from bouncing off the wooden pillars on Hollywood Fixed a bug that caused the UI to show a fraction of a meter to go when reaching checkpoints on Escort and Assault/Escort maps UI
      Fixed a bug that prevented the hero portrait from displaying when watching Highlights when an Overwatch League skin was equipped Fixed a bug that prevented player portraits from displaying during the Play of the Game, Kill Cam, Spectating, and Highlights