Big Overwatch Balance Changes For Mercy, Junkrat, Mei, And Hanzo Outlined

Blizzard is making progress in addressing toxicity.

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Now Playing: Overwatch - Developer Update: Popular Community Topics

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As always, change is afoot in Overwatch. Blizzard has released a new developer update video (above) in which game director Jeff Kaplan discusses some hot-button issues in the community, including potential balance changes to a variety of characters. He also touches on toxicity, which the company has been attempting to address for some time now.

In terms of balance, Kaplan first brings up Mercy, the game's most-played hero "by far." He references the changes currently in testing on the PTR version of the game, which he says are primarily intended to "tone down the impact of Resurrect and make Mercy more manageable when she's in her Valkyrie state during her Ultimate." There have been concerns among Mercy players that she could be nerfed too hard; if that happens, Kaplan says that they will be paying "very close attention" to these changes and will provide her with buffs if necessary. He notes that Blizzard isn't considering removing her from Competitive Play or replacing the Resurrect ability, as some players have suggested. "We do think it's a balanceable ability," Kaplan says.

Also in line for a nerf is Junkrat. This will start by adding damage falloff for Concussion Mine, so that it doesn't deal as much damage to targets who are further away from the explosion. As it stands, it deals an equal amount of damage to all enemies who are within its range regardless of how close they are. Kaplan says the goal is to make Junkrat players "be more accurate."

On the Hanzo front, it's Scatter Arrow that has Blizzard's attention. The studio wants to avoid situations where aiming the ability at a character's feet leads to an easy one-shot kill; Kaplan specifically notes this happening to Orisa. Blizzard is looking to balance the ability but also has ideas for things that could potentially replace the ability. Kaplan says Blizzard hasn't decided which of the two paths it will ultimately take.

Mei is also discussed, and Kaplan says he believes she is not in a "horrible place." That said, she may need a "slight adjustment to make her a little more relevant. Mei I put into this category of heroes we need to be really careful with. She can feel very oppressive to play against if she's too powerful."

Kaplan goes on to restate that Blizzard views Mei as a "more situational" character who isn't necessarily going to be a great pick in all situations. He also makes a similar point about Symmetra; she's being discussed, but the studio thinks she doesn't "need major buffs." Like Mei, "there are going to be occasions where Symmetra is not the right pick." Kaplan agrees that "she doesn't have enough usefulness across the board" currently, and while the intention is to help her out, Blizzard doesn't anticipate that her pick rate will ever skyrocket from where it currently stands.

Finally, Kaplan talks about toxicity. The added ability for console players to be able to report others has seen "great results," and the warnings for players who about to be subjected to discipline has "helped a lot." Combined with in-game notifications that tell you when action has been taken again someone you've reported, Overwatch has seen abusive chat decline by 17% in Competitive Play. Additionally, the number of player reports has increase by 20%. Kaplan sees these as positive signs but admitted they aren't as strong as they could be, nor does he think the problem has been resolved. He also noted that Blizzard is proactively seeking out evidence of toxic behavior on places like YouTube and is taking action before those players are even reported in-game.

Overwatch saw a big update recently that introduced the Blizzard World map and new skins. The variety of new cosmetics are hard to come across, as they were added straight into the base loot box, but Blizzard says the loot box odds remain unchanged.

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