Overwatch Dev Teases "Dramatic" Symmetra Changes, Discusses New Heroes and Maps

Jeff Kaplan provides an update on what the Overwatch dev team is working on.


Blizzard has released a new Overwatch developer update discussing what the development team is currently working on. Among these are changes to Symmetra that may be "a little bit more dramatic" than the traditional hero balances Blizzard has issued thus far.

In the video, game director Jeff Kaplan indicated Symmetra may need to be redesigned to make her a more viable character. Although Kaplan didn't discuss specifics, he said the changes could be anything from mechanical to general feel of the character.

"I don't think changes to Symmetra are as easy as some minor number tweaks that will have her available and ready to play in a changed fashion very soon," he said. "I think that the types of changes that we want to look at for Symmetra might take us a little bit longer than something like the Widowmaker scope change, which was relatively small and easy to do."

"It could be changes to some of her mechanics and just changing her overall feel through things like numbers and cooldowns," he continued. "That’s always a possibility. But we’re going to look at some other changes and explore some other things as well that might be a little bit more dramatic in terms of design vision for her."

Responding to suggestion from players that Symmetra should function as more of a healer, Kaplan said Blizzard wasn't interested in shifting the original vision of the character.

"We're not really interested at this time in exploring Symmetra as a healer. We know she's been categorised as a support character, but that doesn't necessarily mean to us that she needs to be a healer. If that means that we have to move her out of the support category, we'd rather do that than completely shift the character's design to something she was never intended to be.

"What we are looking to do is make her more viable in more situations. I think right now she's perceived as being OK or acceptable if you're playing on defense on the first point, or early in a match. Other than that, we really don't see Symmetra as being super viable in a lot of other situations ... We want to make her less of a situational pick."

The earliest we're likely to see Symmetra changes is mid-November, according to Kaplan, but he noted that it could also be much later than that.

"We don't want to rush it, we're probably going to do a lot of internal playtesting. Then we would go to the Public Test Realm after that. We are looking at Symmetra, I realise it might not be as quick as you like for changes, but it's definitely on the list," he said.

Beyond Symmetra, Kaplan also touched on new heroes for the game.

"We're actively working on more heroes right now. One hero is very far along. It's coming together really well. We're playtesting it internally across the entire company. We believe this hero will see the light of day sooner rather than later.

"We also have another hero prototype that we're extremely happy with right now. This one is in very internal developer form. We're using all placeholder models, effects, and animations just to prove out that the hero is fun. But we've found another really great Overwatch hero that will probably see the light of day some time next year. That one is further out."

In terms of maps, Blizzard has one map for a pre-existing mode that is "very far along right now." It has been playtested enough that the studio is putting art into it. There are four additional maps for new game modes that are in "prototype developer only stages." These may not all be released, however.

"It's very important for me to mention that I don't think all of them will become actual maps that will end up launching. We make a lot more stuff internally on the Overwatch team than we actually end up releasing. Often times we find these prototypes don't work for various reasons."

Check out the video above for more details on other upcoming changes and additions, such as the ability to equip more voice lines at the same time.

In other related news, Blizzard is transitioning away from with the Battle.net name over the next few months. Services on its digital platform will continue as normal, however.

"Given that built-in multiplayer support is a well-understood concept and more of a normal expectation these days, there isn't as much of a need to maintain a separate identity for what is essentially our networking technology," it said previously.

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