Overwatch Update 1.45 Adds Hero Pools Instead Of Pick And Ban

Season 21 of Overwatch brings big changes.

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Blizzard has detailed Overwatch patch 1.45 and explained a shift in its approach to updating the game going forward. As part of the developer update, game director Jeff Kaplan revealed that the team will be adopting a new balance philosophy that involves implementing more frequent and impactful updates to deliberately change the meta.

This, according to the studio, is an effort to respond to feedback from players who have been asking to keep the game fresh. As part of this new strategy, Blizzard has said it will be making and reverting changes more rapidly than before.

The mechanism used to implement these changes is a new mode that is represented through the "Experimental" card on the mode select screen. Here, Blizzard will test major changes to the game that may or may not make it to the main game. Although it sounds similar to the Public Test Realm--which is a PC-only build of the game used to iron out balance and bugs--Blizzard notes that the Experimental Card is not for bug testing, it's specifically for testing balance changes, modes, and rules. Additionally, those that take part will still be able to earn experience and progress, as well as unlock loot boxes.

Leading up to the reveal of patch 1.45, rumors swirled that Blizzard was preparing to introduce a pick and ban feature. This, it seems, is not entirely the case. Instead, Blizzard is opting for Hero Pools where certain characters will be disabled from Competitive Play for a given week, and availability will be rotated weekly. The cadence for the rotation is also being examined, so it may be that it is quicker or slower in the future.

Importantly, Blizzard has said Hero Pools as a feature is being tested during Season 21 and, depending on how it performs, it may not return for Season 22. The goal of the Hero Pools approach, Blizzard says, is to allow the meta to change weekly and to encourage hero diversity in matches. Finally, the update will bolster anti-cheating efforts and have workshop quality of life updates.

In terms of balance, Blizzard is currently testing a version of the game that makes a number of significant changes to Reaper, McCree, Orisa, Sigma, Hanzo, and Baptiste. You can read the latest PTR patch notes to learn about the upcoming Overwatch buffs and nerfs.

Blizzard is currently working on Overwatch 2, which will have a significant story mode. Character progression will be distinct for Overwatch 2's campaign and multiplayer. As of yet, Overwatch 2's release date and platforms have not been confirmed.

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