It’s always a great day when you get a new developer update from Blizzard on Overwatch. Game Director Jeff Kaplan is always such a positive source of energy and a calming presence to the community of the game. In the latest developer update, Kaplan outlines the content and changes coming to Overwatch in Patch 1.45 in February.
In the video, Kaplan says that the Overwatch team has received criticism of the speed at which it updates the game, pushes out changes and fixed balance issues. Kaplan admits that although the PTR is used to test updates, changes are tested on there for quite some time.
Additionally, once an update makes its way to the PTR, it’s rarely changed before release. With a larger number of requests for more frequent updates, the Overwatch team will look to implement “more frequent and impactful balance updates with the intention to deliberately change the meta.”
Another new addition to the game, that Kaplan says is coming soon, is the brand-new ‘Experimental Card.’ This card will be added to the main screen alongside Quickplay, Competitive etc.
The Experimental Card is a way for Blizzard to test major changes that may not ever be included in the main/standard game modes. Better still, the Experimental Card operates on the live version of the game, giving console players an opportunity to join in.
While playing games in the Experimental Card, players will still unlock progression and Loot Boxes. Kaplan stressed that the Experimental Card differs from the PTR in that it’s not designed to be used to test the stability of updates or for fixing bugs and the like.
Another new feature, coming to competitive, are Hero Pools. In Season 21, the Blizzard team will curate a selection of Heroes while others will be disabled for Competitive Play during a specific week. Each week, the Hero Pool will change and these changes will be curated and not random or based on an algorithm.
Again, Blizzard is stressing that this change may not continue beyond Season 21, however, it’s a way to see how the system works, if it needs tweaking or if the Hero Pools available should change more or less frequently.
While the Hero Pools are in play, only Competitive will be affected. Playing in Quick Play and the Arcade will still give players a full selection of characters to choose from.
Hero Pools is another step toward creating an ever-changing and evolving meta. It’s designed to provide for a more diverse game and one not bogged down or grown stale by the same few heroes.
Hero Pools will be used in the 2020 season of the Overwatch League.
Finally, Patch 1.45 will improve the anti-cheat system in the game. Blizzard is still encouraging those players who experience cheating to report and send information through the reporting function.
Overwatch is available on PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One. Overwatch 2 will be coming to the same platforms.