Blizzard has added a new Experimental Mode to Overwatch, aimed at shifting away from the barrier-heavy meta. The patch, released on August 6, includes several tweaks to the health, abilities and cooldowns of several heroes in the game, but the changes will only affect Experimental Mode for now.
The meta of Overwatch has been ever evolving throughout its lifecycle, pushed and pulled in various directions as players develop new tactics and each heroes stats are continuously tweaked. Recently, barrier-heavy play has been a staple of the game, leading to more bottlenecks and clusters in the once frenetic shooter.
While this move will not change the base Overwatch gameplay, Blizzard will likely look on how successful the Experimental Mode changes are before implementing some version of these changes across Overwatch’s entire eco-system. Experimental Mode was first introduced in Feburary, where Triple Damage changed the 2-2-2 role queue to have 1 tank, 3 DPS, and 2 supports. Since then, every month has brought at least one experiment with the meta.
Unlike Triple Damage, this change will not alter the role queue, which remains in the classic 2-2-2 formation. All of the changes occur at a hero level, aimed at making barrier based play less viable and countering barriers more successful.
Seven different heroes come in for changes, with some getting buffs, some getting nerfs, and some getting what can be best described as sideways changes. For example, Pharah’s Hover Jets have had a 20% speed increase, but their regeneration rate has has been reduced from 50 to 35 per second, while her Barrage duration has reduced from 3 to 2.5 seconds.
Orisa is another hero to have received both buffs and nerfs, with her health and Halt radius nerfed, but her Halt projectile speed increased.
With some other heroes, it’s a little more straight forward. Sigma has most definitely been nerfed, with his Experimental Barrier and Kinetic Grasp both being turned downwards. Conversely, Zenyatta receives his first buff in a long while, having the charge rate and fire rate of Orb of Destruction increased.
These two are probably the strongest example of what Blizzard is trying to do with this experiment. It’s now harder to rely on shields with Sigma, and easier to destroy them with Zenyatta.
Elsewhere, Symmetra, Roadhog, and Brigitte also come in for minor tweaks, sharing a handful of minor buffs and nerfs between them.