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Season Two Balance Patch Thoughts: Enter the Hanzone

By Michael Bitton on August 24, 2016 | Columns | Comments

Season Two Balance Patch Thoughts: Enter the Hanzone

Overwatch Season Two kicks off on September 6, but players can already sample the upcoming changes on the game’s PTR (public test realm). Last week, we discussed the basics of the new map, Eichenwalde, as well as the changes coming to competitive, but Blizzard is also including some fairly significant balance tweaks with the season two patch. We’ve spent some time digesting the tweaks, so read on for our take on what’s to come.

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We’re not going to cover all of the hero balance changes today, but we’ve selected a couple from the patch notes that are sure to be of interest to most players.

Mei:  Defense characters aren’t too hot across the board in Overwatch, and Mei has never really found herself a place in the meta. She’s basically Overwatch’s Teemo. Really cute and really annoying, but not effective enough to make a dent in competitive play. In the season two patch, Blizzard tweaked Mei’s ultimate so that the project can pass through barriers such as Reinhardt’s shield and also significantly upped its radius. We don’t think these changes will allow Mei to end up being a reliable pick, but the ultimate changes alone are a step in the right direction. Once you’re caught in the Blizzard, it’s pretty hard to get out, granting Mei some serious point control opportunities with her ultimate. I think if I’m sleeping on anyone this patch, it might end up being Mei’s changes.

Zenyatta: Zenyatta’s suite of buffs took him from nearly useless to the most dominant support pick in Overwatch, to the point of crowding out other healers such as staple pick Mercy and even newcomer Ana. Zen’s healing is potent enough, but it’s the team utility offered by his Discord Orb that has been particularly problematic. Blizzard tends to overdo it a bit with nerfs, so it’s nice to see that Zenyatta was only hit with a reasonable tweak to Discord Orb (50%->30%) and nothing else. This preserves Zenyatta’s team utility, while also allowing other supports the potential to shine. I still feel Zenyatta may end up being the best pick post-patch, but I’m feeling a lot better about playing Mercy in season two.

Lucio: Lucio’s basically been an auto-include in every Overwatch composition since beta due simply to the massive utility provided by his speed boost. Blizzard’s nerfed his speed boost by 30% in season two, but I don’t expect Lucio’s popularity to drop at all. A 70% speed boost is still quite substantial to have and will give any team a serious leg up on the competition when it comes to initiating fights, pulling back, or getting a foothold on a point.

D.Va: People were pretty nervous about D.Va’s buffs being too strong, but it just hasn’t panned out that way in normal or competitive/pro play. She’s a solid pick, but she isn’t too strong, so I’m not really sure why Blizzard took her down a notch. I’m really not a fan of these changes and I hope they’ll be reverted before this update goes live.

Roadhog:  I’m not expecting Roadhog to show up more in pro play, but I do think the changes to his hook will register some complaints in the community when the patch goes live. I don’t feel the changes are unfair, though. If Roadhog lands a hook, he should secure the pull, regardless of whether or not you break line-of-sight after the fact.

Genji: Genji really needed to be knocked down a few pegs, but Blizzard really took him to the cleaners. Still, I feel players are probably blowing the extent of the nerfs out of proportion. Genji will see a lot less play, sure, but I feel he’ll still be incredibly effective as a flex pick in a pro line up and will still find carry potential in quick play/competitive. Genji was just too much and if Blizzard did end up hitting him too hard, they can always revert some of the changes to bring him back up a notch.

Hanzo: This one completely stumps me. Hanzo doesn’t enjoy a high pick rate in pro or competitive play (at higher ranks), but between his buffs to aimed movement speed, projectile speed, and the reversion to the game’s previously comical hit boxes, Hanzo’s power level is likely to spike significantly in season two. The dude’s going to be firing tree logs again, and this time they will be faster (and thus even easier to aim). That said, Hanzo still has the same problems he’s always had, so will it make an impact on his place in the meta? It’s hard to say.

Mercy: Between the Zenyatta nerfs and Mercy’s new buffs, I definitely feel my favorite support will find herself back in her place as the staple main healer of Overwatch. She doesn’t have the added utility of some of the other supports, but with her new 60HPS healing rate (previously 50HPS, a 20% buff), she’ll be able to make up for some of the utility with raw healing potential. As an interesting consequence of Mercy’s new healing potency, her ultimate should now charge faster, which will soften the blow of the original 30% ultimate gain nerf that contributed to her falling out of play. As a Mercy main, I’m absolutely excited for these changes to go live. Pharmercy, anyone?

What’s your take on the balance changes coming in the season two update? How do you feel these buffs and nerfs will affect the meta in season two? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager.
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