Overwatch screenshot of a battle between Tracer and Lucio

Around two days ago Blizzard mentioned how they are planning to release some highly experimental balance changes onto the Test Server at some point later this week. As you can probably guess from the tittle alone, "later this week" has now arrived, and with it the PTR (Public Test Realm) update!

And let's just say that the Overwatch team wasn't kidding when they said "highly experimental" either. Some of these changes are downright ridiculous and have rather far-reaching balance repercussions, but then again, that's exactly why the Test Server is here! Just have a look for yourself, the list isn't that large even though its impact certainly is:

General

Dealing damage to non-players (like like Torbjorn's turrets or Symmetra's teleporter), no longer charges ultimate abilities

Ultimate costs have been increased by 25% for all heroes

D. Va

Mech health increased to 200 (formerly 100). Armor remains at 400

Movement speed while firing has been increased by 25%

Call Mech

- Ultimate cost has been decreased by 20%

Soldier: 76

Pulse Rifle

- Bullet damage increased from 17 to 20

- Maximum bullet spread Increased from 2.2 to 2.4

Ana

Nano Boost

- No longer increases move speed

Mei

Blizzard

- Ultimate cost has been increased by 15%

Lúcio

Amp It Up

- Healing-per-second has been decreased by 10%

Zarya

Particle Barrier

- Power gained from barriers decreased by 20%

Projected Barrier

- Power gained from barriers decreased by 20%

Torbjörn

Scrap is now automatically generated over time

The amount of scrap collected from a fallen enemy has been decreased by 40%

Forge Hammer

- Swing speed increased by 25%

- Damage decreased by 27%

Widowmaker

Venom Mine 

- Explosion no longer damages the player who placed the mine Widow’s Kiss 

- Charge rate increased by 20%

Pharah

Rocket Launcher 

- Minimum explosion damage has been increased to 25% of rocket’s total damage (formerly 12%)

- Minimum explosion knockback has been decreased to 0% of rocket’s total knockback (formerly 75%)

Mercy

Passive health regeneration now kicks in when Mercy avoids taking damage for 1 second (formerly 3 seconds)

Out of all these changes, it is the increase in ultimate cost that has me puzzled the most. I understand why its being made, the game at Master level and above currently revolves around piling on ult upon ult in order to break entrenched teams, but I don't think this is the right solution given that it only affects half the roster. Mercy and Symmetra, two heroes that entirely rely on their ult to be useful, are now suddenly even worse off than they were before. On the other hand, heroes like McCree or Roadhog with comparatively weaker ultimates are now even stronger, which is a boost in power they don't really need.

How can this conundrum be resolved? I have absolutely no idea, but as I said these sort of questions are exactly why the PTR exists for! I just wish that Blizzard offered up some sort of incentive for players to stop grinding out Halloween Loot Boxes and instead spend their valuable time testing out these changes. As it stands, the skill disparity on the PTR makes any sort of balance testing an impossibility, so if you would like to lend a hand simply select the PTR region on your BattleNet client and give it a whirl.

P.S. You don't have to download the whole client again. Simply begin downloading the PTR client, exit BattleNet, copy all of the files in the Overwatch folder to the newly created PTR folder, and then open up BattleNet again. You'll be up and ready to go within minutes!

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