Overwatch screenshot of the new hero Baptiste

[Update]: Baptiste has now arrived to the live servers alongside a truly game-changing set of balance tweaks.

After a couple of brief previews and a story trailer, Overwatch's 30th hero Baptiste has now made his way to the PTR. Funnily enough, the big grenade launcher that was displayed prominently in the story trailer is not used for blowing enemies apart, but rather healing allies! When it comes to dishing out damage, however, the weapon is also capable of shooting like a standard burst-fire rifle, so don't worry about Baptiste being defenseless on the battlefield.

There is unfortunately no in-game trailer demonstrating all of Baptiste's abilities in action, but you can get a pretty good overview of them by visiting the official website. Personally, I'd recommend downloading the PTR as experiencing all of the abilities first hand is far better than having them described to you.

Besides Baptiste, the PTR update has also brought in a massive suite of balance changes. Ana has been nerfed, a whole bunch of DPS heroes have been buffed, the way knockbacks work has been made a lot more consistent, damage boost now applies when you start shooting rather than when you hit, and the list goes on for a while. You can find all of the changes at the official forums, but for now allow me to share with you the most important ones. Have a look:

GENERAL CHANGES

Armor

• Beam-type damage is now reduced by 20% when hitting armor

• Damage over time effects are no longer mitigated by armor

Developer Comments: The damage taken by armor from damage over time effects, such as Widowmaker’s Venom Mine, and beam weapons, like Symmetra’s Photon Projector, varied greatly. Now it will be more consistent and predictable.

Damage Boost

•  Damage boost is now applied when a projectile is fired rather than when it hits a target

Developer Comments: Previously, the effects of damage boosting were only accounted for if the damage-dealing hero was being boosted as they landed a hit. Now, damage is applied to the projectile as it is fired. This means the damage-dealing hero doesn’t need to be boosted when the projectile hits an enemy for the damage boost to be accounted for.

Knockback

•  Knockback distance is now more consistent

•  Heroes that are flying can now be knocked back and slowed

Developer Comments: Knockbacks are now less affected by how the enemy was moving when they were hit. Instead of having small or large knockbacks that depend on chance, knockbacks will feel similar regardless of the enemy’s movement leading up to the knockback. Allowing flying heroes, like Mercy when using her Valkyrie ability or D.Va using her Booster ability, to be properly knocked back makes for more fluid, realistic gameplay.

Sound

•  A new sound plays when you land a hit while damage boosted

•  A new sound plays when you land a hit, but it doesn’t do any damage

Developer Comments: With the addition of Baptiste, we wanted to be sure that you can tell when your hits were being buffed or nullified, regardless of what hero you’re playing.

 

HERO CHANGES

Ana

• Nano Boost

- Heal reduced from 300 to 250

Developer Comments: Giving Nano Boost an instant heal effect enabled players to survive longer and made Ana’s ultimate valuable. However, it needs to be slightly less effective for refilling large health pools.

Doomfist

• Rising Uppercut

- Cooldown reduced from 7 to 6 seconds

• Seismic Slam

- Cooldown reduced from 7 to 6 seconds

Developer Comments: Reducing the downtime of Doomfist’s abilities should make his gameplay feel more fluid.

Hanzo

• Sonic Arrow

- Detection radius increased from 7 to 9 meters

Developer Comments: Because of how dense the environment is on some maps, the Sonic Arrow can feel ineffective in some areas. Increasing Sonic Arrow’s detection radius should make it more effective.

Lúcio

• Sonic Amplifier

- Soundwave now counts towards Offensive Assists

Developer Comments: The knockback on Lúcio’s Soundwave is a great tool for pushing enemies into situations that get them killed, so they should be rewarded an offensive assist for doing so.

McCree

• Fan the Hammer

- Damage reduced from 55 to 50

• Deadeye

- Damage per second increased from 275 to 550 after locking onto targets for 2.5 seconds

Developer Comments: After reducing armor’s effectiveness for all heroes, Fan the Hammer doesn’t need to deal quite as much damage. Increasing Deadeye’s damage after being locked on for a bit makes it more effective when attacking high health, static targets (like barriers) and heroes with over 600 health. It will not impact how dangerous this is for heroes under 600 health.

Mei

• Endothermic Blaster

- Primary fire damage increased from 2.25 to 2.75 (45 to 55 damage per second)

• Ice Wall

- Health reduced from 500 to 400

Developer Comments: Increasing the damage of Mei’s primary fire should make her Freeze and Icicle move combination more potent. Making the pillars on Mei’s Ice Wall easier to destroy means less waiting for the wall to disappear on its own and more opportunities to counter it.

Moira

• Biotic Grasp

- Heal over time duration increased from 3 to 4 seconds

- Total healing increased from 50 to 65

Developer Comments: These minor changes make Moira’s passive healing effect on Biotic Grasp slightly more effective when topping off an ally’s health.

Orisa

• Fusion Driver

- Movement speed penalty while firing reduced from 50% to 30%

Developer Comments: As a defensive tank, Orisa can have trouble pushing forward with the team. Allowing Orisa to move faster while firing should make it easier to apply pressure on the enemy team and use her barrier in proactive ways.

Pharah

• Rocket Launcher

- Minimum explosion damage increased from 16.25 to 20

Developer Comments: This change sets the Rocket Launcher’s minimum damage to where it was before we rebalanced its direct impact and explosive damage in a recent patch.

Soldier: 76

• Pulse Rifle

- Damage increased from 19 to 20

• Sprint

- Delay before you can fire the weapon after using Sprint reduced from .5 to .3 seconds

• Tactical Visor

- Can target RIP-Tire and Immortality Field

Developer Comments: This change should potentially allow Soldier: 76 to kill an enemy hero one shot sooner. Reducing the time between when you use Sprint and when you can fire should make the ability more fluid and responsive. Giving Tactical Visor the ability to target Junkrat’s RIP-Tire and Baptiste’s Immortality Field drone is a quality of life improvement, since these are both critical targets.

Sombra

• Hack

- Cooldown is reduced by half when hacking a health pack

Developer Comments: The cooldown on Hack often made it feel less effective to target health packs instead of players. This will make both health packs and players viable targets for hacking.

Torbjörn

• Base health increased by 50 armor (250 maximum health)

• Overload

- Armor gain reduced from 150 to 100

Developer Comments: Torbjörn’s survivability was a bit low, so we’ve shifted some power from his Overload ability to his base health.

Widowmaker

• Infra-Sight

- Reveals enemy health bars

- Now canceled on death

Developer Comments: Infra-Sight had no counter to its effect, so it now ends when Widowmaker dies. To balance out its higher risk of use, Infra-Sight now reveals enemy health bars to Widowmaker’s team.

Wrecking Ball

• Adaptive Shield

- No longer cancels Roll mode

Developer Comments: This will make Adaptive Shields a more powerful survival tool, since being forced out of Roll mode left Wrecking Ball more susceptible to fire.

Needless to say, these are absolutely massive changes that will likely shake up the meta in some way. I have no idea if they're enough to make GOATs (triple tank and triple support) compositions go away, but it's certainly a step in the right direction, especially when it comes to getting more DPS heroes into high level play. 

Once Blizzard releases more changes, or the update itself goes live, I'll make sure to let you know. Until then, I'd recommend hopping over to the PTR and checking out the new hero as Baptiste is quite fun to mess around with!

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