The artwork for the Heroes of the Storm version of Genji

If you aren't a big fan of highly mobile heroes like Genji or Winston, you might not have noticed that the recent Overwatch update brought with it significant changes to how your character actually moves. All of this was done not as a buff or nerf to highly mobile heroes, but rather as a fix for two rather peculiar issues with movement in the air and on inclines.

You can find all of the details in Principal Designer Geoff Goodman's post over at the Overwatch forums, but if you're just interested in the short version allow me to share a few choice quotes. That said, I would still highly recommend you read the whole post as it clearly explains what all of the changes have done and why they needed to be implemented in the first place. Anyway, here's the short version:

Incline Changes:

There were two persistent issues with movement on inclines that we wanted to clean up.

First, while moving diagonally on inclines you would end up being slightly strafed left or right even if you were only attempting to move forward. Second, movement up and down inclines had inconsistent speed as compared to the ground. This can be a subtle source of aiming issues for many people, and now the player will properly move forward in this situation. 

Acceleration changes:

The characters in Overwatch have a fixed acceleration (how fast they can change their movement velocity) depending on if they are in the air or on the ground. Previously, this amount would get reduced if you were attempting to change your direction by 90 degrees or less, and was more pronounced if you were going faster than normal (e.g. Winston’s Jump Pack or Doomfist’s Rocket Punch).

Having to do a non-intuitive movement to reach your desired direction as fast as possible is less than ideal, so we made a change to allow you to more consistently use the air acceleration you already had to reach the direction you'd like to be moving in. The new acceleration can feel like momentum is no longer conserved like before, but the forward velocity is just more efficiently being converted into sideways velocity. The direction is changing faster but your overall speed isn’t being slowed down. 


If you're flying as Pharah, you can now just press forward and you will properly accelerate moving forward, instead of having to counter accelerate to stop sideways drift.

If you’re leaping as Winston, you can more effectively redirect your velocity around corners. Prior to this rework it was possible to achieve similar mid-air turns by always facing your current velocity while strafing, but this was also unintuitive.

You can now press forward and right directional inputs after a Winston leap and you will actually move some to the right, whereas previously you would have to only hold right if you wanted to get any acceleration to the right.

The one thing Goeff Goodman didn't mention here is that everyone's air-strafing has been affected by these changes, meaning that jumping around is no longer as suicidal as it was in the past. For example, it used to be a good idea to wait until Genji uses his double jump in order to shoot him as it meant he would be falling in a highly predictable fashion. After these changes, however, both Genji and any other airborne hero are capable of strafing while falling, which makes them ever so slightly harder to hit.

It's not much of a balance change and it's probably not going to cause any big ripples, but it's still something you should keep in mind as it's going to come up frequently in your games. The same thing goes with Winston and his much more controllable Jump Pack. If you previously relied on making tight turns in order to dodge the initial damage, be prepared to have your plans occasionally thwarted as Winston now has a much greater degree of control while in the air. All of these changes are still a bit experimental, so if you encounter any issues or if you have any suggestions of your own, make sure to post over at the official forums.

On a slightly unrelated note, it's also worth mentioning that the new Blizzard World map and it's accompanying Blizzard themed skins and cosmetics will be coming next week, on January 23rd. It's also highly likely this update will bring with it the long-awaited Mercy and Junkrat nerfs, though that part of the update has not been confirmed just yet.

Overwatch screenshot of Butcher Roadhog