Overwatch's Soldier 76 using his ultimate

For those of you that might not be in the loop, Blizzard has recently unleashed a massive Overwatch patch upon the PTR (Public Test Realm). While the new Eichenwalde map is certainly an interesting addition to Overwatch's already substantial map rotation, it is the balance changes that have me excited the most as the PTR has seen the rise of many previously underplayed heroes, Hanzo being one of them.

However, some of these changes quickly turned from a blessing into a curse as the newly buffed Hanzo wasn't just shooting normal arrows, but rather entire tree trunks at people, essentially rendering any sort of strafing useless. Thankfully, Blizzard has quickly realized their mistake and have now released a second balancing patch onto the PTR, this time with a medium-sized nerf to Hanzo and a rather impressive buff to Soldier 76, a hero that went from being a consistent 50% pick in tournaments to someone that I haven't seen in competitive play for over a month.

Since the patch notes are heavily wrapped in developer commentary I'm just going to show you the whole thing so you can get a good understanding of what exactly is being changed, and more importantly, how its being changed:

"Quick melee has changed a bit so that it should feel more consistent with other abilities. The general philosophy here is that quick melee shouldn't interrupt abilities and visa versa. There are a few exceptions to this rule. Quick movement abilities such as Tracer's Blink, Pharah's Jet Boost or Winston's Leap can work while quick melee is firing, so it isn't canceled in those cases. Ultimate abilities should now all cancel quick melee, since they are more rare special abilities that should have a higher priority.

Hanzo is feeling great on the PTR, and a lot of people have given feedback that he might now be too strong with these changes. The goal of these changes is to allow Hanzo players to feel like they have more control over their shots, and skilled Hanzo players can be much more consistent. While this is certainly true now, it might be a bit too easy to land very powerful shots with the combination of his new projectile speed and his old projectile size. So we've lowered his projectile size by 33% in the update that just went out. Overall Hanzo should still feel much better than he does on live, but check him out with this change and keep sending feedback!

The last change was to Soldier: 76's weapon. In the latest update today, you'll find that his weapon spread behaves a bit differently. In general, you'll notice the weapon starts it's spread a bit earlier but recovers the spread much more quickly. The net result of these changes should improve his effectiveness when burst-firing his weapon, and helps get back into a more accurate state quickly when you've hit max spread. The end result should increase his effectiveness at longer ranges."

I didn't mention the quick melee change because it doesn't really affect many heroes. From a purely cursory glance the only important change I've seen was with Ana as she can no longer Shoot -> Melee -> Grenade sleeping targets in order to achieve instant kills. It might sound harsh, but let's be honest here, if you sleep a Tracer in the middle of your team she's probably going to get obliterated anyway.

As for Hanzo and Soldier 76, these changes are exactly what they needed. Hanzo is still an extremely solid hero, but he no longer feels unfair to go up against, and Soldier 76... well, he's back! The random spray has been greatly reduced as long as you are burst firing 3 bullets at a time and even if you mess up the reset timer is quite short. All of this will go a long way towards making Soldier 76 the king of the mid-range engagements.

Whether he's going to be equal to McCree, I'm not actually sure right now given that he still might struggle with a Pharah + Mercy combo, but other than that Soldier 76 is once again prepped and ready to get all of those young punks off his yard! After being "forced" to not play him for well over a month now, I simply can't wait for this change to hit live servers!

As for Sombra's big reveal... that turned out to be yet another cryptic message and YET ANOTHER timer to endlessly drag the community by the nose. I guess we'll just have to wait a few more days in order to see what in the world is going on... unless this timer hides behind it yet another timer... again!

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