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Overwatch Developer Update: Hero Pools heading to ranked games

Overwatch Developer Update: Hero Pools heading to ranked games

Jeff Kaplan spoke about the future of Overwatch, including hero balancing. From the arrival of Hero Pools to the upcoming changes to the new Lab feature on live servers, read all about it in this article!

We hadn't had the chance to hear a message from the Overwatch developers for a very long time. Those words from Jeff Kaplan have always been important moments in the communication of the game, and were missed by many players. The Developer Update is back, with extremely important topics, namely the appearance of the Lab — replacing the PTR — and the new Hero Pool feature for the competitive games. These changes will also have an impact on the Overwatch League, which starts soon!


On Overwatch, many players have complained about the slowness of balancing changes. Previously, all changes were first made on the PTR where they were tested for a while before being deployed on live servers. Starting with future updates, Lab may appear on live servers with many testing possibilities. They will allow teams to test changes in balancing, but also many other features — including new operating modes for for example.

The major advantage is that in the future, players will no longer be split between the PTR and the main game. You will be able to win the normal rewards, gain experience, etc... Your victories will count for the different challenges like the D.Va's Nano Cola for example. The Lab will focus on gameplay changes, and it should appear in the following weeks.

Balancing Philosophy

Another change announced by Jeff concerns the developers' philosophy on balancing. There will be more changes being tested but it will also be possible to cancel them later — which wasn't Blizzard's originally philosophy.

Previously, the goal was stability above all else. Now the main target will be the meta, with changes affecting heroes who create or counter it. These changes can be reversed in the following weeks to adapt to the way the game has evolved.

Hero Pools

Hero bans, 3-2-1... thoughts flowed, and the appearance of a possible Hero Pool — chosen directly by the development team — had already been mentioned. It will soon be the case in Competitive Games and in Overwatch League! Be careful, this Hero Pool will only be present for ranked games and will have no impact on the other parts of the game.

Starting with Season 21, which will begin in March, a Hero Pool will be defined every week. Some heroes won't be playable for an entire week. When Jeff introduces the new feature, he mentions two Tanks, a DPS and a Support. This Hero Pool will come to change the meta each week, keeping a fluidity to the game renewed each week.

Many adjustments are possible, and this feature may evolve in the future.

Quality of Life Change

Jeff also talks about a lot of quality of life changes in the game.

  • The Anti-Cheat system is getting stronger, and will continue to get stronger over the next two patches.
  • You'll soon be able to save a Replay for later review, but you'll also be able to share it with your friends, even online — a great addition for all content creators.
  • Profiles will undergo many changes — including the ability to sort player icons in the coming months.
A discreet 1.44.0 patch for huge changes?

Overwatch 1.44 patch is now available on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch live servers. All the hero changes and balances can be found in this article — Hanzo, Reaper, Orisa, Sigma, and Baptiste.

Clémence LEMOAL
Clémence "Idril" Lemoal

La Anton Ego du jeu vidéo.

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