Since the launch of Overwatch 2, we’ve welcomed millions of both new and returning heroes to the game. While most of our updates so far have been about our efforts to address game servers and stability, we also know players are eager to hear about what we are working on for gameplay and other topics. We’ve seen Sojourn, Junker Queen, and Kiriko completely rock the landscape of the game, blasting and slicing their way into many victories on the battlefield. Today, we want to look back at the first week of this brand-new chapter for Overwatch and share with you our team’s current thinking on hero balance and gameplay.
While some heroes are performing better than others, and there are differences across player skill levels, we have been happy to see that no hero’s overall power level is far out of line with our goals. Every hero on the roster has a win-rate between 45% and 55%, and we are not planning any immediate balance changes based on what we are seeing, with the exception of a targeted adjustment to Zarya in Total Mayhem which should go live with our next major patch on October 25. Instead, our team is planning to make a series of balance changes for Season Two that are in line with our design goal of ensuring the overall game feels balanced and fair while giving each season a more distinct identity. While we’ll continue looking at hero performance and listening to player feedback prior to finalizing any specific changes to balance for Season Two, we want to share more about what we are seeing so far.
Tanks fighting on the front lines
Since shifting to a 5v5 format, we see many players focusing more on the tank role given the heightened importance of a single tank in role queue modes. One of the most talked about heroes on the roster right now is D.Va. With buffs after the last Beta to her Defense Matrix and Micro Missiles, she can put up a fight longer than she could before the launch of Overwatch 2. Despite many players saying she’s one of the best tanks in the game, Reinhardt, Sigma, and Zarya actually currently lead up the competition with an average 53% unmirrored win rate. Zarya’s new ability to choose where to place each of her two Particle Barriers often allows her to build up to high energy quickly, which is something we’re currently keeping a close eye on for potential changes next season.
Junker Queen was a dominant force during the last beta playtest. Because of that, we applied changes to her Commanding Shout to reduced how dominant the brawly, “death ball” team compositions were at the highest skill levels, including the Overwatch League Summer Showdown. We’ll keep an eye on her performance in the upcoming weeks to ensure she’s an effective tank and fun to play.
The team is also monitoring Doomfist’s performance and play rate compared to other tanks. As we look to Season Two, we think it makes sense to evaluate his overall tanking ability and potentially make improvements to Power Block and Meteor Strike.
Slicing through the competition
The damage role has seen many hero combinations across all ranks, but we’ve noticed some popular picks among our players. Genji and Sojourn started as the most popular heroes when Overwatch 2 launched, but they’ve since leveled out to the rest of the damage roster. Genji started off with a dominating win-rate, and although it’s lowered slightly since launch (currently at 52%), we want to make sure he’s not dominating the playing field. We’ll watch Genji carefully throughout the season to ensure he doesn’t slice up the competition too much and may make adjustments in Season Two. One way we are considering doing this is through an adjustment to the damage role passive, which has particularly benefited heroes like Genji.
Sombra is also hacking her way through the back lines in many games. We adjusted her damage potential to be optimal on targets that she hacks. However, we want to ensure her targets have a reasonable time to fight back, so we’ll continue to look to balance her hack ability-lockout duration when we approach Season Two. We’ve also heard feedback that tanks feel oppressed when a Sombra is focusing them with hacks, which will also be something we will look to control next season.
Symmetra and Torbjorn are two other damage heroes that we are keeping a close eye on now. Over the course of the first week, their win rates have been gradually increasing, and they are showing the highest win rates now at some ranks. Both heroes can be effective counters to Genji and may be enjoying their success due to his popularity. When we look at potentially making changes to them we need to keep in mind the landscape of the rest of the hero roster. For example if Genji is tweaked and possibly played less these heroes might see less success and not need adjustments themselves.
Sly as a fox
Kiriko has been well-received by the community, with an initial play rate of over 75% in most matches when we first launched, making her an instant favorite among many players. This play rate has since balanced out compared to other support heroes, however, her win rate increased from 48% to 52% as players learned her kit and playstyle over this past week. Her healing averages in the middle when you compare it to the rest of the support roster, and her damage output right now is about even with Ana which is relatively low compared to heroes like Lucio, Moira, and Brigitte. Kiriko gets a lot of value in her evasiveness with Wall Climb and Swift Step to get out of harm’s way, allowing her to stay alive longer in team fights and making her the most survivable support hero on the roster currently. We’re keeping an eye on how she performs in the weeks ahead of the Overwatch League Playoffs next month.
Missions around the world
With new and returning maps based on locations worldwide, we want each season in Overwatch 2 to feel refreshing and exciting for new and returning players. To support that goal and also to allow our team, when we think it’s appropriate, to make adjustments to our maps, we have begun to run a map pool featuring all-new locations and many original maps. For season 1, we’re playing on the following maps for both Quick and Competitive Play:
- Ilios - Evening Lighting
- Lijiang Tower - Dawn Lighting
- Oasis - Night Lighting
- Nepal - Morning Lighting
- Busan - Night Lighting
- Circuit royal – Night Lighting
- Dorado - Evening Lighting
- Route 66 - Night Lighting
- Gibraltar - Morning Lighting
- Junkertown - Morning Lighting
- Midtown - Morning Lighting
- King’s Row - Evening Lighting
- Eichenwalde - Evening Lighting
- Hollywood - Morning Lighting
- Paraíso - Morning Lighting
- New Queen Street - Morning Lighting
- Colosseo - Evening Lighting
- Esperança - Morning Lighting
Each subsequent season, we will rotate some maps out of the map pool and bring back others that had been previously out of rotation. As we continue to rotate maps in and out, we’ll be looking at improving and tweaking them, so for example, when Rialto returns in Season Two, players will notice a few spots where we have added additional cover which should help the map play better in the 5v5 environment with reduced shields. For players who want to play maps not currently in the map rotation, hop into a custom game or the occasional arcade mode.
Climbing the ranks
Our team would like to apologize for ranking many players too low during the first week of Overwatch 2. We discovered a bug that was impacting player skill ratings, which is what contributed to many players being placed in Bronze 5 when they should have been placed higher. Our most recent patch included a fix that will help you get back to your true rank quickly, and that will be reflected the next time you receive a competitive ranking update. You will receive a boost as you continue playing to help you get up to the correct ranks. Players who haven’t yet placed in competitive won’t experience this issue after the fix goes live.
We’re also watching your feedback about how we present your skill tier and division and how you celebrate that in-game. While we don’t have any details we can share yet, expect us to make more improvements to Competitive, and we will continue to watch for your feedback.
Thank you for week one, and here’s to many more
Finally, we want to ensure games play out fairly for all players in all matches. In a future patch, we’ll fix an issue that could cause some rubber banding in-game. We also want to be certain that hit registration for shots fired is working pixel-perfectly. We have investigated reports from players about hit registration, and many reports are actually related to how our replay tool works, which does not perfectly capture the alignment of each player’s aim.
There are also misconceptions about how our controller settings on PC work, which does not affect mouse input. As an example, aim smoothing under gamepad does not impact mouse input latency or precision. However, in one report, we discovered a bug that affected the hitbox alignment of our rendered objects for Junker Queen in some specific situations, and we’re working diligently to fix this issue.
We also understand that some PC players have concerns with input responsiveness and recommend trying out these changes to improve how quickly the game responds to player input:
- Make sure the in-game resolution setting matches your actual monitor’s set resolution.
- Set the capped frame rate to a value that matches your monitor’s maximum frame rate.
- If you have an NVidia graphics card, turn on NVidia Reflex + Boost. Otherwise, turn on Reduced Buffering for other GPUs.
- Finally, in your gameplay options, turn on Enable High Precision Mouse Input to speed up how frequently your mouse captures position in the game.
Thank you to all the players who were a part of the first week of Overwatch 2. While this time has been incredibly exciting for the community and our team, it’s also come with many challenges that we're looking to address quickly. We will continue to listen to player feedback as we strive to make Overwatch 2 the best game it can be, and we are looking forward to sharing more in the coming weeks leading up to Season Two. In the meantime, we hope everyone is having a blast in the game, and we will talk again soon!