Overwatch’s massive 1.41 patch, which was added to the PC version of the game’s public test region on Tuesday, is a complete overhaul. Developer Blizzard has dubbed the latest update a full “remaster,” with substantial changes to more than 40 percent of the game’s heroes that “will require a relatively large download for all platforms.”
Some users on Reddit claimed Blizzard’s developers have “gone into the core framework of the game and made it more efficient, so instead of the patch download just adding tweaks or building on preexisting framework, you have to re-download core parts of the game from scratch.” Most patches layer new pieces of code on top to make adjustments. This overhaul sounds more like video game surgery, and the extensive litany of changes supports that.
Most of the individual changes to characters feel minor — the cooldown of Orisa’s Protective Barrier increasing from 9 to 10 seconds or Roadhog’s Scrap Gun ammo increasing from 5 to 6 — but others seem to directly upset the current meta to achieve a wider balance across the entire game.
For detailed patch notes, visit the Overwatch forums. Here’s a generalized summary of what to expect:
Nerfed: Orisa, Sigma, Baptiste, Moira, Doomfist, Sombra, Symmetra
Buffed: D.Va, Roadhog, Winston, Lucio, Mercy, Tracer
Across the board, the tweaks aim to achieve a better balance across the roster, nerfing overused characters and buffing under-appreciated heroes. That’s always the case with character changes, but rarely does an update feel this exhaustive.
Since the release of Sigma, Overwatch’s 31st hero, in August, the versatile telekinetic tank has been a favorite across all game modes, perhaps too much of a favorite.
Previously, Sigma’s Kinetic Grasp could block virtually anything in the game. With this new update, Roadhog’s Chain Hook and Brigitte’s Whip Shot will penetrate the maneuver. In practice, that means either will be a highly effective counter against one of Sigma’s best abilities. But this update also slightly reduces the high gravity effect duration of Sigma’s Ultimate ability while generally nerfing the flexibility of his Experimental Barrier.
While Sigma gets nerfed, there’s suddenly incentive to give D.Va, Roadhog, and Winston more of a chance. Winston’s buffs are interesting, to say the least: the duration of his Barrier Projector increases from 6 to 9 seconds and its health is increased from 600 to 700.
In the past, Winston could deploy this bubble shield that would last 6 seconds or until the 600 health was depleted. The cooldown, which remains at 13 seconds, meant that you had to be very selective about when and where you’d deploy it. Damage aside, however, there’s now only a 4-second window when Winston theoretically can’t have a Barrier up, made that much more effective by the increase in its health.
By comparison, Orisa’s single-direction Barrier now has a longer cooldown, increased from 9 to 10 seconds in this update. Its health is 900 and lasts up to 20 seconds. That means it’s better than Winston’s, but in this new meta, players will begin to feel like Winston is a viable secondary shield tank in virtually any game mode rather than zone captures, which was his previous niche. We’ll probably see viable Reinhardt-Winston and Orisa-Winston combos emerge for Tanks pretty soon in game modes where they didn’t make much sense before, and maybe even Sigma-Winston.
In similar Tank shakeups, D.Va’s Defense Matrix now regenerates much faster than it used to, making her that much more viable as a defensive tank. Roadhog gets more bullets in his primary weapon, so it looks like we have an unprecedented degree of balance in Overwatch tanks now. Most team comps recently have focused on double shield tanks, but this is about to change.
Symmetra has seen some of the most drastic changes of any character since the start of Overwatch, and while the 1.41 patch hardly compares to her previous reworks, she still gets one of the biggest net nerfs in the mix. Symmetra has a vital place in any game mode. While she excels on defense, her teleporter can also overwhelm defending teams if used to subversively infiltrate a point. Is that why, when she summons an infinite barrier wall for her ultimate, it’ll now last 12 instead of 15 seconds, with a health of 4000 instead of 5000? Is that why the damage per second of her turrets went down from 50 to 40? Any why her eerily quiet primary fire, the one that kills you from five feet away before you even hear it, will now pop much louder?
It’ll be interesting to see how all of these changes shake out when they launch across all platforms, but expect to see a lot more gorillas (and fewer bald dudes screaming about music) out there on the battlefield.
The 1.41 patch for Overwatch is now live on the PTR and should go live on all platforms within the next couple weeks.