Blizzard released a new patch late yesterday for Overwatch’s Public Test Realm, which is where the studio tries out changes to the team-based shooter before making them official. The update weakens two of Overwatch’s most powerful characters, the healer Mercy and the bomb-chucking Junkrat.
Overwatch has over 35 million players on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. It’s important for Blizzard to keep the game’s roster of 26 heroes balanced to limit frustration among players. Happy players don’t quit Overwatch, and they’re more likely to spend money on loot boxes.
Mercy has been a problem for Overwatch for a long time. She used to have an ultimate ability that would revive all nearby dead party members. Players complained that this mechanic was unfair and uninteresting, as Mercy would often hide out of sight of a fight, wait for her team to die, and then fly in and revive them. Blizzard turned Mercy’s revive into a regular ability with a shorter cooldown that could only resurrect one nearby ally. She got a new ultimate that let her fly around for 20 seconds, gain two revive charges, heal or buff multiple friends, all while her health regenerated at a fast rate.
This new Mercy was just as strong as the old one, if not more powerful. Blizzard would nerf her by introducing a cast time to her resurrecting that made her more vulnerable. She could still instantly revive friends during her ultimate. Even after this change, she was still outclassing the other healers. Now, with this new PTR patch, Mercy’s ultimate only lasts 15 seconds, she doesn’t gain an extra revive charge, and bringing an ally back to life while she’s flying still has a short cast time. Her speed boost during the ultimate is also 50 percent slower.
Junkrat also received a change last year that made him more powerful. He gained an extra charge for his concussion mine, which he can throw out and then explode later. But Junkrat players can often throw one, blow it up, and then throw another in quick succession. Combined with his normal bombs, it was easy for him to quickly destroy characters with low health like Tracer without much precision. Now, Junkrat’s mines have fall-off damage, meaning they hurt less the further a player is away from them when they explode.