Blizzard is making some major changes today as part of the release of Overwatch Season 21.
Rolling out today, character bans are being put in place for the start of Competitive Play.
This means that certain characters will not be available to select on PS4, Xbox One and PC.
For the first week, Hanzo, Mei, Orisa, and Baptiste will be benched and will not be available to select.
The Hero Pools rotation is curated by the Overwatch team, which will be available in Competitive Play.
That means one tank, one support, and two damage heroes will be unavailable from the roster each week with the intent to keep the meta fresh and encourage hero diversity in matches.
A message from Blizzard explains: “We don’t want to have a hero be out of rotation for a long time, so you won’t see any unavailable for more than two weeks in a row.
“Also, when we make significant balance changes to a character, we don’t want to make them unavailable—we want players to be able to see how those changes affect the game.
“We’ll tell you in-game when the Hero Pool changes. That way, if you’re someone who’s like, “man, I really love Mercy” and Mercy happens to be out of the rotation for a week, we’ll let you know.
“In that case, you can go play Quick Play, try a role you haven’t before, or learn a new hero—that’s always, y’know, a cool option.”
Blizzard also confirmed how they pick which characers are banned from Competitive, adding: “ It’s always difficult. When we look at these things—low SR (skill rating) vs. high SR vs. professional play—there are a lot of different factors there.
“We want to mix it up. Some weeks might not affect the highest level of play that much, and some weeks will. We’re not relying on Hero Pools alone to change the meta—it’s a tool for us to use, and we’ll adapt to things as they change.
“There are still a lot of unknowns regarding game balance. It’s one thing to say, “hey, here’s this concept of a thing” and another to actually live with it.
“We have a lot of flexibility—if we need to take more or fewer heroes out of rotation, we’re not fixed into one tank, two damage, one healer. How often pools change isn’t fixed. We want to work with the community to see how things go.”
Blizzard has also confirmed that a new Experimental Mode change has been made to test out new balance changes.
These hero changes will be tested out using the 2-2-2 Role Queue ruleset, with patch notes available below:
HERO UPDATES (ONLY IN EXPERIMENTAL)
- B.O.B. is now immune to Sleep
- Charge time reduced from 1 to 0.7 seconds
- Cooldown lowered from 15 to 13 seconds
- Cooldown increased from 3 to 4 seconds
- Cooldown increased from 10 to 13 seconds
Fusion Driver (Primary Fire)
- Damage increased from 10 to 11
- Ultimate cost reduced 10%
- Flight speed increased 30%
- Cooldown reduced from 8 to 6 seconds
Machine Pistol (Primary Fire)
- Spread decreased by 10%