A renewed interest and excitement for the support role, improved queue times, improved survivability for support heroes, behind-the-scenes testing of Moira and Mercy, and thoughts around historical “shield-breaker” heroes are top of mind for our team as we reflect on the second week of the PvP Beta.
We’ve been closely monitoring the performance of the support role following last week’s balance patch that saw improvements for Baptiste, adjustments for Ana, and the introduction of a montage-worthy new passive ability for Zenyatta.
As is often the case when we increase effective health for a hero, Zenyatta saw all-around improvements in performance over the weekend. Even with a higher pick rate, we saw our resident Omnic monk’s win rate improve by 5%, putting him in a healthy—albeit slightly strong—position. Perhaps not as surprising, the additional 25 shield health resulted in a 7% reduction in his death rate, with a halo effect of a 10% improvement in kills secured. Anecdotal feedback regarding his new passive, Snap Kick, indicates that the knockback is an effective way to line up kills more consistently.
A decrease in the duration of Ana’s Biotic Grenade netted a slight 2% decrease in her win rate; however, the increased Biotic Rifle uptime ensured her overall healing output on average remained unchanged. Even with the adjustments, Ana remains a popular pick, with her usage rate staying the same.
Queue times across the board have improved significantly since last week’s patch. While correlation might not always equal causation, we’re optimistic that support improvements had a lot to do with it. Following Thursday’s update, players on average experienced 48% less time spent waiting for a match, gradually leveling off at around 22% improvement over the weekend. For both damage and support players, Beta queue times are now faster than the 6v6 live service without sacrificing match fairness or quality measures.
While these positive indicators from last week’s patch are great to see, we still have work to do.
We compared the death rate for each hero and role to their counterparts in the live game and identified a trend where both support and tank heroes are dying more frequently on average in the beta. D.Va and Orisa explain this trend for tanks: Orisa has a completely new kit and playstyle, while D.Va finds herself in unfamiliar territory as a solo tank, with players gradually adjusting their approach. We’ll continue to monitor and tune individual heroes as needed.
While there was little difference at lower ranks, support heroes starting at high Diamond and above saw the highest jump in return visits to the spawn room. At these ranks, the increased pressure of a more skilled tank or damage player on the backlines has seemingly become too much for even high SR support players to handle effectively as compared with the live game. The most significant difference was at Grandmaster, where the support role saw an increase of 15% in frequency of deaths when compared to live.
We know support players want additional tools and power to be more impactful in Overwatch 2, and the role remains our highest adjustment priority as the beta continues. Philosophically, we are also mindful of the dangers of mobility creep and believe it’s imperative that support heroes can survive and be powerful even without mobility tools.
Heroes like Lúcio and Moira are demonstrations of the effectiveness of mobility in Overwatch 2. We’ve seen early indicators of a playstyle shift in the support community to favoring mobility and a strong ability to either disengage completely or face down flankers one-on-one. As we make balance decisions on how, or if, to address this moving forward, we do so with a goal of ensuring that there is diversity in design and abilities for the support role, and that effectiveness isn’t determined solely by a hero’s mobility potential.
More Specific Balance Considerations
We’re planning another balance patch this week and will include specific commentary there explaining those changes, but, we also wanted to share some broader thoughts about some heroes that have been the subjects of recent community discussion.
Dr. O’Deorain’s versatile kit has translated well in the emerging 5v5 meta. Moira continues to be a flexible pick, with her self-heal and high mobility proving effective at dealing with a more consistent push by flankers. As a result, we haven’t observed a meaningful change in win rate between live and beta, meaning that Moira stayed relatively stable in comparison to other support heroes.
Conversely, we hear your feedback that Moira’s current stability doesn’t mean she should remain unexamined. As we consider potential changes, we have a goal of providing her with increased utility that feels impactful and increases her potential to be a playmaker while also tempering the damage and healing of Biotic Orb and Biotic Grasp to bring her more in line with other supports.
As any veteran Mercy player will tell you, the full potential of Mercy is not unlocked until you’ve learned the techniques that accompany her kit—particularly the “super jump.” While there are many guides and videos for those wanting to learn the method, it ultimately requires a complicated sequence of keystrokes and conditions that are not accessible or apparent to the average player.
Internally, we have started testing improvements to Mercy’s verticality, leaning into the unintended consequences of player discovery. We want to take it a step further by making the ability to “super jump” more consistent for everyone—not just the players who know the (not so) secret technique.
Mercy’s mobility has always been a core part of her kit and we will continue to look for ways to accentuate it and make it more accessible for everyone.
Junkrat and Symmetra
Alongside Moira and Mercy, we also want to acknowledge the growing conversation around Junkrat and Symmetra. Both heroes excelled as shield breakers, and the shift to a single tank composition as made both heroes feel slightly out of place in the emerging meta.
Junkrat continues to present interesting design questions. We’ve considered increasing Frag Launcher’s projectile speed; however, we found that by doing so, we risked making his signature weapon feel like more of a rocket launcher. Instead, we’re exploring ways to better reward direct hits as a form of skill expression.
We agree with community feedback that the reduction of shields being thrown about the battlefield makes Symmetra’s Photon Projector harder to get value from. At the same time, Symmetra is suffering from increased overlap with heroes like Mei, who possess better tools for close quarters survivability. While these heroes aren’t our current focus, they’re on our radar for future adjustments and continued monitoring.
Experiencing the PvP Beta alongside all of you continues to motivate and inspire the team every day. Thank you for your continued support, testing, and feedback. Let’s make a great game!