Overwatch Anniversary update accidentally broke Reinhardt, Blizzard investigating

5 min read

Blizzard kicked off their latest Overwatch event last week, celebrating a year since the release of their critically acclaimed, best-selling multiplayer shooter. The Overwatch Anniversary event brought with it great new maps, fantastic new game modes, well-executed tweaks to existing modes and a whole lot of loot. An impressive showing all around really. Well, except if you’re a Reinhardt player.

In my regular Overwatch group we have a guy who is pretty much a Reinhardt specialist. He’s put more hours into playing just that one character than most people I know have put into playing the entire game, and from the moment the Anniversary update went live last week he’s been complaining that something is broken with his favourite hammer-swinging, David Hasselhoff-loving knight.

He wasn’t the only one though, as over the last few days places like the Blizzard forums and Reddit have lit up with complaints from players that all of a sudden it’s become more difficult to kill people with Reinhardt. The root cause of this quickly became apparent: In the past when Reinhardt would swing his hammer against an opponent right in front of him, the hit would register as the hammer was in the centre of the screen. Now, however, the hit was only registering when Reinhardt had complete the entire swing animation and the hammer was basically off-screen already. It’s a difference of half a second or so, but in a competitive shooter where characters like Tracer can blink away in a heartbeat or Genji can dash away at the drop of a dime, that fraction of a second stood between getting a kill and swinging at air.

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And it wasn’t just Reinhardt’s hammer swing that was affected though. Further investigation revealed that his charge and flame strike also showed a slight delay between the moves being executed and them actually hitting. The video below from Force Gaming does a fantastic break down of the actual problem.

As you can see in the video, this “bug” appears to be affecting people playing with a high ping above 100ms or so, i.e. us and the rest of the folks not blessed with local Overwatch servers in their country. While no official explanation has been given, what appears to have happened is that Reinhardt’s attacks are now using server-side hit detection.

In a nutshell, previously you would press the button on your controller and Reinhardt would instantly swing and hit the enemy. On the enemy’s screen that attack might have happened a split second later due to lag between your connections, but on your side everything would happen as it should. With server-side hit detection, when you press the button the command goes to the server which then has to first confirm the attack would hit and then send that confirmation back to the client. It’s that delay between button press and confirmation that is causing this problem.

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Slightly off topic, but the most recent big seasonal update for Battlefield 1 saw server-side hit detection be introduced there as well, and it has made the game almost unplayable on international servers for us locals. You would empty an entire clip from your gun on enemies with almost no hits registering. We at least have local Battlefield 1 servers to jump into where we don’t feel this delay, but the local servers don’t boast all the game modes and there aren’t as many players which has made for a very frustrating experience.

With Overwatch this change seems to luckily only be relegated to Reinhardt though, and it appears to have happened completely accidentally (hence no mention of changes in the Anniversary update patch notes). Overwatch lead engineer Bill Warnecke has jumped into one of the many threads on the Blizzard forums and responded to complaints from Reinhardt players by saying “Thanks for the report. I don’t believe we intended to change Reinhardt’s hammer. We will dig into this.”

Blizzard have always been very good at testing updates in their Public Test Realm (PTR) servers so that issues like these don’t make it into the final game. However, in those rare cases where something slipped through, they usually fix them very quickly. Let’s hope the same will happen here.


Last Updated: May 29, 2017

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions – but very little sleep – I’ve been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

  • Hah … I knew it! Told my group last night I couldn’t do crap as him for some reason.

  • No wonder I was failing as Rein last night… normally I do pretty well with him but yesterday was just a joke.. nothing was dying.

    • Guild

      Had the same experience. Few times I blamed the animation taking longer than it should. Some cases you could see animation on my screen and then death replay shows nothing

      • Hammersteyn

        I had one instance where I teleported with Tracer but died anyway and the killcam shows that I didn’t move in time, hate it when that happens because I reacted in time, but that split second lag killed me

        • Guild

          Yip. Sucks being bottom end of Africa sometimes.

  • MonsterCheddar

    OH….LOL. Is Overwatch still a thing? 😛

    • Hammersteyn

      Blizzard did something impossible with this game. They made PVP fun, win or lose.

  • The knackwurst update.

  • Original Heretic

    I started playing this on Friday. Super fun!!
    I checked Reinhardt out, he was actually my favourite Tank type.

    But hey, I’m still only practicing against the AI. I jammed one Quickplay against human opponents and got to see just how badly I actually suck.
    It was brilliant.


    • Hammersteyn

      There’ll come a time when you’ll get play of the game and you’ll feel awesome for a fleeting moment.

      • Original Heretic

        I got one of those already, but yes, against the AI only (I still suck way too badly against the human-types).
        Knocked 3 enemies off a cliff/balcony place with Lucio.

        • Hammersteyn


          • Original Heretic

            Oh wait! I also got a total team kill with Reinhardt!
            Yup…I killed some AI opponents dead.

            But damn, I find myself WANTING to try McCree out, but I keep messing up his Ulti. Dunno what I’m doing wrong. I move the stick to aim and then all of a sudden my High Noon disappears.

          • You don’t have to aim with High Noon. It will automatically lock onto anybody in your clear line of sight, and mark them with a red dot. Just wait until you have as many locks as you can get and then fire. You can wait quite a long time or fire immediately. It’s up to you.

            Also, you should know I say this being an utterly terrible McCree player.

          • Original Heretic

            AH!! There’s my mistake then. As soon as I moved the aim, it cancelled it.

            And now I also get the waiting thing with the aim. The longer you wait, the more vulnerable you are. Very nice.
            Man, now THIS is a game that keeps one thinking “what’s the best way to use this skill…”

          • Deceased

            The longer you wait, the more vulnerable you become, true, but the longer you wait, the more damage will be dealt ( compared to if you fire instantly ) – so just wait for as many skulls to appear over enemies as possible … also – if they’re hiding behind a Rein shield, you’ll shatter the shield if there’s like 2 or 3 behind him

          • Dresden

            It’s so tricky though. The ult makes you so susceptible to players like Ana. That’s why I avoid playing him most of the time.

          • Hammersteyn

            Did that once with Reaper. Killed 5 with my ult after teleporting in and dropped the last one after. Best day in Overwatch ever.

          • Dresden

            Reaper pickers…

            *eye twitching*

          • Hammersteyn

            Hahaha, I love that guy

      • Matthew Holliday

        havent had a potg in ages, but i still get that feeling from a good combo or a good bit of team play.

        • Got a great one the other day on Ilios Well with Orisa. Crouch walked in on the left through that little room and launched the grav ball to the centre of the well and pulled in the 3 enemies standing around defending the point.

          • Original Heretic

            See, NOW I can appreciate it when someone comments stuff like this. Before, they were just random words, thrown together into sentences that made sense to others, but their true meaning was lost on me.
            No I am…

            ONE OF YOU! ONE OF YOU!

          • *sniff* they grow up so fast

          • Probably A Schizophrenic

            Wow, people don’t get potg often. When I play rein I end up getting it about 2/3 of the time. :/

          • Matthew Holliday

            environmental kills, the story of every ilios potg 😛

        • Hammersteyn

          Got two in the last week 😀
          It’s nice to be mentioned though, when people can vote for your play. Saw a guy get 10 votes this weekend, never thought it possible.

          • Dresden

            It’s rare yes. Also, last time I got potg I saw afterwards, when you do the upvotes, that I recieved an achievement MVP (69% on fire).

            First time I’ve ever seen it playing Overwatch…

          • Matthew Holliday

            yeah, especially when you consider that the algorithm figures out the impact that your “play” had, rather than just what the craziest play was.

          • Deceased

            12 Votes = “Legendary”

          • Hammersteyn

            But then you’d have to vote for yourself… People do that?

  • Hammersteyn

    I thought it was lag…….. I mean I still have lag but not as bad as I thought

  • Matthew Holliday

    Explains why reinhart couldnt get me off the payload as a lucio, sat on the payload for like 3 minutes just grinding and booping and the reinhart couldnt touch me.
    I mean, i obviously defaulted to “Im just that good” “clutch plays bro” but still.

  • Deceased

    I subconsciously knew something was off 😐

    Thought I just needed to GitGud again ( as I’ve been maining ONLY lucio for the past season ), but something definitely felt off :O

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