Following a developer update, game director Jeff Kaplan has revealed the incoming implementation of the “Hero Pool” system which hopes to solve issues of meta stagnation.
I played Overwatch for a very long, long time. It was almost a ritual, getting home from campus, making a disgusting meal only a student (or Darryn) could tolerate and spending a few hours grinding out some loot boxes with friends. I dropped out of the game fairly hard after about two years for two reasons: Many of my friends became very involved in the competitive scene and I was finding the game…tedious.
Every game seemed to feature exactly the same characters with the same strategy. Meta stagnation had begun to set in and for many years now has been a reoccurring problem in the world of Overwatch. Having listened to the complaints, game director Jeff “Papa” Kaplan has officially announced Blizzard’s plan of action: Hero Bans! Kind of…
The newly revealed Hero Pool system will function like you’d expect a ban system to work, except players won’t be the ones choosing the bans. Instead, Blizzard will select heroes every week on a rotational basis and remove them from competitive play. This is to, “prevent players from stagnating on any one meta too long”, said Kaplan. “The Hero Pool will only last for one week, and then there will be a new Hero Pool. There will be some heroes that will not be included in the Hero Pool.
For example, in the first week of the Hero Pool, let’s say Season 21 had just started, maybe Orisa, Sigma, Mei, and Moira are not in the Hero Pool. Players will have to think of a new strategy that doesn’t involve those heroes, and that will last for one week, and then the Hero Pool will change.” Kaplan went on to confirm that Hero Pools will only feature in competitive play and is not currently set in stone with Blizzard able to change the system based on how it’s functioning. The Overwatch League will also feature a system similar to Hero Pools with more details on this expected for a later date.
The other big update coming to Overwatch will be the inclusion of Experimental Cards, which seek to implement changes and balance fixes more consistently. “This Experimental Card will be some number of changes—they might be related to hero balance, they might be related to other things, we might be testing changes to the way one of our game modes works, like the Control game mode and how it works in Competitive. It doesn’t have to be balance-related—but the Experimental Card will come up every now and then when we want to test something. And it will give all players of Overwatch, not just players who want to go to the PTR but all players including console players, will be able to use the Experimental Card to test changes out”, said Kaplan.
The Experimental Cards will basically function as a smaller PTR within the main game itself, meaning players will still be able to level up their primary accounts and earn loot boxes without worry. Kaplan has also warned that Blizzard intends on being far harsher with future nerfs and buffs, saying “We’re going to try some pretty aggressive balance changes,” he said. “We’re going to balance more aggressively, target the meta, and moving you off of the meta as frequently as possible.”
Some pretty big changes for Overwatch which will no doubt make their way into Overwatch 2 although don’t expect any announcements on that front as Kaplan has stated that those are “way further down the pipe.”
Last Updated: January 31, 2020