The Experimental Mode is being used as a faster, more accessible Public Test Realm as a means to evaluate drastic gameplay changes.
A Public Test Realm is a great idea. It’s always been a great idea! Throwing up a totally separate account for players to get their hands on new content and updates while also offering developers feedback is an absolute essential to ensure your game’s meta remains alive and prosperous. Such is the case with Overwatch’s PTR, implemented a few months after the game first launched in 2016, the test server has proven invaluable to Blizzard as they’ve been able to test new heroes, maps and game modes out on actual players. Yet while that’s all fair and good, the PTR can be a bit finicky. Maybe I don’t want to have to download several dozen gigabytes of data to just test a game mode and the fact that my original Overwatch account is separate to the PTR means that all the time I put into the test process doesn’t really net me anything in return. I want my lootboxes, dammit!
It’s this philosophy that has prompted Blizzard to implement the Experimental Mode, a new Arcade game mode that’s on PC and consoles that will feature possible nerfs and buffs to heroes and more drastic gameplay changes. It’s a far more accessible way to implement public testing through the arcade game mode and now you’ll be able to level up your main account while experiencing the new balance changes.
The first major experiment is “Triple Damage”
The first test in the Experimental mode is Triple Damage, which defaults team roles to one tank, three damage, and two supports. Players will be able to try the Triple Damage experiment for a limited time.
Having a look a some of the first character changes, many of them are pretty wild:
- Take a Breather
Now leaves behind a cloud when used. This cloud heals all allies within it for 25 health per second and provides 25% damage reduction
- Chain Hook
Cooldown reduced from 8 seconds to 6 seconds
- Scrap Gun (Primary Fire)
Damage per pellet reduced from 6 to 5 (150 damage per shot down to 125 damage)
- Whole Hog
Cost increased by 15%
Shields health pool increased from 200 to 300. (Total health is now 500)
Maximum energy gain per barrier decreased from 40 to 30
- Particle Cannon (Primary Fire)
Maximum primary fire damage per second reduced from 170 to 140
- Particle Cannon (Secondary Fire)
- Maximum secondary fire damage reduced from 95 to 80
- Particle Barrier (Self)
Cooldown decreased from 10 seconds to 8 seconds
- Particle Barrier (Ally)
Now creates barriers on all allies within 8 meters of your target
- Duration increased from 2 seconds to 3 seconds
Adjusted armor to health ratio (Total health is still 600)
Armor health pool increased from 200 to 400
Base health decreased from 400 to 200
- Defense Matrix
Duration increased from 2 seconds to 4 seconds
- Fusion Cannons (Primary Fire)
Movement penalty reduced from 50% to 30%
From the looks of things, tanks are about to become a whole lot more viable and while it might be a little too early to tell, I could foresee the return of Triple Tank meta, a plague upon competitive Overwatch that caused many to turn their back on the game. Here’s hoping this new Experimental Mode helps ensure that history does not repeat itself. Alongside the addition of the Experimental Mode, a new Mardi Gras event kicked off with a unique challenge unlocking a special skin for Ashe. The full patch notes can be read here.
Last Updated: February 26, 2020