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Blizzard is not letting Overwatch rest until it launches Overwatch 2. Instead, it is going to more aggressively tackle balance through introducing a new hero pool to the next competitive season, meaning it will lock players out of choosing some characters in the ranked mode. Also, Blizzard is introducing a new Experimental mode that will let the public test out more rapid changes. This mode, in addition to a suite of quality of life changes, will be coming to coming to consoles as well.
Jeff Kaplan addressed this in the newest Developer Update as he cited the playerbase’s constant cries for more frequent balance updates. He stated that “every now and then,” the game will get an Experimental card that will behave like any other game mode, meaning you can still level up your same profile and loot boxes. However, this card will contain changes to hero balance or “other things” and will let everyone test out whatever weird stuff Blizzard has in that mode. Since it is just in the main game for all Overwatch players regardless of platform, it will allow Blizzard to have a bigger pool of player input. It will take a few weeks to get the first Experimental card up, according to Kaplan.
This comes hand in hand with Blizzard’s new approach to balance philosophy, which is “balance more frequently, more aggressively, and be less concerned with trying something out and pulling it back later.” These changes are being made to “deliberately target the meta” and not with stability in mind like it was in the past.
Hero pools are also part of this philosophy. Starting with Season 21 in March, competitive play will have hero pools each week, meaning some heroes will be locked out of the game, forcing players to adapt and not fall into the trap of stagnation. Kaplan said this wasn’t set in stone and that this could all change if it doesn’t work out. The Overwatch League will also be using hero pools as well and will put out a blog detailing the changes.
Kaplan wrapped up the video with some house cleaning. The next two patches have extensive anti-cheat measures in them and will also have some quality of life changes, too. While he teased that Overwatch 2 will have whole new player cards, Blizzard will be cleaning up player cards in this game, which will include being able to sort the many, many player icons. And in addition to refreshing the player cards, players will soon be able to pin and share replays.