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New year, new nerfs. Patch 1.44 is now live on the Overwatch servers after a quick week of testing on the Public Test Realm (PTR).
The patch brings the Lunar New Year event, which lasts from Jan. 16 to Feb. 5. New event skins are available as well as a new mode called Blitz Capture the Flag. As far as game changes, Overwatch developers have made several tweaks to heroes and improved the role queue system.
Flex Role Queue
When queuing for quick play or competitive modes alone, players can choose multiple roles that they’d like to fill in the next game. If players were in a party, they’d be restricted to one role. With Patch 1.44, players can now select multiple roles within a group setting. One player can now indicate they’d like to play support or DPS in the next game instead of being stuck in one category, for example.
Roles may still be limited by differences in skill rating (SR) or the presence of multiple members indicating a role. If two players only want to play support, the final person who picked multiple roles may not get to play support. The exact science behind this system isn’t known, but it will allow for more flexibility when playing with a group.
Get that ping looking sharp. Custom game creators can now choose which “data center” around the world they’d like to host their game. The “best available” option chooses the closest data center to the custom game creator like it always has. Creators can now choose different data centers to cater to other players, especially if they’re located far away.
Many of the most-played heroes in the current meta are getting minor nerfs to balance the game. Overwhelmingly, the most-picked heroes are receiving changes to abilities that some players have described as “overpowered.”
- Immortality Field maximum duration reduced from eight to five seconds. Cooldown increased from 20 to 25 seconds.
- Amplification Matrix ultimate cost increased by 20 percent.
One of Baptiste’s strongest abilities is Immortality Field, which allows allies to survive with a small amount of health when inside. That power comes with consequences. “Immortality Field ended up being too powerful when placed in locations that were safe from enemy fire, such as around corners,” Blizzard said. A duration reduction and increased cooldown mean Baptiste players need to be smarter about their field placement.
- Endothermic Blaster slowing effect now reduces enemy movement speed from 20 to 70 percent, down from 30 to 90 percent. Slowing effect duration reduced from 1.5 to one second.
Mei’s primary fire, commonly referred to as “freeze,” can often feel overwhelming. This nerf decreases how useful it is in slowing down enemies. “The time required to completely freeze a target remains the same,” Blizzard said.
- Fortify damage reduction reduced from 50 percent to 40 percent.
The most-picked tank in this meta hasn’t escaped a nerf, no matter how minor it is. Orisa’s Fortify allows her to stand tall against enemies and avoid death by damage reduction. A 10-percent decrease likely isn’t enough to reduce her overwhelming pick rate, but she may be easier to eliminate as a result.
- Rising Uppercut recovery time increased from 0.2 to 0.35 seconds.
When Doomfist does an uppercut, he’s temporarily “stunned” since it’s often the end of a combination move. This nerf increases the amount of time the hero is stunned in the air. While this seems like a big change, the increase seen here is a reduction from the 0.5-second stun that was tested on the PTR the past week.
- Storm Bow maximum projectile speed reduced from 125 to 110.
During his rework, Hanzo received a big buff to his projectile speed, making him much better at long-range sniping. Over the past few months, Hanzo has been mostly used as a shield-breaking hero at mid-range. The developers noticed this and said “decreasing the speed will reduce his sniping capability while still keeping him strong at mid-range.” You’ll have to swap back to Widowmaker to hit those long-range headshots.
- Booster cooldown decreased from five to three seconds.
D.Va receives the only buff of this patch with her booster cooldown getting nearly halved. The off-tank has seen very little play in the past few months due to the presence of shields. This buff allows her to zip around the map much faster, making life difficult for projectile heroes like Pharah and Junkrat. This may be just enough to get D.Va back into the meta.
As usual, the developers also fixed a list of minor bugs, which can be found in the patch notes. The spectator client has also received some minor improvements, like new hotkeys and improved camera smoothness. The Overwatch League will play on Patch 1.44 once the games begin again on Feb. 8, according to the latest reports.