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Overwatch’s latest PTR patch adds queue changes, shield nerfs

Tired of shooting shields? This patch is for you.
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This article is brought to you by StatBanana, the best Overwatch strategy tool.

Overwatch is about breaking barriers, but Blizzard means it literally this time. After nearly a month of no important updates, the Overwatch development team has released a huge patch to the Public Test Realm (PTR). Nine heroes are facing changes, shields are getting weaker, and competitive queues are about to get much more interesting. 

“While You Wait” 

Overwatch players have been asking for this particular feature since queues have existed. The developer team has finally granted wishes everywhere by introducing “While You Wait.” During queues, players will now have multiple options to spend their time instead of tabbing out to another window and watching videos.  

During any queue, a group can enter Practice Range to hone their aim; previously, only single players could enter Practice Range. Skirmish, a free-for-all fight without scores, is still enabled. Most importantly, players can now enter a game of Deathmatch or any Custom Game while waiting for their competitive games to begin. With some players reaching queue times of up to 20 minutes, this is a very necessary change. 

Shields down? 

The current meta, or most popular team composition, in Overwatch is based around shields. Orisa, Sigma, and Reinhardt are the most popular tanks to pick because of their strong shielding abilities. Many players have expressed frustration at spending most of their game focused on barriers instead of other players. The Overwatch development team heard players’ cries and added some important changes to shield heroes. 


  • Base armor increased from 200 to 250.
  • Fusion Driver movement speed penalty reduced from 30 percent to 20 percent.
  • Protective Barrier health reduced from 900 to 600.
  • Fortify cooldown decreased from 10 seconds to 8 seconds. 

While Orisa’s Fortify ability gets a significant buff and she gains armor, her shield’s health has been reduced by a full third. Orisa will be better able to avoid enemies with quicker movements and better self-protection, but her shields will be much weaker. 


  • Experimental Barrier health reduced from 1500 to 900. Barrier health regeneration rate reduced from 150 to 120 health per second. 
  • Kinetic Grasp cooldown reduced from 13 seconds to 10 seconds.
  • Damage-to-shield gain ratio increased from 40 percent to 60 percent

Sigma’s shield gets the biggest reduction of all, losing a full 600 health. The shield also regenerates slower, so Sigma players will have to be more careful about where they place their barriers. As a compromise, Sigma’s defensive ability becomes stronger and more valuable to use. Kinetic Grasp absorbs projectiles and turns them into self-protective shields. Much like Orisa, Sigma’s ability to survive increases at a cost to his ability to protect others. 


  • Barrier Field health reduced from 2000 to 1600. Movement speed penalty reduced from 50 percent to 25 percent. 
  • Steadfast knockback resistance increased from 30 percent to 50 percent.

Reinhardt is the only shield hero to receive more buffs than nerfs in this patch. His shield takes a big hit on health, but his survivability has increased exponentially. When Reinhardt holds his shield, he’s slowed, but with this change, that movement cost is reduced by half. His passive ability, Steadfast, will allow him to withstand knockbacks from heroes like Brigitte and Lúcio even better than before. 

The development team noted in the patch notes that these changes are “aimed at decreasing the overall amount [of] time players spend damaging barriers while improving the individual heroes in other areas.” In other words, they were tired of shooting shields all the time, too. 

Hero changes 

Other heroes will also receive some changes in the PTR patch. On a general note, armor damage reduction has been increased from 3 to 5. Essentially, this means heroes with armor will be a bit tankier than they used to be. 


  • Biotic Grasp healing reduced from 4 to 3.25 (80 HP per second to 65 HP per second). 

Moira has been another must-pick hero in the shield meta because of her immense healing and an ultimate, Coalescence, that ignores shields. This nerf makes her primary healing less intense and may encourage the selection of other healers. 


  • Defense Matrix cooldown decreased from 2 seconds to 1.5 seconds.

This is actually a reverted change from an earlier 2019 patch that increased the cooldown of D.Va’s Defense Matrix to make it less powerful. As D.Va has fallen out of the current meta, she could use a boost. 


  • Grappling Hook cooldown increased from 10 to 12 seconds.

The sniper becomes less mobile as the Grappling Hook, which allows her to scale walls and platforms to find the perfect sight line, becomes more costly to use. 


  • Overload cooldown decreased from 12 to 10 seconds. 

The developers want Torbjörn back in the fight. After decreasing his ultimate cost by 10% in the latest live patch, his defensive ability can now be used more often. This increases both his survivability and damage output. 


  • Shuriken ammo increased from 24 to 30.

While this seems like a small change, an increase in primary fire ammo allows Genji to have at least three more attempts at finishing off an enemy before his lengthy reload time kicks in.


  • Particle Cannon’s secondary fire explosion radius increased from 2 to 2.5 meters. Ammo cost also decreased from 25 to 20. 

The right-click “grenades” of energy that Zarya can fire will now be a bit more dangerous. Players can also use the ability more often due to the reduced energy cost. 

This patch is now available for testing on Overwatch’s Public Test Realm. Over the course of a few weeks, developers will track the usefulness of these changes and decide whether they make it to live servers. Not every change is guaranteed to make it to the retail patch. A patch normally takes two weeks to test, so look for these changes on live servers somewhere before the start of December. 

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Liz Richardson
Liz is a freelance writer and editor from Chicago. Her favorite thing is the Overwatch League; her second favorite thing is pretending iced coffee is a meal. She specializes in educational content, patch notes that (actually) make sense, and aggressively supporting Tier 2 Overwatch. When she's not writing, Liz is expressing hot takes on Twitter and making bad life choices at Target.