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Overwatch developers are giving players a big present for the holidays in the form of Patch 1.43 today.
The eagerly-awaited game update has been on the Public Test Realm (PTR) for nearly a month, giving Overwatch fans enough time to argue about its potential release date. Patch 1.43 introduces a variety of game-changing updates, including a competitive queue waiting system and extensive hero changes.
Waiting is now fun
The new patch introduces the “While You Wait” system to Overwatch. After role queue was introduced a few months ago, queue times between competitive games skyrocketed. High-level DPS players often wait over 20 minutes for a game. This new system allows players to do something game-related during those long queues instead of tabbing out to watch cooking videos.
Players can now choose to join a variety of game modes during their queue times. The practice range is now available to groups who are queued up together. Skirmish is still available to pass the time. Deathmatch, in which players compete for the most kills, can now be joined during queue. Queuing players can also join custom games as long as the custom game’s creator allows those waiting for a game to hop in.
Shield heroes nerfed
Barriers are getting the brunt of Patch 1.43’s extensive hero changes. The current meta, or most popular team composition, in Overwatch revolves around powerful tank heroes like Orisa and Sigma. Many players have expressed dismay at the overwhelming pick rate of barrier-based heroes. Patch 1.43 manages to buff the base stats and defensive powers of shield heroes while reducing the effectiveness of their barriers. These changes could lead to a whole new competitive meta.
- Base armor increased from 200 to 250.
- Protective Barrier health reduced from 900 to 600.
- Fortify cooldown decreased from 10 seconds to eight seconds.
Orisa has been a must-pick in the current meta thanks to her quick, powerful shields. Her barrier’s health has been reduced by a third in Patch 1.43. As compensation, her armor has been increased and her defensive ability, Fortify, can be used more often.
- Experimental Barrier health reduced from 1,500 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 has earned some significant defensive buffs to his Kinetic Grasp. The projectile-absorbing ability can be used more often and will be more valuable as the self-shields become stronger. Unfortunately for Sigma players, his barrier takes the biggest health cut of Patch 1.43. Like Orisa, Sigma will be able to stay alive longer himself but will struggle to protect allies.
- Barrier Field health reduced from 2,000 to 1,600. Movement speed penalty reduced from 50 percent to 30 percent.
Reinhardt received more buffs than nerfs in this patch, but his shield still got a big cut. This is balanced out with a huge increase in survivability. As Reinhardt uses his shield, he’s slowed. In Patch 1.43, this movement cost is reduced by half, meaning he can move faster with his shield up.
Shield heroes aren’t the only ones getting changes in Patch 1.43.
- Biotic Grasp healing reduced from four to 3.25 (80 HP per second to 65 HP per second).
With healing abilities and an ultimate that ignores shields, Moira has been a must-pick in this shield meta. Her primary healing ability has now been reduced to encourage the selection of other healers.
- Defense Matrix cooldown decreased from two seconds to 1.5 seconds.
This buff actually reverts a change from an earlier 2019 patch that increased the cooldown of Defense Matrix. By making the ability more powerful, D.Va may find her way back into competitive games.
- Grappling Hook cooldown increased from 10 to 12 seconds.
Shield heroes gain mobility while some DPS heroes lose it. Grappling Hook allows Widowmaker to escape from danger or find the perfect line of sight, making it a valuable ability. Snipers will have to use their hook more intelligently now.
- Overload cooldown decreased from 12 to 10 seconds.
In Patch 1.42, Blizzard decreased Torbjörn’s ultimate cost by 10 percent. In this round, the developer is allowing his powerful defensive and offensive ability to be used more often. The engineer can now output more damage while staying alive.
- Shuriken ammo increased from 24 to 30.
This seems like a small change, but an increase in ammo gives Genji a valuable tool in his arsenal. He’ll have least two more attempts at finishing off an enemy, at three shurikens per throw, before he’s forced to reload. That could mean the difference between taking out a healer or being forced to vacate the fight.
- Particle Cannon’s secondary fire explosion radius increased from two to 2.5 meters. Ammo cost also decreased from 25 to 20.
Zarya’s “right click” is now more deadly and less expensive. Players can now fire five “grenades” with her secondary fire instead of four. As a bonus, each of those will do more damage.
Overall, these hero changes attempt to balance heroes that haven’t seen a high pick rate in the current Overwatch competitive meta. As if all the changes in Patch 1.43 weren’t enough for Overwatch fans to digest, the 2019 Winter Wonderland also went live today. The event lasts from Dec. 10 to Jan. 2.