Jan 5 2017 - 11:21 pm

Ana's biotic grenade nerfed in Overwatch public test realm

The new patch adds the emote wheel, too.
Nicole Carpenter
Dot Esports
Image via Blizzard

Down with Overwatch's tank meta! Developer Blizzard Entertainment is nerfing what many professionals consider the quad tank meta's biggest enabler: Ana's biotic grenade.

Previously, Ana's biotic grenade gave allies hit 100 health plus 100 percent healing from other sources. In the patch deployed today on Overwatch's public test realm on PC, Blizzard turned the grenade's boosted healing down to 50 percent.

Professional Overwatch players have complained in the past that Ana's grenade just made tanks too hard to kill—so it didn't make sense for players not to pick them with Ana. "How many times do we see a Reinhardt at 10 HP go back to full health with a biotic grenade plus two to three shots?" French Overwatch World Cup support player Riley "Kitty" Frost asked of Ana in November. So many times, Kitty. So many times. But should this patch eventually hit Overwatch's live server—which it likely will, as most of Blizzard's test patches do—a new meta with less focus on the biotic grenade is likely to emerge.

The patch will also nerf D.Va, too. Blizzard has increased her health from 200 to 400 HP, while decreasing her armor from 400 to 200. D.Va's fusion cannons have a decreased bullet damage—from three to two—with the number of bullets per shot increased from eight to 11.

Image via Blizzard

D.Va's armor often made her feel like she had no weaknesses, even against heroes that are often effective against bigger targets (like Reaper), Blizzard said in its patch notes. "The changes to her fusion cannons will result in a small overall decrease in damage, but they should feel more consistent now."

Roadhog's infamous hook has also been nerfed, as per Overwatch principal designer Geoff Goodman's previous notes. Hook 2.0 pulls targets directly in front of Roadhog rather than straight to him, with hooked targets being released if they leave his line of sight. Line of sight checks are implemented from Roadhog himself now, too—it was previously done from the hook. "The hook should now feel more consistent for Roadhog players, but it should also feel more reasonable to his enemies, as they cannot be hooked or pulled around corners anymore," Blizzard said.

Overwatch's newest character, Sombra, is getting a slight buff in this patch, decreasing the time it takes to hack a target from one second to .8 seconds. "Sombra often had difficulty hacking enemies, even when she surprised the target," Blizzard said. "This change should help her execute hacks more easily."

But that's not all. Along with general bug fixes, Blizzard added the emote wheel it promised for the beginning of 2017. Players are able to equip up to four emotes, sprays, and voice lines from the hero gallery. Voice line and emote submenus are accessed from the regular communication wheel by using the left and right mouse buttons. Additionally, players are able to bind sprays, emotes, and voice lines to unique keys and mouse buttons if they please.

Screengrab via Blizzard

As for Overwatch's user interface, Blizzard updated the in-game kill feed to display hero ability icons, with ultimate abilities indicated with an orange arrow. If the kill was a headshot, it'll display a red icon. Though small, these are welcome changes. More information displayed in-game will be beneficial to players and to spectators.

No word on when these will be applied to Overwatch's live server, but they'll be well-received when they do.

Jan 19 2017 - 2:51 am

Lunar New Year Overwatch update confirmed by Blizzard

Its scope is still anyone's guess, though a Mei skin is practically inevitable.
Nicole Carpenter
Dot Esports
Image via Blizzard Entertainment

Mei has her red envelopes ready. Do you have yours?

This year, Blizzard Entertainment's Overwatch will get an update in celebration of the Lunar New Year. "Good luck and great fortune await," a tweet from Overwatch's official Twitter account reads. The short video reveals the event will go live next week on Jan. 24, but otherwise details are sparse.

In December, Blizzard teased that a new Mei skin would be released early in 2017, sparking speculation that a Lunar New Year event was coming. If the outfit in Overwatch's video is any indication, it's certain to make fans very happy—a stark contrast from the response toward Mei's legendary Winter Wonderland skin that disappointed many. An update from Overwatch's Korean Twitter suggests D.Va is getting a skin for the holiday, too.

Given the proximity to the Winter Wonderland event, which ended earlier in January, it's unclear just how big the Year of the Rooster event will be. It could just be a couple of skins, but we're hoping the event rivals Winter Wonderland and Halloween Terror and gets its own special brawl.

A celebration of the start of the lunisolar Chinese calendar, Lunar New Year begins Jan. 28, ushering in the Year of the Rooster.

Jan 16 2017 - 6:06 pm

Third-person health bars make competitive Overwatch easier to spectate

And Blizzard has added them to the game's public test region.
Nicole Carpenter
Dot Esports
Image via Blizzard Entertainment

Thank you, Blizzard! Overwatch in-game spectators can now toggle on third-person floating health bars for both teams.

It's a feature that's going to make Overwatch esports much more pleasant to watch—and it'll have a positive influence in caster analysis, too. Blizzard quietly implemented floating health bars for spectators in the latest Overwatch public test region patch, though the feature is expected to make it to the live server soon.

"I think this is going to help casting quite a bit in some of these bigger fights," OGN Overwatch caster Erik "DoA" Lonnquist said in a video on the feature. "You call tell the narrative of the fight a little bit more. You can kind of see who is getting lower."

Previously, this information was only available in the third-person perspective by looking away from the fight and to the team lineup bars at the top. And given how chaotic Overwatch can be, looking away for any amount of time could cause confusion.

Third-person health bars are one of the features fans and casters have been clamoring for, with Blizzard promising that increased spectator functionality would continue to roll out. "I think it really shows that [Blizzard] is listening to us," DoA added. "They're looking at what needs to be done in spectator mode. They're taking the steps they need to make it better. Props to Blizzard for putting it in there."

Blizzard has not commented on when this feature will hit Overwatch's live server, but we're guessing DoA wants it before he starts casting season two of the OGN Overwatch APEX on Jan. 17.