I’ve spent plenty of time on Heroes Never Die talking about my philosophy on Overwatch patches. In my opinion, this game needs new heroes and new, regular patches to stay relevant in our modern gaming world.
Like all games, the best players always tend to learn the meta fastest. If you play the game for a living, like the Overwatch League players do, it’s more likely that you’ll expect more changes to keep the meta healthy. This has presented somewhat of a problem in the Overwatch League and it boils down to something pretty simple: Overwatch needs more frequent patches for it’s pro league to survive.
The Dive meta has been a continual hot topic since before the formation of the Overwatch League. It is the eternal meta that seems like it will never, ever die. For my personal games, there’s nothing particularly wrong with that. However, from a viewer perspective, it’s boring to watch an unchanged meta for weeks on end. Sure players will change and adapt strats as the weeks roll by, but nothing is ever as impactful as a new patch.
The dive meta is still here and we’ve only gotten one new hero added to the competitive roster in five months. This creates a problem. We’re now expected to watch more Overwatch than before despite having the same general meta for almost an entire year. It makes the entire process of watching week to week somewhat exhausting.
And this is the core of Overwatch’s current meta problem: things take too long, even when they’re ready. Brigitte came out at the end of March, and yet she just recently became available in competitive and the Overwatch League. Similarly, Hanzo’s rework is here, it’s on live servers and we can all play it, but he won’t make it into stage four of the OWL.
Moira was technically not available during the pre-season, but by the time the actual matches rolled around, our girl was good to go. Brigitte is the latest to be added in, but that took the full five months we just mentioned. Part of that is thanks to Blizzard’s new competitive policy, but another is the simple speed of release.
Overwatch has a small hero roster compared to other competitive games. This means that the pro players have fewer selections to make and less interesting team compositions to build. Each new hero added is a jolt to the heart, theoretically. As long as they’re viable, players should be able to create new compositions and new strategies around these heroes.
Let’s take Ana, for example. Because of her Nano Boost, Ana was able to completely change the game. New compositions like Bayblade were built entirely around her ultimate. And you know what? It worked. It was exciting. Ana created new opportunities for good players to shine. That kind of fresh, new excitement is what helps keep players coming back Overwatch and the Overwatch League.
Ana is obviously a pretty extreme case, as her ultimate directly empowers others rather than herself. But the lesson is still important. New heroes have the potential to completely alter Overwatch. In such a beautiful game that people love to spend time with, keeping things fresh should always be a priority.
Blizzard is being very careful with Overwatch right now, which is understandable considering just how huge it is. But without risk, without the push to iterate on things, the game will never grow. Sometimes that means pushing past that extra month of live testing to be sure it’s ready. We need to let things be a little unbalance in our competitive games, or the metas will never reach the interesting levels they could be.
Variety is the spice of life, and without new heroes and patches, Overwatch and its competitive league will get stale fast.