With a strong focus on the spectator system and the custom game mode, Overwatch developers are clearly looking to prioritize the growing competitive scene. The latest patch to go live on the PTR has several features that some have been requesting for months. With a slightly cleaner look in the UI and Menu system and the removal of redundant stats in the career profile page, the game is looking sharper than ever.
Custom Games and Camera Angles
Custom games also received some love from Jeff Kaplan and his team. Team names can now be changed in the custom game lobby. This addition should allow for team names to be presented on Victory screens instead of just “Team One” or “Team Two”. Developers also added a pause functionality that can be used by the moderator of the game. Pausing the game is instantaneous but unpausing the game will start a 5-second timer so players aren’t caught off guard.
The Camera system also received a small tweak and a big new feature. Camera movement in spectator mode has been improved and is much smoother in its standard speed, as well as both high-speed and low-speed settings. The big feature added to the camera system is the support for a static, or fixed, camera angle, with up to 9 angles possible so far. During our initial run through the PTR, the fixed camera angles were not present on the Dorado map and there appears to be no way to actually set those angles just yet. The minor addition of an arrow on top of the character portraits to denote which character is being spectated is a welcomed addition as well, but may be covered up by overlays during professionally broadcasted games
Balance changes seem to always come in new PTR patches and this one is no exception. With her new found success in competitive play recently, the Overwatch team felt it’s time to soften Ana up a bit. Ana’s ultimate cost has been increased by 20%, making the time it takes to get there takes just a little bit longer. They did give her a positive adjustment as well, increasing the radius of her Biotic grenade from 3 meters to 4 meters. With so many tanks on the board these days, it was getting hard for everyone to squeeze together to get that heal.
The only other heroes to get any attention this patch were Widowmaker and Junkrat. Both characters received minor tweaks to improve their effectiveness. The scope-in animation for Widowmakers rifle will be 0.2 seconds faster, allowing her to keep up with such a fast paced game. Junkrat’s ultimate ability, RIP-Tire, now activates more quickly, giving his foes less time to run and hide. This should help him secure more kills from inattentive players.
The Other Stuff
Some miscellaneous items also made it into the patch. Aside from the usual bug fixes, Blizzard will be helping out those players crazy enough to use controllers. Thumbsticks now have two different accelerator options. The old one increased acceleration exponentially as the thumbstick moved further out from the center. The new “Dual Zone Mode” will have low sensitivity and high acceleration for more precise aiming through most of its range. When the thumbstick crosses to the outer 10% of its range in any direction, the sensitivity and acceleration reverse, giving players the ability to check their surroundings quickly. This new mode will be the new default option.
Overall, the changes look promising. While we didn’t get any shiny new items for the loot boxes, the growing esports community is getting some of their issues addressed. These issues should help in attracting new viewers to the professional scene and build the player base.
If you would like to read the full patch notes, They can be found here.