Yesterday's Overwatch update to the public test servers calls itself a 'remaster', which immediately got me worried. After all, Overwatch has long been sliding away from its more accessible roots, killing some brilliant (if broken) abilities in the never-ending push to be a good esport. What have they done now, I panicked. Removed D.Va's mech? Decided Pharah didn't realy need a jetpack? Not quite - rather, Blizzard have taken a well-balanced chisel to nearly half of the Overwatch roster. A subtle touch, but broad enough to potentially change the face of the game.
Blizzard haven't taken a sledgehammer to the roster as hard as they did with Mercy and Symmetra. Instead, 13 heroes have been finely-tuned into better (and worse) versions of themselves. I'll let you peruse the changelog at your leisure, but here's the kind of alterations we're dealing with.
A few heroes saw tiny buffs - Tracer's damage falloff now starts at 13 meters rather than 10, while D.va will regenerate shields faster and more frequently. Doomfist is now a little less punchy with a longer charge time and lower shield gain. New boy Sigma has similarly had his shields scaled back, and his rock-tossing no longer blocks things like Roadhog's hook. More a fix than anything, that.
It'll take a while to see the effect of changes this broad and minor, never minding that these are very much a work-in-progress. We may very well see some more tweaks made before the final patch drops.
How will this affect the Overwatch meta? Hell if I know, honestly. Blizzard-heads over on the Reddit patch notes thread reckon this is a wider clean-up to help characters fit into 2-2-2 compositions forced by the contentious new Role Queue.
This update also notably brings older heroes like Winston, Tracer and D.Va up to speed, with knock-on effects potentially benefitting untouched heroes like McCree and Soldier 76. Many of Overwatch's original stars have been somewhat left behind by new heroes. Some fans hope this balance patch will help shift them back into viability.
This patch is a big'un, mind. Eight whole gigs for a bit of number-crunching? Perhaps, but even if this isn't a total meta redo, the scope of the changes involve digging deeper into the game's framework. Unless you're glued to the current state of competitive, I'd probably skip 'till the patch hits the live game.