Blizzard says it's ready to move forward with some balance changes for Overwatch, including a nerf to gunslinger vigilante McCree and a possible buff for D.Va.
The launch of Overwatch has gone well, with Blizzard announcing that more than seven million players have registered for the game across all platforms since the servers went live on May 24. But now that the game is off and running, Blizzard's next challenge will be making sure the game gets the ongoing support and balance changes that the Irvine, California developer is famous for.
To that end, Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan announced today via an interview with Eurogamer that Blizzard's first major balance adjustment will be a nerf to the gun-slinging hero McCree, followed by a possible buff for D.Va.
Right now, McCree's fan the hammer attack can be used to unload his entire clip into an enemy, usually guaranteeing a quick death. But Kaplan said while that ability is supposed to be potent, Blizzard isn't thrilled with the fact that it can instantly take out the sturdier tank characters.
"What we're looking at right now is his fan the hammer damage. We're going to reduce it. The goal there is to make it so that McCree can still use his combo that we love, which is the flashbang and fan the hammer on somebody like Tracer. McCree should absolutely kill that Tracer."
"What we're not crazy about, right now is the way in which McCree can absolutely shred tanks. We want to bring the fan the hammer damage down, so he's still killing the squishies and the medium strength heroes, but he's less effective against the tanks. If he times everything perfectly and gets every single shot off, he's got a shot against a tank, but it's not the instant 'I win' button that it is right now."
In other words, it sounds like players who main tank heroes like Winston and Zarya will soon have a much better chance of surviving a one-on-one battle with McCree. Kaplan said this upcoming change will hit the servers sooner rather than later as McCree's fan is "causing a lot of concern in the community."
Kaplan added that once McCree is taken care of, Blizzard is looking at a possible buff to D.Va as its next major balance change. The director said a damage increase may be possible but the necessary changes aren't as obvious as they are with McCree.
"With D.Va, we're still in exploration mode. There's a couple of directions we could take her and it's still unclear which direction we'll go. Obviously, her damage has come into question from a lot of people," Kaplan said. "You have to be really close to do effective damage with D.Va and we might look at that. We might also look at her survivability. A lot of time, D.Va can get herself into situations where she's a tank and it feels like she should be there, but then she gets knocked out of that mech so quickly."
While there's no specific date yet for the McCree nerf or the D.Va buff, Kaplan said players can expect these changes to hit PC and consoles at roughly the same time. But the developer remains open to balancing the PC and console versions of the game separately in the future.
It's not surprising to hear about Overwatch's first balance changes coming down the pipeline but it will be interesting to see how the community responds and how often Blizzard intends to make adjustments in the future. Some first person shooters are notorious for having a great launch, only to lose a large percentage of their player base a few months later. The passion of Blizzard's hardcore fans will likely keep the game healthy for a while, but if Overwatch is going to be a force for years to come, Blizzard will need to keep the game's community engaged. For what it's worth, the developer already demonstrated that it cares deeply about the play experience by banning 1500 suspected cheaters last week. Blizzard may also implement cross-platform play in the future.
Kaplan also went into detail with Eurogamer on Overwatch's upcoming Competitive Ranked Play mode, which will release later this month. The mode will apparently feel quite different than what players saw during the closed beta.
Overwatch launched to positive reviews on May 24 for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.