In a new developer update, Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan talks about the philosophy behind the PTR and the reasons behind a number of upcoming character balance changes.
Among the game’s many positive qualities, one of the biggest contributors to the massive success of Overwatch has been Blizzard’s consistent rate of updates and support. While new changes are tested extensively over at the game’s Public Test Region (PTR), a number of questions have been raised over Blizzard’s use of the PTR, as well as the various upcoming changes to some characters. Thankfully for fans, Blizzard has heard all those queries and has answered them via a brand new Developer Update video.
Kicking things off in this new Developer Update video, Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan reveals Blizzard’s philosophy behind the PTR, explaining that not only is it an avenue for players to test new changes and give valuable feedback, it is also a platform for the development team to ensure that the game is stable and running smoothly.
The director also explained the reasons why there is no PTR for consoles, stating that while the PC version runs on Blizzard’s own Battle.net platform, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions run on platforms owned by Sony and Microsoft respectively. Due to the complicated logistics and the certification process required to implement new changes into the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of Overwatch, it is simply not feasible for Blizzard to have a console-specific PTR – which also explains why PC changes sometimes come earlier than the consoles.
Having said that, the development team do make use of the Overwatch PC PTR time to work on any console updates. This is to ensure that patches for each platform will come out at as close to the same time as possible.
Aside from testing out new changes, there isn’t currently any other incentive to try the Overwatch PTR, something that’s been brought up by some players. While PTR incentives are being considered by the development team, Kaplan explained that the team’s resources would be better used working on new changes for the final build of the game rather than focusing on PTR-specific changes that only a small portion of the community would experience.
Moving on from the Overwatch PTR, Kaplan then moved onto explaining the reasons behind the upcoming changes coming to Sombra, Roadhog, Ana, and D.Va. Starting with Sombra, the development team believe that while the hacker is very powerful and players haven’t quite mastered her yet, the character wasn’t intended to be a stealthy assassin and the new changes aim to make her more viable as a disruptive character rather than an attacking character. Roadhog’s hook has been a bit of a contentious issue ever since the game’s release due to the inconsistency of how victims are targeted, and Kaplan explains that the upcoming changes aim to make things a bit more easier for victims as well as providing a bit more consistency as to how the hook lands.
Having already brought a number of changes to D.Va, Blizzard now feels that the character is a bit too powerful due to her ability to fly and never having to reload, thus some nerfs will be made to her mech’s cannons and mobility. Lastly, Kaplan talked about the upcoming nerfs to Overwatch‘s sniper-healer Ana, explaining that while Blizzard is happy with the character’s design, her healing is currently a bit too strong and the team are looking into adjusting her Bionic Grenade – though don’t expect any drastic changes.
With such an in-depth video from Blizzard to keep players up to date on what’s going on behind-the-scenes for Overwatch, it goes without saying that the studio’s communication with the community has been one of the game’s biggest positives. Given that there are even more changes coming soon, including a possible highlights saving feature and a Valentine’s Day Event, fans can certainly expect another Developer Update in the coming weeks.
Overwatch is now available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.