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Blizzard shakes up Overwatch’s meta with new competitive rules and Experimental mode

Console players will get access to PTR-like balance changes

Blizzard Entertainment is looking to shake up Overwatch’s metagame with more frequent and impactful balance updates, according to a new developer video from game director Jeff Kaplan. The goal, Kaplan says, is to bring more frequent changes to Overwatch in an attempt to keep the game fresh.

One part of Blizzard’s plan is to introduce a new Experimental Card of Overwatch, where the developer can test major gameplay changes, similar to how balance updates are tested in the game’s public test realm (PTR). There’s one major difference: Overwatch’s Experimental game mode will be available on all platforms, not just the PC version where players are able take part in PTR matches.

Changes introduced in Experimental are not guaranteed to transition to the standard live version of Overwatch’s quick play and competitive modes. And Blizzard said it may revert some changes that make it to the live version of the game.

Kaplan says players will still be able to earn progress and loot boxes playing Experimental games.

Blizzard is also implementing a new system called Hero Pools to Overwatch’s competitive mode with the game’s upcoming season. Hero Pools will disable certain heroes in competitive play each week during season 21. The goal, Kaplan says, is to keep the meta constantly changing and introduce more hero diversity. Heroes disabled by Hero Pools will be hand-picked by the design team; they won’t be randomly blocked from play.

Hero Pools will not be included as part of arcade or quick play matches. But Hero Pools may be introduced in Overwatch League games, according to Kaplan’s comments.

For more on what’s changing in Overwatch, check out the full developer update video above.

Blizzard is currently working on a sequel, Overwatch 2, which the company debuted at BlizzCon 2019. Overwatch 2 will introduce new heroes and include a single-player campaign mode.

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