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Overwatch’s ‘joke’ changes are seriously fun

Blizzard’s having a laugh while also teasing Overwatch 2

Wrecking Ball attacks Junkrat in ball form in a screenshot from Overwatch Image: Blizzard Entertainment
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

For April Fools’ Day, Blizzard introduced a sweeping series of changes to Overwatch that makes many heroes on the roster a nightmare to deal with. Mei is now a tank with a ton of health. Junkrat can drop three of his bear traps at once. And McCree gets an ammo refund every time he lands a headshot.

Oh, and D.Va can crush her opponents to death by summoning her mech, leading to full team kills like this one:

So when I say some heroes are now a nightmare to deal with, I really mean they are fun to play with (and occasionally against).

Of course, these changes are currently restricted to Overwatch’s Experimental game mode, where Blizzard typically tests out minor balances changes. Don’t expect it to be around forever, especially with a new seasonal event (Overwatch Archives) kicking off April 6.

Many of Overwatch’s “joke” changes should stay or be incorporated into the main game, many fans say, because they’ve made Overwatch fun again. Nearly five years into the hero shooter’s existence, a series of April Fools’ Day goofs have breathed new life the game. (The full patch notes for Experimental mode are also delightfully cheeky.)

Some of the better changes to Overwatch in Experimental mode address the game’s shield problem. Sigma no longer has a shield at all; instead, he can fly around the map without regard for gravity. Baptiste’s Immortality Field, effectively another layer of shielding, no longer provides its signature immortality, instead decreasing overall damage.

Zenyatta has increased mobility through limited levitation (fun!). Reaper can now “fly” in his ghostly Wraith mode (makes sense!). Mercy can now target enemy players and zoom toward them using her Guardian Angel skill (which makes Valkyrie-mode Mercy even more terrifying).

Few of these changes feel “balanced.” Roadhog’s chain hook getting a shorter cooldown timer when it lands feels kind of broken. I’m not sure Soldier: 76’s ult really needed a buff. And the number of characters flying around now feels unsustainable in the long run. But almost everything feels fun.

Some of these changes to heroes are effectively a preview of Overwatch 2, which will include character progression and hero talents. Those talents will be restricted to the game’s PvE cooperative component, as far as we know, and they’ll mix up how we play heroes we’ve spent a half-decade with now. The Experimental patch also seems like an easy way for Blizzard to slightly break everyone in the game, and try out dramatic changes all at once.

With Overwatch 2 still far off and no new blood in the game for nearly a year (since Echo arrived), it’s been great to see Overwatch feel fresh again, if only for a little while.

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