Overwatch beta patch brings new Route 66 map, weekly brawls, more
Overwatch just received another patch update which not only adds some balance changes, but also a number of surprising new features. Key among them are the new Route 66 map, Hearthstone-like weekly brawls, new Legendary skins (including the jester Junkrat above), achievements, and numerous additions to player progression. While balance changes are pretty standard with any patch, it’s a very pleasant surprise to see these sorts of additions still being added before Overwatch’s open beta and subsequent May release.
For full notes, be sure to check in after the break. And be on the lookout for a Route 66 map preview from us in the near future!
Please note that some changes may not be documented or described in full detail.
New Escort Map: Route 66
Though the travelers and road trippers who used to cross the US on historic Route 66 are gone, the Main Street of America still stands, a testament to a simpler time. The gas stations, roadside shops, and cafes have gone into disuse, and the fabled Deadlock Gorge is mostly seen from the comfort of transcontinental train cars. But amid the fading monuments of that earlier era, the outlaws of the Deadlock Gang are planning their biggest heist yet.
New Play Mode: Weekly Brawl!
Similar to its namesake feature in Hearthstone, Weekly Brawls are a fun, alternative way to play Overwatch. Each week, we’ll rotate in a different Weekly Brawl featuring a set of unique (and sometimes crazy) rules from our Custom Game system.
For example: In one Weekly Brawl, you’ll only be able to play Soldier: 76, while in another Weekly Brawl, a random hero will be selected for you each time you respawn. Other Weekly Brawls will restrict you to Support heroes only, or Tank heroes only, or Defense heroes only—and more!
To join a Weekly Brawl, select “Play” from the main menu and then select “Weekly Brawl!” You can queue up solo or in a party, and you’ll be matched into a 6v6 game versus other players.
>> NOTE: For the purposes of testing, Weekly Brawls are currently set to rotate once per day rather than once per week. This cadence is for the beta only and will be return to its normally-scheduled weekly rotation in the near future. <<
Developer comments: We love the Tavern Brawl system in Hearthstone and are excited to bring a similar style of play into Overwatch. However, even though we think Weekly Brawls can add a lot of fun to the game, the feature is still a work in progress and something we consider more of an experiment for now. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy testing the sample Weekly Brawls we’ve set up and look forward to your feedback!
New Feature: Highlights
To complement our Play of the Game feature, personal gameplay “highlights” may now be surfaced to players via the main menu after they’ve completed at least one match. The game can currently store up to five of the most recent highlights from your active gaming session.
Please note that there is currently no way to export your highlights from the game client and that all highlights will be reset whenever you log out.
Updated Feature: Play of the Game
Overall, the Play of the Game feature has been a lot of fun and well-received by the community. However, there are still a lot of improvements we’d like to make so that the gameplay highlighted at the end of each match is more varied and interesting to watch.
To that end, we will now be capturing different types of gameplay during a match—based on four new categories—and then comparing those moments against each other to find the best Play of the Game for that round of play. The new Play of the Game categories available in this patch are as follows:
- High Score: This category is intended to feature large multikills and quick killstreaks. The larger the multikill, the quicker the kill streak, and the closer one is to an objective will all increase a player’s “High Score” score. (Note: This is the category under which all existing Plays of the Game would fall.)
- Lifesaver: This category is intended to feature situations where one player is able to save another player (or players) from imminent death. For example: If a Reinhardt has an enemy pinned, and that enemy’s teammate stuns or kills the Reinhardt, the teammate would be awarded a large amount of “Lifesaver” score.
- Sharpshooter: This category is intended to feature difficult or skillful kills. For this category, the game will be looking at factors like movement speed, the distance at which the attack occurred, whether or not the attack was a headshot, and if the victim of the attack was in the air at the time, etc. Each of these variables will increase a player’s “Sharpshooter” score.
- Shutdown: This category is intended to feature moments in which one player kills another player (or players) right as they were about to do something particularly impactful. An example of this would be if a Widowmaker snipes a Lúcio in the middle casting Sound Barrier for his team. In this instance, the game will predict how impactful that Sound Barrier would have been and then award the Widowmaker player an appropriate “Shutdown” score in return.
The player who has the highest score in any one of these four categories at the end of the match will receive the Play of the Game. If the winning Play of the Game category is Lifesaver, Sharpshooter, or Shutdown then the category name will be called out during the highlight intro. If the winning category is High Score, however, no callout will be provided.
With these additions, we’ve also retuned some of the existing Play of the Game ratings to make it more viable for other abilities gain the spotlight—like Mercy’s Resurrect.
Developer comments: This is just the start of what we want to achieve with Plays of the Game, but we wanted to get these initial changes into your hands as soon as possible so you can work with us to make the system even better. In the future, we’ll be looking to add new features to the Play of the Game system, too—such as dynamic cameras for playback, as well as more varied categories. So get out there and play and let us know what you think!
- Achievements have been added
- All available and unlocked achievements can be viewed in the Career Profile > Achievements tab
- Select achievements will now unlock general and hero-specific sprays (which can be equipped in the Hero Gallery)
- Players will now unlock a new portrait frame every 10 levels, instead of only at levels 10, 25, 50, and 100
- Promotions have been added
- Players will now receive a promotion every 100 levels
- When a player receives a promotion, they will unlock a new portrait frame theme
- With each new promotion, the player’s level (and the EXP required to level) will be reset
- New Legendary skins have been added for several heroes:
- “Junker” D.Va
- “Stinger” D.Va
- “Jester” Junkrat
- “Nevermore” Reaper
- “Barbarossa” Torbjörn
- “Blackbeard” Torbjörn
- Plays of the Games have received a polish pass (see above)
Joining and Leaving Games
- Consecutive Match Bonus
- Players will now receive an EXP bonus for playing multiple matches in succession
- Player Backfill Match Bonus
- Players who backfill into a match will no longer receive a loss for that match (even if it ends in a defeat), but can still receive a win
- These players will also receive an additional EXP bonus for the match, if completed
- Leaver Penalty
- Players who leave an in-progress match will now receive an automatic loss
- Players who repeatedly leave in-progress matches will also receive a temporary penalty on EXP gained from future matches (this penalty will persist as long as the player continues to repeatedly leave in-progress matches)
Developer comments: The consecutive match bonus, along with the leaver penalty, should hopefully incentivize players to complete the matches they begin. Unfortunately, many players have been leaving in-game matches at the first sign of difficulty, even in games where their team could still win. As a result, the leaving player’s team would be at a large disadvantage until a backfill could be found. Speaking of backfills: We want the process of joining an in-progress match to be a positive experience, even if you happen to enter right as the game ends. To assist with this, players who backfill matches will still receive a notable amount of experience, regardless of how long they played.
- Players can now request to “Join a Group”
- When a group leader leaves a game, he or she will now have the option to leave with the group intact
- Expanded preferences for groups have been added to the Options menu:
- Option to allow current group members to invite other players to the group
- Option to allow “Anyone,” “Friends,” or “No One” to join your group without an invite
- The new player experience has been updated
- The Tutorial and Practice Range have received a polish pass
- Dialogs will now guide new players through the Tutorial, Practice Range, and Practice vs AI modes before recommending Quick Play
- Players can now browse the main menu while queued for Quick Play, Play vs AI, or Weekly Brawl! games
- “Healing Done” has replaced “Final Blows” as an available end-of-match medal
- End-of-match commendations have received another tuning pass
- AI heroes will now melee and use Health Packs
MAP BALANCE CHANGES
- New routes have been added for the first and second control points
- Removed some walls around the second control point
HERO BALANCE CHANGES
- The following hero abilities will now ignore payloads during Line of Sight checks:
- Lúcio > Crossfade and Sound Barrier
- Mei > Blizzard
- Reinhardt > Earthshatter
- Soldier: 76 > Biotic Field
- Zenyatta > Transcendence
Developer comments: We’re relaxing the line of sight restrictions payloads can cause for certain abilities, where it makes sense. This change should hopefully make these abilities feel more consistent when playing on Escort maps.
- Orb of Harmony and Orb of Discord
- Now automatically return if their targets are out of line of sight for more than 3 seconds
Developer comments: We realize this is a pretty major change, but it’s one we’d like to test and see how it plays out. The “fire and forget” playstyle that many Zenyatta players utilize for orb placement not only has caused several balance issues, but also made the hero a lot less interesting to play. With this change, instead of putting Orb of Harmony on a single person and leaving it on them until they die, Zenyatta players will now need to move the orb around more frequently to effectively heal their team. This change also allows for enemies to be able to shake off an Orb of Discord if they disengage for some time.
- Players can now choose to skip “Skirmish Mode” while in queue
- Players can now save/set hero-specific keybindings
- Support for Dolby ATMOS Headphones has been added
- For optimal performance, use regular headphones and change the default playback device to stereo. For USB headphones that emulate 5.1 or 7.1, you may need to turn off any surround emulation in the headphones drivers.
- Any recording or streaming done with ATMOS Headphones setting enabled will contain the same ATMOS encoded mix. The viewing audience should also be using headphones for optimal viewing.
- Switching the ATMOS mode while music is playing will kill the music that is playing until new music is retriggered. This is a known issue and we are investigating a fix.
- Support for Dolby ATMOS Headphones has been added
- The payload progress bar now shows checkpoints as well as the distance to upcoming checkpoints (if < 5m)
- Capture point UI art has been updated
- All social menu screens have been updated with new art
- A “Recent Players” list is now available
- The ability to “Rate Players” has been moved to the social menu (from the end-of-match screen)
- This means that players can rate their teammates at any time via the social menu, rather just at the end of a match
- Note: “Rate this Match” can still only be accessed via the end-of-match screen
- Players can now report other players through the social menu
- Keybindings should now always save and carry over between sessions correctly
- Players with full health, but less than full shields will now appear to have “taken damage” to healers (when looking at their hero outlines)
- It is no longer possible for some AoE weapons to deal damage to an enemy player if that player is on the other side of wall they’re partially clipping into
- Ultimate charge should no longer reset whenever a player selects a different hero and then cancels while dead
- Lúcio’s Crossfade buff should now properly reapply to all allies after a round transition on Control maps
- Mei’s Cryostasis and Ice Wall should now always display the appropriate team colors
- Symmetra’s Sentry Turrets should no longer acquire targets from inside Mei’s Ice Wall
- Scoped shots against enemy turrets should no longer count as “misses” when calculating Widowmaker’s “Scoped Accuracy” statistic
- Fixed several issues where the slow effect applied by Mei’s Endothermic Blast and Blizzard were being reset
- Fixed an issue where Reinhardt’s Charge would sometimes knock back a target that should have been pinned
- Fixed an issue where Symmetra Sentry Turrets couldn’t be placed in select (but otherwise intended) areas
- Fixed an issue where some damage sources prevented by Zarya’s Particle Barrier weren’t increasing her Ultimate charge
- Left Mouse Button and Right Mouse Button icons should now render in the F1 help menus
- UI notifications for objectives should no longer persist on screen
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