A suite of changes to Support heroes across the board is headed to Overwatch in the next PTR patch.
In a post on the official Blizzard forums, lead developer Geoff Goodman revealed that balance changes would be made to nearly every Support hero in the next version of the Public Test Realm, with only Zenyatta left unadjusted.
Support hero balance has long been a hot topic, and in particular in the last six months following the addition of Moira and Brigitte, with that time period also having seen major adjustments to Mercy.
The major issue has generally been that at different points in time, a subset of the Support heroes have been too powerful, resulting in their crowding out of the other options. It seems Blizzard is now looking to address this, making changes across the category in order to make the choice of Support heroes a stylistic one based on what their toolkit offers, rather than on their raw output power.
Ana, Lúcio and Moira will receive buffs of various kinds, while Brigitte and Mercy are subject to slight nerfs. Below are the full notes on the exact changes:
"In the next patch we’re reviewing the current state of support heroes and are making some changes to nearly all of them to keep them competitive with each other. I’ll start by just listing the changes below:
- Nano Boost additionally heals the target instantly for 300 HP.
- Shield Bash cooldown increased from 6 to 7 seconds.
- Sound Barrier effect increased 50% from 500 to 750 shields.
- Crossfade aura radius increased 20% from 10m to 12m.
- Primary fire healing beam reduced 17% from 60 HP/s to 50 HP/s.
- Healing resource base regen rate increased 20%.
Now that all the changes are listed, I’ll go through each hero and talk a bit about the goals of these changes and our current views on each support hero in general.
Ana has a very strong and unique toolbox, with the potential to dish out more healing than any other hero in the game. That said, she has a couple disadvantages that can be difficult to overcome, such the potential to miss your targets, not having any mobility options, and having a more difficult time keeping herself healed up. Her ultimate can be very powerful but often feels like it can be difficult to use effectively unless it is used in combination with other allied ultimates such as Genji’s Dragonblade. This new change allows Ana to use her ultimate as a clutch save on a dying teammate, or even use it in combination with her Biotic Grenade for a huge instant heal on even the biggest of tank health pools.
Shield Bash is Brigitte’s strongest ability, and its short cooldown makes it very difficult to play around. We’d like to keep her Shield Bash and subsequent melee combos powerful and effective, while just allowing a little more counter-play against it. We’ve talked about possibly reducing her defense somewhere, such as reducing her barrier health. However, her tank-hybrid nature is a core part of her kit and we want to make sure she maintains that feeling of being a difficult target to take down. Overall Brigitte’s win rate is still the highest of any support, despite dishing out the lowest amount of raw healing per second. This speaks volumes to how powerful her kit can be outside of her direct healing numbers.
Lucio’s Crossfade aura can be an invaluable addition for any team, but it can sometimes be difficult to keep your whole team boosted. We’re increasing the radius of Lucio’s Crossfade aura to allow more flexibility in how he moves while still maintaining his powerful support songs to help out his team. His ultimate is also being increased to help counter large spikes of damage. For example, Junkrat’s ultimate can deal a maximum of 600 damage, which Sound Barrier can now potentially negate completely. It is worth noting that even though the initial shield he provides is larger, it still takes the same amount of time to destroy itself.
Mercy is intended to be able to consistently pump out more healing than any other healer over the course of a match. While this is currently true, the difference in healing is so significant that it makes it very difficult for other healers to compete with her for a spot on a team. Reducing her healing output will close this gap a little, but she will still maintain her status as the go-to pick for raw healing power. We’ll keep an eye on her to make sure she is still a strong pick.
Moira is a strong hero that doesn’t need a ton of changes. The resource change her is mostly to help her out in the situations where you’re just not able to get close enough the enemy to drain them for resources. Now if you’re team is sparring with the enemy team at super long ranges, you’ll have a bit more resources to work with to keep your team topped off.
We aren’t making any changes to Zen right now, as we feel he is in a pretty good spot. He is doing his job well as a hybrid damage/healer and being able to provide discord orb for your team will always be welcome.
These changes are coming to the PTR very soon. We’re always looking at our stats, gathering feedback and playing the game to make sure we keep all the heroes viable. We will have time to watch and iterate on these changes throughout this PTR cycle, so please play and give feedback!"