The recent changes on the Overwatch PTR could hint at a new mechanic being introduced with an upcoming hero.
The latest PTR patch features changes to the way health, armor and shields work. Some heroes have shielding that will automatically regenerate as part of their base “effective health pool” for instance, while other types of shielding and armor can be added temporarily on top by other abilities.
Going forward, the latter, non-recoverable type will always be targeted by damage first. Previously, armor could sit underneath recoverable shields, meaning that if enemies didn’t burn through those recoverable shields first then the “temporary” boost to a hero’s health pool could persist for a much longer time.
Overwatch player u/caldoran2 made a useful graphic to help visualize exactly how this change looks in-game.
What’s particularly interesting is the specification that “non-recoverable health” is included in the change. As of right now, there’s no such thing as “non-recoverable health” in Overwatch.
It seems very possible, therefore, that a future hero will be able to provide “non-recoverable health”, hence its explicit inclusion in the recent PTR update.
Non-recoverable health would presumably differ from the current options of health, shields, and armor by not mitigating incoming damage in any way, but also being immune to removal by the likes of Sombra’s EMP. It also presumably wouldn’t be replenished by healing in the way that base health is.
Based on the schedule that Blizzard have stuck to over the last couple of years, the game’s 30th hero should be arriving on the live servers near the end of March, with at least a few days of PTR testing beforehand and likely some clues in the weeks running up to the reveal.
Speculation about the next hero has of course already begun. Upon the reveal of Ashe as hero 29, many immediately assumed that the mysterious “Echo” – who also appeared in the “Reunion” animated short – was next in line.
Blizzard were quick to shut down these theories, however, stating that while Echo will be a hero at some point, she won’t be number 30. That leaves many fans falling back on old favorites such as the Junker Queen, ruler of Junkertown, or the rather compelling theory that Blizzard might be setting up Talon boss Antonio as a future hero.
As with Ashe, however, Blizzard have proven happy to drop new heroes with no prior hints or references, so it’s also very possible that the next hero could be an entirely new character once again.