Jeff Kaplan explains how Blizzard will balance Overwatch hero pools - Dexerto

Jeff Kaplan explains how Blizzard will balance Overwatch hero pools

Published: 31/Jan/2020 0:49

by Andrew Amos


The hero pools system is set to shake up how Overwatch is played, and with questions about how they will be balanced for all tiers of play, Jeff Kaplan has explained how they are going to keep the system fair for all players.

Overwatch’s new hero pools feature was introduced to players during the January 30 Developer Update as an answer to freshening the meta up. Every week, Blizzard will rotate heroes in and out of competitive play, based on pick rate and other feedback, to keep players on their toes.

The hero pools system comes after community demands for hero bans, although the Overwatch team were dismissive about limiting players in such a way. Instead, they’ll find a new way to balance the game around heroes in and out of the pool, with Jeff Kaplan going to the forums to explain the deeper workings of the system.

The initial concept for hero pools came from community criticism around the stale metas of years gone by in Overwatch. After every patch, the meta has always been solved quickly, leading to the same six heroes often facing off against each other in mirror matchups.

This inspired Blizzard to think of a system that would work for Overwatch, and while hero bans were on the table, the new hero pools system allowed for the team to dictate how quickly the meta moved after major creative changes in the game.

“Design is all about tradeoffs,” he said. “If the thing that the community decides is ‘the most egregious’ is a ‘static meta’ and they ‘want the dev team to do something about it,’ we’re going to take steps towards change.

“We can’t force the meta to move and not make the game work differently. Last year was great proof that player creativity and balance changes alone weren’t enough to move people off of [GOATS] fast enough for the community to feel satisfied.”

Brigitte and Reinhardt in Overwatch
Blizzard Entertainment
GOATS dominated the Overwatch meta for over a year until role lock was introduced.

While the system is all new, it’s going to involve trial, error, and a lot of experimentation. From the amount of heroes rotated out, for how long, and how often some heroes are rotated out for, hero pools are going to be a learning experience for players and developers alike.

“For the first five weeks, we will be trying a range to see what feels right,” Kaplan stated, mentioning that there’s no fixed number set for the number of heroes being rotated. “We’ve architected this system so that we can update the hero pools without the need to patch.

As for how long players will have to wait to see their favorite heroes return, Kaplan soothed the community’s concern about possibly taking weeks to change it.

“We talked about a season rotation but taking a hero out of play for two months makes us a bit nervous,” he conceded. “We’ve talked about rotating every day. We’ve also talked about rotating every match. We don’t like going longer than a week because we want more heroes played.”

Overwatch hero roster
Blizzard Entertainment
Heroes will be rotated weekly to keep the game fresh without disrupting the player experience too much.

Additionally, every role will be hit equally every week. It won’t be solely support or tank heroes being rotated out, forcing players across all roles to switch it up.

“We would never limit the pool to just one tank,” he said, replying to one player’s concerns about targeted pools. “You’ll never be forced to play a single tank.”

The hero pools system will only affect the competitive experience of the game, both in the Overwatch League and in online ranked play.

While OWL officials have clarified how they are operating bans, in online competitive play, they are still playing around with what pools apply to who.

Fury playing for London Spitfire in Overwatch League
Blizzard Entertainment
The Overwatch League will rotate one tank, one support, and two DPS heroes out of the pool every week.

“We’ve considered having the system only apply to players above a certain rank — [maybe diamond, maybe masters,]” he stated. “It’s definitely on our minds.”

The Overwatch team are also entertaining the idea of hero pools for different ranks, choosing not to ship it now and waiting to see how each division plays around the new concept.

Hero pools will be introduced in Season 21 of competitive play, and will be showcased in the Overwatch League when it starts on February 8.


Cute Brigitte skin concept is just what Overwatch needs this Christmas

Published: 2/Dec/2020 13:02

by Lauren Bergin


Overwatch has always been renowned for producing some beautiful festive skins and as Christmas gets ever closer, another cute skin concept for Brigitte has surfaced. 

Brigitte has become one of Overwatch’s most divisive heroes. While written into the game as a support, her kit makes her easily able to flex between support and damage dealer, and her health bar reflects a tank’s more than it does that of a support.

Recent health bar buffs left players up in arms, and Blizzard responded a patch later with nerfs reverting her health bar back to how it was. Despite the controversy that surrounds Sweden’s young hero, her fans really do love her even if her haters often know how to shout louder.

One fan has shown their passion for the tank support by designing an adorable Christmas skin just in time for the festive season.

Blizzard Entertainment
Brigitte may look adorable, but she’s a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield.

Christmas Skin Concept for Brigitte is truly heartwarming

One Reddit user shared their own concept for a future Christmas skin for the tank support, and has received a wave of praise.

The user in question, Annzey, unveiled her ‘Gingerbrig’ concept. They note that their friend, Murdered Sun, was the actual artist behind the drawing, but the concept wall all her own.

It features Brigitte wearing a gingerbread style outfit, with icing holding together her armour, a candy cane style mace and an adorable little gingerbread man forming the core of her iconic shield.

To top it off her hair is tied back using a little mistletoe, and her cheeks have a reddish hue from having been out too long in the cold. The attention to detail in the design is truly perfect; Annzey really has created a skin people would buy.

GINGERBRIG- Concept Art ❄️ So a while ago I had posted an idea for a Gingerbread Brigitte skin and I’ve been obsessed with the idea so I asked my friend if she could draw some concept art for me and WELLA! I present to you- GINGERBRIG! What do y’all think??? :))✨ from r/Overwatch

Overwatch fans react

The comments section of Annzey’s post is dominated by comments praising their design. One redditer writes that they “would pay 3k coins if this was added” despite not playing Brigitte.


Another claims that the art is ‘A-Mei-Zing!’, a beautiful play on words to describe an equally stunning concept.


So while Brigitte has just received a Halloween skin, it would be great if Blizzard pulled off something like Annzey’s work for the Holiday period. After all, all Overwatch fans want for Christmas are cute hero skins.