It appears that a supposed Reaper buff on the Overwatch PTR might not actually be a buff at all.
The most recent update to the PTR brought with it a series of hero balance changes. While the buffs for Roadhog are the most significant, he wasn’t the only hero given a boost – in theory at least.
One of the other heroes that received buffs was Reaper, whose life-steal was increased and the spread pattern randomization for his Hellfire Shotguns reduced by 50%. These changes were designed to “make him more capable of standing toe-to-toe with his enemies.”
Though it’s not a direct damage buff, in theory reducing spread pattern randomization should have a similar effect. More of the shotgun pellets should land on target, resulting in more damage being done per accurate shot.
Unfortunately, it seems that the intended improvement to Reaper’s damage output might actually have resulted in a slight nerf. Players are reporting that in fact in can now take more shots to kill a target on the PTR with this change than it does on the live servers.
The reason for this appears to be that though the shots are now more consistent, the inconsistency didn’t always have a negative effect for Reaper’s damage, because the randomization could produce “good” shots where more pellets would hit the target, resulting in more damage.
Though Reaper’s shotguns are now more consistent in the damage they output per shot, over a series of shots the average damage dealt now seems to be lower, as shown by u/McManus26 in a post on the Overwatch subreddit.
In order to kill a bot from the same location, an extra shot was required on the PTR compared to the live servers.
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To demonstrate the consistency of this trend, u/McManus26 reported requiring an extra 27 bullets to kill 20 bots on the PTR than doing the same took on the live servers. Other players have also reported a noticeable drop in average damage output.
How Blizzard will respond remains to be seen, as it doesn’t appear that the change was intended as a nerf. With improved consistency still a positive in itself, it may be that Reaper will require an additional adjustment on top of this to reach a state Blizzard is happy with.