Overwatch's Jeff Kaplan reveals potential hero pool rework - Dexerto

Overwatch’s Jeff Kaplan reveals potential hero pool rework

Published: 25/Mar/2020 16:33

by Michael Gwilliam


Hero pools are entering their third week of Overwatch’s competitive ranked mode and while Game Director Jeff Kaplan views them as a success, there could still be some major changes in the works.

As it stands, every week, four heroes are out of rotation and cannot be picked by anyone on either team. Thus far, each week has been different and no two heroes have been banned two weeks in a row.

The end result is causing players needing to think outside the box with how they approach forming their team compositions. That said, the pools could have a negative effect on players who choose to one-trick only one character – something Kaplan discussed in an interview with PCGamesN.

Blizzard Entertainment
Hero pools can enable characters who are normally countered.

“We’re in total wait and see mode on hero pools. So far the early feedback has been overwhelmingly positive for Overwatch League – the fans love it,” the Vice President of Blizzard said.

“They’re seeing all this hero diversity they’ve never seen before so that’s been great. For players, they’re experiencing it for the first time right now so I don’t think any of us have lived with it long enough to know.”

In the Overwatch League, the bans are different, with the top played heroes each week having the chance to be placed into the pool based on a draw. Additionally, unlike in ladder play, the league always has two DPS heroes out of rotation and never more than one tank or support.

Blizzard Entertainment
Hero pools can radically change the gameplay experience.

Due to how the meta can stagnate, pools are designed to keep things fresh and prevent one super-powerful team composition from dominating week after week. But what about in ladder?

“So what we’re really talking about would be the Mercy main who only plays competitive Overwatch and is not willing to do anything else for a week,” he said. “It’s easy to blow that off and go, ‘you can’t go play mystery heroes? Or can you just play Moira or Baptiste for a week?’ It’s easy to dismiss it but I think that the feedback is valid and real.”

According to Jeff, the team is still going full-steam ahead with hero pools, but they’re considering several changes that would completely change how they function.

Blizzard Entertainment
With main tanks out of rotation, the game opens up.

“I’ll give you an example of some tweaks and changes we’ve explored. We’re not necessarily pulling the trigger on these, these are just like brainstorm ideas but if that Mercy main issue is real, and I think it is, maybe hero pools should be daily,” he revealed.

Daily hero pools would keep the meta in an even stranger position with players having only 24 hours to figure out what the best team is. That said, Kaplan admitted that such a radical change would have its own set of challenges.

“That causes other problems, it really makes it hard for any meta to solidify but is that Mercy main okay, that for a couple hours at night, they can’t play Mercy? Another idea is maybe hero pools only apply to a certain skill rating, like Masters and above, because the reality is, the meta only really, truly exists at around that level.”

Blizzard Entertainment
Hero pools could be a negative experience for one-tricks.

It would certainly be interesting if hero pools only started emerging in the higher ELOs of play, but as Jeff concluded, it’s still too early to say for sure about what direction the team should go.

Only time will tell what exactly the future holds for Overwatch’s newest core competitive element, but it’s clear developers will be working on it for some time to come.


Why an Overwatch 2 delay could be a blessing in disguise

Published: 17/Jan/2021 23:38 Updated: 17/Jan/2021 23:41

by Bill Cooney


We’ve been waiting for what seems like forever on Overwatch 2 and everyone wants to see big news at BlizzConline 2021. But if we don’t get a release date, we shouldn’t be treating it like the end of the world.

The hype around Overwatch 2 was incredible when the first trailer and gameplay were revealed at BlizzCon 2019 but, after that, it steadily died down to little more than background noise with no official updates or news whatsoever coming from Jeff Kaplan and the team since.

Really, it’s only coming back on everyone’s radar because of BlizzConline, the online replacement for the canceled 2020 convention starting on February 19. Of course, we don’t know anything about what’s officially going to be covered there, but so far people have been saying we could see anything from just a few shots of new heroes, maps, and other content, all the way to a full-on release date.

But, drawing a line in the sand with a set date could be one of the worst things to do to the game before it even comes out.

Everyone obviously wants to play a good game day one on release, but, we’ve all come to expect to be drip-fed information on the newest upcoming titles at every stage, and to know roughly when they’re coming out. This hasn’t happened for Overwatch 2, and to say people are starting to get anxious over it would be arriving very late to the party.

The way it works though is if a game has a set release date from developers of publishers, then it becomes news when or if that date gets delayed or pushed back, and you better believe the pitchforks will come out on Twitter when people find out they’ll have longer to wait.

You may have seen where this is going, but take Cyberpunk 2077 for example — from E3 through the lead-up to the release (which was delayed multiple times) we were shown video after video of incredible-looking gameplay and promised an immersive, futuristic world to get lost in. We got neither.

Instead, most of us got a bug-filled mess that barely worked unless you had a high-end PC or the latest gen console, and even then it still didn’t deliver everything that was promised. It was so bad, Sony even pulled it from the PlayStation store. Now, just imagine that happening to Overwatch.

Overwatch 2 concept art
Blizzard Entertainment
Concept art, screenshots, trailers, and a bit of gameplay are basically all we’ve had to tide us over since 2019.

Not to say Jeff and the Overwatch team aren’t capable of delivering an amazing product — they’ve proven they can do that already — but for the sequel to be the best that it can be, they should take all the time they need. We all want to play OW2 ASAP, but if they need to hold off on a release date a while longer to avoid a broken, buggy joke, then so be it.

“I don’t know, I have no idea,” Kaplan said about a release date all the way back at BlizzCon 2019. “Just let us make it great, that’s all we care about more than anything, we don’t have a date in mind.”

That kind of thinking might be a bit of what endears Jeff to the community, as someone who worked on World of Warcraft when today’s “Classic” was just the entire game, he’s one of the last links to the “old Blizzard,” one that even had its own definition of the word “soon™” coined by fans, which is good to keep in mind as we continue to wait for Overwatch 2.

“Soon™: Copyright pending 2004-2021 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved. “Soon™” does not imply any particular date, time, decade, century, or millennia in the past, present, and certainly not the future. “Soon” shall make no contract or warranty between Blizzard Entertainment and the end-user. “Soon” will arrive some day, Blizzard does guarantee that “soon” will be here before the end of time. Maybe. Do not make plans based on “soon” as Blizzard will not be liable for any misuse, use, or even casual glancing at “soon.”