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Overwatch Developer Update - Improved Communication Wheel

Overwatch Game Director Jeff Kaplan discusses updates to the Communication Wheel, match queue, and the Workshop.

Check out the full patch notes for Overwatch's Version 1.47 update

Going over things

Blizzard officially added Echo to Overwatch earlier today, which is part of the game's Version 1.47 update. That's not all that's going on in the patch, though. You can check out the full rundown of today's update below.

NEW HERO: ECHO (DAMAGE)

Echo is an evolutionary robot created by Dr. Mina Liao and programmed with a rapidly adapting artificial intelligence, versatile enough to fill multiple battlefield combat roles. Having joined up with the Overwatch team to defend Paris against the Null Sector incursion, Echo is seeing action as a full-fledged member of Overwatch for the first time. Echo fires three shots (Tri-Shot) at once, in a triangle pattern. Echo fires a volley of Sticky Bombs that detonates after a delay. Echo uses Flight to surge forward quickly, then can fly freely to avoid danger or maneuver to a more strategic location. Using Focusing Beam, Echo channels a beam for a few seconds, dealing very high damage to targets with less than half health, including barriers. With Duplicate, Echo targets an enemy hero and clones them, gaining all of their abilities and potentially changing a team fight in an instant.

GENERAL UPDATES

New Feature: Training Partner

Within the Practice Range, use the Training Partner Spawner to create a bot of any hero on which you can test your abilities.

General

The Overwatch team has opened servers in a new datacenter to improve the gaming experience for players in the Middle East. Servers will be available beginning April 14, 2020

Added a "Patch Notes" button on the main menu and within the options menu. Selecting this button will open a web browser with the latest available game updates

COMPETITIVE UPDATES

The new Competitive Open Queue will be available in the Arcade for roughly 4 weeks. This mode will use standard Competitive Play rules, including hero pools, but will have no role restrictions or role queues.

HERO UPDATES

Tracer

Blink

Improved the accuracy of Tracer's blink movement such that Tracer will more likely end up where the crosshair is pointing

Developer Comments

Tracer will now blink around and over obstacles more easily to move towards the crosshair location. For example, if you aim alongside the corner of a wall, Tracer will blink past the corner
Tracer cannot blink through a space where she otherwise cannot fit normally
Tracer cannot blink over an obstacle which she otherwise cannot jump over normally, with the jump originating from Tracer's height at the start of the blink movement
We hope that these changes to Tracer's blink will feel more responsive than before.

BUG FIXES

General

Fixed an issue preventing switching to the next hero when team spectating D.Va in Custom Games
Fixed an issue preventing Team FFA settings and some Hero settings from being pasted back into Custom Game Settings via copy-paste
Fixed a bug that could cause voice lines from opposing teams to be heard at Hero Select screens on certain maps
Fixed a bug where knockbacks were not working correctly if the target was moving down a ramp
Alt+Tab now will cancel saving a highlight, instead of causing problems with playback
Fixed an issue where support players were getting incorrect credit for some plays, when determining the play of the game

Maps

Blizzard World

Fixed a bug that allowed players to stand in an unintended location between the first and second point

Busan

Fixed a bug that caused Sombra's translocator to float when thrown in certain spots

Dorado

Fixed a bug that could cause players can get stuck between the scooter and wall

Havana

Fixed a bug that could cause players to get stuck on some bushes

Hollywood

The capture area for the first capture point no longer extends outside of the visual capture boundary

Ilios

Fixed a bug that could cause players to get stuck between a wall, plant, and tree

Heroes

Moira

Fixed a bug that prevented Moira's Fade icon from appearing disabled when she is stunned

Mei

Fixed a bug where an already frozen enemy getting hit by Blizzard would cause the frozen visual effect to end too early

Tracer

Fixed a bug where the Pulse Bomb's "Stuck" message would sometimes appear on the wrong target

Workshop

Fixed an issue preventing Big Message and Small Message from displaying messages in Practice Range

Echo heads to Overwatch on April 14th, 2020

Did you hear that?

Following all sorts of teases, an official reveal, and a playable stint in the public test region on PC, Echo is finally making her official Overwatch debut on April 14th, 2020. Everyone will be able to have a crack at the brand-new hero that offers quite a unique play experience. If you'd like to learn a bit more about Echo, you can check out her character intro here.

Overwatch Hero Pools Being Refined, and Map Pools Being Retired for Competitive and Professional

The changes take place April 14th, 2020

Blizzard has revealed the next round of changes for Overwatch, and they're coming soon. Check out full details on what's being tweaked and removed in the near future below.

Since the introduction of Map Pools late last year and Hero Pools in early March, we’ve heard a lot of great feedback from players on both of these systems, including what they like about them and what they find confusing or unclear. Based on that, we’ll be making some changes to both systems starting next week. Here’s what’s in store.

Unifying the Hero Pools

We’ve received a lot of helpful feedback since Hero Pools came to Competitive Play that the system was achieving our goal of shaking up the meta from week to week—but we’ve also heard that some aspects of the system are confusing or unclear, including why certain heroes or roles are rotated each week, or why the exact number of heroes available is inconsistent from week to week. In addition, having separate Hero Pools for Competitive Play and the Overwatch League in the same week led to a confusing or disjointed experience for players who follow the League.

Starting April 13, we intend to address this by having a single, unified Hero Pool, allowing both the Overwatch League and Competitive Play to mirror each other as closely as possible and making a more consistent viewing and play experience. Here’s how this will work:

To determine a week’s Hero Pool, we'll compile hero play rates from high-level Competitive Play matches from the preceding two weeks. Heroes with play rates above a certain threshold will be eligible to be removed; the higher their play rate, the more likely they are to be removed. Based on that, one Tank, two Damage, and one Support will be randomly removed from play. (Note that heroes will not be removed two weeks in a row.)

At the end of each Sunday’s Overwatch League matches, we’ll announce the Hero Pool that will be used that upcoming week for both live Competitive Play and the Overwatch League. That pool will go into effect in the game Monday morning.

This process will occur every week of the Overwatch League regular season; during weeks that there are no Overwatch League matches, the same data will still be used to determine the Hero Pool and you will find out Monday morning.

Retiring Map Pools

In the months and competitive seasons since we introduced Map Pools in Competitive Play, we’ve been reading and listening to a ton of the feedback from the community about the system. We initially implemented Map Pools to accomplish two major goals:

In the short-term, greatly reduce the number of matches played on Paris and Horizon Lunar Colony. We’ve seen a lot of good feedback that these two maps could use some changes, and we want to improve them in future game updates. To that end, we’re taking a look at Paris first with an eye toward updating the map’s layout and making it more fun to play.

More broadly, give each competitive season a bit more flavor and differentiation, to give them more distinct identities.

However, we saw a lot of feedback asking for Map Pools to vary more often than every two months at the start of a competitive season. Some suggested one month, others two weeks, and some even one-week rotation periods. However, if the Map Pool were to rotate more frequently, it would stop providing the competitive season with the “identity” we were going for. In addition, if we change the Map Pool faster, you might not even notice that maps were missing or back from one cycle to the next.

To simplify the competitive experience, we are going to no longer have rotating Map Pools starting April 14. Instead, Competitive Play will include all of the maps, with the exception of Paris and Horizon Lunar Colony. When we make updates to those two maps to improve their play in the future, we’ll add them back into the pool at that time.

We’re always listening to the community on how we can improve your Overwatch experience; please continue to reach out and let us know how you feel. These changes are coming very soon to live play, and we’re excited to hear what you think.

Overwatch heroes are wearing googly eyes for April Fools' Day

You looking at ME?!

While there's a lot of craziness going on in the world, the gang over at Blizzard hasn't forgotten about regular traditions. That's why they've added googly eyes to all the heroes in Overwatch. April Fools' Day is just hours away, and this "prank" is just a harmless bit of fun to make players smile. I always appreciate April Fools Day jokes that make you laugh over ones that raise false hope or are mean-spirited, so this gets a thumbs up from me.

Blizzard shares details on what's coming to Overwatch this year

Another year full of content

While Overwatch fans are certainly looking forward to the launch of Overwatch 2, there's still plenty to do in the original Overwatch. In an interview with PCgamesn, game director Jeff Kaplan outlined what fans can expect this year.

I think we’ve delivered some cool things. Experimental card is a great example and something we had been working on for some time. And it’s always fun when you’re working on something and then players start suggesting it and you’re biting your lip. You’re like, that’s an awesome idea – we should totally do that.

Releasing Echo will be fantastic. I think she’s gonna add so much life and creativity to the game. We also have interesting twists to some of our seasonal events coming up. The Archives event won’t have a new mission, like Uprising, Retribution, Storm Rising. I told everybody at BlizzCon because we wanted to be very transparent, and manage expectations. We didn’t make a new PvE mission but we did do some really cool twists on the old missions, adding challenges to them so they work in new ways.

One of them is Molten Cores (we’re obsessed with that name). When you kill any enemy, they turn into a pool of lava. It persists so the more enemies that you’re killing, the more dangerous the area’s becoming. You’re still playing Uprising but in a totally different way now.

We’re actually working on some Summer Games stuff right now. Again, we’re not adding a new sport – there won’t be a new Lucio Ball (or Lucio hockey is what everyone really wants). We won’t be adding that, but we’re putting some cool twists on the existing content and trying to keep the game fresh.

As far cosmetic items go, there are two types of players in Overwatch. There are the types who only care about gameplay. And there are the types of players who care about the cosmetic content. And those who care about the cosmetic content, care about it a lot. That’s not changing at all for this year, there’s going to be amazing stuff. I was just looking over the shoulder of the concept artists at some of the skins and I know that our players are going to lose their mind when they see those.

Then we have fun stuff for later in the year. Nothing that we can announce right now but in the way that Ashe’s Mardi Gras event was a surprise there’s some more things like that on the way. I think they’re pretty cool with some themes and other content that I don’t think people are expecting. Should be good.

IGN Video - An Overwatch Pro's Guide to New Hero Echo

A Pro Overwatch player/Coach "Hidan Da Silva" breaks down Echo from his perspective giving advice on how to play her as well as how to play against her. Also providing general knowledge about the hero and how best to utilize her in the new meta that will come with her once she has been released from the PTR.

Doomfist Thunder skin heading to Overwatch on March 26th, 2020

Here comes the Doom

Back in Sept. 2019, the San Francisco Shock took out the Vancouver Titans in the Grand Finals of the Overwatch League Season 2 championships. To celebrate that victory, Blizzard is releasing a new Doomfist Thunder skin that was designed alongside the San Francisco Shock team. This skin will be available March 26th to April 9th, 2020.

Check out the full gameplay rundown, profile, screens, and concept art for Ovewatch's Echo

All you could want to know

WHO IS ECHO?

Echo was the creation of Singaporean scientist Dr. Mina Liao, who was one of the earliest members of Overwatch. Prior to joining the organization, Dr. Liao was widely considered one of the prominent experts in robotics and artificial intelligence.

Dr. Liao dreamed of improving upon the original omnic designs, which became the basis for the Echo project. She created a multirole, adaptive robot that could be programmed to learn different functions – anything from medical support to construction – but with serious limits to independent decision making. Although Overwatch was wary of just how often and where they used Echo, Liao had actually programmed Echo with a powerful, general artificial intelligence that learned by observation. As a result, much of Liao’s behaviors – including her speech – were adopted by Echo.

ABILITIES

Tri-Shot (Primary Fire)

Echo fires 3 shots at once, in a triangle pattern.

Sticky Bombs (Secondary Fire)

Echo fires a volley of sticky bombs that detonate after a delay.

Flight (Shift)

Echo surges forward quickly, then can fly freely.

Focusing Beam (E)

Echo channels a beam for a few seconds, dealing very high damage to targets with less than half health.

Duplicate (Ultimate)

Echo duplicates a targeted enemy hero and gains use of their abilities

Glide (Passive)

Echo can glide while falling.

Blizzard says development on Overwatch 2 is "going great"

Coming into its own

While Blizzard might be bringing a new hero to Overwatch, the team is also toiling away on Overwatch 2. It hasn't been all that long since the sequel was revealed, but how are things going for the game? In an interview with Polygon, game director Jeff Kaplan seemed quite pleased where things are at.

“development is going great. The team’s having tons of fun making the game, I feel like we’re starting to understand it even more.”

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