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From the start of Season 21 in March, Overwatch will introduce Hero Pools to competitive play, game director Jeff Kaplan revealed in a new developer video published on Thursday.
Every week the game’s designers will disable certain characters from competitive games, which Kaplan said he hopes will encourage players to try new heroes and strategies.
In Brief: Overwatch Season 21 changes
- Weekly Hero Pools to disable certain Heroes in Competitive.
- Experimental Card bringing test content to PC and console.
- Balance changes will come “more frequently and more aggressively.”
“Let’s say Season 21 had just started and maybe Orisa, Sigma, Mei and Moira are not in the hero pool,” Kaplan explained. “Players will have to think of a new strategy that doesn’t involve those heroes. That will last for one week and then the Hero Pool will change.”
He added: “This is designed to keep the meta fluid, to keep the meta from stagnating and really getting to more hero diversity.
“We know there are some challenges with this concept. This is what I would consider to be something that we would be willing to change if we don’t feel like it’s going correctly.”
Hero Pools will not affect Quick Play or Arcade modes, Kaplan said, however the feature will be adopted by the professional Overwatch League.
In addition to Hero Pools, Blizzard will add The Experimental Card, which will allow players on both PC and console to try changes related to hero balance or game modes.
The Experimental Card will mark the first time console players will be able to access test content, similar to the PC version’s Public Test Server which is where new heroes and tweaks are released first.
Unlike the PTR though, the objective of The Experiment Card is not to test stability and bugs, Kaplan said.
“We’re looking at gameplay changes and player reactions to those gameplay changes,” the director said. “We really welcome all of you to check this out. It’s going to take a few weeks to get the first Experimental Card up, so please be patient with us.”
The addition comes as part of a new philosophy from the game’s development team, which Kaplan said will see it make balance changes “more frequently and more aggressively.”