Overwatch balance changes explained: Torbjorn Edition

Overwatch balance changes explained: Torbjorn Edition

There are new balance updates on live Overwatch servers. These changes are a part of a new Blizzard philosophy when it comes to balancing - they want to introduce much more extreme measures to the PTR server and see what changes are working and which ones are not.

Funny thing is - the majority of the crazy stuff they implemented made it to the live server due to positive outcry of the community. I'll guide you through every and each of the change, with a quick "what does it mean for you" analysis.


New Hero: 

One of the world's most notorious hackers is stepping out of the shadows: Sombra, a mysterious infiltrator who uses information to control those in power. 

Sombra is a master manipulator who can hack her enemies, temporarily blocking their abilities. In addition, she can hack health packs and Torbjörn's turret, making them useless to her opponents. She uses her fully automatic Machine Pistol to take out her enemies, getting into position using her Thermoptic Camo, which allows her to become invisible and move more quickly for short periods of time. This gives her the ability to slip past enemy defenses undetected, but she's instantly revealed if she takes damage or attacks an enemy. She also has a Translocator, which can be tossed like a grenade. When it’s activated, Sombra is teleported to its location (even while it’s in flight).

Sombra's ultimate ability, EMP, discharges electromagnetic energy in a wide radius, hacking anyone caught within range and destroying enemy barriers and shields. 

Analysis: For the first week and maybe some days after, everybody and you grandmother will want to play her. Shame on you people who "just want to try her" in competitive - that's what Quick Play is for!

Anyways, Sombra isn't a TF2 spy and she isn't an assassin. Yes, she got sorted to Offensedor, but she is really a mix of Supportpuff and Offensedor. DON'T PLAY HER FOR KILLS. If you want to really learn how to play her, check this ultimate Sombra guide.

She is not OP and she is not weak. You just play her wrong is all.

New Feature: The Arcade!

Oasis will come in later patch.

Discover brand new ways to play Overwatch in the Arcade. Choose from a variety of regularly rotating game modes, maps, and rulesets that don't quite fit into Quick Play or Competitive Play. Whether it's 1-on-1 duels, 3-vs-3 skirmishes, our alternating selection of brawls, or special rulesets like “no hero switching,” you should have no problem finding a game that fits your mood. Experience is earned just like any other mode, but you can also earn Arcade-specific rewards, like Loot Boxes!

Analysis: Quick Play is now the most effective way to gain EXP, because you get bonus EXP for consecutive plays + playing Arcade gives you FREE LOOT BOXES! Go on, have fun!

New Arena Map: Ecopoint: Antarctica

Bundle up for a journey to Ecopoint: Antarctica, the former Overwatch installation where climatologist Mei-Ling Zhou was once stationed. While researching severe weather anomalies in the region, the station was hit by an intense polar storm. Running out of options and low on supplies, the team decided to cryogenically freeze themselves until the storm passed. They believed that it would only be for a few months, but Mei awoke nearly a decade later.

Analysis: Ecopoint: Antarctica is a new Arena map that you can play when going for a 1 v 1 or a 3 v 3 duels. It's pretty fun.

Season 3 of Competitive Play

Competitive Play's second season will end on November 23 at 4PM PDT (November 24 at 0:00 UTC), and the third season will begin on November 30 at 4PM PDT (December 1 at 0:00 UTC). During the week-long off season, you'll still be able to queue for matches using the Competitive Play ruleset, but your skill rating will not be affected and no Competitive Points will be awarded. 

We've also made a few adjustments to the skill rating system for season 3. Players will be distributed more broadly across the skill tiers, which means that your season 3 rating will probably be lower than the previous season. 

Developer Comment: When season 2 started, we had more players in the Gold and Platinum skill tiers than we originally intended. This meant that skill levels varied widely for players within those tiers, and some players were achieving inappropriately high rankings during their placement matches. These players typically began the season by having their skill rating adjusted downwards after their first few matches. For season 3, skill ratings will be slightly lower after your placement matches, allowing them to increase as the season begins. After you play enough matches, your skill rating changes will return to normal.

Analysis: I don't like that Blizzard changed the meta 8 days before the end of the competitive season 2, but oh well. Might just have fun at least. What you can expect in the new season is that you'll begin in lower placements and you'll have to work your way up. Which is fine and dandy if you ask me, because the sheer amount of Platinum and Gold players that somehow got to Platinum and Diamond tiers was overwhelming and now they shouldn't be able to get there by lucky placement matches.



  • [PS4] Added PlayStation 4 Pro support

  • Made a number of data format improvements, which should decrease load times and reduce the game’s storage space requirements

  • Made several adjustments to the amount of experience needed to level

    • The amount of experience needed to reach levels 2 through 13 remains unchanged

    • The amount of experience needed to reach levels 14 through 100 has been slightly reduced

    • The amount of experience needed to reach levels after 100 is now constant (20,000 XP) and will no longer reset after each promotion

Developer Comments: With the way our experience curve works right now, players move fairly quickly through the first 23 levels of each tier (1-23, 101-123, 201-223, etc.). This is because when a player is promoted after 100 levels, the experience curve resets. While this reset has worked pretty well so far, it’s also encouraged some people to stop playing the game after they’re promoted—hoping to save those first 23 levels for a seasonal event. To help address this, the experience needed for all post-promotion levels (any level after 100) is now consistently 20,000 and will no longer reset. The total experience required to gain 100 levels after a promotion is roughly unchanged, but the total experience required to earn the first 100 levels (before the first promotion) has been slightly reduced.
  • Quick Play matches are now restricted to one of each hero per team

Developer Comment: We’ve been monitoring your feedback to the 1-hero limit in Competitive Play. Overall, we believe the game is in a better place in terms of balance and stability with the hero limit in place. For this reason, we have decided to add the 1-hero limit to Quick Play. We understand that there are a lot of players who enjoy the ability to play multiples of the same hero, so we have introduced a new mode to the Arcade called “No Limits.” This mode uses Quick Play’s original ruleset, which allows for hero stacking.


  • The number of observer slots in Custom Games has been increased from 6 to 12



  • Dealing damage to non-players (like like Torbjorn's turrets or Symmetra's teleporter), no longer charges ultimate abilities

This is big for Torbjorn.

His turret was the single most useless thing in the competitive play because it was easy to destroy, feed Zarya charge from and it even gave you ultimate charge for damaging it. That was one of the reasons nobody used him in pro matches. 

Now there would be no ultimate charge to be gotten from the turret so Torb could feel free to let it be destroyed and to just build a new one elsewhere - ultimately cutting time cost for setting up a defense too.

  • Ultimate costs have been increased by 25% for all heroes

This is another biggie and nobody knows what the result will be. Decreasing ultimate charge rate means that ultimates will be more precious and people will be more cautious about using them. 

The problem is, many times the only way to break through a heavy chokepoint like Hanamura A or Eichenwalde A was to use all of your ultimates and hope for the best. Now maybe players will wait even longer to charge their ults.

Or, on the other hand, the game will change to be more aggressive and pick-based, ignoring waiting for ultimates to charge.

Ultimately (haha again), defenders would be winners of this balance change - since the advantage of attackers just bombarding them with Qs would be cut. 

This might put Mercy in even worse place than she is right now - she could become even a bigger ultimate hoarder, which is not fun. 

torbjorn overwatch
  • Scrap is now automatically generated over time

Torbjorn. A hero nobody played in serious matches. A hero that got you flamed by your teammates to heavens, for a good reason. He completely sucked against teams who were not retarded and gave them free ultimate + Zarya charge.

The one really good thing about him was that if you - by some miracle - managed to hold the first push and gathered the scrap from corpses, you could nicely snowball with your team effective HP being almost 20% more.

The problem was that the dwarf...I mean Swede couldn't exactly go hunting scrap to the middle of the battlefield since he got killed most of time with no mobility skills to help him.

This change aims to remedy that, making his armor making ability the primary benefit of using Torb. And I think it could really, really work. 

Overall, I love this change. Combined with the no charge given by destroying the turret update it could make Torb viable after a long time while not making him totally annoying to play against.

  • The amount of scrap collected from a fallen enemy has been decreased by 40%

Well, if you're going to give somebody a passive generation skill, you gotta balance it somewhere, right?

  • Forge Hammer
    • Swing speed increased by 25%
    • Damage decreased by 27%

Now you'll be able to build turrets, repair turrets and smash Genji's stupid head with a hammer even faster! Damage decreased because Blizzard doesn't want Torb to become the primary Nanoboost target and DPS of his team.

  • Mech health increased to 200 (formerly 100). Armor remains at 400

D.VA was a bit squishy and many players felt she wasn't a tank. She felt a bit more like a fat Tracer. This change aims to remedy that and make her viable for tanking. It could go any way since her critbox is so big and thus it's not a problem to burst her down, but we'll see I guess.

I think this is a better route than making her more agile. Overwatch needs an alternative to Reinhardt and I feel like this might be Blizzard's shot at it. 

  • Movement speed while firing has been increased by 25% from 25% to 50%

Her speed while firing has been effectively doubled. With this change I fear D.VA might become totally obnoxious since she'll have no problems with chasing down stragglers, something Winston was supposed to do. 

But I admit that she's a bit weak since she can't do it properly now. The question is whether it does make her OP or not. 

I think the live version WILL see a faster D.VA, but not doubly faster one. 

Call Mech

  • Ultimate cost has been decreased by 20%

There has been a game-wide increase of ultimate charge times, but playing 1/5 of the game more as baby D.VA wouldn't be fun in the least. D.VA retains her Call Mech charge rate, so she can get back to the MEKA as fast as she could before.

  • Pulse Rifle
    • Bullet damage increased from 17 to 20
    • Maximum bullet spread increased from 2.2 to 2.4

Oh Jack. Once, you were a legend...now just a shadow of your former self. Nobody except some hardcore fans really played him anymore, since the sustained damage he did was just so negligible and Lucio could outheal it just by existing.

With the proposed changes, Jack would be doing more damage per shot and thus sport much higher DPS, but his spread would be slightly bigger. I personally like this change, he needed more damage. But will it be enough? For example, I don't think the spread is needed - it's big enough as it is.

Overall, it looks like the old good Soldier 76 is back in action. 

ana overwatch
  • Nano Boost
    • No longer increases move speed

Ruh-roh! Everybody's go to carry support and most OP hero in the game right now is going to be not so OP anymore. Nanoboosted Reinhardt? Just press S and walk backwards calmly. Nanoboosted Reaper? Still dangerous, but now he can't just run to you and spin like a dervish.

I think - if this change makes it to live, which I think it will - that we will see Ana played still, but with new Nanoboost targets, such as Soldier, McCree, ulting Genji and a Reaper dropping from an unexpected place. As the game was intended to be played.

One problem with this change is that it makes Lúcio almost mandatory when playing Ana and remember he's EVERYWHERE now. Not a change I'm looking forward to. 

mei overwatch
  • Blizzard
    • Ultimate cost has been increased by 15%

Ever had that game where Mei pulled of an ultimate during each and every of your pushes? Yes, we all did. That's why I played her (mwahaha).

Now, it will be much harder to do it. Ultimate charge reduced by 25% for everybody + another 15% for Mei means bummer. Don't freeze, move! 

I don't actually think her ultimate is so strong to warrant such a drastic nerf.  

I see Torb competing for Mei's place very soon. 

  • Amp It Up
    • Healing-per-second has been decreased by 10%

Lúcio has been a staple of almost every match that has been played on professional level since beta. He's just too good. A passive speed boost and healing which requires just existing somewhere near your team? Damn!

Well, now Blizzard is trying to make him more into a speed booster than a healer, which is all fine by me. Either you get healing or you get a speed boost, you gotta decide. There never was a reason to have them both so powerful on one hero.

10% is too small a nerf though. It won't make a big difference I fear, but at least he's now more of a speed booster rather than a speed booster AND a healer.

zarya overwatch
  • Particle Barrier
    • Power gained from barriers decreased by 20%
  • Projected Barrier
    • Power gained from barriers decreased by 20%
  • Not mentioned: Primary fire DPS has been fixed on mobile targets

Zarya was literally EVERYWHERE. Her shields are stupidly strong since they block EVERYTHING and she even gets stronger by doing that. She has no noticeable downsizes and can get to full power in a few seconds, melting anyone in the way.

This change is aimed to balance her somewhat so she's not so prevalent. 20% is nothing drastic as PTR showed us, since she's picked much more for the utility bubbles provide, rather than for her DPS.

Mentioning DPS, there is one thing Blizz didn't include in their patch notes. Until now, the tickrate of her primary fire (the system she applies damage every second) has been in such long intervals that high mobility heroes like Genji and Tracer could evade it almost completely just by weaving in and out of it. That's not possible anymore.

widowmaker overwatch
  • Venom Mine
    • Explosion no longer damages the player who placed the mine

Well, damaging yourself with an ability that was supposed to protect you was quite weird, wasn't it? This update doesn't really change much, but it certainly is a small buff for the sniper lady.

  • Widow’s Kiss
    • Charge rate increased by 20%

Now this is a balance change that goes in hand with what the devs were saying about testing extreme measures. With 20% faster charge rate you'll be able to shoot at full power 20% faster than before. Will this make Widows obnoxious again? 

Well, playing against a sniper is always obnoxious as there seems to be no counterplay. There is, actually - you just need to stay in cover in areas which you know the sniper is covering. They can't cover every angle and often get tunnel-visioned.

That being said, 20% faster charge rate is a very substantial buff while not making her OP - hopefully. Being able to shoot faster just means that you can maybe get a second correctional shot if you missed the first one, even three if your prey is not reacting to sniper fire. Which is substantially better than giving her straight-up damage boost.

We WILL see more Widows.

pharah overwatch
  • Rocket Launcher
    • Minimum explosion damage has been increased to 25% of rocket’s total damage (formerly 12%)
    • Minimum explosion knockback has been decreased to 0% of rocket’s total knockback (formerly 75%)
  • Jump Jets
    • Hover rate increased by 35%

Now this is a weird change. They upped the splash damage Pharah does, but enabled a change that she will not knock back her victims. Now, smacking players left and right while disorienting them was a staple of good Pharah players, so while I'm happy they decided to buff her damage slightly, I don't see the knockback nerf as a good step. But maybe aiming at helping worse Pharah players will make everyone better. 

I love seeing mobility-based buff though, so she won't be such a sitting duck where she does what she should be superior at - flying. With the hover rate (it's her hover skill, not the jump - burst - shoot - in - the - sky - skill) she can be in the air almost indefinitely and many players report much enjoyable gameplay. 

mercy overwatch
  • Passive health regeneration now kicks in when Mercy avoids taking damage for 1 second (formerly 3 seconds)

Mercy players have always been a primary target for everyone who knows how to play this game. The result being they learned how to hide - and that is something I don't think developers aimed for. This change aims at...at what? They haven't been hiding so they could trade shots, get damaged and then regen. Maybe devs think this will buff Mercy's survivability, so when a flanker doesn't finish her, she can regenerate faster?



  • Loading screen now displays the name of the chosen game mode when playing in the Arcade



  • Fixed an issue that sometimes prevented the PC client from closing properly, making the Battle.net application think the game was still running
  • Fixed a bug preventing players from receiving credit toward the Most Healing Done commendation
  • Fixed a bug that caused the columns on Recent Players to slightly overlap each other
  • Fixed a bug preventing the fourth column on the friends list from being displayed properly
  • Fixed a navigation error that could occur when attempting to adjust video options using a controller
  • Players will now be removed from the Practice Range if they are AFK


  • Fixed a bug that caused McCree bots to Combat Roll into the well on Ilios
  • Fixed a bug that could cause bots to get stuck in a wall near objective B on Temple of Anubis
  • Fixed a bug that prevented bots from moving through certain locations on Volskaya Industries

Competitive Play

  • Fixed a bug that could cause overtime to continue indefinitely on Assault maps
  • Fixed a bug that could cause matches to begin with only 11 connected players


  • Fixed a bug that prevented Ana’s healing stats from showing up in the Career Profile page
  • Fixed a bug that prevented Ana’s custom crosshairs from displaying while zoomed
  • Fixed a bug causing irregular placement of the pumpkin on Genji’s “Pumpkin Carving” highlight intro with certain skins
  • Fixed a bug preventing Mercy’s staff from showing up in the “Guardian Angel” highlight intro with her Cobalt skin equipped
  • Fixed a bug preventing Reaper’s “R.I.P.” victory pose from animating correctly when the game client isn’t in focus
  • Fixed a bug that allowed Tracer to use Blink while rewinding with Recall
  • Fixed a bug preventing some of Tracer’s voice lines from activating with her Punk skin equipped
  • Fixed a bug preventing Zarya from gripping her gun’s handle in the “Deadlift” highlight Intro
  • Fixed a bug causing Zarya’s Graviton Surge to eject Reinhardt at high velocity


  • Fixed a typo on the bakery blackboard in Eichenwalde
  • Fixed a bug that allowed certain heroes to stand on unintended pillars on Ilios
  • Fixed a bug on Lijiang Tower that allowed heroes to reach unintended locations
  • Fixed a bug allowing Reaper to Shadow Step to unintended locations on Nepal
  • Fixed a bug that allowed players to contest the payload from a protected area above the gas station on Route 66
  • Fixed a bug that allowed Pharah to reach unintended locations on Volskaya Industries
  • Fixed a bug on Watchpoint: Gibraltar that allowed players to reach an unintended location near the final objective


  • Fixed a bug that occasionally produced incorrectly colored health bars when spectating Custom Games
Come Get Your Overwatch T-Shirt or a Hoodie!

Come Get Your Overwatch T-Shirt or a Hoodie!

The Opportunist: Ultimate How to Play Sombra, Counters, Abilities Guide

The Opportunist: Ultimate How to Play Sombra, Counters, Abilities Guide