Blizzard Responds To Ongoing Fan Anger Surrounding The Overwatch Test Server

Overwatch's PTR, or public test realm, is a blessing and a curse for players. On one hand, they get to try out new changes before they go live. On the other, if players don't love a change, there's no guarantee Blizzard will do a 180. Right now, D.Va's staring down the barrel of a big nerf, and they seem pretty set on going through with it.

Here are the changes D.Va's currently looking at, that you can try on the PC-only PTR right now:

  • Health increased from 200 to 400
  • Armour decreased from 400 to 200
  • Bullet damage decreased from three to two
  • Number of bullets per shot has been increased from eight to 11

So basically, she's less survivable (again) and her guns will function differently. Players have been arguing that Blizzard's going too far ever since the changes were announced, but Blizzard hasn't given in to their increasingly irate demands. Today, Blizzard put out a developer update video to explain what's going on there, and also on the PTR in general.

"So D.Va, we feel like she's just doing too much right now," said game director Jeff Kaplan. "When she's too effective with moving and shooting and diving in on people, and her survivability's really high, add to that the effectiveness of her defence matrix, it's really hard to come up with a definitive counter to D.Va. So we wanted to bring D.Va back a little bit. We needed to pull her back a little bit so she wasn't great at everything. But the important things to us were the mobility and that shooting cadence. We feel like defence matrix and her high health pool already help with survivability. But we'll keep a close eye on her."

Kaplan also pulled back the curtain and explained Blizzard's goals when they toss something up on the PTR. A lot of players seem to think it's all about feedback on the content of changes, and they feel ignored when Blizzard doesn't give their misgivings the time of day. Turns out, there's been a communication breakdown there.

"The most important thing for us when we patch Overwatch to all of the live service is that the game is stable and works correctly," said Kaplan. "That there's as few bugs, crashes and glitches as possible in the game. The PTR really lets us iron all of these issues out... While checking in on how players feel about changes in a patch is also very important to us, it's not the primary thing that we're looking at. We're actually looking at the stability of the game. Is it running well? Is it ready to go live?"

It makes sense. Only a small subset of Overwatch players use the PTR, and basing a majority of game-changing decisions around their feedback and their feedback alone probably isn't the best idea. This goes double when you consider something else Kaplan pointed out: There's bound to be a negativity bias on places like Overwatch's forums, because people don't usually go through the trouble of posting about something at length when they love it.

Kaplan, of course, didn't have to take the time out to calmly explain all of this (a lot of it seems self-evident, to be frank), but it's cool that he did. I'm not sure if the content of his message will really sink in for persistent PTR salt-throwers, but I think, more broadly, the spirit and consistency of Blizzard's communication does good things for the Overwatch community. Kaplan, especially, frequently demonstrates that he takes players' concerns very seriously, and he creates a calm, clear dialogue with them. On the flipside, though, some fans take that to mean they're entitled to a seat at the table every time the Overwatch team makes a decision, which definitely isn't true, and probably wouldn't be good for the game, either.

So there are ups and downs to what Kaplan and co are doing here. Still, I think (or at least hope) this type of communication is more beneficial than not in the long run.


Comments

    Test server is for testing. Whodathunkit.

      Hi @mrtaco welcome back to arguing with me! Hope you're doing fine since last time...

      It's more nuanced than that. Yes the PTR is there to fix bugs etc before they hit live. But it's ALSO there for people to test and provide feedback on balance changes etc. Blizzard have said this numerous times, including in Jeff Kaplan dev update videos.

      The problem people like myself were arguing was that prior to the 2 most recent PTR updates, Blizzard looked as though they were ONLY using it for bug testing. Any changes they implemented had a couple of weeks or so on PTR and then bam, everything went to live as is. The problem was then that idiotic overbalancing of Dva/Symmetra etc have happened and now they've had to revert Dva back again. I've played a ton of Dva pre and post her buffs, and I was totally surprised when they dropped the extra 100 health on her. I didnt think she needed it then, and she still doesnt need it. I dont know how the changes will affect her now, but they do seem to align her more with how Blizzard want people playing her. It's just that she could be played like that before the buffs happened too.

      That being said, they have made further changes in the PTR to stuff like Roadhog's hook etc, so I think they are starting to use it as it should be, which is a good thing.

        I dunno, it all sounds the same to me as my experience with Elite Dangerous and the betas that go out before every major update. Yeah, everyone jumps on to test out the new toys and then bitch about why they hate them, and half the complaining just gets ignored, but then there's a whole swathe of bugs and glitches that get ironed out and receive most of the attention, while gameplay balance fades to the background unless it's being particularly targeted in that update. Just seems par for the course really.

          Not saying you're wrong. We've just been asking Blizz to actually do what they've been preaching in the first place. If they'd simply said it was a bug testing server, nobody would be bitching about it. In the last couple of PTR patches, it seems they have been taking the feedback on board though re balance, so hopefully they continue that.

    I don't know how people can argue against nerfing D.Va, she is just way too good and makes a laughing stock out of Winston. It's not even an enormous nerf... Increasing the amount of bullets per shot but lowering the damage makes her better at what she was meant for, and in all reality it will force players to actually play her as more of a tank. So many people play her like a giant Genji and the team suffers for it.

      People are arguing about the HP ratio now more than the damage changes. The fact that she's gone from 400 armour/200HP to 200/400 is significant when you consider that armour reduces the damage taken by half. It means that now not only does she have less armour, but the amount of damage she receives is much more. This is why people are complaining, and they feel that she'll be too squishy. Dont get me wrong, she needed a nerf, but maybe 300/300 would have been more appropriate.

      Pretty much this.

      For a TANK her damage is way too high given how difficult she is to deal with due to all her defensive capability and mobility. As you mentioned right now also, she's being abused as a DPS flanker without any of the downsides other flankers have.

      Most of the roster currently can't do anything once a Dva is on top of them, even trying to run, so they just straight up die with zero option available to them for trying to fight or escape.

      I think Zarya is the only hard counter to Dva currently, and it's purely because she ignores Dva's defence matrix.

      Personally, I also think Dva's pistol when outside of her mech does an insane amount of damage for what it is. Not to mention that with any amount of bunny hopping and her small hitbox it makes her nearly as hard to kill as a Genji.

      That said, these days when I see Dva's mech die I make it my goal to kill her within seconds of ejecting before the player can get their bearings... But so many people just let her live long enough to get another mech, which is a whole other part of the issue honestly.

      The dps flanking tank shit has absolutely got to be reined in though.

      Last edited 18/01/17 6:11 pm

        Personally, I also think Dva's pistol when outside of her mech does an insane amount of damage for what it is. Not to mention that with any amount of bunny hopping and her small hitbox it makes her nearly as hard to kill as a Genji.
        Kind of agree. A lot of the time when my mech gets destroyed, I'll intentionally stay out of it because suddenly I've got way better range and can take out enemies from a distance while our team's all grouped together holding ground quite well.

        Also I hate all the jumping around and would love a small cooldown timer between jumps :P

        D.Va is designed to be a disruption tank, flanking and backline interference has been her bread and butter since at least beta. It's not the role that's the problem, it's just how effective she is at the moment.

        Her damage is much too high and needs a nerf, but her survivability is important. Her role requires her to operate alone behind the line, without being accompanied by a healer. At launch she was a little too squishy and needed a buff, which she got, but she's since been buffed a little too much. 200/400 is excessive, but 400/200 seems too little. I agree with @razgrizace, I'd rather see 300/300 tried first because to my mind it seems the best suited to letting her be an effective backline disruption without being an unkillable monster. The damage nerf is definitely needed, her job is to disrupt and distract, not single-handedly wipe out the enemy team from the rear.

          I agree on 300/300. Large health and low armour just sounds like another Winston to me. Also having a half-half mentality really fits in with her profile as a metal tank with a squishy girl inside and I agree that her flanking and pressure style is also in line with that as it positions her as a 'not quite tank, not quite dps'.

          Last edited 18/01/17 9:13 pm

            Yeah I always thought Winston was backline interference and disruption. That's how I use him anway. He dies too quickly if you use him any other way.

            D.Va for me is more of a frontal/flank assault unit designed to get in quickly but directly, do damage/block damage to distract from/protect DPS units that are backing her up.

          I have zero issue with her survivability, but combined with how much damage she puts out while also having that level of defensive capability it becomes a massive problem. Especially when she can ult even if her mech is destroyed, and then re-mech immediately if she gets just a single kill.

          When a hero is ALWAYS picked, something is not right.

          Same goes for things like the constant Lucio usage. Difference being that Lucio isn't blatantly ridiculous right now, and it is more an issue that other healers need to be made more attractive to use... Something they're doing bit by bit.

          The same simply cannot be said for Dva though, because if you went that route for her you'd have to tune every other hero instead of just nerfing her like they're doing.

          Last edited 18/01/17 9:48 pm

            When a hero is ALWAYS picked, something is not right.

            Yes and no. I have a Reinhardt on my team in probably 90% of my games, barrier is just too useful to have on your side, but is he broken? Not really, he's just working as intended.

            That being said, D'va seems to have replaced Genji and tracer as the first-choice backline disruptor, and she definitely needs to be reigned in a bit (which, as someone who mains D'va, really hurts me to say). I think the armor nerfs are a bit much, but rebalancing her damage output was necessary - she should be a tankier but less effective backline killing machine than Genji or Tracer.

              I said "something is not right", I didn't say "it absolutely means the hero is broken" if they're always picked. As far as Reinhardt goes, it's not always to do with a hero being broken if they're picked constantly. As I already mentioned when talking about Lucio.

              It just means that other characters need to be made more useful/appealing.

              I DO think it's a problem when a character like Reinhardt is constantly picked also. As it usually means they're seen as necessary, so when you start getting multiple characters like that it absolutely defeats the point of even having other heroes to choose from to begin with.

                Reinhardt gets picked a lot because he synergises with just about every other hero. He's like a pair of black shoes, goes with basically everything. He's not unbalanced or broken because of that, he's just strategically versatile (at the expense of being tactically simple).

    does Overwatch do weekly tuning pass or hotfix?

    I mean what Kaplan describes for PTR holds true for WoW, while yes feedback on how abilities function, feel and dmg is part of of the PTR process. ironing out stability and random bugs happening is generally the aim. true damage buffs or nerfs happens after it goes live.

    it seems stupid to focus like that but it's fairly logical (imo) since the thousands of players on PTR doesn't compare to millions of players on live in WoW. the overall sample size just doesn't exist if you think about it

    I'm just going to come out straight and say it - Overwatch launched as, and continues to be, an incredibly poorly balanced game, of which Blizzard seems to mess up rather than fix.

    Last edited 18/01/17 11:20 pm

      How so? I can't think of a hero that isn't useful in some situations, or on particular maps.

      Last edited 19/01/17 9:29 am

        Call me particularly petty after being involved at a competitive level in a few fps games until a few years ago (arthritis), but the fact that Overwatch is so heavily meta driven rather than archtype driven means its never hit, and probably never will hit, a balance that most competitive FPS' demand.

        As for map design, its even worse - Blizzard OW map design is essentially timed runs from spawn to obvious chokepoint. There's very little dynamics in most OW maps and comes back to previously mentioned meta.

        Last edited 19/01/17 10:38 am

          Hmm... wouldn't the fact that each team can pick any hero regardless of what the other team picks make it more balanced? If a hero is OP, it's perfectly balanced if both teams can pick it.

          I mean, OW doesn't really fit into the same mold as other competitive FPS games since it's a class-based shooter. The closest comparison would obviously be TF2, which has always been pretty imbalanced anyway. It probably has more in common with DOTA than CS or Quake.

          All competitive FPS games have choices and mechanics that allow teams to develop a strategy that will give them an advantage. Whether it's raw tactics (eg. back-capping, bait and pincer), resource synergy (eg. choosing a mix of weapons or abilities that work well together to advance the strategy), etc, there's always the benefit that a planned strategy can bring. And as long as teams can plan their own strategies on how to win, there will always be a metagame because some strategies are just more effective than others.

          Hero composition (or class composition in TF2) is just another type of resource synergy, which is already a key part of games like Counterstrike in the form of weapon choices. As @cffndncr noted, it's balanced because neither team has a resource advantage - both teams have access to the same heroes/classes and can replicate the other team's strategy if they choose to.

          Last edited 20/01/17 6:49 pm

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