Today, Blizzard released a much-awaited new hero, Doomfist, as well as several balance changes, a new highlights system, and changes to loot boxes that promises to reduce the frequency of duplicate items. Separately, Blizzard also announced a crackdown on player toxicity, and an unprecedented upcoming policy of notifying players when their in-game abuse reports result in GM action. The patch is now live and you can read the full patch notes here.
Overwatch fans have clamored for the addition of Doomfist since he was first hinted at in the game’s theatrical trailer, and he has finally arrived. While initially expected to be a new tank, by the time he was first seen on the Public Test Realm (PTR), Doomfist had been redesigned as a strong offensive hero. His kit focuses around abilities that combine strong melee damage with mobility, giving him a feel very much like fighting games, while being challenging to play effectively.
Doomfist’s abilities include Rising Uppercut, a jumping attack in which he leaps high into the air and violently knocks any enemy he makes contact with backwards; Seismic Slam, in which he can crash down on an enemy out of mid leap; and his signature Rocket Punch, an unblockable charged attack where Doomfist flies forward towards an enemy, dealing damage to them based on the length of charge, and if its knockback drives the target into a wall. His ultimate is Meteor Strike, which temporarily removes him from them map and allows his player to choose where to strike with a fast-moving aiming reticule on the ground, before coming crashing down on unsuspecting enemies for a large amount of area damage and area-of-effect stun. All of these abilities double as movement abilities, and generate temporary shield hitpoints when they damage an enemy, but they have relatively long cooldowns of up to 15 seconds. While abilities are on cooldown, Doomfist relies on a rather mediocre primary fire from barrels implanted into his left hand, leaving him vulnerable to attack.
- Zarya and McRee have received significant tweaks to two abilities in this update.
- Zarya’s Graviton Surge ultimate now disables movement-related abilities for enemies caught in it’s area of effect, making combo attacks around this ultimate more reliable.
- McRee’s Flashbang ability now applies a movement speed debuff to its targets for a short duration, making it harder for stunned enemies to reach cover.
- Reinhardt’s hammer swings more rapidly, improving his ability to deal with faster, more mobile heroes in his immediate vicinity.
Give me the loot!
Loot boxes have gotten some love as well. The random selection of items has been made slightly less random, favoring new items instead of duplicates. Coin rewards for the duplicate items that still occasionally appear have also been significantly increased, hopefully reducing the feeling of disappointment that often occurs when opening loot boxes.
New Highlights System
The game’s highlights system, which automatically clips significant achievements during a match, has also been updated. The automatic twelve-second clips are kept for up to 24 hours, and up to to 36 clips can be retained until the next patch. Also, a new hotkey was added to record a brief segment of gameplay as a manual highlight, and clips can be exported. The icing on the cake is that exported clips can be rendered in up to 4K resolution, even if your computer is not capable of running at that level of detail during a match.
Custom games have been around for a while, and allow players to start matches with an extensive array of rule variations that can even affect the balance of individual heroes. The devs have given this feature some new life by moving it from its often overlooked place in the Arcade to its own button on the Play screen, hopefully increasing the number of players who participate in custom games.
Blizzard fighting back against toxicity
Just before this update, Blizzard community manager Lylirra wrote about a renewed effort to fight rising toxicity within the game’s community in an official post on the Overwatch forums. The representative states that “effective immediately, we will be issuing increased penalties to players in response to verified reports of bad behavior,” and further elaborated that includes abusive chat, harassment, in-game spam, match inactivity, and griefing, and that escalating penalties up to and including long-term bans would be issued. More surprisingly, a change in long-standing policy was announced, with Lylirra stating that a future update would add notifications for players when GM action is taken against a player they’ve reported for abusive behavior.