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Can Overwatch Survive Without a Balance Patch Soon?

Olivia Richman

Overwatch had an Experimental patch recently.

Balance Patch overwatch

(Image via Blizzard Entertainment)

But it was a joke.

Blizzard gave players an Experimental patch on December 2 but it was an absurdist update that included Orisa wearing a Santa hat, D.Va’s melee attack going from 30 to 100, and Hanzo’s Storm Arrows ricocheting off surfaces up to five times. The Experimental patch was clearly a joke, meant to entertain Overwatch players in lieu of new content.

That all-but-useless update was met with growing frustration from the Overwatch community. The game hasn’t gotten a meaningful content update in years and has seen the same holiday events come and go over and over and over as developers essentially ignore the game while pretending to tend to Overwatch 2.

But it’s not just a fancy new hero that players want. They want the game to be playable. They want a balance update.

In a series of Reddit threads, Overwatch fans have started to question when Blizzard developers planned to address actual gameplay. While a map, game mode, or hero would be nice, players have realized that’s not happening ever again. Instead, fans are hoping that developers won’t let the game die completely. And to keep the game enjoyable, the heroes need to be balanced.

One Overwatch fan noted that the last balance patch was almost 150 days ago. On August 5, developers made a few tweaks to heroes. This included a big buff to Doomfist’s Meteor Strike ultimate, Soldier: 76’s healing powers being reduced, a Genji Dragonblade nerf, and Roadhog getting less ultimate charge.

Since then, the game hasn’t been touched aside from new Winter Wonderland skins and a goofy Experimental Patch.

Does Overwatch Need a Balance Patch?

Overwatch has had a lot of tricky moments in the past when it came to balancing the heroes. The biggest dilemma came when developers added Brigitte, who created the extremely dominant GOATs meta and became a nightmare-of-a-threat in every game.

Nothing of that scale is currently happening. So does Overwatch need a balance update?

Overall, Overwatch is pretty balanced. But there are some things that could use some fine tuning. This includes changes to Baptiste’s Immortality Field among other little things that feel a bit too powerful. So let’s be clear: Overwatch isn’t an unplayable, chaotic mess right now. It’s not falling apart.

So again, does Overwatch need a balance update?

The answer is still yes.

All games grow stale when the meta stays the same, the best team compositions are undisputed, and the gameplay follows similar patterns each time you queue into a match. Patches not only address balance concerns but ensure that the game doesn’t become stagnant. Even a small change, like nerfing Baptiste’s Immortality Field, will force players to consider other support heroes more often. It will shake up the meta and put different comps on an even playing field. Just from that small change.

We need balance patches to keep the game fresh and new.

We need balance patches to have proof that developers care.

Cassidy feels oppressive. Echo and Tracer are a bit overpowered. Lucio needs some buffs. Would not addressing these things ruin the game? No. But would addressing them improve gameplay and create opportunity for new metas and team compositions? Yes.

Cassidey Echo nerf

According to Active Player, Overwatch had 5 million players on average online each month, with the peak being 7.5 million. This sounds like a lot for a game that hasn’t had a meaningful update since Echo was released in April 2020. But other popular games put it into perspective, like Minecraft’s 166 million average online player count or League of Legends’ 126 million or Apex Legends’ 114 million. Fortnite has 280 million.

Overwatch isn’t dying. But it’s no longer a top competitive title. Not even close.

Even though it’s been 150+ days since the last balance update, don’t expect one any time soon. Overwatch League player Flats recently said that players should expect a new blog post about balance patches in the new year. But when? And what will it say? That information isn’t currently known. Flats has said it may be “toned-down versions” of the Experimental Patch but that doesn’t really answer any real concerns.

It honestly doesn’t seem like any thought has been put into a meaningful balance patch. The Overwatch team has made it clear that they’ve abandoned the game a while ago. The excuse has always been Overwatch 2, but that’s been delayed time and time again. Who even knows if we are getting it anymore. Meanwhile, Overwatch has been left to rot. I’m not saying we need more heroes. Hell, give us Lucioball for the 10th time if you want.

But developers have ignored the gameplay itself, the actual essence of Overwatch. That’s the real problem. Because a game can survive without new maps and heroes. But it can’t survive without balance patches and game updates. And it’s become clear that this has been ignored for months and months and months.

One player said: “‘Interest’ and ‘intent’ are two very different things. I fully expect nothing to come of this considering every broken promise we’ve heard over the years from this company, and not just with Overwatch.”

Blizzard is having issues — yes. But maybe they should be more straightforward with Overwatch meanwhile. Tell us the truth, that you don’t care about the game’s survival. Tell us the truth, that you have no plans to keep Overwatch alive during the walkouts and lawsuits. Just be transparent. Be honest. Be real with us. That’s all we ask.

And give us a damn balance patch.