Overwatch Hero Pool Could Be Removed Later If It Doesn’t Work, Says Jeff Kaplan
A new developer update by lead Overwatch designer Jeff Kaplan has revealed, among other things, the addition a “hero pool” system to Overwatch. This means that each week, heroes selected from the most-played during the previous week will become unavailable (in Competitive matches only.) The new system encourages proficiency across multiple heroes within a given role, rather than the hero selection process being a byproduct of a single meta. Kaplan has since taken to the Blizzard forums to answer fan questions about his new developer update, and in one of those replies, specified that the hero pool system may not be permanent.
A common fan refrain prior to the recent update was that the Overwatch developers were almost always too slow to address fan concerns. Once a meta would develop, the Overwatch team might acknowledge it to be less-than-ideal, but hero changes designed to impact that meta might not be introduced to the game until weeks or months later, and in some cases may not have even been enough to change the meta.
The addition of the hero pool system now marks the beginning of the Overwatch team’s avowed new, more active balancing philosophy outlined in Kaplan’s video. To address fans’ concerns about the speed at which heroes are balanced, not only will hero pools be introduced to change up metas from week to week, but various kinds of game changes will be more actively tested via new “experimental” games. While hero pools will be fully integrated into Competitive and not just these experimental matches, the system can be thought of similarly. The Overwatch team is trying things out now, and if those things don’t work, the developers won’t hesitate to revert them.
Another concern Kaplan addresses in his forum comment is fans wanting Competitive seasons to feel different from one another. Like them or not, he promises hero pools will make Season 21 feel quite a bit different from all previous seasons.
Overwatch League has also announced that hero pools will be integrated into its own gameplay format. Just like in the base game, the Overwatch League’s announcement includes a caveat that the change may be reverted at any point during the upcoming season. So it’s now up to the players: if this new system changes the game for the better, hero pools could remain a fixture of today’s Overwatch and even Overwatch 2 in the future. If not, we’ll soon reminisce about that one bizarre Competitive season when Mei was unplayable every other week.
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