Activision-Blizzard is shaking up the playing field in the upcoming Season 9 of Overwatch 2. Among other new features, two new heroes and balance changes (some of which were trialled this weekend in a limited-time Quick Play – Hacked event) is the introduction of passive self-healing abilities for all Damage and Tank heroes to de-emphasise the importance of the Support role and give teams that aren’t quite as good at organising themselves a better chance at success.
Overwatch 2 game director Aaron Keller has announced the “modified, tuned-down version of the Support self-healing passive” ability that the Tank and Damage heroes will receive. The justification behind this fairly substantial overhaul to Overwatch 2’s gameplay is to “give non-Support players more options in terms of sustaining themselves” and to “take some of the pressure off Support players to keep everyone alive” due to non-Support players being able to keep themselves alive more easily.
For a game that relies on very specific synergy between the game’s three classes of Damage, Support and Tank, this change will provide a rather sizeable alteration to how crucial the Support role, which is generally to restore other heroes’ health and provide passive and active buffs, will be to a team’s success. Keller acknowledges the importance of teamwork in Overwatch 2’s gameplay loop, and particularly how the experience falls apart when players are paired with others who don’t work well together. “When a team works together — each player using their hero to their fullest potential while relying on each other to execute a strategy — the game feels magical,” Keller said in the announcement. “However, when this isn’t happening and players are all working on their own, the game is far from magical and can become frustrating. The reliance on teammates can simultaneously be one of the best and worst attributes of our game.”
As such, Keller describes some of the ways that Overwatch 2 will incentivise teamwork and “make it easier for players to be part of the team while also lessening some of the pain when it’s not happening.” One feature which has been introduced is the Spawn Together system, which adjusts respawn times so that teammates respawn around the same time more often. Other discussed features for the upcoming season include Party Frames, the currently PvE-exclusive on-screen player health indicators which may be added to the main PvP mode.
“When I look at the future of Overwatch, a year or two out, I don’t see the exact same game that we’re playing now, but with a few more heroes and maps added to it,” Keller finishes the announcement by saying. “The game should always evolve with new systems and features that serve our players.” Overwatch 2’s review average on Steam remains “Overwhelmingly Negative” at time of writing. Consequently, the developers have a lot of player trust and goodwill to win back. While this shakeup to the team dynamics probably won’t be what wins the general playerbase over, it will at least be a quite substantial change to the established gameplay when Season 9 rolls around next month.