Overwatch February Patch Introduces Experimental Card and Hero Pools

January 31, 2020
Overwatch February Patch Introduces Experimental Card and Hero Pools

In a new dev video, Overwatch Director Jeff Kaplan outlines major content coming with Overwatch Patch 1.45 in early February.

One of the most interesting things is that the Blizzard team will be introducing a new main card to the Play screen known as Experimental Card. This card will allow them to test major changes to the game that may or may not reach the standard game modes.

Because the Experimental Card is in the live version of the game, this mode will now allow console players to participate in experimental content testing. Players will still be able to progress and unlock Loot Boxes when playing in the Experimental Card, offering even more incentive for testing unreleased content.

Unlike the PTR, the Experimental Card is not for bug testing. Instead, it will be used to experiment with balance updates, game modes, or changes to rules that they are investigating internally. While some of these features will reach live, the content within this game mode is not guaranteed to be released.

Also, during Season 21, they will be implementing a new system called Hero Pools, where a few heroes will be disabled from Competitive Play for a given week. Each week will feature a new pool of heroes. The selection of heroes will be curated by the design team, rather than random assortment chosen by algorithm.

The team is just trying out the Hero Pools for Season 21, and depending on how it performs, it may not persist past that season. This will only affect the Competitive Play and will not be seen in the Arcade or Quick Play. The goal of this system is to allow the meta to change weekly and see more hero diversity in matches.

In addition, the Blizzard team is changing its balance philosophy. They are looking to implement more frequent and impactful balance updates with the intention to deliberately change the meta. Additionally, with more impactful changes planned, the team is open to the idea of reverting changes when necessary.