Developer Update: PTR hero changes - February 14, 2018

Developer Update: PTR hero changes - February 14, 2018

The latest PTR update introduced changes for Mei, Sombra, and Doomfist. Read the patch notes and check out the explanations of Jeff Kaplan and Geoff Goodman.

With the Year of the Dog update, the Overwatch team accidentally patched in the live client some changes that were meant for the PTR. They are sorry for the mistake and for how it affected our games.

Now, all the changes made their way in the PTR client.


Full PTR Patch notes and Commentary - February 14, 2018


According to Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan, Mei is rather balanced and just needs a slight buff, so they increased the duration of her Freeze.

It will give her better chances to fully freeze heroes with lots of mobility such as Tracer and Genji. She will also have a few more shoots with her secondary fire.

Note: Freeze is the effect that slows down the opponent before he is completely frozen in place.

Endothermic Blaster

  • Freeze (slow) duration increased from 1 second to 1.5 seconds

  • Weapon alternate fire ammo cost reduced from 25 to 20

Developer Comment: Increasing Mei’s slow duration helps her freeze targets that are particularly elusive such as Genji or Lúcio. Lowering her alternate fire ammo cost allows her to more safely use it without costing her the ability to freeze enemies.


Gif by Havannaz



There are multiple changes for Sombra.

She will not generate anymore ultimate charge out of hacked health packs. They considered this mechanic a little weird, and honestly EMP is an useful ultimate that charged way too quickly. To help charging the ultimate, they did some twists to her guns.


  • No longer blocked by small objects (e.g. sign posts)

Machine Pistol

  • Machine Pistol spread reduced from 3 to 2.7

They speed up the hack time, so it is easier to hack targets. Also, now the Hack will affect more abilities, for example Genji can no longer double jump and Pharah use Hover Jets.

These abilities, and more, will be tested to understand which ones should be ultimately affected by Hack for a proper balance.


  • No longer gains ultimate charge from health pack healing

  • Cast time reduced from 0.8 seconds to 0.65 seconds

  • Now disables the following abilities:

    • Genji—Cyber-agility

    • Hanzo—Wall Climb

    • Pharah—Hover Jets

    • Lúcio—Healing Boost and Speed Boost (turns off current song entirely), Wall Ride

    • Mercy—Angelic Descent

Translocator will last more seconds. According to Jeff, in many games you throw your Translocator, use Stealth to get in the enemy base, set up your attack or help your teammates, but the Translocator is already starting to expire.

So you get yourself in trouble, or you feel obliged to use it before you’ve fully done what you wanted to do. Increasing the duration will give Sombra more time to plan her actions and do them before the Translocator expires.


  • Duration increased from 15 seconds to 20 seconds

Sombra Overwatch Animated Short Infiltration.jpg


  • Now activates when enemies’ health bars are at less than 100%, up from 50% health

Geoff Goodman, Overwatch lead designer, clarified how exactly Opportunist will change:

On live, her passive actually does 2 separate things:

1) It lets you see enemies through walls if they are less than half health

2) It lets you see enemy health bars above their heads if they are less than half health (regardless of if you had damaged them or not)

We’re changing #2 so she can see health bars if they are injured at all, but #1 (wall hack) still requires <50% health to trigger. This allows her to have more information once she gets behind her enemies to plan the best way to attack.
— Geoff Goodman - Lead Designer

Developer Comment: The goal of these changes for Sombra is to remove the necessity for her teammates to take damage and heal themselves with her hacked heath packs to try to get her ultimate charged up quickly.

Her ultimate will now come up less often, but there are more abilities that are disabled by Hack so it is more effective when used. Previously, Opportunist would only activate when an enemy’s health bar dipped below 50% but now the passive will reveal all damaged enemies which should help Sombra identify targets to pick off.

Overall these changes should make her more effective and less reliant on her ultimate.


Gif by Questreeehn



The ammo recovery rate of Doomfist is now faster. In the past, they changed how the Hand Cannon itself was shooting: more bullets that do less damage for about the same amount of overall damage, but more consistent. Combined with the new change, his weapon should be fine.

Hand Cannon

  • Ammo recovery rate increased from 0.8 seconds to 0.65 seconds per bullet

Developer Comment: This change will help Doomfist more consistently be able to use his weapon as part of his combos.


Gif by oCrapaCreeper


User Interface



  • No longer shows enemies’ health bars unless they have taken damage

Future PTR changes

Hanzo, Symmetra, and Torbjorn will also receive adjustments soon.


The dev team tried to replace Scatter Arrow with a new ability called Piercing Arrow. It was shot very fast and could completely ignore barriers. It was cool and powerful, but it felt super weird for the enemy heroes. For example, if you were playing Zenyatta and were behind Reinhardt’s shield, you could suddenly die with a devastating head-shot.

They also tested an ability on his reload button as Hanzo doesn’t have to reload, which would give him the opportunity to use Sonic Arrow or Piercing Arrow more frequently. Overall it was a fun idea, but it didn’t work as expected.

The team also tried to address some issues with Scatter Arrow. They experimented with having it not scatter off of the floor, but only of the walls or the ceiling, to avoid those really frustrating foot shots, but it ended up being a giant nerf for Hanzo. No one wants it.

Currently, the hero designers are looking to create a new ability with which he can shoot arrows in rapid succession.

For his new ability called Volley, we’re still iterating on it. For example, we’ve already changed the numbers of arrows fired from 5 to 6 and lowered the damage per arrow.

Currently it lasts up to 6 seconds, and allows you to fire about 3 arrows per second (up to 6 total). Each arrow fires at “full power” but deals only 80 damage (instead of his normal 125).

There is no charge time while in this mode, if you hold the button down you will fire the arrows in a full-auto mode.
— Geoff Goodman - Lead Designer
Hanzo Overwatch Animated Short Dragons.jpg

Hanzo also received a horizontal leap that allows him to leap in whatever direction he is facing. Mostly meant as a disengage skill even if of course he can occasionally use it to reach cool places.

The way we have his leap working right now in our internal builds is that its a double-jump, much like his brother, but with a couple key differences.

- Firstly, it is mostly a horizontal leap (and its pretty fast), unlike Genji’s vertical leap.

- Secondly, it has a small cooldown, which is necessary considering the amount of mobility it gives Hanzo now.
— Geoff Goodman - Lead Designer

The future updates will affect Symmetra and Torbjorn. In particular, they want to make the latter more viable and accepted by his teammates.


Header and all images in the article: Blizzard

Vincenzo is an esports writer with five years of experience. Former head editor for Natus Vincere, he has produced content for DreamHack, FACEIT, DOTAFire, 2P, and more. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.