Esports insider Rod ‘Slasher’ Breslau has revealed that there could be major changes coming to Overwatch, and they might debut in the Overwatch League.
During an episode of esports talk show Cross Counter, Slasher revealed that he has heard Blizzard are planning to make “major changes to Overwatch”, with the Overwatch League potentially being used to show off the changes “before they implement them into the ranked mode.”
While Slasher doesn’t state exactly what changes Blizzard might be looking to make, perhaps the most-discussed change that could be on the cards is the addition of role restrictions.
Many players have long asked Blizzard to implement a strict distribution of roles within the game, rather than the free-for-all that has defined Overwatch so far. The most common variant, and the one Blizzard would likely choose if they do go down that path, is an even split of two tanks, two supports, and two DPS in each squad.
While such a restriction would reduce the range of possible options to some degree, it would have a number of benefits. It would make it easier for Blizzard to balance the game, help ensure that teams in matchmaking always had at least a somewhat viable composition, and also allow for the implementation of role-specific player ranks that would improve the matchmaking experience.
While Blizzard were initially resistant to the idea, in recent months game director Jeff Kaplan has stated on multiple occasions that it is something many of the developers are now on board with and have actively looked into, although actually implementing such a change could take some time.
One of the benefits of implementing changes in the Overwatch League before adding them to the broader online ruleset would be that there would be less demand for structural updates to the game. If, for instance, Blizzard were looking to enforce a strict 2-2-2 role distribution, the pro players of the Overwatch League could be relied on to simply follow such a rule within their official matches.
In online playlists for the broader playerbase, however, such rules will require built-in restrictions in order to enforce, which Jeff Kaplan has previously stated is “months and months” of work to implement.
The possibility of changes to the OWL ruleset does raise questions regarding the timeline, however. It would perhaps be somewhat surprising to see Blizzard make such a significant change part way through a season, but if the changes are already in the works it also seems unlikely that they will wait until Season 3 begins in 2020.
If Blizzard are looking to address some of the most common complaints with Overwatch, however, then in conjunction with the release of the new Workshop feature it seems fans might have a lot to look forward to in the near future.