I’m going to tentatively say here that this might be the best (or at least most smooth) thing Blizzard has done in a month – but that’s a pretty low bar, admittedly. I’m talking about the new patch that dropped on the Overwatch PTS last night. As we’ve previously covered, the update currently in testing introduces the planned hero pools for competitive play.
“Much like Map Pools, rather than having all heroes available for play at all times, a weekly changing list of heroes will be available,” Blizzard’s patch notes say. “The list will include the vast majority of the hero roster, with only a few being excluded during any given week. We think this feature will help keep Competitive Play interesting, as team compositions will change more frequently during a season. It is important to note that Hero Pools is a new feature that may not last past this initial season. Throughout the season, we will be adjusting the types of Hero Pools available. In addition, it is possible we will also adjust the frequency with which they change.”
The other big thing in this patch is a huge boon for modders. The devs dropped a massive dev blog saying they’re taking off the “training wheels” of the Overwatch Workshop, allowing players much more freedom in their design and scripting.
“Reed and Metcalf worked with the Overwatch map team to give creators three brand new maps that are available exclusively in custom games: Workshop Chamber, Workshop Island, and Workshop Expanse. Workshop Chamber is an enclosed 40×40-meter room. Workshop Island is the same size, but it doesn’t have a roof or walls. Finally, there’s Workshop Expanse, a blank 900×900-meter plane, and technically the largest map the Overwatch team has ever made. Another area of creator frustration concerned the lack of subroutines, a useful programming feature that Reed and Metcalf added to Workshop in the new patch. Subroutines, they explain, are basically separate functions that can be executed alongside other parts of the script. Without them, creators were often forced into risky workarounds that increased script size and complexity.”
Definitely take a peek if you’re into modding, and then join us in granting a whole virtual cookie for Jeff Kaplan and team for not screwing this one up the way Blizzard’s been screwing up WoW and Warcraft 3, I suppose.