Blizzard devs say Overwatch 2’s Junkrat and Cassidy are both in line for reworks as it aims to continue improving hero balance in its free-to-play multiplayer game. Answering questions from the community, the team also talks about changes to mitigate spawn killing, the importance of hero counters, and the development of a new Brigitte ult as Overwatch 2 season 3 rolls on.
Overwatch 2 took away Cassidy’s iconic flashbang grenade as the team stripped back crowd control tools for the sequel, replacing it with the pure damage of the cowboy’s new magnetic grenade. Lead hero designer Alec Dawson admits magnetic grenade is “rather flat in what it does” and hopes to “bring back some lost synergy” with a change to the ability. “We won’t be in full stun mode like flashbang,” he reassures players, but the reworked skill will “either enable Cassidy to line up more shots or provide newfound utility.”
A recent Junkrat nerf has seen the Aussie explosives specialist drop fairly notably in win rate, Dawson explains, but notes, “we understand that there are further pain points in his kit.” One big change the team has in mind is reducing the hitbox of his grenades after they bounce off a wall, which would make it harder for him to incessantly spam shots around corners with impunity. He explains that this change will require some additional tech, so there’s currently “no timeline as it involves multiple teams” to implement.
Dawson also lifts the curtain a little on the process of making changes, with hotfixes going along a conveyor belt from the balance team to designers, then to QA and live ops before they’re implemented. He addresses more complex overhauls including Brigitte’s upcoming ultimate rework, discussing the involvement of VFX, modelling, and sound teams, though doesn’t give too much away about the actual ability. “That process can take anywhere from a month to six months, so we have to be forward looking.”
Are any other Overwatch 2 heroes expecting changes? “We are currently asking those questions for Sombra and Roadhog,” Dawson says, explaining that “if we can’t solve for desired gameplay within what we have, we’ll next ask if there is room on the hero for something brand new.” He notes that, as per the above discussion, “if we end up doing new abilities for either of them, it’ll take some time.”
Spawn killing and back-spawning after an objective capture is also addressed as a potential ‘pain point.’ Systems designer Gavin Winter notes that the smaller hero count in Overwatch 2 makes these problems a bigger swing, and can be particularly frustrating for players already on the back foot. He notes that the team is “working on a solution for these issues for season 4.”
Finally, Dawson talks a little about one of the team’s core design pillars, which he calls “Counterplay in Mind.” He emphasises that new heroes should have “clear strengths and weaknesses as well as space for situation upside.” Lead balance designer Josh Noh gives an example of the team holding off on Roadhog buffs leading into Overwatch 2 as they anticipated the additional strength Kiriko’s cleanse would offer him.
However, Dawson admits that “some of our recent heroes may have been doing too many things well on launch without those weaknesses to offset their strengths.” He emphasises that a variety of playstyles and levels of complexity are important when creating new heroes, and says the team hopes to balance the three hero releases over the course of a given year “so that there’s a healthy mix of playstyles.”
For now, then, take a look at our Overwatch 2 tier list to see who the best characters are in season 3. We’ve also got the best Overwatch 2 settings to make sure that you’re playing at peak performance, and plenty more of the best FPS games on PC for all you shooter enthusiasts.