The third season of Overwatch 2 has kicked off with a bang, starting on Tuesday, February 7th, bringing some substantial changes to the free-to-play shooter, including some hero changes detailed in the latest patch notes. Overwatch 2 developer, Blizzard Entertainment, has treated players with tons of new content to dive into, including a new way to earn legacy credits, a brand-new seasonal battle pass, and even a new map, the Antarctic Peninsula.
There have also been some significant rebalancing changes to certain heroes, especially in non-Role Queue enabled game modes. Mercy has also seen a nerf to her mobility, but she now has the potential to save low-health allies.
The arrival of a new season means a brand-new Battle Pass for players to throw their wallets at. As with previous battle passes, there is an overarching theme for all skins, cosmetics, and highlight intros. While the previous battle pass was based on Greek mythology, Season 3's battle pass seems inspired by Japanese folklore, as Kiriko's Mythic skin on the final tier is based on Amaterasu.
While players may have previously complained about the monetization of Overwatch 2 and the battle pass, they are now in luck, as they can earn legacy credits by advancing through the battle pass tiers. The free version of the battle pass includes 1,500 credits, while the premium option gives players an additional 500 credits. These credits can be used in the Hero Gallery to purchase nearly all of the seasonal Epic and Legendary skins previously available in Overwatch 1.
Keeping in line with their promises to deliver new content, Blizzard has introduced a brand-new map to the roster, the Antarctic Peninsula. This winter wonderland is a Control-map, where the two teams must battle it out to secure the central objective for as long as possible and be the first to cap it to 100 per cent.
This map offers potential for close-quarters combat with plenty of tunnels and corridors, with some potential sniping hotspots.
The Antarctic Peninsula is also set to offer players some hidden Easter eggs and some much-needed fun, with the addition of adorable penguins and a fishing mini-game for players to try in their downtime.
Keeping things fun, fresh, and exciting, the Map Pool is getting a well-needed shake-up. For Push maps, players can look forward to playing on Colosseo, Esperanca, and New Queen Street.
For Hybrid maps, there will be Blizzard World, King's Row, Midtown, and Paraiso, with Numbani making a long-awaited return to the map playlists.
The Escort maps include Dorado, Junkertown, Circuit Royal, Rialto, and Shambali Monastery. Havana has also been reintroduced after a long hiatus.
As mentioned, the Control game mode sees the new map, the chilly Antarctic Peninsula. It will be joined by other fan-favorite maps like Illios, Lijang Tower, Nepal, and Oasis.
Alongside the release of the competitive Season 3, Blizzard has launched a series of balance changes, buffs, and debuffs to several heroes, as revealed in their Overwatch 2 patch notes. There has been an overall nerf to the Ultimate cost charge of all heroes and changes to Tank health in Role Queue-enabled games and non-Role Queue modes.
The Overwatch meta is constantly changing, and the latest patch notes revealed that certain characters, like Mercy, Reinhardt, and Sombra have received the most balance changes, for better or worse.
Mercy, in particular, has borne the brunt of these patch notes. She has been tweaked to become more of a triage healer, with a focus placed on her ability to save critical and low-health allies. However, her Guardian Angel mobility has been nerfed with a higher cooldown, as well as her overall healing capabilities, so she may be picked less frequently in the current meta.
Overall, this is the biggest set of changes Overwatch 2 has seen since its initial launch in October 2022! Let’s delve into some specific patch notes and hero changes for Overwatch Season 3.
The starting maximum Ultimate ability charge after switching to a different hero has now decreased from 30% to 25%. This will prevent players from switching characters multiple times, prompting them to carefully consider which hero will work for their team composition instead of rushing into battle all-guns-blazing. There have also been several Ultimate cost adjustments, particularly to strong DPS heroes like Reaper and Pharah.
The health pools of all Tank heroes will be significantly lower when playing non-role-queue game modes. This is primarily to nerf the multiple tank meta on the same team, as seen in Open Queue competitive game modes, and to promote a solo Tank environment.
Previously, players would take advantage of the massive health pool of Tank characters and use them to steamroll the enemy team. Tank Heath in Role Queue game modes will remain the same.
Base mech health in non-Role Queue modes reduced to 200. Base mech health in Role Queue modes will remain at 350.
Base health in non-Role Queue modes reduced to 300. Base health in Role Queue modes will remain as 450.
Base health in non-Role Queue modes reduced to 300. Base health in Role Queue modes increased to 450.
Base health in non-Role-Queue modes reduced to 125. Base health in Role Queue modes remains at 275.
Augmented Fusion Driver - Damage falloff reduced from 25 to 15 meters
Base health in non-Role Queue modes reduced to 300. Base health in Role Queue modes remains at 450.
(Ultimate) Annihilation - Damaging enemies with his Ultimate no longer pauses the duration timer. Annihilation can now only last for 20 seconds. Ultimate cost increased by 12%
Base health in non-Role Queue modes reduced to 175. Base health in Role Queue modes remains at 325.
(Ultimate) Earthshatter - Direct hit damage reduced from 250 down to 170, knockdown duration increased from 2.5 to 2.75 seconds, and Ultimate cost increased to 7%
Fire Strike - Damage increased to 100 from 90
Rocket Hammer - Knockback reduced from 10 to 6
Charge - Cooldown reduced to 7 seconds
Base health in non-Role Queue modes was reduced from 700 to 550. Base health in Role Queue modes remains at 700.
(Ultimate) Whole Hog - Maximum duration increased from 6 to 8 seconds. Ultimate cost increased by 8%.
Base health in non-Role Queue modes reduced to 200. Base health in Role Queue modes remains at 350.
(Ultimate) Gravitic Flux - Cost increased by 7%
Base health in non-Role Queue modes reduced from 350 to 200. Base health in Role Queue modes remains at 350.
Barrier Projector - Shield health reduced from 700 to 650
Base health in non-Role Queue reduced to 450. Base health in Role Queue reduced to 450 from 600.
Shield health increased from 0 to 150
(Ultimate) Minefield - Arming time reduced from 1.5 to 1 second. Ultimate ability cost increased by 9%
Pile Driver - Cooldown reduced from 10 to 8 seconds
Base health in non-Role Queue reduced to 100. Base health in Role Queue remains at 250.
(Ultimate) Graviton Surge - Cost increased by 8 Damage
Most of the Overwatch 2 Season 3 balance changes to the DPS heroes involved tweaking the costs of their Ultimate abilities, so they cannot gain Ultimate charge as quickly. This will mean fewer team wipes from powerful Ultimates from DPS characters like Reaper or Pharah, and less Ultimates used in one team fight. More specific changes include Widowmaker becoming more squishy and easier to contest.
Combat Roll - Movement can no longer be blocked by enemy players
Peacekeeper - Primary fire falloff range increased to 25 meters
Concussion Mine - Maximum damage reduced from 120 to 100
Blizzard (Ultimate) - Cost reduced by 5%
Barrage (Ultimate) - Cost reduced by 5%
Death Blossom (Ultimate) - Cost reduced by 8%
Heavy Pulse Rifle - The number of shots to reach maximum recoil increased from 4 to 6. Recoil reduced by 12%
Machine Pistol - Damage per bullet increased to 7.5
Hack - Hacked health pack duration increase from 30 to 45 seconds to avoid re-hacking health packs as often.
Photon Barrier (Ultimate) - Cost increased by 10%
Deploy Turret - Turret health reduced from 250 to 225.
Base health reduced from 200 to 175
Several Support heroes have been nerfed in the Season 3 patch notes, with Ana's game-changing ability Biotic Grenades effects being reduced. However, Blizzard has also recognized the plight of Zenyatta players. By allowing him to have more Orbs of Destruction, they have the potential to increase Zenyatta's survivability through his sheer damage.
Biotic Grenade - Effect duration (either anti-healing or amplified healing) reduced from 4 to 3.5 seconds
Repair Pack - Healing over time reduced from 55 to 50 per second. Instantly heals for 25 health on impact.
Rally (Ultimate) - Cost reduced by 10%
Sound Barrier (Ultimate) - Cost reduced by 7%
Guardian Angel - Cooldown increased to 2.5 seconds. Holding the backwards directional input and canceling Guardian Angel causes Mercy to move 20% slower.
Caduceus Staff - Healing-per-second reduced from 55 to 45. However, healing is now increased by 50% for allies below half health.
Sympathetic Recovery will be replacing Mercy's Regeneration passive. This allows Mercy to heal herself for 25% of ally healing done with Caduceus Staff.
Coalescence (Ultimate) - Cost reduced by 5%
Orb of Destruction - Ammo increased from 20 to 25
There have been several quality-of-life and general improvements made to Overwatch 2 in preparation for Season 3.
As with all team-based games, communication, teamwork, and synergy are critical to winning team fights. Overwatch 2 introduced the brand-new Ping System, allowing players to communicate with their team more specifically, like telling them to fall back or pin-point flanking enemies. The Season 3 patch notes note that players can fire hero-specific pings for their cooldowns, which is incredibly important for Support heroes with game-changing abilities like Mercy's Resurrect or Kiriko's Protection Suzu.
There have also been some slight tweaks made to the Season 3 Competitive game mode to make it a fairer experience for players. Skill tiers and divisions will now be adjusted after every 5 wins or 15 losses when it was previously 7 wins or 20 losses.
Players can now also view their competitive progress to see how close they are to receiving their updated rank.
With all these new Ultimate tweaks and alterations to heroes, it will be interesting to see how the meta for Overwatch 2's Season 3 will pan out. With Season 3's end still to be announced, players will have plenty of time to dive into their own competitve games and test these changes out for themselves.