Overwatch 2 director Aaron Keller shared the studio’s side when it comes to balancing out the characters in the game. What he’s revealed might surprise all but the game’s hardcore player base.
In an interview with GamesRadar, Aaron talked about how rapidly the team discusses balance, and it’s more often than you guess:
“It’s a value for the Overwatch design and balance team to do our best to balance the game for every skill set for people all across the skill spectrum. We actually meet weekly and talk about the balance in the game.”
Keller then talks about the strange dilemma they face, which may not be all that unfamiliar to fighting game developers, or studios working on other highly competitive shooters. Blizzard has found that high level players think the devs only listen to the lower ranked players, and vice versa for those lower ranked players. Kelly believes the only reason the players would feel that way is because they don’t see things from the developer’s perspective.
Keller then talked about the granularity of the data they have when it comes to character balance, stating that they “break out the balance per hero, per game mode, per map by the rank of the players that are in them.”
“And it’s true that there are some heroes that might be more effective in the in the hands of someone that has like really high aim skill, but Overwatch isn’t a game just about aim skill. It’s a game about positioning and game sense and teamwork and strategy.”
As I’ve pointed out, there’s a lot of similarities here between how developers of fighting games like Street Fighter 6 give feedback, and how Blizzard experiences it with Overwatch 2.
But that’s where the similarities likely end. Street Fighter 6’s Modern Controls system adds a new layer of gameplay that both beginners and veteran players have to contend with. There really isn’t anything like that in Overwatch 2.
Obviously, there are also the main differences in genres, and the nuances between team vs team and player vs player situations, with each Overwatch 2 character fitting a certain role that allows them to work together in real time.
Keller says that Blizzard makes it their goal to “find ways to make heroes that are very useful at every rank in the game.” Of course, they’re far from reaching that goal, but it’s at least one that aligns with how Overwatch 2 players would like to be able to play the game.
With all the different issues and concerns Blizzard faces on Overwatch 2, it is at least reassuring that their basic gameplay remains a going concern for the studio. In spite of everything else, the players do find themselves coming back because of that.