Overwatch players have a troubled relationship with the PTR. Blizzard explains directly to its community what the test server is for and its current balancing intentions.
Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan has issued an update on the shooter’s public test realm, or PTR, which remains a source of confusion and contention.
As Kaplan explains in the video above, the Overwatch PTR isn’t just where Blizzard throws whatever wild experimentation at the wall to see what sticks – it’s a place to make sure changes are stable and relatively bug-free before they go live, and those changes are carefully thought out, based on feedback and metrics.
A console PTR isn’t possible because Blizzard hasn’t got direct control over PlayStation and Xbox’s community and network systems, but the fact that the PTR exists at all is why Overwatch patches can roll out on console and PC relatively close to each other.
As for building incentives to get Overwatch players onto the PTR, Kaplan said Blizzard is interested in this, but would rather spend time working on Overwatch itself.
Kaplan also discussed the latest batch of balancing changes on the Overwatch PTR, giving a little context.
When it comes to Sombra, Kaplan said the Overwatch team intends to move slowly with her. They believe Sombra is “actually very powerful, and a lot of players haven’t mastered how to play her correctly yet”, but Kaplan conceded she is maybe “in need of a little bump”.
However, don’t ever expect her to be a “vicious assassin” – Sombra is intended as a “backline disruptor”, maybe even leaning towards a support role, rather than a frontline flanker. Right now Blizzard has no plans to maker her more lethal, bringing her in line with Overwatch’s killers.
As for Roadhog, Blizzard is still working on him, and concede that Overwatch players in general feel the hook is unfair – whether they play Roadhog or not.
D.Va’s nerf came up for discussion too. In the current Overwatch meta, Kaplan said, D.Va’s just doing a “bit too much” and it’s “really hard to come up with a definitive counter to D.Va”. In Blizzard’s opinion, D.Va’s unique features are her mobility and her firing cadence, which doesn’t include reloads, so they won’t be changing those. But to ensure she’s not “great at everything”, her health pool has been reduced.
As for Ana, Blizzard reckons she’s pretty good, and has “a lot of faith” in her design. That said, they admit she’s maybe a bit too powerful, hence the toning down of her healing abilities. Don’t expect the “drastic reworking” of Ana some Overwatch players are calling for, though.