After the recent end of Season 3, the new season of Overwatch’s ranked mode has arrived, along with a new addition to the roster. As with all of the previous seasons, this new one will be making some changes to the competitive formula. However, the alterations to the system this time are somewhat smaller than previous ones, which seems to imply that Blizzard is becoming more and more satisfied with how ranked mode is progressing. Though while these changes may be smaller, that doesn’t make them any less consequential or even controversial.
On a separate note, after some recent teases about a new addition to the roster, the newest hero “Orisa” was completely unveiled and playable on the PTR, making her the third new hero added post-release. I have to say that her release was handled significantly better than Sombra’s was, with an apparent lack of pointless ARG and a swift release after the brief teasers (though for all we know, maybe we just weren’t looking hard enough?).
There are only three major changes to the formula this season, and one more change that doesn’t apply in the slightest to more than 90% of players: The insignificant change simply makes it slightly more difficult to reach a rating of 0 and a rating of 5,000, meaning that if you’re above the rating of 500 and below the rating of 4,500, you won’t notice a difference in how your rating fluctuates between matches.
Another more major change affects how the rewards for placing in the “Top 500” are dealt out. Originally, if you had broken into the Top 500 players at any point at all during the season, you’d receive the rewards that went with accomplishing the feat. Blizzard has decided to change the system this season, making it so that you will only receive these rewards if you are in the Top 500 at the season’s end. This was done to increase competition and to make the rewards feel more exclusive and to make them more of an achievement to get.
A bit of an unexpected change comes in the form of how respawns work for the Defense on maps that involve point capturing. Now, the longer the Offense is contesting the point, the longer the respawn timer for the Defense becomes until it either maxes out and stops increasing, the Defense retakes control of the point, or the Offense seizes the point for themselves. Blizzard has stated this was implemented to prevent the common tactic of defenders simply throwing themselves onto the point once they respawn, often stalling out time until their is a draw, though Blizzard has acknowledged that this may not be a permanent solution to the frequency of ties and has stated that they “…are currently working on a more robust solution for breaking ties on Assault maps.”
The last major change involves the skill rating decay introduced in Season 2. While previously, players in the Diamond tier and up were required to complete at least one match every 7 days to keep their SR from depleting, Season 4 changes this by making it so players must complete at least seven games a week instead of one. Each game played delays the decay by 24 hours, and this stacks up to 7 days. This new system seems a bit too demanding of players’ time, and I feel it should be lowered to give people more leeway in how they can spend their free time. Reception in general of this change is mixed, with many feeling the same way.
Speaking of new additions to Overwatch, there’s a brand new hero up for testing on the PTR, and she goes by the name of Orisa. The first new tank and the first new robot character, Orisa feels like a welcome addition to the cast that will hopefully add even more variability into each match.
To quickly give you a rundown on her abilities, her primary fire is a rapid-fire projectile weapon that deals a good amount of damage but slows her movements while she’s firing it, similar to D.Va’s primary fire. Her first ability, “Fortify”, makes her take less damage while she is under its effect, and also makes her impervious to stuns. For example, she can walk straight through Reinhardt’s Earthshatter and McCree’s Flash-bang without a second thought while she is using Fortify.
Her next ability, “Halt!” is a projectile grenade that, when it detonates, slows down all nearby enemies and drags them towards it, acting as somewhat of a miniature version of Zarya’s Graviton Surge. Her last ability is “Protective Barrier”, which is a shield similar to Reinhardt’s that she can place on the ground to protect allies, and though it is not quite as durable, she is free to do other things while it is up.
Lastly, Orisa’s ultimate is her “Supercharger”, which greatly amplifies the attack power of all allies in her line of sight, making this an amazing tool for surprise attacks and squashing the enemy in the midst of a tough firefight. Though her kit is likely final, Orisa is still up for testing on the PTR and these abilities are potentially subject to change. You can go help test her for bugs and potential fixes right now, and I highly suggest you do, as Orisa is a very fun and welcome addition to Overwatch.