Patch Note Speculation

written by Clubfrills and Fyren


It’s the start of a new year and we’re looking at a pretty wild list of changes from the development team. Is this the end of GOATS as we know it? Will reaper become meta for the first time ever? It’s hard to say without some time for the player base to adapt and let these changes sink in, but let’s make some predictions and speculate. And now, on to the patch notes:



  • Damage reduction from armor reduced from -5 to -3

Developer Comments: Before this change armor reduced all incoming damage by up to 5, maxing at half of the normal amount. This change reduces the damage reduction to 3, while still capping at half. This change will be mostly noticeable on heroes that fire quickly or in a burst of shots (such as shotguns), and which do more than 6 damage per shot. For example, Soldier: 76’s Heavy Pulse Rifle will now do 16 damage per shot to armor, up from 14, an increase of 15%. Armor was a bit too strong overall, especially when being healed quickly and often. This change will help more heroes fight against higher armored enemies.


This change in isolation sounds great. With the increasing viability of hitscan heroes, this takes some pressure off running Junkrat, Hanzo, and Reaper. The problem we’re going to see is that this isn’t the only nerf to tanky and armored heroes in this update.

Something to consider as well, is that every single support is indirectly affected by this change as well. With armor being less effective overall, supports will have a much harder time keeping their front line hale and hearty which means more time spent trying to keep the tanks alive and less time to spare on topping off other targets. The ramifications for this could be larger than intended.



  • Rally
    • Now has a maximum duration of 30 seconds

Developer Comments: Sometimes Rally could cause a snowballing effect where it was too difficult to deal with the increased health of Brigitte’s allies before she built up another one. This change puts a cap on how long her Rally effect can last to make it a bit more manageable in those situations.


The nerf Brig train continues. I assume most of us are sick of playing GOATS, or against GOATS, so I shrug at this one. At this point, coupled with her bash nerf, I am uncertain if there’s ever a reason to run this character outside of a GOATS composition when there are more reliable healers with more useful kits available *cough* LUCIO *cough*.

This change makes Rally much less of a snowball, especially on characters with shields such as Zarya and Zenyatta as damage will deplete the shields before damaging the armor. The opposite is now true with this change, making Rally nearly worthless on those characters. Combine this with the reduced effectiveness of armor in general and Rally becomes barely worthy of a slot as an ultimate ability. With the above armor change as well affecting Brigitte’s Repair Pack ability, there is no longer much of a reason to run this character at all.




  • Defense Matrix
    • Cooldown increased from 1 second to 2 seconds

Developer Comments: This change allows D.Va’s enemies to try to play around her Defense Matrix by increasing its downtime between uses.

You know, this is a bummer for D.Va mains, but let’s face it. Defense matrix is an insanely powerful ability, and I’m not sure if the dev team has ever really landed on how to balance it correctly in the game. As I feel D.Va is a must pick for many compositions, this might allow for some more diverse tank play.

While Defense Matrix is one of the most powerful abilities in the game and is the reason that D.Va sees so much play time across all modes, increasing the cooldown to 2 seconds removes a lot of what makes the character a tank in the first place. Being able to cover dives, protect supports and snipers, and generally… tank is the reason this ability exists. Imagine if Reinhardt had to wait 2 seconds to put his shield back up every time he dropped it. That’s essentially what this is.

But now it’s time for the real meat and potatoes of this update. Oh yes ladies and gentlemen, the reaping is upon us.



  • The Reaping
    • Life steal increased from 30% to 50% of damage dealt

Developer Comments: Reaper’s passive is one of the main tools he has which allow him to play aggressively when near his enemies. This change allows him to keep the pressure up as long as he can stay near his enemies enough to keep dealing damage. This change is particularly effective versus tanks, as they tend to do less damage than damage heroes, and also take more damage from his Hellfire Shotguns due to their larger hit volumes.


Like the armor change, this change in isolation makes sense. Reaper has never been a meta character, or even a must pick in any particular composition I can think of. Perhaps we should accept that some heroes are meant to be off-meta, and that it’s actually okay that some of them are only situationally used. Combine this healing buff with the general armor nerf aforementioned, and you have my former tank-main crying in a corner. Blizzard doesn’t just want to weaken the GOATS meta, it wants to John Wick style pump nine rounds in the head and annihilate it. Perhaps this is a bit heavy handed, but only time will tell. I wouldn’t be surprised if players come up with a variation of GOATS that deals with these changes (many exist already… I guess you could just call them triple support comps though).

So the tank shredder can now be even more fearless when walking up to someone 3 times his size and telling them to sit down and shut up. Especially with the above change to Defense Matrix, D.Va is no longer a threat to Reaper. Though, with such strong changes favoring Reaper, we are likely to see many team compositions that feature strong Reaper counters to discourage him from even being played. Pharah, McCree, Widowmaker and Hanzo all come to mind. Characters that can out range and mitigate Reaper’s effectiveness before he can accomplish much.


Say goodbye to your beloved tanky comps?


The meta is going to change. We cannot stop it now. What strikes me as strange is that these changes are rather large and sweeping, which is out of character for the Overwatch balance team. In the past they have tended to making only one large change at a time. This patch brings several changes that individually would shake things up on their own. Combine them all together though and things are going to change incredibly drastically.

That about does it for this week. I’m worried what these changes will really feel like out in the wild, but regardless, we’ve been itching for a new meta for a while now. Maybe we should embrace the change?


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