Season 21 of Overwatch promises some interesting changes, according to game director Jeff Kaplan in Overwatch’s first Developer Update for 2020.
Headlining the new features are the “Hero Pool” system for competitive play and a more accessible “Experimental” game mode.
Hero Pools are going to be Overwatch’s take on hero banning systems commonly seen in competitive video games today. But unlike what many gamers are familiar with, Overwatch’s banned characters will not be determined per match by the players. Instead, Blizzard will select which heroes to exclude from competitive play on a weekly basis.
The weekly shuffle of usable heroes is the development team’s latest strategy to ensure players explore and discover new gameplay tactics every so often, instead of settling with their favorite and most familiar metas every time they play.
In the Developer Update video, Kaplan also hinted that the Overwatch League will adopt a similar Hero Pool system. The League released an official announcement describing their take on the new feature, which will be implemented starting March 7.
Overwatch players can also look forward to a new option that will appear on the game’s main menu every now and then. A new “Experimental” card will be added to give players an immersive environment to test out tweaks and updates that the development team is working on. These include hero balances, game modes, bug fixes, and any other changes that the game may potentially feature based on players’ feedback and demand.
Not all changes made available for playtesting in the Experimental Card are expected to make it to the live version of the game, however.
Because Experimental is going to be a fixed feature on the Overwatch menu, players on all platforms will be able to access the new content and updates on their platform of choice — unlike the game’s Public Test Region (PTR), which is accessible only by PC users.
Kaplan gave Overwatch fans one more reason to be interested in Experimental mode play, aside from being the first to try out any potential additions. He shared that any in-game progress or loot collection made in Experimental will count toward the player’s development and progress in special events.
Want to learn more about Hero Pools and the Experimental Card? Hear it straight from Jeff Kaplan below:
Overwatch Season 21 will begin in early March.