Overwatch characters like D.va, Roadhog, and Reaper get regular touchups in Blizzard Entertainment’s gameplay balancing garage, but Tracer’s abilities have surprisingly not been tweaked. Game Director Jeff Kaplan addressed this issue Tuesday along with an explanation of why you likely won’t see any swimming characters in the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC multiplayer shooter for a long time.
A quick perusal through the Overwatch patch notes shows Tracer has not received any nerfs or buffs since the game was launched in May 2016. The only time anything gameplay related to the bubbly British time-warper was a bug fix in a patch released last November.
Kaplan’s explanation for the lack of a balance pass is straightforward. The changes made to other characters did not necessitate a change to Tracer.
“The perception of balance is often more powerful than balance itself,” the director said in a zen-like opening of a lengthy Overwatch forum post.
“All heroes are affected by changes to other heroes. Even if nothing changed, players would adapt new strategies and tactics that would cause the balance of the game to shift.”
He used Reinhardt as an example of a character whose playtime has been affected largely due to changes in characters around him. He was a must have in Overwatch competitive play some months ago, but Winston and D.va are now the preferred tank choices. The only change made to Reinhardt was a fix to his Earthshatter ability during that time.
It was the changes to the other heroes that ultimately reduced Reinhardt’s playtime. Similarly, Tracer’s balance has been affected by changes to others without the need for any tuning made to her.
This, of course, doesn’t mean Blizzard won’t turn any knobs on Tracer in the future. If players find a way to use her that adversely affects the Overwatch “meta,” it is safe to assume Kaplan and the gang will be adjusting some numbers.
Why Overwatch characters don’t get their feet wet
Kaplan also responded to an interesting question about why there is no swimming in Overwatch. The director says swimming underwater is not something the development team has found to be fun in other shooters. This leads to gimmicky and underwhelming gameplay.
The second reason he gives revolves around the amount of quality and care that is put into designing characters by animating each by hand. This level of attention to detail helps make the game stand out from others that use motion capture or the same animation model for all characters. This means a significant amount of work to add a swimming animation for every character, which could lower the actual number of heroes released in the future.
“So while conceptually we think swimming is cool and adds to the immersion and fantasy of being in a cool game world, the practical reality of it has made us hold off for now. Maybe in the future!” he concluded.
[Featured Image by Blizzard Entertainment]