The Public Test Region (PTR) of Overwatch provides exciting opportunities both for those who participate in it and those who simply spectate the various new features it introduces. Despite being transparent in many areas, Blizzard has been surprisingly quiet about the PTR, particularly in regards to its importance for the company’s development processes.
Jeff Kaplan explains PTR
Today, however, that has changed. The latest Developer Update from Jeff Kaplan, Overwatch’s Game Director, explains what the PTR means to Blizzard and how it fits into their plans. As you might have already guessed, the realm is not simply a means for players to try out new features.
More specifically, player feedback is very important and beneficial for Blizzard, particularly when they are testing features that might change the gameplay in a fundamental way. However, the PTR is also a way for the company to test out upcoming changes and ensure that they will not break anything in the game.
Instead of pushing half-baked updates into the live realm or working merely with a small subset of testers within the company, the PTR basically allows Blizzard to have a stable and continuous beta channel with dedicated testers. This way, they can stress-test new changes and prevent any game-breaking bugs from making it over to the live channel.
For those of you who want an incentive to join the PTR, you may be pleased to know that Blizzard is indeed thinking about a rewards system. This might include loot boxes, bonus XP, or other small rewards for the live channel. However, this is far from a top priority as right now the development team’s focus lies elsewhere.
As for those who may have pondered the lack of a PTR for consoles, the reason for it is exactly what most of you probably think. Both major consoles are notorious for their patching processes, particularly because each game has to be operated through the console’s own network, i.e. Xbox Live and PS Plus. In contrast, Blizzard controls everything in its Battle.net platform which makes things far easier.
Roadhog, Sombra, and more
Aside from the PTR, Kaplan also discussed a variety of Overwatch heroes including some of the issues identified by Blizzard and the community. Starting with Roadhog’s hook, Kaplan acknowledged that there are plenty of moments where hooking someone or getting hooked feels unfair. As such, the team wants to refine the mechanics behind it and make it feel more consistent which will hopefully prevent or at least limit frustrating scenarios.
Sombra is another hero who has been the subject of much discussion. First of all, the Director wanted to clarify that while she is in the offensive category, she was never meant to be an assassin or a front line flanker. Instead, she shines as a backline disruptor though Kaplan also suggested that players have not yet mastered how to take full advantage of her kit and playstyle. As such, they will make some small changes which will hopefully reinforce her current position.
D.Va and Ana will also be on the receiving end of some nerfs though their severity will vary. Right now, D.Va is simply “doing too much right now” so the team would like to bring her down a bit. Ana is at a similar point where her unique design and mechanics make her a very strong hero. As such, both will receive small balance changes which will retain their unique playstyles while giving their opponents more opportunities for engagement.