Earlier this week, Blizzard Entertainment revealed an upcoming overhaul to the healing system in their popular hero shooter Overwatch 2 that would give every hero a baseline self-healing passive ability starting in Season 9. This change was meant to reduce reliance on support heroes and the frustration that comes from teammates not enabling healing. However, the announcement sparked intense controversy within the Overwatch community over how drastically it could alter team composition and strategy. Facing mounting criticism, Game Director Aaron Keller has now admitted that revealing the changes without proper context was a “mistake” and that more details would be provided before implementation.
Initial Self-Healing Changes Cause Uproar
On January 11th, Blizzard put out a developer update detailing sweeping alterations centered around making support heroes more dynamic to play. Included was the revelation that all tank and damage heroes would receive a baseline self-healing ability from the start of Season 9 in late April. Tanks would slowly regenerate health over time out of combat, while damage heroes would heal upon getting eliminations.
This immediately prompted outrage from many Overwatch fans and professionals. Critics argued that self-sustain for non-support roles could greatly diminish the value of healers and make team compositions far less diverse. Top personalities and streamers threatened to quit playing Overwatch competitively if it meant teamplay would be less necessary. Many expressed feeling betrayed that such a monumental change would come right when Overwatch 2 finally achieved stability after its rocky launch.
Sample Tweet Reactions to Announcement
|This has to be one of the worst gameplay change I’ve ever seen. Reduce teamplay in a team game? Just so people that refuse to work as a team have an easier time?
|If this change goes live, I am not playing Overwatch anymore competitively. I cannot express how much I hate this change that just throws strategy and teamplay out the window because people don’t want to rely on their teammates in an inherently team oriented game.
|I have defended Overwatch through thick and thin but I cannot defend this. The game is absolutely dead if they remove the need for a support player to heal their non-support teammates.
Keller Admits Reveal Was Poorly Handled
Given rising tensions, Game Director Aaron Keller responded in a forum post on January 13th explaining their thought process but conceding that revealing the self-healing overhaul by itself was a blunder. He stated that their intent is still to make support players feel more impactful through other means like buffing utility. The passive heal additions came from data showing lower ranked players struggling with teammates not enabling them. However, Keller acknowledged they failed to provide necessary context at the time of announce.
“Talking about this lone change out of context was a mistake. All of the changes coming to the support role, the game as a whole, and this change specifically will make a lot more sense when viewed together.”
Keller said full details around the healing changes and vision for role passives would be revealed alongside other Season 9 updates in the near future. There were also hints at an upcoming developer livestream to answer community questions before any design decisions are finalized.
What Happens Next?
While the Overwatch team tries to defuse anger in the short term, uncertainty looms around how exactly self-healing could reshape competitive play. There are fears that allowing non-support heroes to sustain themselves could make dedicated healers feel pointless or lead to damage-heavy compositions becoming even more prevalent.
However, others in the community welcome the developers trying new ideas to solve problems around toxicity and teamplay friction. Pending more concrete information, some remain optimistic that supports will still provide value through amplification buffs and CC abilities. There’s also the possibility that the current fury leads Blizzard to scale back the healing changes before launch.
For now, the ball is in the developers’ court to provide a satisfactory explanation for their vision. But no matter what form self-healing ultimately takes, the intense reaction shows that sweeping alterations to Overwatch’s core formula will always be scrutinized by its passionately devoted fanbase. Blizzard continues facing pressure to evolve the game while retaining the elements that made it beloved in the first place.
More on Overwatch 2 Healing Changes
- Most Relevant News Update: Overwatch 2 dev says revealing controversial healing changes without context was ‘mistake’
- Further Explanation Vow From Director: Director’s take: Our development values, Part 1
- Original Dev Update With Healing Details: Overwatch 2 confirms surprising new Tank and DPS passives coming in Season 9
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