Blizzard released the latest Overwatch patch on March 19. It’s a massive update, perhaps one of the biggest in the game’s short history. It introduced Baptiste, a support character and the game’s 30th playable hero. Patch 1.34 also delivered many hero-specific buffs, as well as tweaks to armor calculations, knockback physics, and damage-boosting mechanics. Read on for a breakdown of the changes and for speculation on how this update will shake the game up.
Overwatch Patch 1.34’s biggest contribution to the game is undoubtedly the release of Baptiste. His addition to the game brings the total hero count to 30 and the number of playable supports to seven. Like the 29 other playable characters in Overwatch, Baptiste brings a unique, flexible, and stylish kit of weapons and abilities to the table.
Baptiste, Hero Number 30
Here are Baptiste’s abilities, according to Blizzard’s official Hero announcement:
Baptiste’s Biotic Launcher fires a three-round-burst that rewards accuracy and recoil control with significant damage output. His alternate fire lobs grenades that heal allies near the point of impact. With Regenerative Burst, Baptiste activates an intense surge that heals himself and nearby allies over time.
Baptiste can toss out his Immortality Field to prevent allies from dying. Baptiste moves around the battlefield with Exo Boots, jumping over obstacles and clearing distances that would stop other heroes. He deploys his Amplification Matrix as his ultimate, which doubles the damage and healing effects of friendly projectiles.
At first glance, there’s a lot going on; however, his kit can be summarized simply. First, his primary fire damages enemies in bursts while his alternate fire heals allies. Second, he gets to high ground quickly with his Exo Boots, making him one of the most mobile healers available. Finally, his support abilities provide awesome sustain and damage-boosting when used correctly.
Popular Overwatch YouTuber YourOverwatch reviewed Baptiste’s abilities and commented on how he could be used in competitive matches:
Baptiste seems best-suited as an “off” or second healer. His non-healing abilities like the Immortality Field are far more valuable to the team than his modest healing output. Notably, Baptiste can provide healing and sustaining support in two different spots. He can direct his alternate at one area of a team fight and lay his Field or activate his Regenerative Burst in another. His Immortality Field is a unique ability that can either negate powerful opposing ultimates or allow fragile characters on your team to pull off their own ultimates.
Finally, his ultimate ability is useful both in a crowded teamfight and when used just to augment Baptiste’s already-impressive damage.
Other Overwatch Patch Features
Overwatch also received several changes to mechanics with Patch 1.34. First, armor was modified to be more consistent across different heroes. Notably, armor no longer mitigates damage over time. This includes Ana’s primary fire, which drains health over a few seconds, Widowmaker’s Venom Mine, and Hanzo’s Dragonstrike ultimate. Additionally, beam-type weapons like Moira’s, Mei’s, and Winston’s primary fire do 20% less damage when hitting armor.
Next, damage boosting abilities like Mercy’s secondary fire were changed to take effect when the boosted hero fires. Previously, damage was augmented if the hero was being boosted as his or her projectile landed on an opponent.
The patch also reworked knockback physics significantly. They used to vary greatly in magnitude depending on the momentum and location of the hero knocked back. Now, crowd control will affect characters similarly whether they’re running or flying.
While these changes won’t revolutionize the way Overwatch is played, game mechanics will feel more consistent will make the game less chaotic-feeling. More games will be decided by player skill and positioning, rather than corner cases and unpredictable hero interactions.
Finally, the patch introduced a large number of buffs, fixes, and nerfs to different heroes. For an excellent breakdown of these changes, check out this video by Overwatch content creator Itsjieyang.
Overall, Patch 1.34 is a welcome addition to Overwatch. Baptiste and his innovative kit will throw a wrench in the competitive metagame, while the various reworks and changes will help matches run more smoothly.