Play of the Fortnight: Hanzo Rework Incoming

Hanzo’s been a hero Overwatch players have loved to hate for a long time. There’s an ongoing joke that Hanzo mains like to pick him regardless of whether he’ll be useful in a team comp. While there are certainly other heroes that fit that description as well, the Shimada archer seems to get the most negative attention. That’s why the community is likely pretty pleased to hear that there’s an incoming Hanzo rework.

But what exactly will the rework entail? Can we expect to see him being used more prominently, or at least being more welcomed on the team? In this Play of the Fortnight, we’re going to go over the potential changes to Hanzo, and what isn’t going to be in the patch.

Overwatch Hanzo Rework

When is the Hanzo Rework Coming?

Jeff Kaplan confirmed the changes are, “Not coming to the PTR this time around, but very soon.” At the moment, Blizzard is still working on finalizing the changes they want to make to Hanzo. It’s likely they’ll wait ’til the next round of hero updates before putting these up on the PTR for testing.

Either way, the Hanzo rework doesn’t have a confirmed release date yet.

Hanzo Piercing Arrow

One idea the Blizzard team came up with while working on Hanzo was replacing his Scatter Arrow with something different. In this case, specifically, a Piercing Arrow that would be able to penetrate enemy barriers or shields. It had a rapid projectile speed, so it’s safe to say it would’ve been pretty difficult to dodge.

Overwatch Hanzo Rework

This ability could’ve been used to snipe the back lines as Hanzo. Well-protected supports and high damage ranged heroes can be frustrating to try and take out, especially if your team isn’t flanking effectively. Hanzo could specifically use Piercing Arrow to pick off these high-value targets from a safe distance.

However, the team decided this was too powerful. Principal Designer Geoff Goodman said, “It was pretty frustrating to be feeling safe behind a barrier and get headshot through it and die.”

Changes to Scatter Arrow in General

Apparently, the team toyed with the idea of just modifying Scatter Arrow. For example, they wanted to change the projectile speed and remove parts of the way the scatter occurs. There would be no floor scatter, and the ricochet would be reduced but would have a tighter spread, in theory making it easier to kill people you’d trapped. The aim here was to make it possible for people to more accurately choose where the ricochet would occur, such as off a specific wall or ceiling, to bounce it at a target.

Overwatch Hanzo Rework

Goodman added, “This one was pretty fun but mostly just felt really hard to use consistently.” Finding the right areas of the map for this ability to be useful would be difficult. Personally, I find Scatter Arrow quite messy to use anyway, so it’ll be interesting to see where they go with this.

The team felt that players would blow the cooldown just to get the increased projectile speed for a sniper shot. This seems like a waste. However, this may give us a clue as to what direction they ultimately take. Each of the changes to Scatter Arrow has involved a sped up projectile. At the moment, Scatter Arrow has the same projectile speed as his base speed. Perhaps a future change will involve replacing it with an ability that increases projectile speed for a short time.

Replacing Hanzo’s Reload

Hanzo doesn’t need to reload his bow, as his arrows are unlimited. Because of this, the team played with another idea where they’d replace the Reload key with another ability. This ability would allow Hanzo to sacrifice some regular shooting time to “cast” the ability and reset all of his cooldowns. This doesn’t feel like it’d be super useful with his current kit (though having an instant reset on Sonic Arrow could be useful for vision) but with additional changes maybe it will become more useful.

“This idea overall wasn’t bad but I think its[sic] shelved for now,” Goodman explained. This means at least it’s a potential target for revisiting in the future. Perhaps Hanzo’s future kit will leave room for some experimentation in this area.

Overwatch Hanzo Rework

Hanzo’s Ultimate Rework

One thing I hope they don’t rework entirely is Hanzo’s ultimate. Dragonstrike is iconic as a part of the game, and I think it’d be a shame for it to change in its entirety. I say this as someone who is pretty bad at aiming it and often doesn’t get the most out of it. But I still think it’s one of the coolest abilities in the game, and it’d be a shame to lose the aesthetic.

Luckily, Goodman didn’t mention Dragonstrike in his post, and neither did Jeff Kaplan on the Developer Update video. Hopefully this means any changes made to Hanzo’s ultimate are minor.

Community Suggested Changes

The community came up with a lot of suggestions for what could change about Hanzo. Some thoughts included a stun or slow arrow, or basically any form of crowd control. These might do less damage than a regular arrow, but have some form of CC effect on the enemy. Others included adding a kind of Volley type ability where he could do a cone-shot. Hanzo could use this in close range to defend against flankers.

Other players thought it might be nice to go forward with the Piercing Arrow idea, but reduce its overall damage when piercing barriers. This would allow it to still target enemies at the back line without necessarily one-shotting anyone key to the fight.

Another alternative might be a short-range arrow allowing players to leap backward to escape from a flanker. It might do less damage, but allow a player to either smokescreen themselves or at least dive backwards out of range and flee.

Overwatch Hanzo Rework

Closing Thoughts

We’re glad to see Hanzo getting some attention. Hanzo players themselves seem pretty excited about it. Perhaps more importantly, Blizzard is taking other players into consideration too. Goodman confirmed that they’re aiming to look at what would make Hanzo a welcome addition to your team, rather than just being a hero you roll your eyes at when he’s picked. This is definitely a healthy way to look at hero reworks and updates. Blizzard shouldn’t just think about the hero and their impact on their opponents, but also how the team will react to having them onboard. If the hero is useful or powerful, teams will want someone to pick them. You can read Geoff Goodman’s full post here.

Hopefully we don’t have to wait too long to find out what changes Blizzard makes during the Hanzo rework. What would you like to see added? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Psyche

Psyche is a loud, obnoxious gamer, streamer and writer from Northern Ireland. She formerly worked in the games industry as a community manager and eventually project manager. When she's not writing about games, or playing them, she's working on her first novel. RPGs, books, a cup of tea, and talking about outer space are the ways to her heart.