Overwatch's Hanzo almost got a barrier-piercing arrow but it was too OP

We've known for a little while that Hanzo, Overwatch's archer-sniper and butt of many jokes, is due for a rework. The main thing expected to change is his Scatter Arrow, which can often one-shot enemies and thus feel unfair to play against. 

Overwatch principal designer Geoff Goodman took to the game's forums recently to discuss some of the ideas the hero balance team has been kicking around. 

"We're still working on him so it might be a bit early to talk about where we are right now," Goodman said. "What I can do is mention a few things we have tried that haven't worked so far, that might be interesting."

The first idea replaced Scatter Arrow with Piercing Arrow, a shot with extremely fast projectile speed that would pierce through enemies and barriers. 

"This was pretty fun as a 'snipey' arrow that you could occasionally take a super long-ranged shot at an enemy Widow, Pharah, or just a support in their back lines," Goodman said. "Ultimately though, it was pretty frustrating to be feeling safe behind a barrier and get headshot through it and die."

Another group of ideas reworked Scatter Arrow in a number of ways. The most successful version, Goodman said, increased the projectile speed but made the arrows only ricochet once, reduced the spread, and made it not split off the floor. This removed the annoying one-shot problems, instead being useful as a long-range sniper shot or providing more accuracy off a single wall or ceiling. 

"This one was pretty fun but mostly just felt really hard to use consistently," Goodman said. "There were some areas of maps where it felt useful and fun but a lot of the time there weren't any usable surfaces around to cause a split, and using your cooldown to merely increase the projectile speed of your shot didn't feel great as a common use-case."

The last idea Goodman mentioned is my favorite of the bunch. He said the team playtested an ability bound to Hanzo's Reload key (which is currently unused) that, after a several-second animation delay, would reset the cooldowns on his other abilities. 

"This meant if you wanted to sacrifice some normal shots you could forcibly reset your special arrows," Goodman said. "This was pretty interesting when paired with the Piercing Arrow idea, but felt pretty crazy with Sonic Arrow. This idea overall wasn't bad but I think its shelved for now."

Goodman said none of these ideas really hit the target, so to speak, and the team is still narrowing down the broad direction to take Hanzo in the future. A big goal is to make sure that players are glad to have a Hanzo on their team. Either way, it's cool to see the design process discussed out in the open like this. 

Bo Moore

As the former head of PC Gamer's hardware coverage, Bo was in charge of helping readers better understand and use PC hardware. He also headed up the buying guides, picking the best peripherals and components to spend your hard-earned money on. He can usually be found playing Overwatch, Apex Legends, or more likely, with his cats. He is now IGN's resident tech editor and PC hardware expert.