Blizzard Entertainment is making some major changes to Overwatch 2 with Season 9: Champions, such as revamping Ranks, buffing all heroes, and more when it launches February 13.

These changes begin with the core gameplay, as Blizzard said it has heard community feedback and is making changes as a result. Weapon accuracy has been improved across the board, and every hero in the game will see a health increase to accommodate for the extra bullets taken.

"One of our main goals with these adjustments is to make firing your weapons and abilities feel more consistent without impacting the time to eliminate a target, without removing the overall feel of gameplay we all know and love," Blizzard said in a supporting blog post. Heroes who don't fire weapons will receive other changes to ensure balance.

Heroes between 150 and 175 HP currently will see a 25 HP increase, heroes between 200 and 300 HP will see a 50 HP increase, and those above 300 HP will see a 75 to 100 HP increase. All heroes will regenerate health passively too, at a rate of 20 HP per second after five seconds of not taking damage. The Support role passive heal has been adjusted to 2.5 seconds.

"The changes to projectile size and health pools effectively reduce the impact of burst damage and tones down the relative strength of healing, meaning it will take longer to heal someone from one HP to full health," Blizzard said.

"An increase to health pools and weakening of burst damage means that heroes live longer and team fights will take longer to conclude. To combat some of the potentially extreme situations there, we’re also introducing a new damage passive empowering them to more easily fulfil their role in securing eliminations, reduce in-combat healing, and potentially add an additional strategic layer to focus firing targets."

Blizzard is also fundamentally changing ranked play mechanics, as competitive ranks will be reset complete. Players will instead have a new rank determined through 10 initial Placement Matches. "With everyone’s ranks being reset, 10 matches for each role provides a high-stakes opportunity to make big gains in determining your new starting rank," Blizzard said. "You’ll only have one chance this year to run your Placement Matches, so pick your best heroes and stay hydrated because these games count for a lot."

A new, highest rank of Champion is also being added with Season 9. "Even with the boosts that Placements can provide, all top ranking players will still need to win a lot of games to reach Champion 1, the most exclusive tier for only the best of the best," Blizzard said. "This is the most exclusive rank in the history of Overwatch, and we’re on the edge of our seats to see who will achieve such heights in Season 9 and beyond."

To keep track of how close (or far) players are from Champion 1, ranks will be updated after every match as of Season 9, and a progression bar will show how much progress was gained or lost. "One piece of feedback we heard is that just knowing your rank doesn’t say anything about why your rank went up or down," Blizzard said. "To help with this, we’re going back to updating your rank after every match and showing how much progress you gain or lose between each Skill Division.

"We’re also displaying Modifiers that affected your last match below the rank progression bar. Feedback is a driving force behind these changes, and we want to hear your thoughts on Competitive Play now that you’ll have more context for each game.

Competitive progress will also contribute to earning Competitive Points, which in turn will be used to acquire Jade weapon variants. Every match contributes to Competitive Points, though more will be gained for a win, and 3,000 points are required to unlock the Jade variant.

Season 8 Competitive Points will be turned into Legacy Competitive Points and used to unlock Golden weapon variants. The same will happen when the competitive season ticks into 2025, with all 2024 Competitive Points also being converted into Legacy points.

One of these features has already been panned by the Overwatch 2 players but largely because a developer posted about it online "out of context". Fans slammed the self-healing mechanic after game director Aaron Keller revealed it without explaining why, something Blizzard itself admitted was a mistake.

Another feature fans are eager to hear more on, but wasn't mentioned in the Season 9 reveal, is a change to Overwatch 2's monetisation model. Blizzard has said it's "actively working towards" giving away new heroes to all players, not just those who buy a premium battle pass, but hasn't commented on the subject again since December 2023.

Monetisation has been a controversial topic within Overwatch 2 since its launch in October 2022, highlighted by its Steam release seeing the game plummet to the platform's worst reviewed game of all time. Users described Overwatch 2 as "an attempt to pry open your wallet while masquerading as the game it used to be."

Blizzard was also heavily criticised when Overwatch 2 launched as it forced its premium predecessor to update into a free-to-play sequel, rendering the original Overwatch unplayable. Since then, Overwatch 2 has endured a number of controversies including the cancellation of its long-awaited PvE Hero mode — the one feature, players said, that justified the sequel's existence.

Ryan Dinsdale is an IGN freelance reporter. He'll talk about The Witcher all day.