Last week’s Overwatch update, Patch 1.44, was full of big changes to the game. Half a dozen heroes received nerfs and the Lunar New Year event debuted with new skins, a new arcade mode, and weekly challenges. Hidden in the margins of Patch 1.44’s notes are small tweaks to Overwatch’s spectator client that create a better viewing experience for both observers and players.
Over the past year, with the addition of the replay viewer and the popularity of the Overwatch League, developers have added more alerts within the game’s user interface (UI). These icons and color changes allow spectators and players to better understand what’s happening during fast-paced Overwatch matches. During the 2019 Overwatch League season, developers added icons to reflect players being hacked, frozen, or hit with Ana’s anti-healing grenade.
In Patch 1.44, more of these icons have been added to indicate status changes when spectating a game. When Zenyatta uses his Discord orb on a player, an icon appears beside that player. Ana’s Nano-Boost ultimate now adds a blue outline around a player’s health bar. This is the positive version of the purple outline that appears with her anti-heal grenade. Any player who’s resurrected by Mercy will gain a brief, yellow flash with a healing icon.
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Significant changes to third-person cameras have also been added to the spectator client. Spectators can now shift between the left and right shoulders of a hero while in third-person view, according to the Patch 1.44 update notes. This change can help observers make note of who’s flanking or sneaking up on a specific player. Spectators can also toggle between the “normal” third-person mode and the over-the-shoulder third-person mode.
Many players have noticed that kill cameras look different since Patch 1.44 dropped. The “death camera” now quickly pans to the person who eliminated you to “make it easier to see if you were killed by someone behind you or to your side,” according to developer comments on the patch notes. While this is often a jarring shift, it can help players plan their next attack or warn their surviving teammates.
These spectator changes will be in effect when the Overwatch League begins on Feb. 8.