Overwatch PTR » The Complete Public Test Region Guide
As one of the biggest esports in the world, Overwatch has plenty of appeal for gamers around the world. There is always something to do – be it an event, ranked matches or even watching the Overwatch League itself. If all of that still doesn’t prove enough, Blizzard also offers another, less well-known way to play the game – Overwatch PTR. Short for Public Test Realm, this is another version of the game that is used to test newer versions of the game before they go live for everyone.
How to play Overwatch PTR-style
The use of PTR servers is entirely optional – players who want to experience new updates a week or two before they are released for all players can use the PTR service. Especially when it comes to revealing new characters, balance-changes or ability updates and other Overwatch news, players often don’t want to wait for the official updates.
How to install PTR
If you want to use the PTR version of Overwatch, you can do so fairly easily – you need to have a valid game license for the main game on your Battle.net account, and you’ll need to be playing on a Windows PC as other operating systems don’t currently support PTR.
Launch your Battle.net and click on the Overwatch tab on the left. Click on the Region drop-down menu and select PTR: Overwatch from the menu. Click on the Install button in order to launch the installation process. This may take a while, but the new installation won’t be as big as the original game. Make sure you have enough disk space available.
When your installation is complete, you’ll be able to launch your new client and click Play. The PTR version will work just like the normal Overwatch does – the menus and gameplay are all the same, except you will only be playing with other players who are also using the PTR client. In other words, if you know how to play Overwatch, you know how to play Overwatch PTR.
Overwatch PTR Patch Notes and More
Because the PTR version is a little ahead of the normal version of the game, it can be less stable. Updates aren’t fully tested – that’s what the servers are for, after all. Always keep an eye on the Overwatch PTR patch notes to make sure you know what to expect – and what might not work.
Especially around the launch of new characters, such as Sigma, Ashe or Wrecking Ball, the PTR version of the game is particularly popular – which can lead to it being maxed out. The service can only accommodate 10k concurrent players at any one time. This means that once that many players are active; any further attempted logins won’t work.
Players from all regions of the world can participate in the PTR service, though outside of the Americas, they may experience higher latency and lag issues. From Blizzard’s side of it, the service is used to find problems, bugs and technical issues before the updates are put across to the normal game.
The version numbers of each update in both versions is similar – the general nomenclature of it is that an update labelled ‘1.34.0’ in the PTR version will be called ‘18.104.22.168’ when it is released in the regular game. It is unusual, but some updates have had an additional ‘.0’ at the end rather than a ‘.1’. Knowing which update is which can help you identify what you are playing, and which patch notes – PTR or otherwise – cover what you are playing.
Testing the New
Since PTR is meant for testing purposes only, no loot box purchases, or other real-money purchases are possible. If you want to buy boxes or skins, you’ll have to do so on your regular account. All of your progress, stats and owned skins will transfer from your regular account to the PTR one, so you won’t be starting from scratch – you’ll still be able to see and use all the things you’ve unlocked during your regular gameplay.
However, the transfer isn’t live – so, if you progress your regular account in between playing the PTR version, you might not see that reflected in the PTR version. Progress made in the PTR version will not transfer to the regular game at all, so if you want to level up, you’ll have to do so in the regular game.
It’s not known whether Overwatch 2 will also have a PTR version – the recently announced sequel to the first Overwatch game won’t be as esports and multiplayer-focused, so there may or may not be a similar service available for players.
PTR and Esports
Naturally all official Overwatch matches happen in the regular version of the game, and the PTR service is not used in any of the matches or competitions. New characters and updates that are released through the PTR even during official Overwatch League seasons – changes that have gone live on the Overwatch PTR server don’t affect the competitive season.
New content added is scheduled by Blizzard accordingly. As new characters can seriously change up the game balance and meta, updates are released with as little interruption as possible to the competitive seasons.
The Appeal of Overwatch PTR
As mentioned, new characters are one of the main points of interest for players that use the Public Test Realm, but similar content changes like map updates, health or armour adjustments, character updates, new maps and UI improvements can all be seen there first. These updates are generally released at least once per month, though there is no strict schedule. When new developer updates are announced, a PTR patch is released – followed by, after testing it, the release of that patch in the normal game.
The usual duration of time between the updates are pushed live lies somewhere around the 20 day mark – although it has been as long as 69 days and as short as 7 for some updates. Especially in the case of bug fixes, things are usually put forwards much more quickly.