Overwatch! The Quick, The Competitive, and the Rage (console edition)

Overwatch has been a run away success in terms of mind share in the ‘hero shooter’ market currently sweeping consoles and PC at the moment. It crushed Battleborn in sales and has been in the top of twitch since launch on May 24.

A brief back story on the game for those who don’t know; Overwatch was originally a new MMO, named Titan, being developed by Blizzard for many years and was eventually scrapped. Assets and concepts from Titan were then carried over and modified to the game we are currently playing. A far cry away from their wheel house, Overwatch shows yet again that Blizzard puts out quality products. With all that praise though, there is an underlying problem that can seemingly not be escaped by this new genre called ‘hero shooter’ and that is the player base. Let me break it down by game type.

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Quick Play: The base mode for Overwatch, which pits you 6v6 across a host of maps, some pushing the cart, some capture the point and some a mixture of both. Players battle here to hone their skills and get a taste of each character and to figure out their strengths and weaknesses. It also allows people to learn how to play against certain team comp’s and learn that a Hanzo on attack in Dorado is a bad fucking choice!

Competitive Play: The ranked play for all the glory, and golden weapon skins. Competitive play is where wins matter and losses are incredibly aggravating. For those who have played games like League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm and other MOBA games, the aggregation of points after ten placement match’s moves you through the ranks. The rewards for this first season are a few icons and a gold skin for your gun.

Two major game modes, with a vs A.I. and custom game to round the options seem like pretty standard fare, and for their first foray into the first person shooter genre it is. However there is one glaring flaw with Overwatch, and that flaw is its community. Before the bitching happens let me explain, as it’s an obvious problem and one that we should be able to fix.

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This is a group of us messing around in Quick Play. Six Torbjorn’s on Hanamura having a good time, and being silly in Quick Play being the key portion of this sentence. This game mode, henceforth known as pug’s/pick up groups or solo queue, are fun with a group of friends, and range from great to terrible within said pug’s. In your solo queue experience for Quick play, like stated above, you are here to learn the characters and hone your play style.  As a console player, specifically PS4,  I find that the player base in Quick Play is average, as in the majority of people I have played against are decent skill level and make the match’s good. I count myself among the average for the most part, with being pretty good at tanking. Every three or four games, you run across a group of players who either stomp you, as they are either very skilled, your team is poorly skilled, they are a group, or some combination of the lot. In that same set of games, you also run across the opposite, a team who couldn’t hit the wall with a rocket if they were standing beside it. One thing remains fairly constant throughout is the lack of character changes/counter picks. Everyone seems to rush for a damage dealer and it becomes a struggle to find a tank or healer, with an even greater rarity on players who are good in those roles.

When you transition over to Competitive play, one would expect the caliber of player to raise per person, the innate co-ordination to be a bit tighter and the general knowledge of each class and its respective counters to be well in hand. . . yet clearly frigging not. Not only does the same level of disparity swing, some times you roll people, other times you are with a group of paint huffers, it seems more likely than not that if you are not playing a strong solo class, such as Soldier 76, Zarya or Roadhog, you will be relegated to scrambling for health packs as healers are few and far between and tanks are D.Va’s who are team rocketing all over the place (blasting off again for those not familiar with Pokémon).

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Why is it there is little team cohesion, and the lack of player knowledge in multiple class’s. I play with a regular group who have fifteen to twenty plus hours on three or four characters and while it’s not necessary for people to have a hundred or more hours into the game, have the basics down on a couple of characters should be the entry-level into hitting the competitive side of Overwatch.

That may seem like shitty thing to say, as it sounds like I am suggesting a ‘bar of entry’, and that’s not what I am looking for. What I am looking for is a competent teammates who can support me, as I support them, in our battle up the rank ladder.

The player base aside, there is one other major annoyance in the competitive side of Blizzards first hero shooter and that is the points you win or lose. Like any other competitive game with a ranking system, win’s push you higher and place you against more skilled opponents, while losses drill your rank down into the abyss. Nothing new right? Well let Blizzard ,in their infinite wisdom, throw a wrench into that straight forward system. If a player on the opposing team leaves and you win, you get a paltry sliver of experience due to the other team having fewer players. If a person on YOUR team leaves and you lose, you get the full xp negative, which is anywhere from a quarter of a level, all the way to two-thirds!

Many people have said this first season of competitive is a bust, as there are fixes and tweaks to come yet we all seem to want those gold weapons, so we continue to grind games out. If I can leave you with one thing for your competitive game as you build your team and climb the ladder it is this. . . Don’t pick fucking Hanzo on Attack!!