Play of the Fortnight: The Precarious Future of Overwatch

We’re coming up on the two year anniversary of Overwatch’s launch. No one can deny that its first year was a massive success: the esports scene flourished, Blizzard added new content on a consistent schedule, and we saw people flock to the game even if they had never played shooters before.

However, as we come to the end of the second year, the future of Overwatch seems a little less certain. Updates have slowed, new content is sparse, and we’re wondering where the game is going.

No new Overwatch events

Future of Overwatch - Events

Overwatch events have always been a highlight for players. Whether you play the game the rest of the time or only come back for the event-specific content, there’s always something to do when an event rolls around. However, we haven’t seen a new event in a long time. In fact, Blizzard seems to have happily settled into a schedule with no intentions of doing anything new.

There is something to be said for knowing what to expect. Each year, many players including myself look forward to the Halloween Terror event. Unfortunately, it does feel like the events have got a bit repetitive. While Blizzard adds new skins to each event, and sometimes revamps the game mode or map a little (such as in the Archives or Summer Games examples), it’s getting all too familiar.

With their approach of bringing out an event every few months, on a fairly regular cadence, it doesn’t feel like there’s enough scope to weave any additional events in, either.

Lack of original content

Aside from events, we haven’t actually had anything new in a long time. The hero release schedule has elongated, new maps are infrequent, and even the regular patches seem to be spaced out a lot more than they were before. It feels a bit like Overwatch is in limbo: there’s still fun to be had, but the lack of a clear future is only going to hurt the game in the long run.

Even balance patches have suffered. In the Polygon article “Overwatch feels outdated in the era of Fortnite”, they talk about the meta and how Brigitte went practically unchecked for almost a year (article by Cass Marshall). Multiple balance patches happened, yes, but it took Blizzard a long time to get her to a more reasonable place.

At the beginning, Overwatch felt like a shiny new experience, with new and fun updates coming thick and fast, along with frequent tweaks to heroes and their abilities.. The events were something to look forward to, the story was constantly evolving, and the hero-based FPS gameplay was fresh. Where did they go wrong?

Trying to please too many people

Future of Overwatch - Esports

One of my theories is that Blizzard has spread themselves too thin. The major appeal of Overwatch was that it was a welcoming game for even a casual player. People who don’t normally play FPS games but are fans of Blizzard’s storytelling and world crafting were interested in the game and didn’t feel excluded. The colorful characters, the lore, the fun and not-too-serious gameplay were all major draws.

And then eports happened. Something that, when done well, usually serves to strengthen a game’s place in the gaming world seems to have done nothing more than weaken the one thing that brought so many players to Overwatch in the first place.

Try to please everyone, and you often end up pleasing no one. I worry that this is what is happening in Overwatch at the moment. This raises an interesting question: does every game have to be an esport? And how do you balance a competitive scene with a large but now ever-shrinking casual playerbase?

We need a PvE game mode

Future of Overwatch - PvE Game Mode

I’ve said it before, and this is definitely the hill I am willing to die on: Blizzard needs to bring in a PvE game mode. Junkenstein’s Revenge remains one of the most popular event game modes to date, and it seems strange that they haven’t added a permanent PvE mode already. Another suggestion players have made is a campaign mode, where players could explore the backstory of different heroes.

Ultimately, Blizzard needs to start doing something different. While I’ve talked before about a Battle Royale mode, maybe they need to do more to highlight their strengths rather than succumbing to the current flavour of the month genre. A PvE game mode would do this wonderfully, and would cater more directly to their more casual playerbase, perhaps even drawing some who’ve already left back.

Closing Thoughts

Overwatch isn’t dead, but it has certainly seen a decline in popularity lately. A large part of this impression is due to the fact that we aren’t seeing the game evolve any more. Is Blizzard trying too hard to please too many different types of players?

Blizzard faces a huge challenge in balancing its game for regular players, casual players, and its competitive and esports scenes. Whether or not this will be possible in the long run remains to be seen, but it’s definitely going to be difficult and they’re likely going to continue losing people along the way.

Will Blizzard strike a balance that works for the majority of the community? We’ll see what happens as we enter Overwatch’s third year shortly.

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Play of the Fortnight: 5 Tips for Overwatch Solo Queue

Playing as a team is incredibly important in Overwatch, especially ranked. However, sometimes solo queueing is unavoidable. Solo queue is a daunting experience for many players. What can you do to make your experience as positive as possible? In this Play of the Fortnight, we go through five tips for solo queueing in Overwatch. We’ve included general tips as well as some hero choice advice, so go forth and have a great time in solo queue!

Overwatch Solo Queue

1. Use voice chat for callouts

A lot of players avoid voice chat, especially in solo queue, because they’re shy or worried about toxicity. However, voice chat is key for receiving callouts, and can be useful if you get a player on your team who takes on a leadership role. You don’t have to use your microphone, even just being in voice chat and able to hear callouts makes a huge difference.

If you do feel confident enough to make callouts, voice chat is the easiest and quickest way to do so. Keep the information to a minimum, point out where enemies are and maybe even whether or not you’re pushing or falling back.

That’s not to say that toxicity isn’t an issue. Angry players can be even more difficult to deal with when they have direct and instant access to you through voice. We’ve talked about it before, and voice chat can definitely make a bad situation worse. That leads us into our next tip.

2. Don’t be afraid to use the mute button

In fact, to go further than “don’t be afraid to use the mute button:” use it liberally! There’s nothing worse than trying your best only to have your entire game thrown off by one overly mouthy, frustrated teammate. If your teammate is distracting you and not providing useful information whilst yelling about how Reaper just flanked them, use that mute button.

In fact, encourage your teammates to do the same. I’ve muted people in the past and had my teammates continue to engage with them and it defeats the purpose. The best thing you can do is ask your teammates to ignore or mute the offending person and focus on the game. You can pull it back, but it’s all the more difficult if everyone is focused on the tilted player instead of the game.

Overwatch Solo Queue

3. Pick heroes that allow you to carry

While you can absolutely pick whoever you want, there are certain heroes who will be more useful in a solo queue situation. Zarya, for example, is incredibly strong. Her shields allow you to protect teammates who are out of position whilst simultaneously charging up your own damage. She inflicts a lot of damage for a tank, and can shield herself to get out of harm’s way. On top of that, her ultimate can be an absolute game changer if you’re wise about when you use it. While I wouldn’t advise picking her as a solo tank, she can be fantastic for solo queueing and excellent when supporting another tank.

Moira is a great support to pick as well. She can deal out a lot of damage, has plenty of flexibility, and has an escape that gets her out of the way if her team don’t back her up. Zenyatta is another big game changer, as an accurate player will be devastating, and his utility is also extremely useful.

If you want to be a damage dealer, pick a flanker and practice with them. This one is a bit riskier as it can be easy to get shut down, but if you get good with a flanker you can ruin the enemy team’s day. It’s also worth noting that if the enemy team has someone in the backlines that needs taken out, if you’re playing the flanker you won’t have to rely on teammates you don’t know to do it. If you need something done well, do it yourself!

4. Focus on your own performance

While it may be frustrating when your team are underperforming, you cannot control that. The only performance you have any direct influence over is your own. For that reason, we recommend focusing on your own abilities. There’s always room for improvement, so after each match think about what you could have done better. Was there a mistake you made that you could try not to make in the future?

Obsessing over what your teammates did wrong is not only unhelpful to you, but can make you more frustrated which can directly influence your performance.

Overwatch Solo Queue

5. Finally, stay positive!

Never underestimate the power of staying positive in the face of an anger-inducing match. By this, we don’t mean don’t let a bad game affect you at all. Frankly, that seems impossible. However, if you have had a few losses in a row, take a break. Walk away from your PC or console, get a drink, and take a deep breath before you get back into it.

Repeatedly throwing yourself at the mercy of teammates you have no control over can be a frustrating experience. The more frustrated you get, the more likely you are to perform poorly yourself. Going into your next match with a refreshed mindset can make a huge difference to your performance and the outcome of the match.

Closing Thoughts

Solo queue can be a fun experience, and while challenging, it can be all the more rewarding when you start to see yourself climb. Using voice chat, picking the right heroes, and focusing on your own performance while staying positive are all so important. We hope the tips we’ve suggested above help you have an excellent solo queue experience!

What are some of your favorite ways to have a good time in solo queue? Let us know in the comments below!

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Play of the Fortnight: When Will We Get Overwatch Battle Royale?

In our last Play of the Fortnight, we talked about the potentially precarious future of Overwatch. Members of the community have speculated for some time about game modes Blizzard might release to keep things interesting. With that in mind, when will we get an Overwatch Battle Royale?

In this Play of the Fortnight, we talk about what such a game mode would look like, and whether it’s likely we’ll see it any time soon.

Apex Legends takes the BR genre by storm

Apex Legends, a game by Respawn – the same devs behind Titanfall – has been a delightful surprise to the gaming community. It’s also been repeatedly compared to Overwatch, with heroes who have varying abilities and ultimates. The art style is like a combination between Overwatch and something like Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 with its Battle Royale mode: Blackout.

It has people wondering: why isn’t there an Overwatch Battle Royale? As it turns out, Blizzard considered the game mode after its soaring popularity just over a year ago. Jeff Kaplan said in an interview with Kotaku, “There’s a lot of design and tech work to get us to that place and not just feel like a me-too game.”

However, Kaplan also went on to say that Overwatch is specifically about its heroes, and that it would be difficult to implement a Battle Royale game with this kind of gameplay. That statement hasn’t aged well, seeing as Apex Legends has done just that. So what is stopping Blizzard from doing the same?

What would need to change for an Overwatch Battle Royale to work?

Overwatch Battle Royale - Maps

There are certainly a few things that do prevent an Overwatch Battle Royale from being a fun experience, though. Blizzard would need to make quite a few changes, the biggest of which is the current maps. All Battle Royales on the market have relatively large maps, giving players options for where to drop and loot. Overwatch simply doesn’t have that style of gameplay yet: the maps are very small, however, Call of Duty is similar. Black Ops 4 has smaller arena style maps for its regular gameplay and a larger one for BR. Blizzard would need to develop a map specifically for the BR game mode, but it would be a step in the right direction.

The Overwatch matchmaking system would also need a few tweaks, as obviously right now it’s geared towards much smaller matches. Overwatch seems like it would make for a better “small” BR. Apex Legends, for example, has 60 players at the beginning as opposed to the usual 100+. Overwatch would benefit from going a similar route.

With Overwatch being a team-based game, it would also be a good idea to take a leaf out of Apex Legends’ book and not have a solo game mode. Whilst it’s somewhat frustrating to need a group of three to play, otherwise being forced into a pick-up, the team dynamic is what makes Apex fun. This goes for Overwatch too; the heroes work well together, but alone they can be frustrating.

How would looting work?

Overwatch Battle Royale - Looting

The big question is how Blizzard would implement looting in a game like Overwatch. Is it necessary for a Battle Royale to be able to loot different weapons and armor? With the way heroes work in Overwatch, and the fact that their weapons are key parts of their kit, it doesn’t really make sense to have different weapons available. Though perhaps there could be upgrades for weapons that drop. Other loot could include armor, with everyone starting with no base armor and items to heal or regenerate shields.

Ultimately, we feel that looting is a fairly core part of the BR genre, but it doesn’t have to be implemented the same way every time. There is room for innovation, which Blizzard has never really shied away from before.

What challenges does Blizzard face for an Overwatch Battle Royale?

Overwatch Battle Royale - Resurrection

The biggest challenge is one mentioned by Kaplan in the Kotaku interview: balance. “Our primary engagement distance is usually around 15 to 40 meters.” This is much, much shorter than engagement distance on a bigger BR map. Would Overwatch even translate well to longer ranges?

Another aspect of balance is that heroes are very specifically balanced for the state of the game currently. This may seem unimportant, but a Battle Royale game mode plays very differently. Blizzard would likely have to consider balancing heroes completely differently for BR and possibly even remove certain heroes from the mode entirely. For example, what purpose does Mercy have? Her range would be very limited and her resurrect would be unnecessary if everyone would be able to lift teammates.

Overwatch Battle Royale as a standalone game

One way to overcome a lot of the challenges Blizzard faces would be a standalone game. Perhaps a limited hero selection pool, one large map with loot spawns, and a separate balance pass would help immensely.

If Blizzard made the BR free-to-play, we’d likely see a rush of players giving it a try. We already know Apex Legends has driven up player numbers for Titanfall 2, so it’d have the added benefit of drawing attention to Overwatch’s main game.

However, this is incredibly risky. If Blizzard adds an Overwatch Battle Royale, regardless of whether it’s a standalone or built into the existing game, and it doesn’t do well it could only harm Overwatch’s popularity further.

Closing Thoughts

We think it’s fairly likely Blizzard is looking into the potential of an Overwatch Battle Royale. They were already thinking about it back when PUBG and Fortnite were the top dogs, but now that Apex Legends has shown a hero-based BR is possible and even incredibly popular, it’d be foolish for Blizzard not to consider the possibilities.

However, there are a few challenges to overcome first. Even so, we wouldn’t be surprised to see an announcement of an Overwatch BR in the coming year, assuming the genre maintains its current popularity.

Would you like to see an Overwatch Battle Royale? Let us know how you think it should work.

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Play of the Fortnight: The Future of Overwatch

Overwatch is rapidly approaching its three year anniversary. It’s done very well: Blizzard should be proud of its accomplishments. However, what does the future of Overwatch look like? Will we slowly watch as the playerbase dwindles and updates come fewer and further between, or will Blizzard take a drastic stance and make some big changes to keep players interested?

In this Play of the Fortnight, we look at the current state of Overwatch in 2019 and speculate on its future.


The current state of Overwatch

The Future of Overwatch

Overwatch is still a popular game. In May 2018, Blizzard reported a total number of players of 40 million. By August 2018, they reported a monthly player number of 37 million across all of their games. This second number was down from their first quarter in 2018, but is still pretty impressive. If we look at Twitch, Overwatch is still one of the top viewed categories, sitting at number six.

Without the accurate numbers from Blizzard, all we can do is speculate. Anecdotally, there has been a decline in player numbers: many people who counted Overwatch as a daily ritual are now only logging in to play during seasonal events.

Blizzard has settled into an update cadence. We get a refresh of the existing events, a new hero every few months, and a scheduled new map release. Players seem to be getting restless, hoping for something more.


What does this mean for the future of Overwatch?

The Future of Overwatch

Overwatch is by no means a “dead game,” or even a dying game at that. However, we will likely start to see a natural decline in the playerbase over the next year or two unless Blizzard does something to shake things up a bit. This is the natural life cycle of any game.

As the playerbase declines, we’ll also see a slow decrease in new releases from Blizzard. It’s unlikely that we’ll see lower quality updates, but the number of legendary skins may drop, new heroes may be spread out a little more, and no new events will come.

Even so, there will always be a core subset of the community who loves the game and has no intention of leaving. There are plenty of shooter games that, while not as popular as they once were, still entertain a large group of players every day.


What do we need?

The Future of Overwatch

We need new, interesting content. The seasonal events are great, but the current and past playerbase often gets bored of these and wants to see something different. While Blizzard may pull new players in, they’re not necessarily intriguing their older players to come back.

They’ve been excellent at giving us frequent updates, but the updates we’ve seen recently have been new features that just aren’t shiny enough to draw in fresh meat. New players don’t care if the game has a looking for group feature. They care about interesting characters, beautiful maps, weird game modes that are fun to play with friends. They care about a game that releases brand new content on a regular basis.

On top of that, Blizzard needs to play to the strengths of the game. Overwatch is best enjoyed with other people, and not everyone has five other friends to play with all the time. An in-game ping or marking system to make it easier to call out enemies or movements your team should make would go a long way to improving communication when not everyone is using a microphone. Battlefield V recently released and has a one button press to mark locations in front of you, or to mark rough areas that an enemy was last seen. This kind of system would be great in Overwatch, especially if coupled with voice triggers from the heroes who do the marking.


What’s next for Overwatch?

The Future of Overwatch

We don’t think Blizzard will just let Overwatch dwindle. They’re hyper-focused on the Overwatch League, and that’s great, but esports can only carry a game so far.

The future of Overwatch needs to hold some kind of big shake-up. Maybe a drastic new game mode (I’m still holding out for a PvE mode as the event ones have been so much fun) or maybe even a DLC or expansion of some sort. Some players seem to think Overwatch 2 is around the corner, but it feels far too early for that. If Blizzard wants to continue providing an accessible FPS that anyone can play, they won’t be doing anything with high-end tech, so a sequel would just look like the game released twice and they’d split their playerbase. Another way they could generate hype and draw in new players would be out-of-game experiences. Fostering their cosplay scene, more official content releases like comics and shorts, or even a movie or TV show like some have speculated before, would all be great at creating interest from new people.

Either way, this year will be one to watch. Blizzard needs to keep its players interested otherwise their esports viewership will slowly decline too, and they don’t want that. We just need to wait and see what they have up their sleeves for Overwatch in 2019.


Closing Thoughts

Overwatch is far from a dead or dying game, but it’s definitely seeing some decline. Will Blizzard do something to shake things up a bit this year? We’d love to see some new game modes and different, fresh content that isn’t just a new hero or scheduled map every few months.

What would you like to see in Overwatch in 2019? Let us know in the comments below!

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Play of the Fortnight: Overwatch Lunar New Year Event Guide

The Year of the Pig is upon us, and so is the Overwatch Lunar New Year event. Technically starting on February 5th, 2019, the Year of the Pig features an earth element this year, and the lucky colors yellow, gray, brown, and gold. You can see these colors highlighted in many of the event skins Blizzard designed for the Year of the Pig event.

In this Play of the Fortnight, we’re giving an Overwatch Lunar New Year Event guide, letting you know all the skins and achievement unlocks you need to get before the event ends.

Overwatch Lunar New Year Event 2019

When is the Lunar New Year event?

The Overwatch Lunar New Year event already began on Thursday, January 24th. As usual, the event lasts three weeks (just over that, in fact) and will end on Monday, February 18th. This means the event will run throughout the real life Lunar New Year celebrations, which are on Tuesday, February 5th, and give players some additional time to get their unlocks.

Festive Capture the Flag

First appearing in the Year of the Rooster event, Capture the Flag has been a relatively popular Arcade game mode. This year, Blizzard has added a festive twist with the Capture the Flag: Busan map. Players can access this by simply queuing up from the Arcade menu for the duration of the event.

On top of that, Season 2 of Competitive Capture the Flag has started. Players can earn an icon, spray, and competitive points. They can also climb the ranks as in regular competitive.

Lunar New Year Achievements

Players can unlock two exclusive sprays through achievements in the Lunar New Year event. The first of these achievements, “Delivery Interruption”, is unlocked when players kill an enemy flag carrier. Unsurprisingly, it awards a spray called “Interrupted Delivery.” Capturing a flag earns the next achievement, “Captured”, and awards a flag spray.

Unfortunately, there is a bug with these achievements. Blizzard accidentally added the achievements before the event began, and players who unlocked them in regular Capture the Flag weren’t given any rewards. Now that the rewards have been added to the game, those players weren’t given them retroactively. Blizzard will likely fix this soon, but there’s been no update so far.

Exclusive Overwatch Lunar New Year event skins

Overwatch Lunar New Year Event 2019

This year, Blizzard added six Legendary event skins. Five of these skins are named after famous Chinese generals: Huang Zhong (Hanzo), Lu Bu (Reaper), Guan Yu (Reinhardt), Zhang Fei (Torbjorn), and Zhuge Liang (Zenyatta). The sixth legendary skin is Hong Gildong (Tracer), named after a hero from a Korean novel, who has often been compared to Robin Hood for his exploits of stealing from the rich and corrupt.

Blizzard also added two new Epic skins: General Brigitte, and Sanye Orisa. Both of these are a lot more detailed than previous Epic skins have been, and it’s lovely seeing Orisa getting some attention.

Additional Content

Of course, the skins aren’t the only unlocks players can earn. We have two new emotes: one for Ana, and another for Soldier-76, the latter of which features a Rattle Drum. Players can also pick up six new victory poses, mostly featuring fireworks, but also Lucio’s excellent Drumming pose, which pairs nicely with his Drumming highlight intro, also added in this event.

Blizzard also added ten new voicelines, for Ashe, Brigitte, Hanzo, Junkrat, McCree, Winston, and Wrecking Ball. And finally, there’s six new non-achievement sprays to unlock. There’s plenty to pick up in the Lunar New Year loot boxes over the next three weeks, so make sure not to miss out.

What’s Up Next?

Blizzard doesn’t host an Easter event for Overwatch, but we do have an event around the same time. Originally called Uprising, the Archives event is due to run around April. Archives, assuming it keeps its name, brings with it a PvE brawl that so far has changed slightly each year, and always highlights an event in the Overwatch roster’s past.

There’s a lot of heroes who haven’t received any skins in a long time. D.Va is a great example: she’s only had four event skins in total, spanning three events. Redditor Foxy_Jr posted a detailed recap of the event skins, which gives us a bit of an idea of which heroes may be selected for the upcoming events.

Overwatch Lunar New Year Event 2019

Closing Thoughts

The Overwatch Lunar New Year event is a beautiful nod to a real life seasonal celebration. The skins have been tied to historical or legendary figures. As has become tradition from Blizzard, a lot of care has been put into their designs.

Happy Lunar New Year, everyone!

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Play of the Fortnight: The Issue of Overwatch Backfill

Players have been able to backfill in non-competitive Overwatch matches since the Dawn of Time. Or, you know, at least since the game launched or thereabouts. There’s been a lot of back and forth on why backfilling is not possible in competitive, and whether or not it should exist at all. Either way, we need to talk about the issue of Overwatch backfill.

In this Play of the Fortnight, we’ll discuss how Overwatch backfill affects players, why it’s important, how it could be improved and more.

Backfill might help hold a match together

Overwatch Backfill

The primary reason for backfill in a non-competitive match is to stop the match completely falling apart as soon as one person leaves. If one person left and was never replaced, their team would likely follow suit, and eventually the winning team would either finish out the (very dissatisfying) match, or they’d leave as well. Unsurprisingly, most players don’t enjoy completely stomping an empty team. It’s not fun.

Player A gets mad and leaves. Player B joins, and if it’s early enough in the match, maybe they can help turn things around for their new teammates. Then again, perhaps not, but at least it’s better and less demoralizing than being down a player and knowing you’re more than likely going to lose.

However, backfill feels really bad for the backfiller

Overwatch Backfill

The player filling in for the leaver generally has a pretty awful experience, though. You’re more often than not joining a losing game. Sometimes, you’re joining it with only 30 seconds to go before the match ends. Regardless of whether you’re rewarded for very little effort, it doesn’t feel good to join a match and barely get to leave spawn before it’s over. Even a free victory after a backfill feels hollow.

The rewards are also pretty lackluster considering you’re effectively bailing a team out of almost certain doom. Or at least, almost certain loss, which is practically the same thing to most players.

Even so, backfilling is a necessary evil

It may feel like a bad experience, but backfilling serves a really important purpose. It’s not just about saving the one match that had rage quitters and disconnects in it. In fact, more important than that is what comes after that terrible, good-for-nothing, no good game. With rage quitters and leavers, players who do remain in the match have to wait for people to rejoin, or simply get dumped back out to requeue themselves.

Overwatch Backfill

With backfill, you get one awful match that has a bunch of people join halfway through or later. But, assuming they stick around, everybody gets to go into a fresh match next time. The games get to continue seamlessly as if nothing went wrong. In theory, this is the ideal scenario for players. Blizzard wants to keep the downtime between matches low so players don’t get bored waiting around.

The rewards for backfill should be increased

Since backfilling is necessary for a healthy game, and is also a horrible experience at least initially for the filler, the rewards are poor at the moment. We’d love to see Blizzard adding additional rewards for backfilling to prevent the fillers from having a bad experience and also to stop them from immediately leaving when they join a losing game.

Players have suggested a few different things: increased XP rewards to allow faster unlocking of loot boxes, achievements or endorsements, or even separate reward tracks that again allow speedier loot box unlocks. While it’s unlikely Blizzard will go too far down the route of providing loot box rewards, we’d like to see a better nod to the people actively saving matches, not to mention other players’ time.

Allowing players to opt-out of backfill wouldn’t work

Some members of the community have suggested allowing an opt-out of backfill. While this idea sounds nice in theory, even with increased rewards as mentioned above, most players would opt-out. This would mean a few things: backfillers would be fewer and farther between, and worse still the players who didn’t opt out would only ever get put into a backfill.

While it’s nice to think that players would do the right thing and stay opted in, it’s unlikely. Give players a choice, and they’ll choose the easier, less frustrating route. An almost guaranteed loss and an annoying experience for a few measly XP? No thanks, I’ll take a brand new game with an undetermined outcome.

Ultimately, we’d see increases in queue times across the board, and backfillers would be even more upset than before.

Why it wouldn’t be good for comp

Overwatch Backfill

We’ve established why backfilling is important, but what about competitive? Surely it’s necessary there, too? Again, this would be great for teams already playing, but incredibly frustrating for the person having to backfill. If this were ever an option, the backfiller would need to lose no SR for a loss, which would make this a somewhat abusable situation. If the backfiller would join a game that was already being lost, without having contributed to the beginning of the match, losing SR would feel like a massive punishment. However, the alternative just doesn’t work.

Also, if backfilling competitive was optional, no one would want to do it. Some players have suggested that if they neither won nor lost SR but got the same XP bonus or better from quickplay, they’d backfill competitive matches for warm-ups, but that’s very easy to say. In reality, most players wouldn’t choose to backfill.

It’s also worth mentioning that competitive matches don’t roll into one another like quickplay. Players have to queue up manually each time. This would mean the backfill isn’t saving the following game, and is potentially just joining for a 30 second stomp. On top of that, it leaves players open to getting stuck in a backfill chain where they don’t get to start a brand new match.

There are other ways backfilling could be improved

Overwatch Backfill

Apart from rewards, there are a few different ways backfilling could be improved. At the moment, a backfilling player has no idea what the enemy team comp is, so their first pick is blind. It’s feasible that everyone on the team (including the leaver) knew at that point what the enemy comp is, so it’d be great if a backfiller could see the comp and pick accordingly.

Another change could be giving some amount of ultimate charge to the filler. As ultimate charge is based on a points system and then represented as a percentage, the filler could be given the same number of ultimate charge points that the leaver before them had. This would then translate into a variable percentage based on which hero they choose. This way, the team with the backfill doesn’t necessarily get an instant-ult on their new player, but they also don’t lose the ultimate charge that was being built before the leaver left.

Closing Thoughts

Backfilling is an important service every player provides when they play quickplay or arcade matches. It’s not always pretty, but it helps keep the game ticking along and gives players overall less downtime between matches by preventing them from having to requeue. However, it’s certainly not perfect, and we’d love to see some changes to make backfilling more rewarding.

What kind of changes would you like to see for backfilling? Are you a believer in competitive backfilling?

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Play of the Fortnight: Should Blizzard Add an Overwatch Role Limit?

An idea that has been fired around the Overwatch community for some time is the concept of Blizzard adding an Overwatch role limit. While it would probably only be applied to competitive games, what would a role limit mean for the game and its meta? In this Play of the Fortnight, we discuss potential pros and cons that a role limit could have on the state of Overwatch.

Overwatch Role Limit

First of all, what’s a role limit?

Proponents of the Overwatch role limit suggest that there’s either a minimum or maximum number of tanks, damage, and healers. Some players want both a minimum and maximum, others want just a limit on a specific role. In an ideal world, a role limit would likely mean there has to be at least one of each role on the team (or at least one tank and one healer). Another suggestion players have proposed is that there’s a minimum of one tank and healer with a maximum of two.

There are various reasons players suggest a role limit. The biggest one for there being a minimum of each role is that frequently tanks and healers are seen as key to the game but also undesirable for many players to actually play. Having a minimum of one per team would mean, in theory, more viable team comps.

However, the request for a maximum number means preventing team comps that players find tough to go up against. For example, a team comp known as “GOATS” has been lamented by the community lately. This comp involves three tanks and three healers, usually Reinhardt, Zarya, D.Va, Lucio, Brigitte, and Moira. The team will charge down the opponents and single out one enemy at a time. A role limit would most likely prevent this kind of comp from flourishing.

Overwatch Role Limit

What would be the pros of an Overwatch role limit?

Obviously, having a minimum of one tank and one healer on the team would mean having a balanced comp. Most comps have this as their backbone; it’s very rare to see team comps that don’t have at least one tank and one healer.

Having a maximum of two tanks and two healers would, in theory, prevent arguments between players who try to select roles when they’re already filled. It would also mean no crazy team comps to go up against like GOATS or the former four tank two support meta. There’s still some flexibility in allowing teams to drop one tank or one healer to fill in an extra damage dealer.

However, with all of this said, there seems to be more cons than there are pros to a role limit.

Team comp creativity would disappear

One of the exciting things about Overwatch is being able to come up with weird and wonderful teams. That could be a new way to obliterate the enemy team or just an interesting counter to the meta. It’s fun seeing new comps emerge as patches change the balance between heroes. Dive comp and GOATS are just some examples of the fun combinations players have come up with.

If we have a role limit that effectively strongly encourages a 2-2-2 comp, we would lose out on all of that creativity. There would still be combos between heroes, and a little flexibility with changing out a tank or healer for something with more punch. Ultimately, though, players would be much more restricted.

Would this mean less troll compositions? Probably, but is that worth losing out on all of the interesting ways to build a team? We don’t think so.

Overwatch Role Limit

Disconnects in hero select would soar

Picture this: a Genji main connects to the game now. Genji is already selected. He considers leaving, but at least he can pick another damage dealer. So he does, and while his team might complain at him, he can ignore them and play what he’s used to.

Now role limits are in place. He joins the game and not only is Genji already selected, but all the damage dealer slots are taken. He now has to tank or heal. What does he do now? It’s not a sure thing that the player would disconnect, but it’s significantly more likely. Players are creatures of habit, and even if they’re not one-trick ponies, they’ll have a role they play almost exclusively. Taking that away from them won’t make them more likely to branch out. It’ll make them disconnect. If they do, we can only hope they do it early enough to cancel the game without wasting anyone’s time.

Overwatch Role Limit


Couldn’t they make a new queue system to fix this?

Blizzard could certainly add a queuing system similar to the one in League of Legends now. Allowing players to queue up as a specific role means that they know they get what they want. There could always be an additional “flex” role that means players would fill. However, this already somewhat exists in the group finder tool.

Adding another layer seems unnecessary. Queue times would likely go up for damage, while tanks and healers would get queued up right away. Sure, that might encourage more people to play tank and healer in the first place, but it’s still going to make the experience quite unpleasant for at least a large portion of the community.

Overwatch Role Limit

Our thoughts on a role limit

We don’t think a role limit is the best way to counter issues with team comp in Overwatch. While it’s true that players often don’t pick what’s “needed” and instead lock whoever they want, a role limit would impose too much of a restriction on the creativity most of us have grown to love in Overwatch.

It would, however, be nice to see Blizzard doing more to help prevent the trolling that many players complain about in competitive. Proactively helping the community by providing them with tools that allow them to prevent it in the first place would likely be easier and make more sense than simply banning people for picking the “wrong” hero. Who decides what is a “bad choice”?

Closing Thoughts

We don’t think Blizzard is likely to impose an Overwatch role limit any time soon. Even so, it is certainly something members of the community have requested often. There are a few positives to having a restriction like this in place, but we feel these are significantly outweighed by the negatives. One day we’d like to see more changes to the way queuing works to improve team synergy, but for now there are just some downsides players are always going to be faced with in solo queue.

Do you want to see a role limit in Overwatch? Let us know in the comments below!

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Play of the Fortnight: Overwatch Winter Wonderland Skins Revealed

Blizzard confirmed a few days ago that the Overwatch Winter Wonderland event will return next week on Tuesday, December 11th. As has become a recent tradition, they’ve also revealed a few of the upcoming skins for the event, and are likely to continue with more reveals over the coming days.

In this Play of the Fortnight, let’s take a look at the skins we know about so far.

Snowboarder Zarya

Overwatch Winter Wonderland - Snowboarder Zarya

The new Zarya skin is adorable. She’s designed with a snowboarding theme, but Blizzard has gone a unique route by giving her a cute animal design as well. Donning a pale blue bear hat and a tiny fluffy tail, there’s a sharp contrast from the cute aesthetic to her customary Zarya scowl.

Blizzard’s tagline for their teaser tweet is perfect: they call her “pawsitively fursome”. This will be Zarya’s first Legendary skin for the Overwatch Winter Wonderland event. She’s received content in the past during the event, but never a Legendary skin specifically. We also haven’t seen a Zarya event skin at all since the Lunar New Year, which was five events ago, so it was definitely her time.

Arctic Fox Lucio

Overwatch Winter Wonderland - Arctic Fox Lucio

Lucio’s new skin is particularly interesting. Blizzard went with a cyber style outfit for our favorite DJ. However, it’s worth noting those ears. Arctic Fox Lucio wears a helmet with tiny fox ears, and his signature hair is now white and formed into a fox tail. Also, evidently Blizzard doesn’t follow the ancient color rule of “blue and green should never be seen” with this color combination.

Overall, many members of the community are dissatisfied with this skin. Some don’t like the design altogether, but most are frustrated that Lucio is getting yet another Legendary event skin. Unlike Zarya, Lucio got an event skin three events ago. However, he only has nine Legendary skins in total: there are definitely heroes who have more including — wait for it — Zarya, with 10.


A Winter Wonderland Theme…

It’s easy to see Blizzard has a theme in mind for the Overwatch Winter Wonderland event this year. We have Zarya in a bear outfit for snowboarding, and Lucio with fox ears and a fox tail. It seems we’ll be seeing some winter animal themed skins this year. With that in mind, who might we be seeing next?

Overwatch Winter Wonderland - Genji Skin

There are a few heroes who haven’t had an event skin in quite a while. For example, Hanzo, Genji, Mercy, and Reaper have not had an event skin in at least three seasonal events. It’s safe to say at least one or two of these heroes will get something winter themed this time. Perhaps we’ll see some Japanese winter animal skins for Genji or Hanzo?

We wouldn’t be surprised if Ashe gets an event skin this event as well. It’s very close to her hero release, but Blizzard has done that in the past.


When is the event starting and ending?

The Overwatch Winter Wonderland event begins on Tuesday, December 11th, and runs for the usual three weeks (plus a few days). This has it ending on Thursday, January 3rd. That means we only have a few days to wait until the next seasonal event and all these new skins. We’ll likely see more reveals over the next few days.

It also means it isn’t long until the inevitable return of Mei’s Snowball Offensive, and the Yeti Hunter brawl. Both of these Arcade game modes proved pretty popular, and we can only hope Blizzard brings back some exclusive achievements and sprays to unlock.


Closing Thoughts

Blizzard is going a slightly different direction with their Winter Wonderland skins this year. It seems they’re avoiding the Christmas theme and aiming for a more universal wintery aesthetic, especially focused around wintery animal outfits. It’ll be interesting to see who else gets a skin this year and what weird and wonderful outfits await us.

We quite like this new announcement method they’re using as well. Sharing a teaser with a short video clip of upcoming skins each day is a nice way of hyping up the event, and lets us know what we can expect ahead of time. Surprises are nice, but allowing ourselves to get excited about upcoming skins is perhaps more fun.

What are you most looking forward to with the Overwatch Winter Wonderland event? Are you holding out hope for another Mercy skin (finally)? Let us know in the comments below!

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Play of the Fortnight: Is Overwatch Worth Getting Into Now?

Overwatch has been out for just a little over two years now, and it’s had a really good run so far. This weekend, Blizzard has released Overwatch on free trial with big discounts on purchasing the game as well. However, with two years under its belt, is Overwatch still worth getting into as a brand new player?

In this Play of the Fortnight, we discuss whether it’s a good time to start fresh with Overwatch.


Overwatch is easy to get into

Overwatch Accessibility

One of the biggest selling points for Overwatch is that it’s highly accessible for an FPS game. Unlike many games, it’s easy to just pick a hero you’re interested in trying, and give it a go. There’s no huge list of keybindings to memorize that change each time you switch hero; the keybindings are the same regardless of who you play.

It’s also worth noting that there are a few heroes who are really new-player friendly. For example, Mercy has a fairly simple mechanic, and Soldier-76 is a traditional shooter hero without complication.

Blizzard has done an excellent job of introducing new players (and veteran players to new heroes!) to abilities and how they work. It’s possible to open up an overlay that explains your kit, giving you an option to try someone for the first time without feeling completely overwhelmed.


The game is still very popular

Overwatch is still a highly popular game. It’s currently in the top 10 games on Twitch, sorted by most concurrent viewers (though this may be because Drops are currently turned on, meaning players can earn in-game rewards for watching). Queue times are pretty low, meaning it doesn’t take too long to get into a game, especially if you’re just getting started out. Competitive queues can be a bit longer if you’re higher ranked, but that’s not something you’d need to worry about as a new player.

Overwatch - Worth Playing (Ashe)

Along with this, Blizzard is also continually putting out new content. Their most recent hero, Ashe, was released just after BlizzCon. They also release new maps and balance patches frequently.

Every few months there’s a seasonal event in-game with exclusive skins to unlock, which always brings a lot of players back. We’ll have the Winter Wonderland event in a few weeks, which will be another great time to be playing as there will be fun game modes to play as well as the standard modes.


It’s unlikely there will be an Overwatch 2 any time soon

Unlike many FPS games, it doesn’t look like Blizzard has any intention of releasing a sequel soon. We often see a yearly release of popular FPS series such as Call of Duty or Battlefield. However, with Overwatch’s ongoing popularity both in a casual sense and on the esports scene, it’s unlikely we’ll see a sequel in the near future.

This should reassure some new players that they’re not going to be investing time and money into a game that is going to be fairly obsolete in a year.


On the downside, the community can be toxic

As with any vaguely competitive game, even when playing the more casual game modes some players will take it very seriously. This can often cause players to butt heads. Overwatch is arguably less “toxic” than many other competitive games, but there’s definitely some amount of toxicity which can be off-putting, particularly to a new player.

If you’ve played competitive games before, this won’t be new to you at all. In fact, it may be refreshing as it’s not quite as intense as in other games. However, if this is your first competitive game, as it has been for many, it can be overwhelming and uncomfortable, and may even make you want to steer clear.

The best advice we can give in that case is to mute anyone who’s making your game experience less than fun. Unless you’re playing competitive, voice chat isn’t 100% required. Even in ranked gameplay, it’s sometimes useful to mute people who aren’t contributing useful information to the team and are only making their teammates uncomfortable.


Closing Thoughts

It’s definitely worth getting into Overwatch if it’s something you’re interested in. This weekend is a great opportunity, as the game is free to play until Monday, November 26th. The free trial will give new players a chance to try out all of the available heroes — including the newest hero, Ashe — and maps without having to commit to buying it permanently.

If you do decide to pick up the game, there is a huge discount on all of the game versions. The sale ends on November 28th, giving players two days after the trial to decide whether they want to pick it up or not.

All in all, we think it’s still worthwhile to start now, even as a completely new player. There’s plenty of existing content, and Blizzard adds new features and heroes often enough to keep things fresh. Will you be giving it a go this weekend? Let us know in the comments below!

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Play of the Fortnight: Most Fun Overwatch Custom Game Modes

Ever since Blizzard introduced Overwatch custom games, the community has been coming up with ridiculous and fun custom game modes. From McCree’s Highest Noon to Reinhardt Bumper Cars, players have found plenty of ways to have a good time in custom games. This Play of the Fortnight we’re going to share a few of our favorites.


McCree’s Highest Noon

Overwatch Custom Games - McCree's Highest Noon

Also known as “Fly Noon,” McCree’s Highest Noon involves low gravity, high ultimate charge, and possibly modifiers to increase damage received. Most lobbies also turn off flashbang. What this results in is McCrees flying high in the air, shooting each other and charging their ultimates rapidly.

While they’re bouncing around the map, due to the high ultimate charge, you’ll repeatedly hear: “It’s high noon!” This results in a terrifying feeling of being exposed, as if you jump you shoot off into the air and become a prime target.


Ana Paintball

Ana Paintball is one of the most popular Overwatch custom game modes. Most, if not all, of Ana’s abilities get disabled (though some leave on her Sleep Dart) and her damage is increased to 500%. This creates an instant-kill game mode where Ana becomes an absolute death machine.

If you’re shot, you’re out. Not that you’ll have much choice in the matter, as you will die instantly. The game mode is fast paced and exciting, which is odd considering everyone is playing a healer.


Widowmaker Headshot

Overwatch Custom Games - Widowmaker Headshot

This one is more of a base for game modes. All it requires is Widowmaker being the only hero to pick and having heroes need to receive headshot damage to die. However, it can branch off into multiple different game modes or be played vanilla.

For example, a game mode affectionately called “Spiderwatch” involves no cooldown on the Grappling Hook. This allows players to zip around the map at high speed and pop off headshots on one another to win.


Reinhardt Bumper Cars

Remember the bumper cars you’d beg to go on at the fair? Someone created a Reinhardt Bumper Cars custom game mode and it’s glorious. It could also be played as a kind of destruction derby type game, as mostly it involves Reinhardts charging across the map and smacking into each other at high speed.

For the settings, just limit to only Reinhardt and reduce gravity while increasing movement speed and dropping Reinhardt’s charge time. Reinhardt Bumper Cars works best on maps with long straight sections, such as King’s Row. Picking maps with racetrack-like sections allows you to get a good charge going before you inevitably crash into someone. However, control point maps create tiny arenas allowing for some serious chaos as well.


Infection Mode

In Infection Mode, players start as a hero and go out to kill the enemy team as normal, however, there’s a catch. Once you’re killed by a hero, you have to swap to that hero and try to kill other people. Usually killing someone with the same hero as you is also discouraged. For example, if you’re killed by a Mei, you pick Mei on your next respawn.

These particular rules aren’t enforceable on the custom games lobby settings. Unfortunately that means having to trust that players won’t break the rules. However, the community really enjoys Infection mode and has been asking for it to be added as an official Arcade mode. We can always hope.


Ultimate Boss Battle

Overwatch Custom Games - Ultimate Boss Battle

Boss Battles have always been quite popular, but this particular variant of boss battle allows any of the hero roster to be a boss. Each one has a unique playstyle or gimmick, which is detailed in the guide here on Reddit (credit to Redditor TheHolyNoodle). The goal is for a team of six to be able to take out the one boss. The boss cannot change heroes until they’ve been slain.

For example, D.Va as a boss spawns without her mech. However, when she gets her mech, she has no cooldowns and does significantly increased damage to the team of heroes. Genji cannot use primary or secondary fire, but has infinite Nano Blade, making him pretty frightening to go up against.


Tracer Tag

Perhaps one of the most fun and simultaneously most infuriating of the custom games is Tracer Tag. High movement speed, constant blinking, and perhaps a reduced cooldown on Recall are key to this game mode. All other abilities and fire modes are disabled. Players have to Blink around the map and attempt to melee kill the enemy Tracers, with increased melee damage to ensure a one shot kill.

Tracer is hard enough to hit as it is, let alone when she’s darting around at high speed and only killable with melee. Tracer Tag borders on the ridiculous, but in a game with a hamster in a ball as a hero, who are we to judge?


Closing Thoughts

The custom game feature has brought a lot of variety to Overwatch and has allowed players to flex their creative muscles. Some of the game modes prove more popular than others — sniper games are always highly popular — and there are some that could use some outside support from Blizzard to make sure the rules are followed. However, it is great to see the community coming up with wacky ideas for a good time.

There’s even a subreddit dedicated entirely to custom game ideas, called /r/OverwatchCustomGames. Players over there frequently come up with new ideas and discuss how best to set the rules and lobby settings and then test them out.

What’s your favorite Overwatch custom game mode? Let us know in the comments below!

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