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Changes Overwatch Needs

The (early) verdict is in: most everyone loves Overwatch. It’s currently at 94 Metacritic.

OverwatchScore

That’s… really high.

Part of me wants to reject that score right out of hand. 94? Overwatch is currently tied with Skyrim, Mass Effect 2, and Bioshock Infinite, while being  a full point higher than Witcher 3 and Minecraft. Indeed, the nagging feeling I have currently is that Overwatch is almost exactly a Bioshock Infinite situation: a very pretty game everyone loves despite it being terrible.

Well… maybe not quite. Overwatch is actually really fun to play. Until it isn’t. I’ve come up with a few small changes that would make the experience a bit better for me and anyone.

1) Fix the disconnects

Overwatch drops a lot more games than it really has any reason to. While to an extent you can possibly blame it on Day 1 release issues, the disconnects have been appearing en masse since the Beta. One minute you’re playing, next minute it’s asking you to sign back into Overwatch, including entering your Authenticator. Which is weird, considering that I haven’t actually had to sign into a Blizzard game since getting the new Battle.net launcher.

OverwatchDisconnect

Guess I didn’t want to play anyway.

The injury to the insult is that being disconnected in this fashion drops you from the match entirely. In a group? Not anymore. There is essentially no way back into the match you just dropped from, even if you were disconnected for less than a minute. Since Overwatch matches can last less than five minutes, I suppose it’s not too terrible a loss, but it’s still annoying as hell.

2) Indicate Role Willingness

One of the more awkward moments of an Overwatch match is the beginning, during character selection, when everyone waits to see what everyone else picks. Except for those Hanzo/Tracer players, who just don’t give a damn. Meanwhile, I wait down the clock, seeing if anyone else is going to pick a Tank or Healer character, so I can best support my (PUG) team. I don’t mind either role, but if someone else takes them, I’m picking Mei or Junkrat so I can enjoy myself.

But that’s the rub. If there is someone else who actually cares about winning, we end up running out the clock together. I’m comfortable in any role, but maybe they only want to play a tank or DPS and not a healer. If I pull the trigger on tank, they are essentially going to give up and go DPS. Or we can go double-tank and just lose with no healer. I could perhaps switch once they pick something, but if we’re on Defense, there won’t be much time to get set up before the match begins.

All of this can be resolved by a WoW-esque role-check before the team is even formed. “Queue as Offence/Defense characters.” “Queue as Tank/Offense.” “Queue as All.” Perhaps show a little emblem beneath our names on the character select screen. While it is possible to, you know, just type this all out in the convenient team chat text box, I don’t feel like it should be necessary. Plus, this would set Overwatch up in the future to have better matchmaking (creating teams with at least two people who indicate a willingness to be tank/heals) or even just filling teams out.

3) Team Shuffling

It needs to happen. Or if it already does, it needs to be more apparent. I understand that the current two-map setup would make it weird – attacking on a Payload (etc) map follows defending on the same with the other team – but there is currently very little reason to keep playing with a shitty team. In fact, if you experience a blow-out, there is no reason to stay, period. Dropping out “works” for you as an individual, but that solution just ends up forcing both teams to break apart if enough people do.

The downsides are legitimate. Two evenly matched teams might want to keep facing each other in various rematches, for example. But how likely are you to face evenly matched teams in PUGs? I’m not advocating shuffling people who queue in groups, obviously. The other downside is making it a bit more difficult to get to know/friend-request a particularly skillful teammate. Here too though, I feel like shuffling doesn’t really change that, assuming you can get to know people in 7-minute matches in the first place.

4) Current objective timers in Death Cam mode

Why in god’s name would any designer feel like it’s useful or necessary to include historical objective timers in your post-death replay? I know you can disable Death Cam altogether, but my point is that the objective timer should be, you know, the actual timer at all, er, times.

I should not have to choose between no Death Cam and Current Objective timer. Seeing yourself getting sniped at the last possible second is already frustrating, without knowing whether someone else saved the day after your death until you’re already back in the game.

5) Bastion maximum bullet count in Sentry mode reduced.

Yeah, Bastion is “easy” to counter and we should probably stop complaining about him. Here’s the thing though: when your solution to a stationary enemy killing your team within two seconds is changing your character, something is up. Sure, change characters when the enemy team is turtling up, or picked four tanks, or they all went Hanzo. But if the existence of a single character on the enemy team dictates your own team comp… then maybe you need to admit an issue. Nobody is swapping characters when they notice a Reinhardt or Tracer or Mei on the other team.

Plus, this is a team-based game. Who goes Genji/Windowmaker/etc? You? What if you are the team’s only tank/healer? Maybe your team just deserves to lose then, I guess.

Also, that Kotaku writer actually suggested Reinhardt to block the incoming stream of bullets, as if Bastion couldn’t chew through his entire 2000 HP shield in less than four seconds. The Wiki states Bastion deals 4-15 damage in Sentry mode and spits ~30 rps, but that’s fairly laughable. Assuming it’s correct though, and assuming 15 damage apiece, that means 1800 damage is thrown down in four seconds, shield is broken a second later, and Reinhardt is dead on the floor a second after that.

Meanwhile, Bastion still has another second to put out 80-300 damage before he has to reload.

So, my solution? Reduce Bastion’s maximum ammo size in Sentry mode from 200 to 150. He will still murder everyone as soon as they walk through the door, and skilled players will still be all but untouchable with judicial use of selecting targets and/or frequently moving and/or you know, reloading. But if those damage/rps numbers are correct, Reinhardt can at least provide some coverage versus Bastion solo, at least long enough to throw out a Fire Strike.

6) Increase tick rate to 60 Hz.

Overwatch has a tick rate of 20 Hz by default. If you haven’t ever heard of tick rates in FPS games and/or the importance thereof, this is a good primer. Battlefield 4 had this same situation at release, with it updating at 20 Hz and resulting in an excessive number of headshots around corners. When the tick rate is increased, the game feels even smoother, and you start seeing Death Cam footage that resembles what you actually did right before getting owned.

The head-scratching part of this is the fact that Blizzard already introduced 60 Hz tick rates into Overwatch. In Custom Games. Which is great, I suppose, for the people wanting to run tournaments or something. But there is zero downside to the average player to go to 60 Hz and every possible upside. It just needs to happen.

In any case, that is that.