written by Disco
On Thursday, November 15th, Seagull posted a video entitled “The State of Overwatch” . In it, he asks a simple question: “Am I the only one who finds Overwatch to be really frustrating these days?”
The fundamental truth about Overwatch is that it is an objective-based team game. Eliminations do not matter unless they are related to taking or controlling the objective. Fights are won because of the team, not simply due to one person. Coordination and planning are paramount to success, and acting like Leeroy Jenkins is likely to set a team back significantly. The team-play is the most important thing in Overwatch.
All of that gets thrown out the window in solo queue. The only guarantees regarding teammates and opponents in solo queue are that all the players are playing at the same time and the game considers each player to be at similar rankings. There are no promises that the players will communicate, play as a team, or even try to win. No systems are in place to immediately prevent people from harassing and insulting their team due to petty squabbles. Even something as simple as goals for the match are not necessarily similar, as one person may be trying to win while the other is trying to have fun.
Every single one of Seagull’s complaints is very noticeable in the solo queue environment.
Inconsistency of teammates aside, he also discusses hard counters, the increase of crowd control abilities, and the significance of ultimates. The best way to deal with all three of these issues is to rely on teammates. So, when the enemy swaps to a Sombra, hacks anyone she can get close to, and uses her ultimate to allow a Genji to eliminate everyone, the correct solution is to rely on teammates protecting each other and using support ultimates and other abilities to help deal with these issues. However, due to the fact that solo queue does not guarantee that teammates will do this, these issues become quite frustrating to deal with.
Even assuming that the teams are not solo queue players but a full six stack, the biggest issue is that the previously mentioned concerns are still noticeable. The opponents faced are diverse in skill, ranging from being significantly terrible to significantly skilled. Even with the aforementioned solution to the hard counter problem being to rely on teammates to protect targeted heroes, this does not fully rectify the hard counter problem. The moment Brigitte joined the game, Tracer’s play rate dropped significantly. Finally, a large part of the game at high levels is knowing what ultimates the enemy currently has and will have and playing around them. By planning fights out, teams attempt to win fights using the least amount of ultimates due to the significance they have. By rotating ultimates effectively, teams can snowball map wins with little way for the enemy to stop it.
Relevant bit starts at 52:30
Is everything lost? No. Overwatch has one unique factor that can make it worthwhile: the high points are extremely rewarding. The game has the ability to create memorable experiences when playing with other people. A large part of the reason I personally kept playing Overwatch was because of the people I was playing with and the memories I created with them. I’ve played with a couple of teams and coached several others, and being in those environments made the frustrating times tolerable and the good times even better. The clip above is from the Reforged Community Invitational, where I played as a support player for Reforged Soul against the eventual champions Blink Strike. This specific instance of our team rushing into Blink Strike and knocking the Junkrat off the map for the point is a memory I will continue to cherish for a while.
Does Overwatch have it’s problems? Definitely. Is the state of the game worth talking about? Absolutely. Can people still have fun in Overwatch? I’d like to think so. At the end, even with all the negative aspects of the game, the moments of joy it creates are very special. But until Blizzard are able to find ways to fix the current issues that make solo queue frustrating and six stacking irritating, those moments are going to be hard to find. And if Blizzard want to keep the game alive, this is something they will have to fix sooner rather than later.
All images taken from Blizzard’s Press Center https://blizzard.gamespress.com/Overwatch. All videos taken from Reforged Media & Reforged Community Invitational.