Before maps, before heroes, before new skins, or sprays, or anything else your mind can conjure up, the first major update Overwatch will be receiving is Competitive Play. Today Jeff Kaplan went into a bit more detail about what to expect when the update rolls out by the end of the month.
Competitive Play saw its first iteration during closed beta, but it wasn’t met with the best reception. That version was based more on progression than it was skill. There were tiers, and once you rose to a certain tier, you could not drop back down to a previous one. Play (and grind) enough, and you’ll eventually rise to the very top of the ranks. Players wanted something more skill-based, and that’s just what they’ll be receiving.
The new version of Competitive Play takes the focus away from the grind and instead puts it on the skill of the players and teams. Those tiers are done away with, and instead the game shows your current skill rating (similar to your MMR) from 1 to 100. That number will go up and down based on whether you win or lose, and everyone will be able to see everyone else’s skill rating and the average skill rating of both teams. So you know right off the bat how much rides on the match you’re in. The underdog will get more points if they win, and lose less if they don’t. I’m personally looking forward to the players who intentionally tank their rating down to 1 just for the thrill of it. They’re my heroes.
In the closed beta, competitive seasons lasted a month, but now each season of Competitive Play will last about the length of an actual season, roughly two and a half months. There will be a short break between each one for players to cool off.
Still no concrete details about game modes in Competitive Play, though. Previously, it was a best of three, and if the game went onto a third match, it would be a sudden death, and Blizzard felt as though sudden death was happening far too often, so they’re tweaking some of the numbers in order to hopefully cause it to happen less often.
I’m hoping a form of Stopwatch makes it into Overwatch in some way or form, where each time attacks, and the team with the best time wins. That would negate the need for Overtime, which I still think has some room for improvement. In a lot of instances, that can last far longer than it should, especially if a defending team knows how best to exploit it.
Kaplan also mentioned rewards, specifically cosmetic ones, and stressed that the team did not want players to earn any sort of reward that would give them an advantage. He mentioned sprays, player icons, and golden weapons. All players will eventually be able to earn this swanky bling, but the better players will earn it faster, and specifically referenced how spiffy Reinhardt’s golden hammer looked.
I’m super excited for Competitive Play. Quick Play is more like a meat grinder where you’ll play random games on random maps, with mostly random team comps. I look forward to playing with other people who’ll take it a tad more seriously, and fortunately we’ve only got a couple more weeks – tops – to wait. Quick Play will still be the place to goof off, or to work on your ability to play certain heroes.
There’s still the issue of netcode, or lag compensation, or whatever else you want to call it. The fact of the matter is that a lot of the time there’s a discrepancy between what you think happened, and what really happened. That alone continues to be my biggest criticism toward Overwatch. There’s a high bandwidth option that’s available in custom matches, but that’s not quite ready for prime time. Let’s just hope that by the time Competitive Play it’s polished enough to be included.