Jeff Kaplan is back on the Overwatch forums; this time he’s weighing in on both sudden death and the coin flip mechanic in Competitive Play.
Blizzard is looking to remove both the coin flip and sudden death, but not before the fall competitive season in about 3 months.
How Competitive Play works at the moment (and you can test it out yourself on the Overwatch PTR) is that both teams take turns attacking and defending on Escort, Assault, and Hybrid maps, and if both teams win, then a third match (sudden death) is played on the same map, and the attacking team is decided by a coin flip.
People don’t like this.
Not all maps are created equal. On certain maps, the attacking team may have the advantage, or be at a disadvantage. Sometimes it’s slight, maybe a few percent, but that can make a world of difference. Previously, sudden death matches played out on the Control maps. Teams would play one round, and whoever took the objective, took the game.
People didn’t like this, either.
A lot of players would’ve rather duked it out on the same map, and in turn the same game mode, than the previous matches had been played on instead of something completely different, like the control maps.
In competitive though, the control maps make for the best matches, at least in my opinion. They’re best of five, and there’s no room for sudden death or the coin flip mechanic.
Blizzard has been listening – quite closely – to everyone’s feedback, and though they’re looking into ways in which to remove both the need for sudden death and coin flips in matches, don’t expect those changes until the next Overwatch competitive season in about three months.
In the meantime, they’re looking to tweak the system in such a way that makes sudden death happen as frequently as possible, such as reducing the initial match time for Assault, Escort, and Hybrid maps from 5 minutes to 4 minutes. That change should be live on the PTR shortly, and should help reduce the amount of coins that are flipped.
One long-term idea is to implement a mechanic found in assault maps to other game modes: “time bank,” in which the first team that attacks sets the time for the second. It’s a riff on stopwatch mode, which is present in a lot of objective-based games. Blizzard plans to implement the “time bank” mechanic in other game modes, which will help a lot until they can completely remove sudden death, but that change won’t make it into the current patch before it goes live. Expect that change to go into testing sometime in late July.
Another long-term consideration is implementing draws, so that no game ever ends in a sudden death, but Blizzard is concerned with making sure that draws feel rewarding to players, or at least, rewarding to the team that would’ve otherwise won in the other system. Whereas the team that would’ve otherwise lost is probably super elated that the game instead ended in a draw.
As great as Competitive Play is, it’s clear there’s plenty of room for improvement, and Blizzard is already working on those improvements to ensure that competitive is actually competitive, and it isn’t just a conveyor belt for golden guns.