Live games have become a way of life for some people. They’re an attractive solution for people who don’t want to spend £40 every few weeks to play something new. I know I’m deep into at least three right now. It’s a style of games that lives and dies by how closely the developers monitor their player base and react to them accordingly. The trick is to sometimes do what you think is right and not what everyone is telling you to do.
I’ve made my feelings about Destiny abundantly clear on this blog over the years, and I more recently wrote a piece on Apex Legends, which has got its talons into me. With these games, it’s easy to determine their state of being in hindsight, often represented by a roller coaster like collection of ups and downs.
There was a point where Overwatch was my favourite, and then there was a five month spell where I never wanted to play the game again. I had become tired of the toxic side of the community, the player’s lack of willingness to play for one another and a general burn out.
It felt stagnant to me, playing it became like a chore. Especially when playing it made me feel like a desperate parent, scrambling around after children who refused play by the rules. Never did I expect Blizzard’s introduction role queue to be the breath of fresh air I never knew I wanted.
To put it simply, The Overwatch team have implemented a system into competitive, which they’re currently testing in beta. Players chose which role they want to fulfil before the game; either damage, tank or support. Then once they join a game, they’re locked into that role. Thus every team has a makeup of 2/2/2.
The move is a divisive one, of which I can understand both sides. Part of what made Overwatch so attractive when it first came out was taking all of these characters and finding new and creative ways in which they can synergise.
It made for a game of endless possibilities of potential new strategies and approaches… in theory at least anyway. While 2/2/2 does inherently hinder the creativity and spontaneity that well organised teams can use to throw their opponents for a loop. That’s not the experience that 90% of the player-base end up having.
Arguing for the romanticised version of the game is all well and good, but most of us end up playing the game solo, or at least in smaller groups of two or three. In which cases, you end up fighting against your own team as much as you’re fighting the opposition. With people switching roles on the fly, unbalancing the team and throwing off your team mates who often find themselves having to chance as a result.
The introduction of 2/2/2 serves two roles as far as I can see. The first is to stop boring, dominant metas from ruling the professional scene. GOATS being the prime example. But it’s also a sign that Overwatch Team have finally released that the general player base cannot be trusted to play the game as they intended it.
From my personal experience, the introduction of the role queue is one of the best changes made to Overwatch since getting rid of Mercy’s big Rez. As a flexible player, I was happy to play a hero in any role and work around what my team needed. At an increasing rate, this would turn to frustration as I’d find myself being the sole tank or sole support on a team, unable to keep up with the task on my own.
Or in games where things don’t seem to be going our ways and both supports decide they can do a better job at damage, and you suddenly find yourself with 4/5 damage dealers and no healers. The fact that this cannot happen anymore has breathed new life into the game for me.
Always being a part of a well balanced team means that you don’t get people throwing anywhere near as often. Additionally, it means people are actually getting better and learning their roles rather than giving up on them seeing as how they’re locked into them. More than once I’ve been in a game going very badly, which would have previously seen people all switching to DPS.
However, this time people simply switched heroes, within their role and we managed to turn it around while still keeping our team a coherent unit. The game has become more open and less about stalling, less about cheesy tactics and more about player skill.
People will argue that the change stifles the creativity of the game. But if we’re being real, that only really applies to the top level players, the vast majority of us are nowhere near that level, and at the scrubby level we play at; asshole management is a much more pressing issue than allowing for a 6 dps rush strat.