A Brave New World

Brave New World

Three years ago, Overwatch launched with 21 heroes and zero restrictions on how to play them. We quickly saw double Winston, double Lucio/Zen, double Tracer become meta in the grass roots “Pro” scene. Blizzard saw this as a huge problem and decided to bite the bullet, changing their minds and implementing a one hero limit. It’s interesting looking back at threads from that time, a lot of the comments should look familiar to what we’ve been seeing recently. What have we been seeing recently? Well if you’ve been living under a rock, next week Overwatch will “soft” launch 2-2-2 role lock in a competitive beta. From there in early September role lock will be standard across quick play and the competitive ladder.

Yes, you read that right, even quick play isn’t safe from the role lock rule restriction. One of the most common things I see echoed on reddit/twitter/angry signs on the street is “why implement role lock in quick play where I go to screw around?” Well Timmy, I’ll tell you why. Overwatch game modes exist in a hierarchy to prepare you for the next rung of play.

As you can see if quick play didn’t institute 2-2-2 when you go into competitive you would be wholly unprepared for the role lock. Not listed is arcade, which presents many more fun options, that sure can help you get better at the game, but are not core modes the game is built or balanced around (thank the light).

But back to those comments from three years ago, many look very familiar. The first thread I pulled up had this comment from reddit user /u/Alucitary :

“Not too stoked on [one hero limit] honestly. I feel like more people play quick play to just have fun than to practice for competitive. I enjoyed just being able to play whoever I wanted, but now it is first come, first serve.

No Limits also seems like a really [crappy] substitute, The mode is clearly pushing you to go crazy with team comps, and I feel like it will just always devolve into 6 of a single hero vs. 6 of another. You can have legit team comps that have 2 or 3 of a single hero on them, and I feel like we will just never see those again.”

Seems very similar to a lot of the arguments we saw before role lock, right? Well it seems we are past all of that now with a majority of the community agreeing that role lock is a positive change to the game as a whole. So enough with the history lesson, lets look towards the future.

First some important dates:

August 13th:

  • PTR testing ends.
  • The patch with Sigma/role queue/hero balance changes goes live.
  • The competitive season ends, and a beta role queue season starts.

September 1st:

  • The competitive beta ends and the new season starts proper with role queue.
  • Role queue is instituted in quick play.
  • “Classic” quick play is added to the arcade

Pretty simple right? Well, let’s dig into some specifics, and some of the bigger questions.

Question one: Will the competitive beta affect my SR going into the actual new season? Well yes, but no. If past experiences are anything to go off of, the matches you play will adjust your MMR, or your hidden match making rating. If you do well in the beta, or very poorly you could see a shift up or down respectively in SR once it goes live. It also depends on what you use to play. Papa Jeff Kaplan has gone on record to say they have been watching you and what you play closely so they hope to rank you in various roles accordingly.

Question two: Is there a SR or MMR reset coming. As we heard from Jeff, not really. If you flex around in previous games, you should see constant returns in SR. However, if you’re a Mei one trick, and you queue up for tank then sure your SR may be a bit of a shock. But long story short no, no SR or MMR reset.

Question three: I’m a tank/support and these DPS suck, why can’t blizzard implement a way to switch roles with teammates mid round? First off, mighty sure of yourself today Timmy, aren’t you? Well first off, you did/are doing your placements on the role you’re playing, and they are in the same situation. There would be no way for blizzard to realistically balance the role lock system if players could swap roles. Here’s an example. You’re a masters Widowmaker, good job clicking heads, but you’re a gold tank player. You’re working on your tank play when you get matched with a gold Widow one trick on your team, they are okay but getting rolled by the other Widow, who knows why, maybe a bad chair. Now if you could swap roles suddenly there is a master DPS player in a gold competitive game. Get why that’s a bad idea? That is not even mentioning the social stigma of flaming and badgering a teammate to switch, which is one of the main points of this system, you get to play what role you want.

And the final popular question, I placed on the PTR gold/silver/master when I’m silver/bronze/top 500 on live what the heck? Well it’s PTR and the system isn’t perfect. Expect a much closer match on live. But if you’re say diamond and place gold, don’t freak out a few things could have happened. First, maybe you are that rank on the role you selected – sorry to say but it’s possible. The other possibility is maybe you had some bad placement games, so you’ll notice your next few games you’ll see a much wider range of SR points being given (or taken). Stick with it, it will balance out.

Now that you’re prepped and know what to expect when you do your placements, I think we are about done, but there are a few house keeping things we should go through. First is when queuing for a role if you’re solo, you can queue for all three roles and get into a game fast. If you’re in a group, every person must choose one role. This is the one area I hope to see changed but that’s how it is now. SR adjustments based on performance are still a thing below diamond but SR decay if you’re above is not. Finally, when your in the games, be patient with your team. Just remember if they are in your game on a role, then they placed there on that role. You may be a better DPS, but this is the role you’re at so focus on your job so they can focus on theirs. Flaming a team mate never made the situation better.

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