Overwatch: A New Era of eSport

An Introduction

Overwatch, a new FPS title for PC, PS4 and XboxOne from the legendary Blizzard Entertainment, is just wrapping it's first month since launch. The game has already attracted a huge player-base, with the beta alone bringing in more than 9.7 million participants. With some meta tweaks to certain heroes already implemented, the competitive game-mode is currently in PTR (Public Test Realm) which means that we can probably expect competitive to be pushed within the next week or so! In this post I will be catching up new players, and introducing some tips to current players to optimize their game! But first let's take a quick look at what Overwatch has to offer in terms of game play.

Players are separated into two 6 player teams and loaded into a game-type and Map. In the 'preparation' stage of the level, players pick Heroes based on their play-style and specific abilities. Heroes are segmented by their Primary roles: Offense, Defense, Tank, Support, but many perform very well in various roles depending on the team composition and the players skill. For first time FPS players we highly recommend that you take a look at Overwatch Central's aiming video to help you get your hardware and in game settings flushed to your preferences. Reddit has really been extremely proactive in digging into the damage values and hard hero design, take a look at their 'Weekly Hero Focus' to give you an idea how Widowmaker, an aggressive lane-controlling sniper plays in the right hands.

Going Deeper

In Overwatch, there are 12 maps overall, with 3 maps dedicated to each specific game-type: Assault, Escort, Hybrid and Control. Players will compete for various objectives while exploring maps that often offer back-doors, and height advantage points for astute observers.

  • Assault: Players attack and hold various Capture Points

  • Escort: Players Escort a moving payload to it's objective before the timer runs out

  • Hybrid: Players attack and capture a point, then escort a payload from that point to it's objective before the timer runs out

  • Control: Players fight on a single capture point and try to hold it for as long as possible 

After the teams are assembled, players work together to achieve their specified objective. Teams can switch up compositions on the fly to adjust to changing defensive and offensive strategies, which makes Overwatch stand out as a truly entertaining eSport, because the momentum can change rapidly depending on the exact location of the current team-battle. Check out some of the crazy plays that come out of knowing which heroes to play at which stages of the map:

Progressive Development

Jeff Kaplan, Overwatch Game Director, has been extremely transparent when it comes to reporting on the progress, patching, and reworks of the games internals, attempting to ensure a very open development mentality that has been embraced by the competitive eSport scene lately. According to Kaplan there remain some serious challenges to smoothing out the eSport focused competitive game-type, but some major fixes will be coming out during the initial summer season starting this week:

  • Initial match time for Assault, Escort, and Hybrid maps will be reduced from 5 minutes to 4 minutes
  • Sudden Death Timer will be reduced from 2m00s to 1m45s

Last week in PTR, beta testers found even more trouble with the proposed 'Coin Flip' rule that basically flipped 50/50 for a winner if after 4 rounds there was no clear match victor. Taking some of the heavy feedback from those comments, Kaplan emerged with a lengthy blue-post on structured changed to competitive mode game play that should set it even further apart from the casual focused 'Quickplay', 

"We’re looking at a variety of different, longer-term solutions that involve removing the coin flip and Sudden Death completely. For example, right now we’re exploring ways to allow for matches that would otherwise result in Sudden Death to instead resolve in a draw where neither team wins or loses. In that situation, our goal would be to make sure the match still felt rewarding for both teams, and that players could walk away feeling like it was time well invested. It’s important to remember that the removal of Sudden Death/the addition of draws would accompany the format changes to Escort and Hybrid maps, which means that draws should be VERY rare overall...

... We don’t feel that holding back Competitive Play until the Fall is the right thing for the game right now. Instead, our goal is to release Competitive Play in our next content patch and kick-off our Summer season with the current ruleset.
— Jeff Kaplan, Overwatch Game Director

Next Time: Into the Meta

We've already covered what exactly Overwatch is, what you can expect in a normal match, some tips and tricks on how to jump into the game with seasoned players, as well as the development road-map of competitive mode. In the future OSSIC is going to be tackling the emerging Meta of Overwatch, with in-depth analysis of the current trends within the eSport scene. Make sure you stay tuned for exclusive Hero analysis, team composition suggestions, map overviews, and play style tweaks to take your Overwatch experience to the next level!