After Overwatch was released to the public on May 24th, 2016, my friends and I spent countless nights playing the once popular Hero Shooter. We’d often make plans over text to all get on Xbox and play competitively on weeknights after school until we couldn’t keep our eyes open any longer or were forced to go to bed by our parents. All six of us getting together and communicating while playing against other high-level teams was some of the most fun I’ve ever had playing a video game. I’ve easily sunk more than 1,000 hours into the game. As of recently, however, my friends and I haven’t touched Overwatch. The game just isn’t fun anymore, and we’ve since moved onto playing other games.
Many players, including many professional players, like Brandon Larned (better known as Seagull), have been very open with their criticisms of the game.
“There is just one very consistent trend in my Overwatch experience,” Seagull said in a video posted to his YouTube channel. “Good games are really good, while bad games are really bad.” -Brandon Larned
The biggest issue with Overwatch is its current meta. Right now, high-level Overwatch play is dominated by a team composition of three tank heroes and three support heroes. This meta is known as “GOATS.” This meta is very prevalent in the Overwatch League at the moment because it is a tried and true composition. It is almost impossible to win without playing this composition.
“We need to figure out a way to normalize the experience,” Seagull said. “When I click on the Overwatch rank button I don’t want to have a coin flip on whether or not I’m going to have fun.”
This meta takes away a player’s ability to experiment with different comps that were possible in previous competitive seasons. It forces players to pick heroes that they might not want to play but will be forced to in order to have any chance of winning the match. The overabundance of hard counters (and the fact that if you don’t mirror what the other team does) will cause you to lose, is the fundamental issue with the game. Players should be able to pick from more than just a couple of heroes and not have to worry about getting obliterated by the other team and receiving a flurry of reports on their account from angry teammates.
Which leads me to my next point: toxicity in Overwatch is still a very significant problem. Blizzard has attempted to address this by implementing the endorsement system, but many players believe it is not enough. By eliminating the nuance out of the gameplay and not solving the problems in the current meta, you have a community stuck between a rock and a hard place in the sense that players want to have fun but also don’t want to lose. This has created a high level of frustration and toxicity within the fanbase.
“If my teammate picks a hero that I think is hard-countered by one on the other team, suddenly I feel powerless,” Seagull said. “I feel like we’re going to lose no matter what we do because we’re at a severe disadvantage before we even get to play the game.”
On February 25th, Blizzard unveiled its 30th hero, Baptiste, who is described as a “combat medic” that uses an array of healing abilities and gadgets to help his team in battle.
Blizzard made the announcement with a video: “Mobilize alongside the combat medic who made the shrewd decision to make the world a better place, one bandage… or bullet at a time: Baptiste.”
His moveset includes an immortality field that prevents nearby allies from dying, healing grenades, and his ultimate ability “amplification matrix” which doubles the damage and healing of all projectiles that pass through it.
This new hero may very well be Blizzard’s attempt to change the current meta. DPS players who were forced to play support in solo queue may finally have their prayers answered as Baptiste is a mix of both types of hero. The future meta may revolve around Baptiste like it did when Brigitte was added into the game. Whether this a good change or a bad one will be decided when players figure out how to truly utilize Baptiste’s abilities in high-level play.
While it is encouraging to see Blizzard attempt to address the issues with the game, I believe it will be almost impossible to bring back a good portion of fans who have left the game for good, including myself. For many, their time with Overwatch has come to an end, and several of them have moved onto other popular games such as Fortnite or Apex Legends.
I hope for the future of Overwatch and for Blizzard to come up with creative new ways to bring players back to the game. There is no gaming experience quite like Overwatch, and deep down I miss the fun I had with the game. Blizzard has a huge uphill battle with Overwatch and only time will tell if the game can be saved from itself.