When Overwatch launched in late May, everyone was in love with it. The ranked or competitive mode from the beta had been disabled, and only Quick Play was available. Quick Play, however, will always be seen as the casual way to play in a game that eventually wants to go competitive and be part of the e-sports scene.
That “New Game” Smell
E-sports are competitive high stake challenges. They are meant to reveal the best of the best and feature amazing team coordination and astounding individual skill. In a competitive game, Quick Play becomes the option players choose when learning what a new hero can do and Training mode proves too easy for them.
It is a beautiful thing to have the luxury of playing a game that will become competitive on its initial casual setting because it is the only setting it has. There is a unique type of joy in the first out-of-beta weeks, while the meta is being slowly developed and patch notes either come every week or hotfixes need to be urgently rolled out because something that eluded millions of beta players is just heavily exploited.
Overwatch was fun because it was amicably competitive. It was fun because when doing a solo Quick Play tryhards did not get upset and did not flame as much as they do in other games. Winning was awesome but losing was still alright. Losing a match did not have a horrible aftermath.
The Competitive Gloom Cloud
Nevertheless, nothing lasts forever. Blizzard introduced their new ranked mode for Overwatch. It is meant to make Overwatch competitive, and it is intended to root out and eventually balance the meta, just like all other e-sports games. And just like every other e-sports game, the first iteration of ranked mode is not that great.
Based on how ranked gaming currently works, it does not make sense for it to be available for solo play. While the ranking numbers are individual and not based on a team, they do go up and down based mostly on the end-result of the team.
Currently ranking depends too much on other people, to the point where trolls or just inexperienced players will easily drag a player’s ranking down, while individual skill will, with great difficulty, raise a player’s ranking up.
There is also no way to stop the aforementioned trolls and inexperienced players to play the ranked mode. There is no strict supervision or any form of level or match-based lock for the game.
Matchmaking also requires some updates for solo competitive players. It feels like it stalls too long and ends up not doing the fairest of teams, more so than in Quick Play. Or perhaps it seems like that because there is also more at stake.
The first age of Overwatch has ended and a darker age of sorrows has begun with the competitive mode rollout. It is certain that Overwatch will soon be making changes to a lot of things based on ranked play but after how long, if ever, will the community toxicity go down to acceptable levels?
Image Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.