Five Ways to Improve Overwatch

Blizzard is known for supporting its releases well after release, but where should the company start with its popular new shooter? We have some thoughts.


Overwatch has been capturing our attention for a full week now, and once the dust settled on its launch, we rather liked it. But no game is perfect at launch, and Blizzard has made a name for itself by updating its releases regularly. Overwatch is certain to get the same loving care, which means the publisher must be currently looking for ways to improve the experience. Where should they start? We have a few suggestions.

Better Highlights

The "Play of the Game" feature is one of the most popular aspects of Overwatch--just look at the Overwatch subreddit for proof. So let's start there. A smarter PotG feature would be one welcome way to satisfy the playerbase by connecting to one of the most active aspects of it. Ideally, this revised Play of the Game feature would select both a wider variety of strong plays outside of racking up kills in quick succession, and also better at showing the plays themselves. Who here hasn't seen a Torbjorn PotG in which his turret was the one racking up the kills? There's no reason the game couldn't simply know to show you that from the turret's perspective--or better yet, with a third-person camera view or splitscreen to show both elements at once. 

Speaking of cameras, a Theater Mode could allow players to make their own highlight reels. Give us the ability to save replays, then find the camera angle that works best for showing off the action. It's a must-have feature for the eventuality of eSports anyway, so this should be right at the top of the list.

Competitive Scene

If, or more likely when, Overwatch becomes seriously considered as an eSport contender, it will need some way to set tournament-style rules, but being overbearing would risk turning off the casual fans. Given that Overwatch is very explicitly designed to be welcoming to new players, it's hard to imagine Blizzard turning a blind eye to them. So why not split the difference? 

We suggest the company introduce a Tournament Mode, or alternatively, roll official level rule sets into its current Ranked play. Casual could be the Overwatch we all recognize in its current configuration, while Tournament/Ranked could allow Blizzard to set a blueprint for official rule sets with elements like character caps. That way, if you want to run a team with six Pharahs for rocket-powered mayhem, you can still feel free in Casual.

More (or Any) Story

We touched on this in our review, but Overwatch's one real shortcoming is its lack of a story component. Its premise and characters are strong, and the animated shorts have shown there's plenty of room to explore interactions between the characters. It's even building a compelling narrative, as the shorts have suggested some very specific plot points regarding Reaper's plan and the reformation of Overwatch. 

As players, though, it's frustrating to see all this plot potential roped off entirely outside of the game. We're in this medium because we like to participate. A set of story missions, either focusing on specific characters or limiting your character choices by who is involved in a particular story "mission," would go a long way towards recognizing this potential and making us feel more a part of the world.

Making It Last

Ranking up is all well and good for matchmaking and earning Loot Chests, but the grind can only carry it so far. Eventually the community will have all the loot it really wants, and will need another incentive to keep checking in day after day. So why not offer daily quests? Giving players a reward for completing dailies would not only encourage long-term participation, but also help push players to experiment with characters and scenarios they might not otherwise try. Giving a little in-game currency would be a fine reward without compromising its microtransaction model.

Or, it could use the daily quests as an alternate path for Loot Boxes. It's always exciting to open a box, but right now the only in-game way to receive them is leveling up. A greater variety of ways to earn Loot Boxes--say, by completing five dailies in a row--would help them feel like more than level rewards.

If the increase in Loot Boxes and currency means we need more loot to collect, no problem. Just add skins for individual weapons or body parts.

Finding the Balance

This is one area that barely warrants mentioning, because Blizzard obviously must be looking into it already. The idea of any major publisher, much less the one that designed Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm, launching a major shooter without gobs of analytic tools is unheard of. And to its credit, Blizzard has been generally slow-but-smart about these kinds of updates, usually giving a light touch to barely tilt unbalanced elements rather than overcompensate.

That means the company is certainly looking into current player feedback, as well as how it matches up against their own data. The community has been vocal about Bastion, but if a rebalancing is necessary, it could be as simple as giving Genji a longer block maneuver to serve as a hard counter. Meanwhile, Blizzard tends to take notice when elements aren't necessarily wildly out-of-balance but have the effect of making the game less fun, like having your team wiped from a Junkrat Ultimate and being powerless to stop it.

Not that we're bitter.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    May 30, 2016 10:00 AM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Five Ways to Improve Overwatch

    • reply
      May 30, 2016 10:25 AM

      6) More porn

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      May 30, 2016 10:27 AM

      go back in time and play pre-hat TF2

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        May 30, 2016 10:36 AM

        i still prefer overwatch. i like how i can switch to another completely different character when i get bored of it and there's 21 of them!

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        May 30, 2016 10:45 AM

        I tried to go back to tf2 once I got tired of overwatch. Some soldier shot me with a lazer gun straight out of crysis.
        Such a shame what happened to it.
        Also I kind of wish tf 2 had a character like soldier 47 or mcree, that rewards midrange accuracy.

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          May 30, 2016 10:50 AM

          He said pre-hat TF2 which scraps the 'side-grade' weapons(or straight upgrades in some cases, like you mentioned).

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        May 30, 2016 10:47 AM

        even as great as glory days pre-hat TF2 was, that was nine years ago now. I fell like I'd have a hard time going back to it.

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        May 30, 2016 11:39 AM

        Aren't there vanilla servers?

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      May 30, 2016 10:43 AM

      I'd like to see them take a few queues from Hearthstone.

      A monthly ladder system, with a reward (think coins / loot box), at the end of each "season".

      And maybe do a loot box or some coins for your first "Brawl" of the week as well.

      I'd love to see a story mode, but I could see them saving that for a sequel.

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        May 30, 2016 10:51 AM

        i'd really like to see them NOT do the single weekly playlist of something different and have maybe a few. like i really liked the random hero thing in the beta but have no interest in what seems like the cheatmode playlist of last week. having a playlist i'm interested in would add some variety.

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        May 30, 2016 10:55 AM

        They are already doing a monthy ladder season called competitive mode. Coming soon

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        May 30, 2016 12:56 PM

        They've mentioned potentially adding a box or coins for completing first brawl. No ETA

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      May 30, 2016 10:54 AM

      Capture the FLAG please. That's all I want but I'm not sure they want to put that in due to the nature of the quick games.

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        May 30, 2016 11:43 AM


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          May 30, 2016 11:47 AM

          Easy, just make everyone play Tracer in CTF mode.

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          May 30, 2016 12:09 PM

          Yeah they would have to make the flag remove any special movement effects and weigh you down.

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            May 30, 2016 12:32 PM

            Team Fortress never needed that sort of thing. They could slow the carrier down or lower the HP, but you don't need to remove abilities or even do that stuff. Part of the fun in CTF is in shutting down the faster and more mobile attackers who are weaker and think they can run the game and every flag alone. It's not a problem if there's any sort of defense and communication. Tanks with healers would probably be a lot harder to counter. But really it would come down to map design. If there are too many routes the faster and more mobile classes can exploit which the heavier ones couldn't reach, then you'll have some issues.

            Need to have specific chokepoints in each base that a team really has to work together to plow through. Not saying I want CTF, just don't think it's automatic no because some characters get around quicker and better than others.

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              May 30, 2016 12:55 PM

              TFC's varied flag based systems also helped make the mix of classes work incredibly differently depending on the mode.

              TF2's biggest failing was abandoning that and lumping everything in with a fucking progress bar, and when that didn't work adding re-spawn timers.

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      May 30, 2016 10:56 AM

      They need to add a better hit confirm sound.

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      May 30, 2016 11:02 AM

      I'll chime in:

      1) Some maps are terrible to attach on because the choke points favor defense way more. (ie: temple of anubis 2nd point)

      2) When starting a match i wish there was a top-down view of the map, some of them are hard to recognize just from the splash screen while selecting heroes. I need to have open or something.

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        May 30, 2016 11:06 AM

        There is so much unused space on some of the maps. It feels like they'd benefit from having multiple modes per map.

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        May 30, 2016 11:46 AM

        At higher skill levels, attack is way more favored, especially on Anubis and volskaya so as you get better, the choke points become easier to get through

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          May 30, 2016 11:48 AM

          ^^ Ding ding.

          You don't ever see double-cp maps at the highest levels because they're just giant snowball fests that are impossible to defend.

          Hanamura got played one time (out of hundreds of games) at the tourney over the weekend and it was a terrible set of rounds.

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      May 30, 2016 11:19 AM

      1) The replay camera not being on the turret has to be intentional because it's fucking hilarious. Why would you want to see an auto-target turret kill reply anyways?

      2) Pretty sure they already announced ranked play last week or so.

      3) Ah the old story mode argument. I can't think of an mp shooter that I liked more because I knew about the character I was playing. I also think the less you know here the better. Winston and Reaper on the same team? Weren't they fighting in their cinematic? They are cool heroes that suggest history and an intentional design behind them. I personally don't like the skins that unveiled Reaper and Reinhardt, I like some mystery. It's like the whole Boba Fett debacle- fans were asking for his backstory until they got it, then they wished they hadn't.

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      May 30, 2016 11:27 AM

      1) In terms of highlights, a way to export personal highlights and an archive would be incredibly nice. Right now there is no way to record without having software already active, and every time you restart the game all your highlights disappear. The POTG system isn't perfect but it's really not that bad.

      2) While a clear competitive rule-set would be nice it's not really clear what it should be. Most players prefer stopwatch (just best times) while tournament organizers, casters, and spectators don't because it far too often means matches ending early and too much talk of what is "mathematically possible." There have been many alternatives tried but I think it's too early to say what will be best and I don’t think it's on Blizzard to step in yet.

      3) We should just be happy there is any story. Beats the normal arena FPS route.

      4) They already have some daily rewards in the game, but it comes in the form of XP an not currency. Also, Blizzard has commented it plans to continually release new skins on a regular schedule so it is unlikely anyone will ever get everything they want without spending significant amounts of cash in the shop.

      5) Balance is a tricky thing and right now OW is in the best shape it's been in. Bastion really isn't a problem at all. He actually sees some high level play (though rare) but if he were nerfed at all to help new players then he would go back to being a completely useless character at the high end. The only genuine balance concern at this moment is McCree, he is quickly becoming the only DPS in the game at the high end and that is not good.

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        May 30, 2016 11:58 AM

        Isn't there a Highlights item in the menu which shows your recent ones?

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          May 30, 2016 11:59 AM

          Yes, but only from your current session, restart the game and they go away.

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        May 30, 2016 12:39 PM

        McCree seems to be a real problem. I'm not sure how to change him, but I feel like he gonna get hard with the nerfstick.

        Me disarray and another friend played against a godly McCree player the other night, name was Deebo. The rest of his team wasn't that great but this dude would wipe our team constantly. We only won one match against him by just zerging him with Wintons.

        I feel there is no great counter for him either he can dominate close range and he can handle long range engagements with ease.

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          May 30, 2016 12:49 PM

          I feel like all he really needs is a tweak to his flashbang but that was only relatively recently buffed to help him counter Tracer.

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          May 30, 2016 1:01 PM

          Zarya. Everyone forgets her. Her shields make characters immune to the flash bang and then she can kill him with dat laser.

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            May 30, 2016 1:16 PM

            Good McCree will have no issues with her.

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              May 30, 2016 3:22 PM

              McCree has trouble with plenty of people if he misses the stun

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                May 30, 2016 3:59 PM

                But it rarely misses. And can hit multiple people. It's extremely strong

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          May 30, 2016 1:06 PM

          Decrease flashback radius is probably the most sensible. It's pretty easy to land on a relatively short cooldown. Switching a small amount of damage more towards left click from fan the hammer would be nice to encourage more skillful play. 24 fan the hammer kills (27 eliminations) even at higher MMR isn't unusual.

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            May 30, 2016 1:17 PM

            Agree with this. It's always better to fan the hammer right now. Popping off some shots at long range is okay to do a bit of chip damage, but most kills come from fan spam.

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          May 30, 2016 2:29 PM

          Fucckkiinn deeeeeboo

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          May 30, 2016 2:36 PM

          Mei is a decent counter, she can iceblock after being stunned and most of the time get the kill while reloading. I agree McCree can kinda feel like easy mode though.

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            May 30, 2016 3:12 PM

            You get killed before the stun expires

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              May 30, 2016 3:41 PM

              Not in my experience, leaves you low health but can immediately come out and freeze him for the kill. Did it a few times last match.

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        May 30, 2016 1:10 PM

        The one thing I would like to see nerfed a bit is Mercy ult. It needs a slightly longer cooldown.

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      May 30, 2016 11:31 AM

      Of the various things I am unable to stop, Junkrats is near bottom. You can generally always shoot it before it gets to you and you can shield from it and los it.

      Top of my list are the cowboy and roadhog insta-gibs. It's just not fun to play against those two and most people are now figuring out that they can do this.

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      May 30, 2016 11:31 AM

      How about the loot is pointless and why bother? Also, there needs to be mode modes like Capture the flag would be AWESOME for this game!

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        May 30, 2016 12:31 PM

        How would you like the loot to be not pointless? You want people having an advantage just because they have gotten a drop that someone else hasn't?

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          May 30, 2016 1:00 PM

          No not at all, I mean an FPS with loot is just dumb no matter how you do it...

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            May 30, 2016 1:03 PM

            Why? Take it out any it's the exact same game.

            It adds a bit on interest in that you can customize your characters. You think being able to change your appearance in RPGs is dumb?

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      May 30, 2016 11:53 AM

      people actually want more backstory from blizzard? they can't do anything beyond ultra-derivative trite hackneyed bullshit

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      May 30, 2016 1:05 PM

      FFA. Please?

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        May 30, 2016 1:11 PM

        This is far too much a teamplay game. FFA would only favor one or two characters.

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      May 30, 2016 1:14 PM

      Overwatch is the game with the highest gap in playability between solo and grouped play I've ever encountered. Solo is borderline meaningless.

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        May 30, 2016 1:15 PM

        Not sure it's really possible to do anything about that, though.

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        May 30, 2016 2:30 PM


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          May 30, 2016 3:16 PM

          With all this Overwatch talk, it's easy to tell who has played DotA and who is coming straight from TF2.

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          May 30, 2016 3:24 PM

          Dota pubs are generally much better. But dota has been around longer and the mmr has settled. Overwatch has only been out a week so I expect it to get better

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            May 30, 2016 4:15 PM

            I figured it would have been much much worse in DotA/lol/hon just because if the nature of the game, not being able to switch your class, slow snowball downhill, longer games etc

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        May 30, 2016 3:45 PM

        it's been out a week

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      May 30, 2016 2:35 PM

      I agree with the need to save replays. Freaking Myth had the ability to save an entire match and share the video out back in 1997. Barely any games since have seemed to do this.

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