Jeff Kaplan gives update on future Overwatch ping system

Bill Cooney
Blizzard Entertainment

Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan filled fans in on what to expect as developers continue to work on improving the in-game communication system.

Voice chat has, and always will be, the best way to communicate with your teammates in Overwatch. However, for one reason or another, many players prefer not to talk, instead relying on the ping wheel to communicate with teammates.

This system remained virtually unchanged for almost four years until the PTR update on April 23 that gave players more command options, the ability to customize their communication wheel and new voice lines for heroes.

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Despite the changes going live on the 23rd, Kaplan said developers were still experimenting with the new system, seeing what works and what doesn’t.

“We wanted to get the communication changes out as soon as possible though,” Jeff explained. “Rather than wait on the ping experiments to yield something.”

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While this update doesn’t cover everything fans have been asking for over the years, it’s still a welcome change to a system that has gotten to feel clunky and inefficient.

The April 23 patch notes also stated there are a total of 26 different communication options, with keybindings allowing for even more possibilities.

It’s still unclear how the new ping wheel will work for console players, but given the lack of text chat on those platforms, the option to add extra voice commands should be well-received.

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The updated communication wheel is currently on the PTR, but when it will make it to the main game is still unknown.

New features can spend up to a couple of weeks on the test realm while developers work out the kinks, and we don’t expect this update to be any different.

Kaplan also teased new changes coming to Role Queue in the developer update, which will give players whose match gets canceled due to a leaver priority spot in line for another match, but he conveniently forgot to mention when we might see that arrive.