Jeff Kaplan reveals Overwatch quick play improvements coming soon - Dexerto
Overwatch

Jeff Kaplan reveals Overwatch quick play improvements coming soon

Published: 17/Mar/2020 2:44

by Andrew Amos

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Lead Overwatch developer Jeff Kaplan has answered community concerns about quick play matchmaking, specifically about backfill, with Team 4 working on a fix to improve the experience for all.

The idea behind backfill is to create fair and balanced quick play games when people leave. Because people can drop in and out of the game mode when they like, teams can be left in 5v6 situations if someone leaves early.

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However, getting put into a game on backfill can be infuriating at the best of times. You can often get dropped into completely unwinnable games, before being spat back out into the queue to wait for another 10 minutes before finding another game.

Overwatch defeat screen
Blizzard Entertainment
Getting backfilled into a defeat screen is one of the most infuriating things in Overwatch.

While some players want backfill matchmaking completely abolished, Kaplan stated that such an idea was off the table. However, the team is looking at making backfilling in a game even rarer, and when it does happen, it won’t lead to a negative experience.

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“Unfortunately, it’s best for matchmaking to sometimes substitute you into a match as a backfill,” he said in a March 16 forum post. “With that said, we would like to make some improvements.

“Once you serve as a backfill, there is supposed to be a cooldown on subbing you in again. But currently if you switch modes a lot (i.e. from quick play to mystery heroes), you can be backfilled multiple times in a row. In an upcoming patch, this will be fixed.”

Blizzard Entertainment
The backfill changes are expected to benefit DPS players the most.

He also acknowledged that backfilling into games that are almost over is going to be a thing of a past, but the devs are still ironing out the kinks.

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“Being backfilled into a defeat screen is not ideal, no matter how long you wait,” he added. “We want to address these issues. With backfilling, we’ll never be able to entirely eliminate them because of how some of the game modes work. but certainly, it can be better than it is today.

Kaplan also mentioned there are fixes on the way for how backfilling works for roles with long queue times like DPS, but didn’t elaborate on how Blizzard plan on getting players into fairer games quicker without the use of the mechanic.

Blizzard Entertainment
DPS players can get backfilled, play for a minute, then get spat back out into queues of longer than 20 minutes.

The backfill improvements are a part of a number of matchmaking changes touted for Overwatch as the devs look to make the game more balanced. The triple-damage experimental mode test looked to shorten DPS queue times and provide a more exciting meta.

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On top of that, queue times for specific roles in the current 2-2-2 role lock have shrunk over time, while the rank disparity between teams in competitive has also been cut back.

While Kaplan didn’t elaborate when the backfill fixes would be coming, players should keep their eyes out when Patch 1.47 comes out.

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Overwatch

Jeff Kaplan reveals his ideal competitive Overwatch meta

Published: 8/Oct/2020 3:13

by Theo Salaun

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Blizzard Entertainment’s Vice President and Overwatch’s beloved Game Director Jeff Kaplan has revealed what he thinks is the ideal competitive meta for the expansive title.

Overwatch exists in many forms, from its highest ranks to its lowest, but the game’s competitive meta at the professional level has also varied greatly since the original release back in May 2016. 

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In the olden days, teams prioritized dive compositions led by Winston’s jumps and Tracer’s blinks. Then, in 2019, fans around the world either groaned or cheered as the divisive GOATS meta took center-stage, featuring a hefty squad built entirely with tanks and supports. 

Now, Kaplan is explaining his perspective on the game’s ideal state, following criticisms he levied back in July against the game’s double-shield reliance. Examining the game’s departure from a static, Orisa and Sigma-dependent environment, he dissects his compository ideology. 

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Brigitte stuns Junkrat on Volskaya
Blizzard Entertainment
Barriers have held an uncomfortably powerful role in Overwatch for a long time.

As discussed in an interview with the Loadout, Kaplan is both aware of the professional scene’s interests and the casual base’s tendencies. Coupling those factors, he believes the game is at its best when there is some blend of high skill caps and diverse team compositions.

“The most ideal, healthiest state of the game is when the meta is somewhat fluid, when the meta is more map dependent or team match up dependent than it is static. We’ve all seen those moments when the meta has been completely static and all six players will just play the same six heroes every time. I think that’s fun from a mastery standpoint, but I think it’s a lot more exciting for viewers when creativity and curiosity come into play,” he said.

When Kaplan refers to a “static” meta, the simplest example is 2019’s GOATS, where three healers (Brigitte, Lucio, and Moira) were coupled with three tanks (D.Va, Reinhardt, and Zarya) and would barrel into opponents.

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It took tremendous teamwork to be pulled off successfully against other professional teams, but many fans considered it more tedious than entertaining after months of gameplay.

In its current state, Overwatch is not completely balanced, but there is a degree of variety to it. That diversity seen in the Overwatch League spans downward into the casual ranks. Kaplan indicates that this is in line with his department’s hopes.

“I think most of our players would say in the ideal meta, all our heroes would be viable in some way competitively. I think as a competitive goal from a game designing and game balancing perspective that is extremely challenging, but it’s obviously what we strive to achieve.”

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While he assures that Overwatch would be completely balanced in an ideal world, in the meantime, his team would at least like to push toward a game that varies to some extent based on coaching, player preference, and map.

It remains to be seen if current and upcoming patches can accomplish that, but Kaplan’s emphasis on “fluidity” is a welcome driving force.

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