Jeff Kaplan: Overwatch should be more like Valorant, not League of Legends - Dexerto
Overwatch

Jeff Kaplan wants Overwatch to be more like Valorant than LoL for sequel

Published: 3/Aug/2020 8:47

by Isaac McIntyre

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Jeff Kaplan is laying out a new development plan for the Overwatch franchise ahead of its long-awaited sequel, and he’s using two rival titles to do it ⁠— the Blizzard vice-president wants to see ‘more Valorant, less League of Legends’ in the series moving forward.

Overwatch’s vast roster of colorful heroes, and their abilities, have always defined the competitive title. Before Apex Legends and Valorant burst onto the scene as character-based shooters, Overwatch ruled that particular roost.

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The dawn of Riot’s Counter-Strike rival Valorant has caught Kaplan’s eye, however, a fact that he revealed in a recent Reddit fan forum. He wants to guide Overwatch “slightly more in the FPS direction, than the MOBA direction,” he admitted.

Overwatch figurehead Jeff Kaplan seems to have been inspired by Riot's Valorant title.
Riot Games
Overwatch figurehead Jeff Kaplan seems to have been inspired by Riot’s Valorant title.

The revelation Overwatch could be pivoting slightly in the future, if Kaplan has anything to do with it, actually came during a discussion on the six-v-six hero shooter’s ever-growing power creep issue.

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The Blizzard VP said he was trying to “focus in” on the true source of the creep; it looks like that may just be abilities and shields.

“Is time to kill too fast? Do we feel like crowd-control is too much? Too much, or maybe too little healing?” he said, pointing to each of the questions Team 4’s balance team has to ask itself regularly.

One possible solution is, of course, to reduce the number of powerful abilities and ultimates in Blizzard’s 2015 shooter.

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Returning power to player’s trigger-fingers, and in the process taking power away from game-changing abilities like Reinhardt Earthshatters or Mercy resurrects, could reign in a lot of the games “unbalance.”

Reinhard ultimate could be removed if Jeff Kaplan gets his way in Overwatch.
Blizzard Entertainment
We could see a few less Reinhardt ultimates in Overwatch if Kaplan gets his way.

That’s what Riot promised ahead of their big Valorant release. Let’s ignore, for a moment, that they’ve released a Torbjorn-style turret agent since then; Riot mostly delivered on that promise ⁠— nearly all of their launch agents simply boasted vision and movement utility.

Kaplan believes the League of Legends developers have laid out a strong blueprint for FPS titles that combine shooting and abilities; one he has admitted he may push for in his own competitive title as Overwatch 2 approaches.

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“My personal feeling is that I would like to see less barriers and crowd-control in the game. I want to see Overwatch trend slightly more in the FPS direction, rather than the MOBA direction,” the Blizzard vice-president restated.

The double-shield Overwatch meta may be on its last legs in the coming August patches.
Blizzard Entertainment
The double-shield Overwatch meta may be on its last legs in the coming August patches.

Power-creep and potentially copying Valorant weren’t the only things Jeff Kaplan raised in the Overwatch ‘ask me anything’ either. He also confirmed Overwatch 2 crossplay was “in the works,” and called for Smash to add a hero from Blizzard’s title as DLC.

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On the balance front, he was also definitive in Team 4’s plans for the next few Overwatch patches; double-shields, like playing both Reinhardt and Brigitte, are most definitely on the chopping block in August’s next updates.

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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