Overwatch

Overwatch exploit lets players force enemies to lag

by Joe O'Brien

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An Overwatch bug is allowing players to force their enemies to lag at key moments in the game.

In the wake of the July 16 update, which introduced the Summer Games event, players have discovered a way of forcing their opponents to lag, which can prevent them from reacting properly to key ultimate abilities.

Initially, players noticed that they were getting frame-rate drops that appeared to be linked to anything appearing in the in-game chat box, be it a message from a player or a game-related message like a notification of a player joining the game.

Blizzard Entertainment
Blizzard Entertainment
The bug began to occur after the Summer Games update.

It seems, however, that this issue can actually be weaponized, by deliberately typing in the chat at key moments to disrupt the enemy’s ability to play.

While streaming a competitive scrim, Overwatch player Naoki demonstrated just how effective this exploit could be, with his team coordinating to spam messages in the chat after throwing out D.Va’s Self-Destruct, which left the opponents unable to react to the bomb and helped secure two kills.

Fortunately, Blizzard have already publicly acknowledged this bug, with Overwatch Lead Software Engineer Bill Warnecke stating that they’re working on a fix “with urgency”, although he wasn’t able to give an estimate on when it might arrive.

In the meantime, PC players can avoid this issue by turning off in-game chat. This can be done by opening the ‘Groups’ menu – by default using P – and toggling off the chat channels. While the framerate issue can still occur as a result of non-chat messages, such as notifications of players leaving or joining the game, it should limit the occurrences and negate deliberate ‘lag attacks’ like this.

Players on console may have to simply wait until Blizzard arrive at a fix for this issue, although it should be more difficult for players on console to spam chat as effectively as players using a keyboard.