Overwatch

Six features Overwatch 2 needs in order to rebuild its playerbase

by Michael Gwilliam
Blizzard Entertainment

Share


Overwatch 2 was officially announced at BlizzCon 2019 and while much is known about Blizzard’s hero shooter sequel, there are still plenty of requested features not yet announced that will be necessary for the title to reach new heights as both an esport and serious franchise.

During the reveal, Blizzard confirmed speculation that players would finally get the chance to delve deep into lore with a long-awaited story campaign. Alongside the addition of several new heroes at launch, the sequel will also debut with the franchise’s first new game mode in four years: Push.

The question is, however, will new heroes, maps, game modes, and a story campaign be enough to save the game once the fancy new paint job gives way, and its Twitch viewers recalibrate back down?

Tracer and McCree push the objective in Overwatch 2
Blizzard Entertainment
Push will be Overwatch's fifth main game mode.

Advertisement

While the answer to that question is unknown, one thing that Blizzard must do is limit the disconnect between the game at its highest levels of play and ranked, which feels like a foreign, different title by comparison.

Here are six features Blizzard must implement in Overwatch 2 to not just earn its once sizable player base back, but keep them engaged for many years to come.

Team Queue

Overwatch was originally designed to be played by teams consisting of two premade groups of six. Instead, Blizzard’s current ranked experience being plagued by miscommunication, throwers, and an environment where matches feel won and lost in the spawn.

Overwatch roles tank, damage and support
Blizzard Entertainment
A team queue can completely change the ranked experience.

Advertisement

Blizzard attempted to fix this with the addition of role queue and the group finder, but it still seems a far way off from where players want it to be. For instance, despite teams now consisting of two tanks at all times, there is no guarantee that either of said tank players have a shield in their repertoire (a must-have in many of the game’s metas.)

While the ‘Find a Group’ feature did help incentivize forming teams and finding an ally who can play the aforementioned shield tank role, Blizzard hasn’t done themselves any favors by preventing friends of vastly different skill levels from playing ranked with each other.

Special team queues, potentially with and without SR thresholds, could open new doors and provide unique new rulesets that make the ranked experience miles ahead of where it is now.

Advertisement

Map Selection

Ask any Overwatch player what their least favorite game mode is and they’re likely to say Assault, otherwise known as 2CP.

It is, by far, the mode that requires the most amount of coordination in order to successfully attack the objective, wipe the enemy team, and capture the point. Not to mention that two of the most hated maps in the entire game, Paris and Horizon Lunar Colony, are Assault maps.

Giving players more choice in what maps they actually play could make the whole process of queuing much more enjoyable instead of the RNG fiasco it is at the moment, with maps dictated only by what is in that season’s particular pool.

Paris' incredible skyline with the Eifel tower in the background in Overwatch
Blizzard Entertainment
Paris is one of Overwatch's most controversial maps.

Advertisement

Giving players the option to vote, or in the case of team queue, allowing group leaders to vote on behalf of the stack would ensure that players are competing on maps they enjoy playing.

Tournaments

In addition to the Team Queue feature, weekly tournaments for unique prizes could also incentivize players to form their own team.

One of the FPS's biggest problems as an esport is how the rules of Overwatch League and Contenders seem so distant by comparison. Players being subbed out, matches being first-to-three (as of season 3), and teams actually being preformed create a disconnect between the general community and the pro scene.

By introducing tournaments and maybe even pushing the Open Division to have in-client registration, the concept of “Path To Pro” will be presented on a silver platter to users each time they load up Overwatch.

This, in turn, could help generate more interest in the Overwatch League and organized play as a whole because the game itself will be similar in structure.

Cross-platform play

While it’s been known for a while now that Blizzard is exploring the prospect of cross-platform play in Overwatch, it would undoubtedly surge new life into the shooter.

Allowing PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and PC users to play with and against each other would help bridge the communities and unify the player bases.

The Xbox and Playstation logos
Microsoft / Sony
Crossplay will help bridge the Overwatch community.

Additionally, cross-platform play could also mean things such as cross-progression with skins, sprays, emotes, and levels carrying over between systems.

Of course, precautions would need to be made to ensure that players are given a fair environment by separating keyboard and controller users, perhaps in a manner similar to what Infinity Ward did with Modern Warfare.

Detailed and advanced statistics

One of the most difficult things in Overwatch is to tell how well you are actually performing both in a live game and overall.

Rather than a scoreboard, the shooter's “medal system” makes everyone feel like a winner by counting what would be “assists” in other FPS titles as “eliminations” which are considered kills. This makes it statistically rare for a player to have a kill/death ratio below 2 with almost any hero.

Genji is ready to blade in Overwatch 2
Blizzard Entertainment
Overwatch 2 needs to be more than a visual upgrade with PvE.

Worse yet is the gold medal for “damage” which DPS players playing Junkrat or Doomfist from feeling required to swap off their hero to deal with a Pharah who is dominating the skies untouched.

Not only should the medal system be reworked in-game, but so too should the Replay Viewer to allow for more detailed stat-tracking throughout.

Currently, being able to know how many times your Zenyatta died to a flanking Tracer can only be determined by watching the kill feed or deliberately rewatching a game from their perspectives and manually counting.

Additional tools designed such as a prompt alerting you that your Zenyatta keeps getting fragged or your Moira’s healing is well-below the rank’s average per 10 minutes can help players striving to improve.

Hero bans

Finally, we come to what could be the most controversial feature on this list. Hero bans are not an old idea. In fact, there have been many third-party tournaments to try out the idea, but the topic remains somewhat taboo.

In Overwatch, there normally comes point after major balance patches where a dominant must-play hero composition emerges that destroys anything it comes up against. Hero bans would, in theory, prevent said meta comp from being the only thing that gets played.

A common concern is that Overwatch does not have enough heroes to justify bans, but with Overwatch 2 launching with a sizable roster increase, there may be enough to finally put that argument to rest.

While bans may not work in a solo-queue ranked environment where people are free to one-trick a certain hero to their heart’s content, the concept would be yet again, be a welcome addition to a Team Queue.

Sigma smiles as he grips his spheres
Blizzard Entertainment
Are hero bans the only way to kill double barrier?

Preferably, hero bans would have some form of in-client system where team captains could manually select which heroes their team wants to be removed from play for a particular map.

The ins and outs of the system would need to be tried and tested to determine the best way to implement such a feature (such as a protect phase or limiting bans on a per role basis) but I’m sure that there’s a sweet spot where bans enhance the game without feeling limiting.

Banning the dominant meta heroes can open up entirely new avenues for how to approach each game with each one feeling different.

Given the fact Game Director Jeff Kaplan said the title “isn’t just DLC or expansion,” we can hope that Blizzard is willing to step up and monumentally improve the experience in drastic ways that can only be found in a true sequel.