Overwatch competitive season 3 will have practice mode, recalibrations to reduce number of platinums

Reaper seems at a disadvantage in this situation

Blizzard’s Overwatch development team fielded a packed session of questions and answers today at BlizzCon including information on solo queue, a server browser and competitive season 3 improvements.

For more of the news out of BlizzCon 2016 see the event hub.

Jeff Kaplan, game director for Overwatch, answered the vast majority of the questions on upcoming features for the game after this competitive season ends on November 24, including fixing what he admits is the system’s biggest failure: skill rating.

“I don’t know the best way to say this but we screwed up skill ratings,” Kaplan says. “Skill ratings are supposed to be a bell curve, but what we ended up with is a very compact one. Way too many people got placed into platinum, and not enough into gold and silver. And so I have this fear of the rage that’s going to come as we move lots of players into gold and silver.”

The deranks will be necessary to recalibrate everyone and avoid problems caused by overcrowding the centre of the bell curve with very disparate skill levels of players. Other problems from Season 2’s ranking system, such as massive SR losses after a single match, should also be fixed.

“The reason so many people were getting very slight rankings up and dramatic losses when they lost is because we had misplaced them,” Kaplan says. “We were looking at their MMR [invisible matchmaking rating] and comparing that to Skill Rating and with miscalibrations there’s more of a chase that needs to happen, so if they win a lot, we can’t give them a lot because we know they don’t belong there.”

“Season 3’s biggest hope is to recalibrate everyone and fix out that curve, but it’s gonna be perfect this time. The fourth times the charm.”

In the interim between seasons, the competitive play button will be replaced by a competitive practice mode which will let players queue for the same rulesets but without the SR rewards of competitive, avoiding the troubles players had of going into the more casual Quick Play in the downtime. They’ll also be looking at ways to let you customise the voice commands on your chat wheel or keybinds to suit the ones you feel you need to shout more often, such as “come out from behind that wall so I can heal you” or “I am dead and cannot heal you.”

More ways to avoid getting games you don’t want to play are also in the works as the much-requested server browser was once again confirmed as “on the way”, but its less positive news for those holding out for a “solo queue only” separate competitive matchmaking stream.

“I understand the frustration of playing as an ungrouped player in with unco-operative groups, statistically it doesn’t happen very frequently, but anecdotally it feels really bad,” Kaplan says. “Our biggest desire is to get you to group more and make more friends and play with other people more. We’re not saying no there’ll never be a solo queue in Overwatch, but we are going to try and solve the problem of players not grouping with others first.”

So that’s more of a “no for now”, then.

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