It’s impossible to land on a meta that pleases every Overwatch player, says the game’s director Jeff Kaplan, and his team’s options for addressing their complaints at any given time are limited. That’s a very reductive summary of the thoughts he shared with Overwatch streamer Fran as part of the new Ana-centric Bastet promotion (via Kotaku).
The current Overwatch meta is named ‘GOATS’ (for the pro team that pioneered it), and relies on high-HP characters, damage mitigation, and area-of-effect healing to win attritional fights with the other team. It can be boring to play against and has been around for a while, which has led to a fair bit of grumbling by commentators. Kaplan argues this is natural:
“What’s inevitably gonna happen is, whether the meta changes or not, people will end up not liking the current meta.” Referencing recent balance changes, he says the meta may be about to shift: “I’ve seen people say that GOATS is dead, and now it’s just double sniper, and that’s gonna be terrible. Or everyone is going to play McCree. At a certain point, what the hell do you people want?”
Kaplan also makes the point that this perceived problem only affects a vocal minority of players. “South of, let’s say Diamond, no one’s playing GOATS,” he claims. They may be picking GOATS heroes because they’ve heard that they’re the meta, but they’re not using them in the coordinated way that the pros do. The implication is that, because these heroes aren’t being used optimally, more heroes are viable against them than would be the case at pro level, so complaints about a stale meta are less valid.
Fran’s chat generally seemed to enjoy Kaplan’s thoughtful words and genial delivery, though there were frequent calls for a Hero-banning system.
Ultimately, Jeff says there will always be a meta – that there will always be between six and ten heroes that the pros will pick in most situations. And if players are asking for a wider pool: “at a certain point, what do you expect to happen short of Mystery Heroes?” Kaplan says. “It’s not ever gonna be just any random six characters is always viable against any random other six heroes. That’s actually not the design of the game.”
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I remember Kaplan making similar points back when dive comps were the meta. Yes, it can be irritating to see players pick the same heroes all the time, but gradual balance changes to address this will be reflected in pro strats, which will then trickle down to the rest of us, and a new meta will evolve in due time.