Overwatch’s future in the competitive scene has been called into question after former professional and popular streamer, Brandon ‘Seagull’ Larned published a video criticising the game’s “frustrating” mechanics. The video, which was published yesterday, has rocketed in views and spurred both sides of the community into action.
The fundamental issue with Overwatch, according to Seagull, is that the games are comparable to a coin flip. “Good games are really good, and bad games are really bad,” he says early on in the video. Due to hard counters – where players are forced to play a different hero in order to counter an opponent’s choice – enjoyment is sapped from the game. As This destroys the depth from competitive that allows players to think tactically, and instead provides a straightforward solution that requires no extra thought.
On top of that, Seagull admits his burnout from the game also comes from overpowered ultimates, and dependence on teammates when playing against some of the newer heroes, such as Sombra and Wrecking Ball. “There needs to be more focus on the nuances of Overwatch, when ults are too powerful it’s just ‘I have more Q’s so I win,'” he says.
Ultimately, these issues, combined with things such as map choke points, create such frustration among the player base, that it breeds toxicity. Overwatch is a squad-based game, and solo-queuing can be an incredibly difficult experience, and these frustrations – especially when your teammates refuse to help or hard counter – breed a toxic environment.
And while it appears Seagull – and many others if the reddit thread is anything to go by – aren’t enjoying the competitive experience right now, they do want it to improve. “I love this game,” Seagull adds. “I don’t want two or three hero releases per year with a couple of maps, and we call it good with some recycled holiday events. I want to see true change, and I want to see Overwatch be better than it ever has been.”
Since releasing the video, the community has largely supported Seagull’s claims. Rod ‘Slasher’ Breslau shared his thoughts in a Twitter thread, adding that Blizzard needs to unite the competitive and casual community to understand what to work on next. Several Overwatch League pros, such as Dylan ‘aKm’ Bignet, one of Dallas Fuels’ DPS players, also echoed the thoughts from the video.
So the core of OW gameplay:
-Unfun mechanics to traditional FPS players; ultimates, abilities
-Poorly implemented game modes; 2CP, spawn system, map chokes
-Small hero pool and unfun hero mechanics; stuns, defense matrix
And then you get Blizzard's approach to online gaming.
— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) November 15, 2018
Although no real solutions have been offered to Blizzard, the video – and the responses to it – has certainly given Jeff Kaplan and his team something to think about. If Blizzard wants Overwatch to continue being successful, they are going to have to make some changes in the long run, and tackling the player base’s frustrations is a good place to start.