Has Blizzard managed to make the required changes that make ranked a pleasurable experience or is it still the hell we tolerated to get a golden gun.
Overwatch has been out for over three months now and players have clocked up incredible amounts of time on this colourful FPS, but the main feature that takes precedent over all is the ranked seasons that span over 2 or 3 months. Alongside this, players can play the relatively laid back “Quick Play” where it is common to have a personal rule of, “There are no rules” As players can have teams entirely of one character, ignoring the large blaring “Too many snipers!” As the last member you had hoped to put an end to this ridiculous composition, wavers under peer pressure and submits to yet another Hanzo.
However, the shenanigans don’t end there, if you are looking for purposely made and completely absurd games, jump into the “Brawl” Where the rules are changed up wildly and common sense team compositions are over dramatically thrown out the window. In one previous week there was the rule of all supports, this means you only pick one of the four supports (This was before the release of Ana) and yet somehow there was an unspoken rule of damage supports, tank supports and healing supports. A team that I had been placed on had opted for double Lucio, double Symmetra, a single Zenyatta and finally a Mercy. We somehow won that game in the midst of laughing and foolish antics.
Yet putting aside the horseplay of the younger siblings ‘Brawl’ and ‘Quick Play’ you can turn your attention towards the judgemental and serious glow of your boss that is ‘Ranked’.
Now ranked has had its fair share of judgment for the first season as players seemed to disagree with how a lot of it played out, this was mainly due to how a match was resolved if the two teams were to tie. This was only a real problem for maps that were Escort, Assault and Hybrid as Control Maps were already in a pretty good place, since games only lasted 5 rounds, there was no possible way to draw on these maps.
However, maps that had an attacking and defending team were to experience the unfair grasp that was ‘Sudden Death’. Assault and Hybrid maps involved the objective of capturing points (In the instance of the Hybrid, you were then to subsequently transport the payload) yet when it came to sudden death the time to complete the objective was shortened drastically to under two minutes, as well as the overall objective being shortened to only capturing the first point. This was done in order to make the games quick, with a by-product of stress, players would quickly notice the advantages of being on one team or another for certain maps.
For instance, defending the first point of the map “Volskaya Industries” along with the majority of Assault maps, often lead to the attacking team winning as these were notoriously in the attacker’s favour, with of course the odd team doing extraordinarily well. However, on Escort maps in which you need to transport the payload to the first checkpoint in a set amount of time, the defending teams had the upper hand.
Now that you’ve passed those first ten placement matches, battling through the “always seemingly against you” system of sudden death, you were given a skill rating from 1 – 100. Now comes your next hurdle and battle with ranked.
In the first season there was a grouping restriction around player’s levels, allowing groups that had players with a 50 level difference to join ranked together. This is understandable as you would expect a player who has played more to influence the outcome of a game, than one who had only just opened up ranking (reaching the level 23 requirement) However the level of a player often didn’t influence the outcome of a game as much as the rank of their skill, since I had seen a fair amount of level 300+ with a skill rank lower than my own, being only a level 130.
This is even more confusing when there didn’t seem to be a group restriction when it came to the skill ratings of each player. This means that a person with a skill rating of 80 could be grouped up with a player of 30, now that may not sound so bad, but that now rounded the team skill rating to about 50. Meaning players with a skill rating of around 50 would be thrown into a match with a person who clearly out-ranked them. This was being exploited in the sense that the game always favoured the underdog, so that ranking 30 player would go up drastically if they were to win, but would lose -less- if they did not. End Season.
Roll out Season Two. Now being a pervious player to World of Warcraft, I wasn’t sure how Blizzard would respond to the feedback they had received with regards to Overwatch, but I was pleased and amused when it came to the changes they had made. My amusement went towards the increase in the skill rating, being 1 – 100 and now 1 – 5000 as this seemed to be a drastic increase, putting certain brackets into tiers ranging from Bronze to Grandmaster.
One of the changes was the reduction of the game length, this was introduced in areas such as the hero select and the start of the game, reduced to 4 minutes as opposed to the original 5. Now, if I’m honest I completely bypassed this piece of information and rejoiced at the removal of Sudden Death, now games focus on the time bank. This means that if two teams were to tie and there is time left in the time bank, the games will then see how far each team can get and compares the two to see who would win, now including the possibility of a tie. Ties are still extremely rare as they have increased the burnout on the “Overtime” meter, after about 20 seconds the burnout will increase in speed, making it much harder for a team to get back to a point.
As I mentioned before there were group restrictions on the level of a player, now with this season the exploitation can cease to continue as a restriction on skill rating has been introduced. If you are placed from Bronze to Diamond you can group up with those who are within 1000 of your current skill ranking, and those within Master and above can only group with those within 500 of their skill rating.
With these changes I have high hopes with this seasons ranked, it is still in its early days of release being out for only a week. So while it’s still out there, go grab some friends or play solo and work your way towards that golden bow or hammer. Other rewards include a new spray of Route 66 and an animated version if you enter into the top 500, so go and put your skill to the test and I’ll see you in game.
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