Overwatch is doing remarkably well for a two-year-old multiplayer game that relies on people being civil to strangers online. It recently hit 40 million users, new maps and heroes are still pouring out of Blizzard’s studios for no extra cost, and the Overwatch League pro tier is starting to find its legs.
But at the casual level, there are persistent problems that have still existed since the beginning that have nothing to do with mechanical gameplay. Overwatch relies on having a balanced team comp for the game to work well, but getting that hallowed 2/2/2 setup with a bunch of strangers has been a problem since the game first launched. In the latest update, however, Blizzard has rolled out a whole new way of finding teams and finding games that just might fix all of the problems.
The biggest new feature in a huge patch that went live this afternoon is called Looking for Group. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a browser where you can find a group to play Quick Play or Competitive before queuing for games. Most importantly, it also allows groups to assemble based on what role each person wants to play, and once you get into game, it locks players into those roles. If you sign up to play healer, you can switch around between different healers, but you can’t jump off to DPS or tank.
This is a seismic change in how people play Overwatch. Oftentimes, players have a ‘main’ hero from each category, and people will flex around between different roles in the middle of a game to find a strategy that works. With role restrictions, that’s not possible any more; if you need a Moira to counter someone but neither of the people playing healer can play her well, you’re out of luck.
But on the flip side, you can be guaranteed that you’re going to have a proper team comp, and based on my incredibly limited experience with Looking for Group so far, people who bother to queue for a team are much more willing to play properly, communicate, and generally do all the things that make Overwatch fun.
The full patch notes — which include some massive changes like a complete Symmetra overhaul and major changes to Horizon Lunar Colony — are below.
Acknowledge your fellow Overwatch players’ positivity with endorsements! Recognize commendable behavior for players exhibiting sportsmanship, being a good teammate, or for shot calling. Commend players who lead you to victory, put the team’s needs above their own, or exhibit humility in victory or grace in defeat. Endorsements are readily available to view on Career Profiles, the Groups menu, and more so you can tell at a glance the types of players you’re playing with. Those who consistently maintain a high endorsement level will receive periodic rewards, while those who display negative behavior or accrue suspensions will lose their endorsements.
Looking for Group
Play your way using the Looking for Group feature! You can control your gameplay experience before stepping into a match by using specific parameters to create your dream team. Join a team of other like-minded players or lead a group of your own by creating a group with your personal preferences such as game mode, role enforcement, and more. Those who want to queue up for Quick Play, Play vs AI, or any competitive mode can set the types of roles others can play. These specifications will then be activated in-game (e.g. players who chose a support role will be restricted to only using heroes in that category).
GENERALDeveloper Comments:“Since the line between Offense and Defense heroes has become increasingly blurred, we’ve decided to group all those heroes into a single new “Damage” category. We believe that the term more closely matches the role name that is now being used in Overwatch League and across most of the game’s community.”
- All heroes in the Defense and Offense categories have been merged into a new category: Damage
- Combat can now be heard 25% further away
- Changed the name of the Varok spray to Saurfang
- [PC] Players must have Blizzard SMS Protect enabled on their account to be eligible for the Top 500
- The Acknowledge and Interact buttons are now separate input bindings
- Added an Inspire Uptime Percentage statistic for Brigitte on the Career Profile
- Removed some statistics for Symmetra on the Career Profile
- Added a Scoped Critical Hit Accuracy statistic for Widowmaker on the Career Profile
- Career Profiles will no longer be public by default (now defaults to Friends Only). An option to make Career Profiles visible has been added under Options > Social > Profile Visibility
- Symmetra can now be played in 1v1 duel game modes (e.g. 1v1 Limited Duel and 1v1 Mystery Duel)
DOOMFISTDeveloper Comments The increased movement speed on Meteor Strike gives Doomfist new options in how and where to deploy it. His passive is also being increased, allowing him to survive more often when diving into enemies.
- Bonus movement speed increased from 150% to 200%
THE BEST DEFENSE…
- Shield gain increased from 30 to 35 for normal abilities
MCCREEDeveloper Comments While McCree’s Deadeye rarely came into play at 70 meters, we are increasing the range so it cannot be a limiting factor during normal gameplay.
- Range increased from 70 meters to 200 meters
ORISADeveloper Comments Supercharger wasn’t getting enough use, considering its impact. This change allows Orisa to use her ultimate more aggressively, knowing that she will be able to generate them more easily.
- Ultimate cost reduced by 15%
SYMMETRADeveloper Comments The goal of these changes is to move Symmetra to her new damage role and make her more flexible and viable across more areas of the game than she was previously. Now that Symmetra is no longer a support hero, she is expected to be able to dish out heavy damage, and these changes allow for her to do so. She should be more powerful and interesting in more team compositions and maps, and she should also be stronger on offense and defense.
- No longer locks onto targets
- Range increased to 10 meters
- Damage ramping now takes 2 seconds per damage level instead of 1 second
- Damage ramp increased from 30/60/120 to 60/120/180
- Now generates ammo instead of spending it when hitting a barrier
- Ammo reduced from 100 to 70
- No longer pierces targets
- Now explodes on contact
- Projectile speed increased
- Charge up speed increased
- Damage changed to 60 impact / 60 explosive
- Turret is now placed like a projectile instead of being set in place
- Can hold a max of 3, down from 6
- Can now deploy a max 3, down from 6
- Damage increased
- Amount of slowing effect increased
- Can now place the exit up to 25 meters away from Symmetra
- Entrance will automatically be built in front of Symmetra, rather than at her team’s spawn point
- Lasts 10 seconds
- Health lowered to 300
- More things can teleport through it (e.g. Junkrat’s RIP-Tire)
- Entrance can be destroyed
- If either the entrance or exit is destroyed, the other is removed
NEW ULTIMATE: PHOTON BARRIER
- Deploys a barrier that is big enough to span and cut through an entire map
- Orientation can be changed by pressing the ultimate button again
- Lasts 15 seconds
- Has 5000 health
HORIZON LUNAR COLONY
Developer Comments: We’ve wanted to make some gameplay improvements to Horizon Lunar Colony for some time now. The defenders’ spawn room had a problem with its main exit that allowed defenders to quickly duck back inside and regain health while attackers shot at them without doing damage. Since we were already reworking the entire back area, we decided to make some more changes addressing player feedback. The idea behind the rework of Point A was to not only help the defenders a bit, but also provide some gameplay options aside from sitting on the point and trying to hold it for as long as possible. Easier access to high ground, as well as limiting the routes for attackers (or at least allowing for defenders to more easily spot the attackers), will allow more opportunity for counters and create a better gameplay experience.We’ve made a lot of additions and changes to the art throughout the map for you to discover as well.
- Added a staircase on the right when exiting the Hydroponics Room
- Removed the door to the lower room on the right
- Removed the small wall on the catwalk above Point A
- Added some cover walls to the catwalk area
- Moved the door next to the staircase that led to Winston’s room
- The door is now on the side of the wall in the training pit
- Moved the large health pack to the back of the room
- Removed some clutter in the upper left computer room
- Switched the positions of the large and small health pack
- Changed some of the hydroponic plant cover on the right
Defender spawn room exits moved from the front to the sides out of direct line of fire
Small rooms added at spawn room exits
Additional cover added near the spawn room exits
Added a route and larger platform leading to the back right corner
Raised the platform to the same height as the attackers’ platform on the opposite side of the point
The location of the old defender exit is now an alcove with a small health pack
Both teams can still pass behind the point, but there is now a cut-through in the middle of the wall for better access
The area above the window overlooking the point is now covered
A large platform with cover has been attached to the left side of the catwalk
The upper platform for the attackers has been reduced
The doorway leading to the platform is slightly smaller