Frustration is the best way I can describe my current experience with Overwatch, a team-based shooter that I’ve put more than 200 hours into across PS4 and PC.
Overwatch is unique, strategic and fun along with being my personal pick for Game of the Year 2016. But since switching to PC, I’ve recognized a fatal flaw in the Overwatch formula, it’s too balanced.
Before you click away, let me give you an explanation.
Blizzard has done an impeccable job with community engagement, keeping Overwatch’s player base informed every step of the way. They’ve buffed, nerfed and completely reworked heros to make every character playable in one way or another.
The problem stems from the effect these changes have on competitive play. Nearly every hero change in Overwatch is reflected from insights at the professional level of play, leaving those trying to climb the ranks in a state of disarray.
For Example, the most recent buff of Bastion was due in part to the low use and low win rate of the character at the higher levels of play. Unfortunately, Bastion is a character that was already strong against an uncoordinated team, such as those in Platinum and below and now his impact is devastating.
Players can’t climb up ranks if they’re in the lower divisions of play because even if they are having the game of their life, those around them are still playing at a low level. This is the problem I’ve encountered.
After hitting Master rank on PS4 and dabbling into some Grandmaster and top 500 play on the platform, I realized how much more fun it was to work and play with people who truly knew the game like I did. It wasn’t a screaming match, there were few pro Genji’s or Widowmakers and my teammates filled the roles they needed to fill.
When I lost a game, I knew that it was because my team and I were outplayed, not because the balance of the game surrounded me with incapable teammates in a game where I can’t do it all.
When I made the switch to PC in December, I was bad at the game, mainly because I had to unlearn 15 years of playing with a Playstation controller for FPS games. After about a month, I finally stopped fat-fingering Q and felt confident in my play enough to climb back up in competitive.
But since then, my Overwatch experience has been miserable. I started at the same placement level I did on PS4, close to 2300. Unlike my PS4 competitive grind though, I’ve been unable to make it past the 2500 mark and spend most days trading an equal number of wins and losses..
At this point some of you are probably thinking of that stereotypical vacuous phrase: Get Good, but it’s not that simple of a fix.
The game is so balanced, that even when I’m running an optimal team composition, I can’t carry my team like I want to. If I’m playing healer, I can’t aim for my DPS teammates. If I’m an offense character, I can’t make my tank teammates cover me. And if I’m playing tank, it’s hard to make my healers understand that focusing the tanks keeps them alive.
I mean, I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve had to inform the Symmetra on my team that the turret will be backwards if they place it down facing the direction our team is headed.
Balance works at high levels of play, it allows the best of the best to truly shine in their roles. But balance at the lower levels of play holds back those players with the most potential, and takes away the chance for new players to experience the joys of having a team that is perfectly in sync.
I’m not saying that Blizzard should just forget about a balance or even make two different configurations of balance for upper and lower levels of play. What I’m asking for is a way for players to ascend the ranks in competitive play without having to be carried by Diamond players reaching down into the Gold division ranks.
It’s never sunny in solo-que, but the trickle down philosophy of play simply isn’t cutting it for me and so many others that feel stuck when playing Overwatch.
featured image courtesy of polygon.com