Overwatch Director Details Overhauled Ranked Mode and Incoming Balance Changes

Overwatch Versus

Ranked mode, balance changes, new characters, and more!

With the popularity of Overwatch on the constant rise, many players have been wondering what exactly is in store for the game’s future regarding competitive modes and character balancing. Just recently, the game director for Overwatch, Jeff Kaplan, sat down with Eurogamer for an interview about these very topics and much more.

Because of the feedback from the competitive mode beta test, Kaplan says the team has decided to shift from a “progression-based system” to a “skill-based system.” Players will also be able to drop tiers, a feature that was not enabled before. “Even if you got to master,” Kaplan explained, “you would never drop out of that tier, no matter how much you lost. In the player’s opinion, that meant that everybody was going to end up, eventually, in the same place. In our new system, there’s no safety net. If you lose, you’re going to go down, if you win, you’re going to go up.”

This change definitely makes sense as other Blizzard games, such as Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm, use a similar system involving both ranking up and deranking. It also seems competitive play for Overwatch will be split into two and a half to three month seasons instead of the originally planned one month, which Kaplan hopes will allow players more time to enjoy their rank before getting hit with the reset.

As for when ranked mode will arrive, Blizzard has no specific date right now. “Competitive play is the big focus for the team right now, and our hope is that it will release at the end of this month,” Kaplan said.

Overwatch Rank Up

An early look at ranking up from the competitive mode beta.

Another big concern Kaplan addressed was the structure for matchmaking: “we’re going to go out the gate with what we call a ‘dynamic queue’. This is what we use for quick play right now, meaning you can queue in any size that you want. So if you want to queue by yourself, or if you want to queue with two people, or three, four, five, six, the system will allow you to do that.” The decision may be in response to unfavorable outcry when solo and duo queue restrictions were added to Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm last September.

Kaplan was also able to detail some of the long-awaited character balance changes we’ll be seeing in the near future. “We want McCree to be a counter to people like Tracer, Genji and Reaper,” Kaplan said, noting that the hero is just all around too easy right now. The team plans on lowering the damage of fan the hammer, which will make McCree effective against low to medium health targets while hopefully removing his ability to “shred tanks.”

D. Va will also be getting changes, but only after McCree, as the team isn’t quite sure how to handle balancing her.

“We’ve tried high-damage D. Va with lower survivability. She’s almost more of a skirmisher. We’ve tried other directions, like not buffing her damage, but buffing her survivability… D. Va’s not in a horrible place, we just feel like she could be in a slightly better place, whereas McCree is causing a lot of concern in the community and we want to make sure they know we’re responsive.”

Overwatch, McCree

The man, the myth, the over-powered.

Looks like there are big things in the future for Overwatch, and Kaplan and his team will certainly have their hands full in the months to come. Still, it’s always great to see where the development team’s heads are at and what we can expect, especially for a game as globally prominent as Overwatch. You can read the Eurogamer interview in its entirety here.

Which of these changes are you most looking forward to? Leave a comment and let us know!

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