Remember when players all around the world were able to feel good about themselves whether they won or lost a match in Overwatch? Remember when it didn’t matter if you lost, as long as you did your absolute best to be a team player? Overwatch is a special game because it rewards players for trying, and it doesn’t really matter if you died more than you got kills. You supported your team, and that’s all that matters. Here are your experience points, and your well-earned Loot Box.
Ever since Blizzard released the game’s competitive ranked mode, things have changed a little.
I’m sure everyone knew this was coming, but given the friendly and welcoming nature of Overwatch and its community, the effects of the change might have hit a little harder than expected. With a competitive mode comes a higher level of seriousness in equally high stakes play. Your value as a player is determined by that purple number you have next to your name, and if that number’s too low, some of your own friends or regulars that you play with might not want to group up with you. Why? Because you’re not deemed good enough to support them to win.
And what happens if you ‘underperform’ by your team’s standards? You might just fall victim to a bombardment of toxicity from other players – an occurrence that is regularly witnessed in other competitive shooter games like Call of Duty. The one major thing that made Overwatch special – the friendliness of the community – is quickly falling apart with the competitive mode.
Perhaps it can be argued that a large part of this toxicity and saltiness stems from the way the skill rating works on a fundamental level. Anyone who’s spent enough time with the competitive mode must know this by now: losing one match is almost as good as losing an entire rank in your skill rating. And winning a match seems to increase only a tiny fraction of your bar – a problem that’s exacerbated if you have a leaver in the match, whether the leaver was on your team or the enemy’s.
Along with the unfairness that comes with the tiebreaker coin toss, as well as the fact that you have to take a loss even if the game allows you to exit a match with a leaver, losing in Overwatch’s competitive mode comes with pretty big consequences. In competitive, no one can afford to lose, and this is a common mentality with other competitive multiplayer games that completely goes against what Overwatch is supposed to be about.
For solo players, the struggle is getting tougher than ever. In Quick Play mode, players could increase their levels simply by playing, and then pray that they were blessed by the RNG overlords when opening up their Loot Boxes. Despite the randomness that comes with getting goodies from the Loot Box, everyone was in this together. Ranking up together meant that everyone would eventually get their favorite legendary skins, and no one would be left out in the long run. Naturally, competitive mode introduces rewards that are exclusive only to the very best players. You’ll get new sprays and icons if you end up being one of the top 100 players of the season, and you can only get there by playing with the best.
Solo players can’t possibly hope to achieve a feat like this alone, and sooner or later, they’ll get tired of Quick Play mode either because they’ve already gotten all they wanted out of their Loot Boxes, or everyone’s just focused on getting better in competitive without them.
Of course, I’m not saying Overwatch’s competitive mode should be completely abolished. It’s silly, and competitive itself is pretty fun because you’ll be matched up with players all doing their damnedest to win. Unfortunately, there’s too much of an emphasis on the prospect of winning right now, rather than treating your teammates with respect and sportsmanship, and that’s making Overwatch just a little bit less fun than it was at launch.