Overwatch is getting one of its biggest gameplay changes ever in a patch coming soon. Game Director Jeff Kaplan shared the details of the upcoming role queue, in a Developer Update released yesterday. Once the system goes live, Quick Play and Competitive players will first have to select a role that they want to play for their next match: tank, damage, or support. In that match, players will only be able to select from heroes of their chosen role, meaning, for example, tanks may only choose from heroes such as Reinhardt or Roadhog.
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Overwatch Role Queue, 2-2-2
Changes to Competitive and Quick Play
When queuing, players may choose multiple roles, but are assigned only one when they join a game, and players that are grouped together will first select their role before they are inserted into the match queue. Should a role be in high demand in any mode, the game will attempt to incentivize players to select the needed role by awarding either a loot box for credits to anyone queues for that role and finishes their next match.
What this means is that all games in Quick Play or Competitive will have two tanks, two healers, and two damage dealers, or what is more commonly known as the “2-2-2” composition.
Competitive players now have three separate skill ratings, or SR, one based on each of the three roles. These are totally independent from each other. Each role will have its own placement matches, and players may opt to never complete placement matches for any given role.
Players will be rewarded with competitive points at the end of the season for each role they finish placements for. The end of season rewards have been tweaked to provide fewer points for individual roles, but players who choose to finish placements in all three roles have the potential to earn more points than under the current system.
Professional players in the Overwatch League will also be locked into the 2-2-2 team compositions beginning with Stage 4 next week. Like everyone else, players must choose one role at the start of a match and cannot change it until the beginning of the next.
Players will have assigned seating based on their role, and looking at the stage, damage dealers will sit on the left, tanks in the middle, and supports on the right. If a player changes roles between matches, they must change seats according to the new role.
The Overwatch League reported in their Stage 4 Preview Special that they consulted with all teams and players for their thoughts on enforced 2-2-2 team comps. Ultimately, the decision was left to a vote with the majority of teams voting for the change. The rule is not a surprise for anyone who has been closely following the meta, which has strongly favored team comps of three tanks and three healers all season.
However, Kaplan was adamant that the change was not a direct response to the state of League play.
“We don’t believe a rule like [2-2-2] is intended to target any one specific meta,” Kaplan said in the Developer Update video. “There will always be a meta, there will always be some level of dissatisfaction with the meta, and we would never make a rule change like this targeted at a specific meta. It’s also not our goal to control the meta.”
Why the Change
The Overwatch team says they understand the magnitude of the change this rule will bring to the game. However, they believe it will improve match quality and relieve social pressure in picking roles.
The system as it stands now can end up placing three or more tanks or supports on one team. As a result, someone may be forced to play a role they do not feel strong in. . The new role queue reduces those concerns. Additionally, players will now only have to worry about their preferred hero being picked by one other person, rather than five
The Next Step
Season 17 ends on Monday, August 12, and the next day on Tuesday, August 13, a special “beta” competitive season will begin on the live servers to test out the new role queue. Once the test is complete, Season 18 will begin on Sunday, September 1.
The full blog post on the Role Queue may be found on the Overwatch League website.