A big change is coming to Overwatch, and it’s one that many players have been asking for for a long time.
In a lengthy developer update posted to YouTube today (which you can watch below), Game Director Jeff Kaplan announced that a Role Queue system is coming to the game, enforcing a 2-2-2 composition (2 Tanks, 2 Damage, and 2 Healers) for all teams. Specifically, that means you’ll have to select which role you want to play before you queue, be it Tank, Damage, or Support, and the game will then match you into a game with people who selected the other roles. Once you get into a match, you’ll only be allowed you to select a Hero in the role that you chose.
Kaplan is hoping that the new system will tackle the “social pressures” of players trying to force people into playing a role that they don’t want to play, and it should also stop those frustrating games where your teammates make ridiculous picks and you end up with a nonsensical team composition that has no chance of winning, such as everyone picking Damage characters. This often forces you into switching to a Hero that you don’t want to play in an effort to help your team, but Kaplan is hoping that the new role queue will allow players to always play a role that they want to play. To accommodate the change, Blizzard will have to make changes to certain Heroes to make sure that they fit distinctly into one particular role; Kaplan used Brigitte as an example of this, as she will be given more healing abilities and less survivability so that she is a more distinct Support character.
The change will be in effect in certain Arcade playlists, Quickplay, and Competitive mode. In terms of Competitive, Blizzard has had to completely revamp the games entire matchmaking system to incorporate the change, something which Kaplan says they have been working on for over a year. Now, players will have both an MMR and a Skill Rating (SR) for each role individually, meaning you’ll have a specific rating for each of Tank, Damage, and Support, which will allow you to see just how good you are at each role. You’ll have to play five placement matches to be given a rating for a particular role, meaning 15 matches will need to be played (5 in each) to get ranked for each role.
While this all sounds great, the first problem that popped into my mind was what effect this change will have on queue times. This is a fear that is shared by Kaplan, who also raises concerns about longer queue times for players. While he admits that it may be a drawback of the new system, Blizzard will be putting a reward system in place to encourage players to select a role that is currently needed to speed up matchmaking.
The new Role Queue system will also be enforced in the Overwatch League, which will put an end to (and is likely a direct response to) the GOATS system of a three tanks and three support composition, which has plagued Overwatch’s pro scene for a long time now. This should hopefully make the Overwatch League a bit more enjoyable and less predictable to watch.
The Role Queue system is available to check out right now on the PTR server for PC players. In terms of the live servers, Season 17 will be cut short to make way for a “beta season” which will last for two weeks between Tuesday 13th August and Sunday 1st September, which will allow Blizzard to monitor how well the role queue system works across all platforms and then tweak it accordingly. Role Queue will then go into full effect from Sunday 1st September onwards. If you’re not liking the sound of it then Kaplan promises that there will be a “Quickplay Classic” playlist available in the Arcade which will allow players to play the game without the role queue system,
It all sounds great to me though, and it’s a system that has been much needed for the game for a very, very long time in my opinion. It should make the game more enjoyable for all players, particularly solo players, and it may even be enough to bring me back to the game after a long time away, it all just hinges on how it affects those queue times. I’ll certainly be checking it out.
What do you think of the change? Let us know in the comments below.