Today Overwatch introduced the Role Queue, a feature that forces players to queue as one of the three character archtypes: Tank, Support, and DPS. There are two slots of each role available, which means every game will end up with two Tanks, two Supports, and two DPS.
For MMO players that will be a very familiar concept – it’s the holy trinity but in an FPS, something I don’t think many people would have expected to see.
Even the queuing system looks familiar, with rewards for queuing as a particular role based on their current popularity. As usual, Tanks and Healers are scooping up the loot, and DPS have the long queue. Which suits me fine as DPS is not my forte in Overwatch.
Being able to queue as a Support or Tank makes me much more likely to try out Competitive play more, as you can be fairly confident you’ll be able to play one of the characters you know well. I can play two Tanks relatively well (D.va and Orisa) and one moderately (Reinhardt), and Mercy is my favourite Support character (aka Healer).
One odd artefact of this is that the non-healing Supports have been moved to the DPS class. In fact they should probably rename Support to Healing, as that’s all that’s left there now. For example Symmetra (another favourite) and Mei used to be Support, but now have to compete in the far more populated DPS category. And both being low DPS output compared to the more pure damage dealers means there will probably be a fair bit of finger-pointing if they’re chosen. Though apparently Mei-meta is the new hotness – I’m waiting for the Sym-meta for my moment of glory!
It’s a bit of a controversial change in some ways. As Skyline says in that video, one of the pleasures of Overwatch is the fluidity of the teams, and the ability to adjust on the fly. Coming up again a heavy tank team? Double your DPS and see if you can overwhelm them. Switch to a specific character temporarily to counter someone on the other team. Just want to have some fun – play a 6 Healer composition and be unkillable. That will all be much more difficult – if not impossible – with the new system, and while fluid comps will still be on offer in Arcade mode, that’s less appealing than the main game.
And another great feature of Overwatch has always been the strength of character, and how different they all are. With Role Locking there will have to be more consistency across characters to ensure balance. We can already see that some of that happening in the patch notes today with Bridgette being nerfed into more of a Healer than an all round powerhouse:
Developer Comment: The goal of these changes is to make Brigitte more of a primary healer for your team, at the cost of weakening her survivability. Since Brigitte will now be only one of two support heroes for your team, it is important that she can provide enough healing to be valuable in that role.
It will be very interesting to see how this plays out, and whether it boosts or dampens enthusiasm for the game. One wild theory might be that this is being done in order to allow Blizzard to launch Overwatch 2 – dare we hope for Overwatch PVE – at Blizzcon. Overwatch Classic (heh) can be the eSports version, with closely balanced characters and locked roles, and Overwatch 2 can be the one where the creativity can run wild. Unlikely, but then so was Blizzard doing Warcraft Classic.