Overwatch Competitive Play: Get Your Pro On!

OverwatchIf you’re a gamer, you’re likely aware of the fast paced FPS game dominating across platforms. It’s the addictive new title from video gaming giant, Blizzard Entertainment. The brightly colored, stylistic and cartoonish shooter is creating a massive media buzz and already generating endless merchandise, cosplays, and fan-art. But, the heart of its fame still lies in the actual game. If you’re a player, you know there are two forms of main gameplay, and they are worlds apart. Here’s the quick breakdown.

Quickplay: Just like the same suggests. Hop in. Find a mash up team of whomever, and pray for the best. In a game like Overwatch, the praying won’t help, but you’ll find yourself doing it. Quickplay can either be a fun fast match with no attachment and a place to learn on the fly and sharpen your skills. Or, like many shooters, it can quickly evolve into a nightmare of discord and uncoordinated efforts.

Dorado_001Pros: You can find a match almost instantly. It’s intended to be light-hearted so go in planning to have fun and rock whatever characters you want. It’s a live player on player learning center in reality. At the end of the game—no matter the outcome—you walk away with experience. And, there’s always the chance you could just leave with a new friend…or enemy.

Cons: Quickplay is tailored towards everything being fast, maybe not in actually gameplay mechanics and match settings, but the mentality. Log on. Hop in. Find team and try to be the best player. The latter is not indicative of winning. It’s bragging rights. There seems to be a notorious culture evolving in quickplay at the moment of players arguing amongst their teammates for the right to be the character they want. While Overwatch does not limit the number of same characters you can have on a team in quickplay, everyone wants to be “The One.” It creates a hostile team environment.

There’s a dynamic evolving about winning play of the game and getting that short video feature at the end. Now this isn’t always the case, but from my experience, it’s a high hit-or-miss ratio of finding flexible and open teammates VS the “I must be in first place” ones. Don’t let all of that sour your thoughts on the matter though. I still personally recommend quickplay to learn your way through the game and practice instead of relying on cpu bots and training matches. You will learn more from players on how to maneuver the maps, use your characters in interesting and new ways, as well as the most important piece of information—player etiquette.

Overwatch is a team game. No one wants to play with a jerk.

DVa_004Usher in Competitive Play.

Pros: Going into competitive play is going into a commitment. It sounds serious, because it is. That doesn’t mean you can’t have your fun, but go in knowing that people here want to win, and they want to do it as a team. That means making concessions. Not a bad thing. It means knowing you might have to swing healer for a few games and trade off to play defense later to maybe being a tank down the line. It’s about team dynamic. You have to be a willing, and flexible player who wants the team to win overall. You want to move up in rank together, and earn those shiny gold coins so you can buy the gilded weapons and gear you want.

Competitive play is geared towards making you work together. The game settings enforce a single hero/character rule so no more than one player can be a certain character. While some may feel it limits strategy, it also cuts down a lot of pettiness and trolling. This is the game type where people are actively seeking new strategies and burying personal feelings for the good of team. Of course there are always exceptions and those few outliers who will bring their bad attitudes to competitive ranked matches…they get shut down quick and hard. No one has time for that. You want to win and bring your team the bragging rights.

DVa_001Competitive play forces you to learn how to change heroes on the fly to adapt to new situations. It’s where I learned that ultimates attacks are great, but, they don’t trump team dynamic. If the team really needs certain characters to push or defend an objective—switch—your special attack be screwed. This is the game type where the two-tank-push evolved and carried over to quickplay. A strategy involving two tanks to help soak damage and push the objective in manner that keeps the team alive as long as possible and allows you to be aggressive.

Don’t be surprised for being rewarded here if you’re an open minded and team player. A friend and I were invited to join an existing team and hop into their private client VOIP. From that point on we went to win several successive matches and even dominate a few. Teamwork always pays off, but nowhere more so than competitive play. You’re meeting likeminded people here. You all want to win and are willing to bury personal glory for the team.

This is the only game type where you can be penalized for poor overall team performance. It doesn’t just mean a loss. It means loss of rank. Nothing hurts more than seeing your hard earned levels slip away from you. A reminder that teamwork pays off. And…nothing lasts forever.

But like any game type, it’s not without its faults.

DVa_003Cons: Being set up for team based gameplay and heavy coordination means going in blind can hurt not only you, but maybe a pre-built team that is lacking a player or two that match. They may already have a dynamic you are unfamiliar with and thus, they end up hurting you, or you hurt them. It can work out, I’m not saying that at all. It’s just difficult, can be frustrating for some, and again, requires that key thing called communication—verbal or text.

As mentioned above, limited player choice to only one of a certain character on a team can also be a hindrance. I’ve personally witnessed a lot of creative strategies evolving from using more than one of a certain character. Two Lúcios can create a synergistic wave of AOE team healing or swap between speed boost and heals while pushing enemy attackers back. It’s certainly a great way to push an objective if you know what you’re doing. Two Tracers in the right hands can wreak absolute havoc on enemies if you’re working in proper sync. Competitive play denies of this option. It’s not a total loss, but it can sting if you’ve developed strategies like this in quickplay.

One last disclaimer about competitive play. As noted, it is serious, and that means the attitude towards team performance as well. If you’re not a team player and find yourself overwhelmed by the constant input of change dynamic, strategies and teammates shouting at each other as to what to do, you might want to reconsider. You’re going to be yelled at, it’s nothing personal, and it’s rarely insults. It’s going to be rapid fire shouting as to what you should be doing to help the team push or defend. And it happens on the fly. You will be called out no matter how good you are. It happens. Deal with it. This is where the solo heroes from quickplay have learned to channel their desire to win for the whole team. They want to do well, and they want you to do well.

DVa_005No one here is out to make it personal minus the occasional Neanderthal. It’s going to get loud, and aggressive. But it’s an online competitive shooter, you already knew that would happen, didn’t you?

Overall, there’s a reason Overwatch is conquering the FPS world. It’s genius. Everything from its zany, unique characters that add in fun flavor, and endless creativity to their use. To the absolutely solid gameplay mechanics that are in constant update striving for balance. While it has set classes with overall themes, the characters individuality and differences allow for player imagination to take hold and surprise you in what a character can do in the right hands. Overwatch isn’t just another shooter, it’s bringing individuality to the FPS genre in a fun, quirky way. It’s taking what’s been done before, and doing it better.

There isn’t a right or wrong gameplay here. Everyone will start out in quickplay until they can rank for competitive. After that, it’s just a matter of preference and time you have to dedicate to the game. Quickplay will always appeal to those who at the very least just want to hop on, play a few rounds and call it a day. Competitive is for those who are seeking an active team, to progress and grow with the game, and maybe even take this to a major league gaming level. Whatever the desire, Overwatch offers it, and offers it well.

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SATURDAY, AUGUST 19, 2017
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