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Overwatch: Changes rain for the Competitive Mode Play!

Update June 28 2016: The Competitive Play will be added starting today for PC players! Console will have to wait until next week.  “First, we wanted to be upfront and let players know that we won’t be able to release our Competitive Play patch on all platforms at the same time. The patch will be going live on PC today, while PlayStation 4 and Xbox One players can expect it sometime next week.” First season ends on August 18.  More details can be found here

Original: The Overwatch Public Test Region, originally launched in South Korea, went live on June 21st 2016 for all players and new patch notes have been released. According to the official Overwatch Twitter account, the competitive mode play will be available later this month. Earlier this week, the game director, Jeff Kaplan announced some development changes regarding assault, season length and details about the ranking system. The video can be accessed here

“So our first big content update for Overwatch will be Competitive mode. I don’t want to promise an exact date because I’m sure whatever date I say right now will be wrong! My rough commitment or not-commitment would be sometime towards the end of June – middle-to-end of June we want to have Competitive mode in.”

On the battle.net forums, Jeff Kaplan offered more details regarding the changes we should expect based on the feedback on the PTR patch. Major changes won’t be coming for a few months and minor changes will be ready for testing in late July:

  • Initial match time for Assault, Escort, and Hybrid maps will be reduced from 5 minutes to 4 minutes
  • Sudden Death Timer will be reduced from 2m00s to 1m45s
  • NEW Update June 25! In an upcoming patch, the damage done by Torbjörn’s turret will be reduced by 30% on Xbox One and PS4. On PC it will remain unchanged.

These short-term changes will be implemented not only for the Competitive Play but also for the Summer season. In other words, games will be shorter because there the “time bank” system created for Assault maps drastically reduces the changes to tie.  On the long run, developers plan on using the same “time bank” system on Escort and Hybrid maps. “If both teams push the payload all the way to the end of the map with the time leftover, you’ll go into a second round on the same map […] At the end of this second round, you’ll also look at how far your team pished the payload vs. how far the enemy team pushed their payload. Push it farther than the other team and you win”.  If the developers notice that on Assault maps (Temple of Anubis, Hanamura and Volskaya Industries), Sudden Death remains under 9%, the same system will be applied to Escort and Hybrid maps. The goal of the developers suggests that the Sudden Death format that they implemented is very well balanced despite what the players are reporting.  The possibility of removing the coin flip and Sudden Death hasn’t been ruled out completely. The progression system will be replaced and the skills determine placement matches.  The game developers seem to be very receptive to the feedback and criticism received from the players. Of course, adjusting the game and listening to the community helps the game on the long run! However, even Jeff Kaplan noted that no matter what, a majority of players might not be happy because not everyone can be pleased.

To sum it up, the Competitive Play will be going through a lot of changes that will be implemented during seasons and it will take a while until we will see its final form.  Each season will be two and a half months long with a two week break in between each other. Kaplan notes in the forums that “getting the system out there sooner” will help them “start making meaningful improvements sooner too.” The full forum post can be read here

The latest new patch was released on June 23 in all gameplay regions and claims to have fixed some frame rates issues and a bug that would cause non-standard buttons on some mice to no longer respond. This was probably a priority after a lot of Competitive mode players expressed their complains about the FPS drops.  

The PTR is available for PC players. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One user have to wait a bit longer. Competitive Mode will have exclusive rewards, such as golden weapon skins. The pictures of golden OW weapons are not in their final form. (courtesy of Master Overwatch).