I’ve been enjoying Blizzard’s colourful team shooter Overwatch precisely because I don’t feel competitive when I play it. If I continue with it, there will surely come a time when I have expectations of my own performance and will be frustrated by my constant failure, but I hope to stave that off for a while longer.
You may feel different, and if so then you’ll be glad that its previously excised competitive mode will return later today.
Competitive mode was present during earlier betas but was cut from the game for re-tooling, apparently for not being competitive enough.
As it is now, the mode still doesn’t change much that’s core to Overwatch. All 12 of its maps will be playable in ranked matches, with slight twists on each mode in order to avoid ties via deciding rounds or sudden death matches.
In order to access ranked play you’ll need to have reached level 25 by playing ‘quick play’ matches, and then to play ten placement matches to decide your current skill level. Your skill is measured by how many matches you win rather than your personal points, which seems odd to me, and you’ll be assigned a rating from 1 to 100, with 1 being the worst, 100 the best, and 50 ideally representing the average player’s skill.
“We also wanted to let players know that the first season of Competitive Play will be an abbreviated one, lasting only two months instead of the normal three,” says a post about today’s update on the Overwatch site. “This is because our Competitive Play patch is launching in the middle of the Summer 2016 season, which technically began on June 1 (a minor side-effect of our real-world season system).” The summer season will end on August 18th, after which will follow a two-week off-season before play resumes for the Fall season.
I enjoyed my time in various Counter-Strike and Tribes clans, so I can more than understand the appeal of a mode made for people who want to play seriously, and one which offers you clear feedback as to your performance and progress. I will remain swimming in the shallows however, splashing around where my feet can touch the ground if I feel lazy.
For more on competitive mode, read Pip’s interview with game director Jeff Kaplan about how it works, its exclusive rewards and how they communicate progress to players.