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Overwatch's 3-2-1 experiment is finished and I'm glad to be rid of it

Overwatch‘s very first Experimental game mode has come to an end. Over the last week, the game featured a Triple Damage mode as a way for Blizzard to test how they could reduce queue times for folks who want to play damage heroes.

For starters, what a great feature the Experimental card is! It’s a lot more accessible than the Player Test Realm (PTR), which requires downloading an entirely different version of the game. Having a quick new limited mode to try out for a week is a nice way to keep the game feeling fresh too, and letting players participate in something that will likely help Overwatch improve in the future is a great way to get the community more involved.

For seconds, oh my god please don’t bring Triple Damage into the live game.

If you’re not sure what I mean by all this Triple Damage business, it’s basically where you have three damage players, two supports and only one tank. Overwatch’s typical composition is 2-2-2 (two tanks, two damage and two support), but ever since Blizzard put a role-lock system in place for this last year, wait times to get into a game as a damage character have skyrocketed. So, to experiment with helping out those queue times, Blizzard are trying a 3-2-1 mode – removing a tank, adding another damage slot, and beefing up the tank heroes in the process to see if they can handle the extra damage.

Except, those tank buffs still didn’t really handle things.

The main part of the tank’s job is to protect the team. Usually that means making space in team fights, being a shield to your mid to long-range DPS, and hanging back with your supports to make sure they don’t get battered. Tanks can also help pick up the slack if your damage players are struggling – they have a lot to do! When there is only one tank however, this becomes incredibly difficult to balance, and with Overwatch’s tanks all filling such vastly different roles within this, picking just one feels super restrictive.

They had some cool buffs in the experiment, too – Zarya was able to bubble-shield every player within an 8 meter radius, Roadhog left behind a big old healing cloud when using his Take a Breather ability, and most of them got decent armour and health adjustments – and yet it still wasn’t fun to play tank.

Footage of Zarya’s new bubble mechanic in experimental mode from r/Competitiveoverwatch

Playing support was more of a struggle than usual as well. As if I didn’t already hate Tracers and Sombras when they ganged up on me in other modes, now there’s a Widowmaker joining in taking potshots from the other side of the bloody map. On top of the tank buffs, it would have been nice to see some changes to the supports to help them defend themselves against the onslaught.

Because of all this, I don’t think the 3-2-1 comp alleviated the queuing issue at all. A mode like that needs to seem favourable to the tank and support players that are going to get mercilessly picked on by diving damage. As a predominantly tank player myself, there needs to be something more to make me want to purposefully throw myself into that.

I’m not saying this mode couldn’t work. I want it to work. But it’s going to need more than some extra beefy tanks to get to that point. I’m all in for trying out new compositions, but not ones that put unnecessary pressure on the rest of the team. I almost think a 3-2-2 comp might be the answer, but seven players in a game is just a weird number.

It was only an experiment (for now), and it’ll be interesting to see what Blizzard’s conclusions are if (or when) they release the info they collected. And despite really disliking this particular game mode, I did enjoy getting to try out something away from what we’re used to getting with Overwatch. Even though triple damage was basically the meta back before role queue. We even had quadruple damage for a while. Overwatch’s dark ages.

The Experimental card will be back at some point, and it sounds like next time it’ll be something entirely different. All we have to do now is wait for good old Jeff from the Overwatch team to tell us what they’d like us to test next. In the meantime, take a look at the patch notes to remind yourself of what went on in the Triple Damage experiment.

The RPS hivemind reckons Overwatch is one of the best PC games of the decade, and I reckon I’d tend to agree as long as it stops prioritising damage players over everyone else.

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Who am I?

Imogen Beckhelling

News Writer

Imogen is a lore enthusiast and lover of all the fun shenanigans game communities get up to. She spends too much time playing Overwatch, and not enough time having interests that aren't to do with video games.

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