The age of casually flitting between roles mid-match in Overwatch is over, as Blizzard just dropped a game-changing patch on their competitive team shooter's public test servers. Applying to Quick and Competitive match modes (as well as the esports league, which is a shakeup), players will now have to commit to a role - Tank, DPS or Support - before their match and queue for that role only. Once matched up in a balanced 2-2-2 team, you'll be able to swap characters, but only within your set role. It's a major restriction, which lead designer Jeff Kaplan tries to explain below.
The official Overwatch blog goes into more details on the Role Queue, but the short version is this: Every player under the system now has matchmaking rankings for each possible role. You'll be shown your ratings in the new role selection screen, along with an estimate of how long you'll be waiting for a match on a per-class basis. It's all rather reminiscent of dungeon queues in MMORPGs, which makes sense given that this is a Blizzard joint.
This is probably the biggest change to competitive Overwatch since launch, and should thoroughly torpedo the 'three tanks, three supports' strategy, aka GOATS, that has become popular. Along with the Role Queue system, they've re-tuned Brigitte to better fit into the new, more rigid role system. She now has less survivability, but more ability to heal, making her fit more neatly into the square peg-hole that is the Support role, especially now there's only two per team at most. Still, at least queuing for whichever role is least popular can earn you some loot boxes.
The Role Queue is live now on the public test region on PC, and will be making a soft 'beta' launch on August 13th and launch in full on September 1st. Even more daring, these changes will apply to the Overwatch League as of next week. Stage 4 matches start on Thursday, July 25th, and will be following the new rules. Will these changes trip up the phoenix-like comeback from the Shanghai Dragons? Keep an eye on Jay's Know It OWL column to keep up with their tale.