Overwatch Role Queue is a Healthy Step in the Right Direction

The Overwatch team released a lengthy developer update Thursday regarding one of the largest, most controversial changes to matchmaking. The change being discussed, of course, is the implementation of role queue and locked 2-2-2 compositions.

In the developer update, Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan announced that locked 2-2-2 would not be limited to professional play. In fact, locked 2-2-2 would soon be hitting the live servers for competitive, quickplay, and several arcade game modes, with a system that allows you to queue for the roles that you prefer to play. This allows players to play the role that they intended to pick. However, this would remove the potential to have compositions that have more than two of a certain role, as well as prevent mid-match role switching.

The topic of role queue has caused quite a divide within the community. Many players feel that locked 2-2-2 would be a detriment to Overwatch because it removes the possibility of changing roles at will, and is perceived to go against the concept of flexibility and diversity, which is one of the main appeals of Overwatch. But it is in the best interest of the game's longevity in both casual and competitive play that role queue and locked 2-2-2 is implemented.

Professional Overwatch and high level competitive ladder play was dominated last year by a meta composition known as GOATS, a composition that is comprised of three supports and three tanks. For over a year, damage heroes were essentially seen as being unviable, and as such, players who played damage heroes were forced to play characters such as Zarya and Brigitte in order to even have a chance at winning. The meta was oppressive, and even after several balance changes, nothing could be done to truly destroy the GOATS composition.

With the implementation of locked 2-2-2 and role queue, oppressive compositions like GOATS will not be possible, and the restrictions towards role selection will actually promote more creative play and character diversity. Not only will this make the game more fun to play, but it will also make Overwatch a much more enjoyable spectator sport.

Overwatch matchmaking has been a mess for several years. In competitive play, you could not guarantee that you would be able to play the role that you wanted to play, leading to contention among teammates before the match would even begin. Quickplay, on the other hand, was not treated seriously, and was seen as a game mode where playing unorganized compositions with five damage heroes and little team play was accepted and even commonplace.

Even more troublesome to players is the issue of smurf accounts, where players of a higher rank intentionally play on alternate accounts at lower ranks to use as practice, or to simply dominate enemies who are of lower skill for a rush of dopamine.

Both role queue and locked 2-2-2 can alleviate these problems by ensuring that players can play their preferred roles, as well as promote a fair environment by restricting teams to play two heroes of each role. In addition, with the implementation of role-based skill rating, smurf accounts will not be as prevalent since players can now queue for different roles that each have independent skill ratings.

While it is understandable to feel hesitant about the new role queue announcement, this change is truly for the longevity and health of Overwatch, and it is likely that without it, the matchmaking system in Overwatch would have caused irreparable damage to the game's audience and playerbase.

Photo Courtesy of Blizzard