The Overwatch Dilemna: Perception Vs. Reality

Its one thing to leave a game out of boredom. Its another to leave it out of frustration.

Personally, I’ve just about had it with Overwatch. And its not because I’m bored with it, but because I’m frustrated with it.

Overwatch is a game that, at its core, is an absolute beauty. It blends class-based tactics into FPS warfare in a way that I simply haven’t seen before. You don’t have to be a pro sharpshooter to play Overwatch: you can play healing roles, tanking roles, defensive roles… the hero selection in Overwatch covers a wide plethora of different skillsets. It truly is a sight to behold and play when a team comes together, merges their distinct skillsets, and goes on a tear. Overwatch is truly unique when it clicks.

And that last statement is the elephant in the room: When. It. Clicks. Because right now, it barely clicks. Ever.

I’ve watched the Youtube videos. I’ve paid attention to the game-related news. I’ve tried to assimilate these new techniques and tactics into my playbook. Its exciting to think that at some point I could execute these advanced strategies with my team and have truly intense matches. When viewed through the lens of high-level pro play, Overwatch is a well-oiled machine that gives rise to some truly monumental moments.

At least, that’s the pipe dream. Barely any semblance of that dream is anywhere to be found in Overwatch’s competitive mode. Based on evidence from forum posts and Youtube videos, morale is at an all-time low in the current Season 5. Toxicity and throwing is rampant. The lack of order to the matchmaking system means that several people who all play the same hero can get jammed into a team. Toxicity in games may be nothing new, but in Overwatch–where teamwork and communication are king–I don’t think its effects have ever been more demoralizing for me.

So why have I kept playing? Because when I watched the Youtube videos and read about the “big plays,” I believed that one day, I could get there. Over time, things would become more competitive as a team came together and put up a fight, irregardless of whether it was a win or loss. That at some point the losses would stop being from obvious mistakes… that at some point wins would stop feeling like flukes and more like the direct result of team synergy and cooperation.

Over the five seasons of competitive I’ve played, I haven’t gotten there. Even though my rank has remained relatively consistent since season 2, I arguably feel farther away from that dream than ever before.  Match after match of dysfunction wears me out, a side-effect of an ecosystem that fosters individual play and randomness in a team-based game.

Its time to face facts: my perception of Overwatch does not match the reality I see.

For some of you, I’m sure its different. Overwatch has its problems but by and large, its an absolute thrill to play for a great number of people. Good. If you’re enjoying Overwatch and not finding yourself weighed down by all the negatives currently surrounding it, keep doing you. I don’t blame you for playing what you enjoy!

But for those of you whose opinions resonate more with mine, you are the ones I want to address specifically in this article. Maybe you’re like me and have tried to keep up with all the “hottest” strats and have strived to better yourself over several seasons. You feel like you gamble all your hard work and effort when you queue up into the competitive mode. Let me ask you: are you still enjoying Overwatch? Be honest with yourself. Are you? If you aren’t, then I offer this simple recourse: stop playing it.

Do a quick exercise with me: think about your game library. Think about your backlog of games, or even new games you’ve been wanting to try. Don’t you think your time would be better spent playing something you know you’ll enjoy? Wouldn’t you rather enjoy your leisure time instead of stressing over whether your Overwatch team will be tolerant of your tactics?

But I want to reach that high level of gameplay! Competition fuels me! That’s why I keep trying to better myself at the game! If you think its possible under the current circumstances, then I can’t stop you. Like I said earlier, do you, and do you happily! But I would also ask you to reflect on whether or not your perception of Overwatch matches reality. I don’t normally get this direct, but for me Blizzard simply hasn’t done enough. The competitive mode for Overwatch feels like pure chaos most of the time. Trying to “better” yourself under the current circumstances feels more akin to a coin toss than a predictable regiment, because consistency just feels all over the place right now.

Until I see substantial change made, I don’t see myself going playing Overwatch consistently, if at all. The allure of mastering a certain hero and making big plays is simply being drowned out by all of the crippling problems I see with the current system. I’m not content to chase this pie-in-the-sky vision of Overwatch that I don’t see happening anytime soon. After the stagnation in competitive I’ve seen, its time to stop clinging to a faulty perception of the game. I’m not leaving Overwatch because I want to make a fuss; I’m leaving Overwatch simply based on the fact that I don’t think its worth playing right now. I could be doing other more productive or enjoyable things.

If you agree with me, I ask you to do the same. I’m not asking you to boycott out of respect for some silly pretense or principle; I’m asking you to value your time with video games and play something you actually want to. Stop engaging in “what could be someday;” Blizzard hasn’t earned that benefit of the doubt, at least not from me. Do a favor to yourself first, and as a by-product of that you can show–not tell–Blizzard that you aren’t happy with the game’s current state. I don’t think that’s unreasonable or disrespectful towards Blizzard, but just common sense.


Thank you to everyone who took the time to read this. If you know someone who plays Overwatch, I encourage you to share this with them! To wrap up, I’ll provide a couple of references here. First I’ll give a link to my Blizzard account. I don’t think rank should really matter in this conversation (its way overstated in a lot arguments,) but just to dispel any suspicions of being a “salty bronze player,” here you go:

https://playoverwatch.com/en-us/career/pc/us/Photon-11746

Second, I did a small write-up on how Blizzard could go about fixing one of the problems plaguing Overwatch: randomness in the matchmaker. You can see that here:

https://us.battle.net/forums/en/overwatch/topic/20757637592#post-1

Finally, if you still feel like braving the storm, check out my “anti-tilt” guide that I wrote not too long ago:

https://photongameworks.wordpress.com/2017/07/21/my-anti-tilt-guide-to-overwatch/

Thanks again everyone, and have a wonderful day!

 

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