Throughout week one of our first Technical Beta for Overwatch 2, our team has been galvanized by all the enthusiasm and positive energy from so many participating players. We’re carefully listening to your feedback during this Beta test. As we committed to more regular communication with our players, we plan to share a weekly update with you about what we’re learning and how that impacts our development plans. For this week’s update, we have four main topics to cover.
Progress on Beta 1 Goals
The main goals for our first Beta were to test our shift to 5v5, the new maps and Push game mode, overall balance, and build and server stability. We believe 5v5 is a significant adjustment for players, and we have been happy to hear consistent and positive feedback about players having more fun, feeling a greater sense of impact in their matches, and enjoying a faster pace of combat and engagements. While we will continue to adjust the rules of Push, players seem to be really enjoying this new game mode and our other new maps. We’ll talk about balance in more detail in a separate section, but our approach to balance will be to make rapid adjustments to hero power levels, and we’ll deploy our first Beta balance patch in a few days accordingly.
Because this beta test focuses primarily on gameplay and balance as well as stability, several other features and aspects of the game that you are seeing in this test are still a work in progress. For example, elements like menu screens, player profiles, multiple time of day conditions for classic maps, and the full set of hero 2.0 looks are areas our team has been working hard on that we are not yet testing publicly. And as the golden gun system has not been completed in this Beta build, what you’re currently seeing in-game does not reflect a deliberate shift in the design aesthetic but rather an incomplete feature. The same is true for other UI elements including the headshot indicators in the kill feed and refining the audio mix.
Importantly, this beta is just our first public test leading up to the future Overwatch 2 PvP release. Between now and then, we plan to add more content including heroes, maps, and features. There will be a significant amount of overall polish and refinement added in the form of enhanced UI, bug fixes, and more!
Ranked Mode and Queue Times
We understand that many players in our community want to play a ranked mode in the PvP Beta, and that those systems are a great way to keep players engaged and enjoying competition. We made the choice to only run quick play in this Beta test for two primary reasons: first, because in a test with a limited number of players, we generally want to prioritize making matches more quickly over splitting players into multiple queues; and second, because we’re planning some significant overhauls of our core ranked and competitive mode systems, and those are not yet ready to test publicly at scale.
However, we’ve also seen queue times increasing for tank and damage players, as those roles have been relatively more popular vs. the support role during this test. We understand the need to make playing support more attractive to players, and we’ll discuss that more below. In the interim, we’re also working to enable quick play classic with open queue so that players seeking shorter queue times will have an easy option for the remainder of the first Beta test.
Game Balance and Support Heroes
This Beta and future tests will be critically important for identifying balance issues and adjusting. So far, most heroes are falling into a healthy range overall for play rate and win rate across different skill levels, but we’ve seen a few outliers that we’ll address in a balance patch planned for later this week. We’ll continue actively monitoring gameplay balance, and we expect to make further hero balance adjustments during this Beta.
More broadly, during our Alpha test, we observed support heroes feeling too vulnerable to diving and flanking attacks with fewer shields and no second tank focusing on protecting them. We made a significant adjustment to their role passive heading into Beta, allowing support heroes to recover more health faster and improve their survivability. This change improved their overall power and durability, and overall supports are performing well in the Beta, but we know that balance is only one aspect of what makes a hero fun to play. We have heard clearly that support players feel both tanks and damage players have more new content to enjoy and explore in this Beta. Longer term, we believe the most effective way to tackle this issue is to add exciting new support heroes to the game, and that is part of our plans. In the near term, our hero design team is also experimenting with significant, but shorter lead time, ideas including new and refreshed abilities for some existing support heroes. These types of ideas could be deployed later this first Beta test but more likely would be in our next test.
The Overwatch scoreboard screen is a new feature we debuted in the first Beta! This scoreboard provides current statistics about both team’s hero composition and the status of your teammates’ ultimates, enabling you and your team to plan and coordinate a winning strategy. We are retiring both the Fire and Medal system with the update and enhancement of the Overwatch 2 scoreboard.
The original idea with the Medal system was to give positive reinforcement for personal performance and let players know individually how they were contributing to the team; but, as time went on, we realized that the information provided by medals led to varying interpretations by players. The team saw players incorrectly interpreting actual team performance based on the relative rankings provided by Medals. This was especially true early on in games when the statistical amounts were small. These observations led to the decision to remove the Medal and Fire systems and completely rework the Scoreboard screen and present more accurate information to players.
For Overwatch 2, players can expect the new Scoreboard screen to display key statistics in real time for all players in the game. These statistics include eliminations, assists, deaths, damage, damage mitigated, and healing. The information will be presented in a new layout that mirrors other competitive games and sports. We want to provide players with an overall more accurate view of the game. Our team believes providing accurate feedback and encouragement can improve everyone’s gameplay experience! The scoreboard also includes personalized statistics based on the hero you are playing; for example, Lúcio will see specific data like Sound Barriers provided, environmental kills, as well as speed and healing song boost percentages. This combined team and individual performance data will help players make real-time decisions to adjust strategies and win games.
While our team believes the scoreboard system is achieving many of its goals, there are a few places specifically where we will continue to iterate. Your feedback has already been helpful in guiding our efforts on the following elements.