Everything you need to know about Overwatch's Role Queue system

Overwatch promotional artwork
Overwatch promotional artwork (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

In a large blog post, as well as a lengthy developer update video, the Overwatch development team at Blizzard Entertainment has announced that a new matchmaking system is coming to the game, called Role Queue. This new system will massively alter how the game is played in nearly all ways, but what it means for you can get confusing.

I've got you covered with a thorough explanation of what Role Queue is and how it will work, as well as how it will most likely affect the game moving forward.

So, what is Role Queue?

The current user interface for Role Queue in the Overwatch Public Test Region.

The current user interface for Role Queue in the Overwatch Public Test Region.

Overwatch has always been a game where you can create unorthodox team compositions by selecting an uneven amount of roles. Usually, people stick to the "2-2-2" format, which is two damage heroes, two tanks, and two supports. However, recently players have discovered that team compositions that make use of strange combinations such as three tanks and three supports (known as "GOATS") or three damage-dealers, a solo tank, and two supports ("triple DPS") were better than the evenly-balanced compositions by a wide margin. Though Blizzard has attempted to rectify this with balance changes, it didn't work very well. As such, it's trying out a new strategy: the implementation of Role Queue.

Role Queue allows players to select what role they want to play before they search for a game. Then, when they find a match, they are paired with one other player who also plays their role, and two players for each of the other ones. This ensures that the six players on your team will have roles that balance out its composition. Role Queue will be active in both Quick Play and Competitive Play.

So, as an example, I'm a tank player so when I play, I'm going to select the tank role. When I get into my match, there will be one other tank player with me, two damage players, and two support players. You can change the hero you are playing, but you have to play a hero that falls within your selected role.

In addition, the way that the competitive ranking system is designed is going to change based on Role Queue. Instead of having just one competitive rank, you will now have three, and each one is based on the role you select. Therefore, it's possible to be a highly-ranked player on one role, and a lower-ranked one on the other role. When you do your placement matches, you will now have to play five different games on each role in order to get your starting rank instead of the usual 10 games.

Finally, Blizzard is implementing some incentives for you to switch your role-selecting habits around. Sometimes playing as a certain role will get you a loot box, and if you maintain a good rank with all three roles, you will get more competitive points than you used to get (sticking solely to one role will mean that you get less).

When is Role Queue coming?


Overwatch (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Role Queue is currently available to test right now on Overwatch's Public Test Region servers, which are only available on PC. The testing is slated to run up until Aug. 13. Then, Blizzard will launch a Role Queue Beta Season for the live servers on all platforms that lasts from Aug. 13 until Sept. 1. It will be possible to earn competitive points towards unlocking a gold weapon during this test, but players' stats that they accumulate during the beta season will only be available for a limited time and they won't count towards your overall competitive stats.

Role Queue is also coming to the Overwatch League, which is Blizzard's professional Overwatch esports league. However, professional players will have access to it much earlier than we do, as 2-2-2 role locking for the league begins at the start of the fourth stage, which is Thursday, July 25.

What does Role Queue mean for Overwatch?


Reinhardt (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

While Role Queue is an exciting prospect that will hopefully lead to a better and more-organized gameplay experience, a change this big will require some significant adjustment by both the community and Blizzard itself. A lot of heroes will not play well in a 2-2-2 context, and will need to be rebalanced.

Blizzard understands this, and has already begun to roll out some balance changes on the Public Test Region servers to be tested alongside Role Queue itself. The most significant of these are that Brigitte is being made into a more effective healer and that Reinhardt is getting some passive knockback resistance, but you should read up on all of the planned balance changes for all the heroes by visiting the PTR Patch Notes. The changes listed in the Patch Notes are unlikely to be enough to balance the game completely for the new format, but hopefully they are a good start.

From a community perspective, players will need to mentally adjust for the fact that they won't be able to switch between roles in-game, and can instead only swap between heroes in the role they select. This may feel frustrating for some, especially since it's something that you have been able to do since Overwatch's inception, but the sooner you get used to the idea of the new rules, the sooner they won't bother you in-the-moment and potentially ruin your attitude.

Your thoughts

What do you think about the Role Queue system? Do you think this is a good thing for Overwatch, or do you think it will make the game worse? Let me know.

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Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.