Recently, Blizzard Entertainment announced that a new Role Queue matchmaking system is on its way to Overwatch. You can read my full breakdown of it here. But the gist of it is that players are going to have to queue for a specific role (Damage, Tank, or Support) for their Competitive and Quick Play matches. Players will have a separate Skill Rating (SR) for each role, and teams will be restricted to having two of each role. This is more colloquially known as "2-2-2."
Naturally, such a significant change has many players worried that it would end up making the game worse instead of making it better. However, I think that Role Queue will have the opposite effect. I believe that it's going to solve three of the title's biggest problems, and will ultimately make Overwatch a much healthier game overall. Here's why.
It will reduce player toxicity
Arguably Overwatch's most significant issue over the years has been the tendency of its player base to become frustrated and angry in-game, leading to the title gaining a reputation for having "toxic" fans. As someone who has poured hundreds of hours into the game since it launched, I can say that this is, unfortunately, true more often than not. However, most of the time, the reason why people get upset in the game is because of how poorly the matchmaking system puts players together for matches. Specifically, the big problem with the matchmaker is that it only seems to factor in players' competitive rank and hidden MMR (matchmaking rating) when forming a team, and not the type of heroes those players choose to play.
Knowing you'll have a balanced team before matches begin will make Overwatch much less stressful.
This balance problem is an issue because it often leads to scenarios where a team is stuck with anywhere between three and five players that specialize in one of the three roles. That leaves the other two roles that a team will likely need short on players. When a group of five Tank mains and one Support player is pitted against a team that got a "lucky roll" and has a healthy mix of all three roles, it's incredibly aggravating. Those Tank players can try and flex to Damage characters, but for obvious reasons, they won't play them well, which frustrates everyone even further. There's no excuse for becoming enraged over a video game, to be clear. But it's undeniable that Overwatch's matchmaking systems are often the reason this behavior occurs.
Role Queue, though, will solve this issue by ensuring that all teams are formed with two players in each role. Therefore, you'll know going into your matches that you won't have to worry about lacking players that can play a role. This new system will reduce a significant amount of stress for the entire player base as a result, and will, in turn, reduce how often players are upset and frustrated in-game.
It will make balancing easier for the developers
Another major problem that Role Queue will solve is how spotty Overwatch's balancing has been in recent times. Because you can select more than two of each role if you want to, select narrow purpose builds can be difficult for a more balanced team to play against. The game displays this imbalance most strongly with "GOATS," which is a composition (named after the team that invented it) that utilizes three Tanks and three Supports to rush down enemies. It cycles damage-blocking cooldowns and uses Support abilities to stay alive for absurd amounts of time. This style of play has been perfected by pro players and high-skilled contenders on the matchmaking ladder. But because it's challenging to play, it doesn't work in the lower tiers of matchmaking. Therefore, when Blizzard tried to significantly buff Damage heroes to break GOATS, it resulted in a terrible experience for the ranks that didn't play that composition because those Damage heroes were becoming oppressive.
Role Queue will make balancing the game easier for Blizzard because they'll never have to be concerned with situations like GOATS happening ever again. That style only worked because teams were allowed to select more than two Tanks and Supports. Now, all teams across all ranks will be forced to have two of each role on their team. That constant will give Blizzard a strong universal foundation to work with moving forward.
Players can learn new heroes in a competitive environment
The final issue that Role Queue will quash is that it's currently difficult to try and learn a new hero outside of your preferred role. A live ranked game is not an environment that's suitable for learning unorthodox strategies. You can play the hero in question in Quick Play or the Arcade, sure, but people mess around and goof off in those modes. They're not giving it their all like players do in Competitive; however, if you try to learn a new hero or role in Competitive, it currently feels like you're going to lose your team the game because of your inexperience in that position.
Separate SR for each role allows players to learn heroes in competitive without fear of contributing to their team's loss.
Role Queue takes care of this issue by allowing players to have a separate SR for each of the three roles. As an example, I never played Damage in Competitive because I got to my rank by playing Tank, which is my strongest role. So if I were to try and play Damage at my rank, I would be a detriment to my team. But with Role Queue, I can still play at my current rank when I play Tank, but I'll be placed in a lower rank when I play Damage. This means that I won't be ruining the game for other people by trying to learn a new hero, as the people in those matches will also be low-skilled on whatever role they queued for.
What do you think about the Role Queue system? Let me know how you feel about it. There are definitely going to be some downsides to it — longer queue times for Damage players comes to mind, since there are so many of them — but I ultimately believe it will be an incredibly healthy change for the game overall.
If you'd like to test out Role Queue for yourself, you can do so by participating in the Role Queue Beta that's active from Aug. 13 to Sept. 1, which is available on all platforms.
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