Overwatch

The team may need to address the readability of the game to new players to address the balance issues they’re running into in OW2.

This paragraph from Geoff in yesterday's OW2 AMA jumped out at me:

"The healing reduction was an attempt at combating the first question/answer here, where sometimes fights can sustain for too long and it felt like it was too hard to confirm kills with 1 less player per team dealing damage. That, and we were trying to make "poke" damage be more meaningful. Right now, even in OW1, sometimes it can feel like shooting an enemy is doing nothing but feeding your enemy supports ultimate charge. That said we already backed out of this specific change internally, but we still have similar goals and we're looking at other iterations."

I feel like the only situation where having one less tank per team, and therefore less peel and lane control, could make it HARDER to confirm kills is if neither team is taking off-angles (which should be easier to obtain with no off-tank to contest them). It sounds like in their playtests that both teams are clumped up main in a frontline poke battle where the supports are able to dump all of their resources into a frontline tank without being threatened from the flanks or having to peel and spend resources elsewhere. Battles then become a matter of which frontline super-tank dies first and opens up the opposing backline to the point where the "real" fight begins.

This is a boring way to play the game, and would explain why the developers feel compelled to nerf support healing and buff their damage, or even nerf tanks or buff DPS like they did with Sombra to try to compensate and move towards the more skirmish-y playstyle they're going for in OW2.

The issue is that that's not how the game is designed in the first place. The team has generally designed maps in Overwatch to have three lanes, with the expectation that battles for angles/high ground are fought along the periphery of the map to open up positions which provide tactical advantages in fights. If the game is played with this understanding, then kills on the backline should actually be EASIER to secure than before, considering the best defenders of flanks are off-tanks.

Judging by the strange decisions that have been made wrt the balance of OW2 thus far, it seems that the playtesters of the game do not understand this factor of how the game is played. This shouldn't be all that surprising considering nothing in the game prominently communicates this concept.

Obviously the team wants the game to be balanced to be fun to new and returning players because they want OW2 to massively expand the playerbase. But rather than balance the game around the misunderstandings new players have of the game's design, the team needs to really work to improve the readability of the game and the maps as well as put in effort to improve new player understanding. A more practical tutorial is obviously a good start, but I'd also say that the maps need to be more readable to new players.

I imagine there are a lot of ways of going about this. The first thing that comes to mind is a color-coded system of sorts, e.g. from the attackers' perspective, the "left" lane is coded with green signs and/or props whereas the "right" lane is coded with orange signs and/or props, maybe some signs having up arrows to denote that a path leads to high ground, etc.

Whatever the solution, new players have no easy way of reading or intuitively understanding the design philosophy of maps, they just see a mish-mash of doorways leading who-knows-where, so they just go down main because at least they know there will be other players there. The tutorial could briefly explain this pathing system the maps have so that players can have a basic idea of what their options are.

Another tool is perhaps something similar to the hero tag system in some MOBAs that contain some tooltips on how that character is supposed to be played, e.g. Winston could have a "Diver" tag that has a short tooltip on what that actually means so that new players have some context for where they should be positioning and attacking from and who they should be targeting. This wouldn't be meant for anybody who has been playing the game for any significant amount of time, but just to make the new player experience slightly more painless and contextual.

If new players had some baseline context for how they should try to play the game, I think that lower-ranked games will trend towards a much more interesting playstyle, and the game's balance state won't feel AS radically different between high and low-ranked games.

Am I off base? Maybe my suggestions are bad for whatever reason, but I feel like the lack of proper communication of the game's fundamental concepts to new players are part of the reason that the devs are balancing the game so differently than how pros and other high-level players seem to expect them to.

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