I now have well over a thousand hours in Overwatch. I got the game on sale nearly two-and-a-half years ago, and I think it’s been worth every penny. Heck, I even bought a couple of loot box bundles to support continued development (and, let’s be honest, in the hopes of scoring some sweet cosmetics).
As great as Blizzard is at making games, there are some minor flaws with its premier first-person shooter that are honestly baffling. Problems like the state of the meta or toxicity or any number of other things might be enormously complex, but there are a few simple fixes that could be made that I believe would have a noticeable improvement for very little investment on their part.
A Countdown Timer for Overwatch Events
Every Monday evening (in Eastern time, anyways), the Arcade loot box timer resets. Players can get one loot box for every three wins, up to a total of three loot boxes per week. A convenient timer tells you exactly how much time remains before this timer resets in days. When it’s less than a day, it lists the time left in hours; when it’s less than an hour, it lists the time in minutes. This is a very straightforward system that has worked predictably for years.
Despite Blizzard’s clear ability to design a functional timer, they have yet to implement any such countdown for the events that happen every month or two. Any time Overwatch Anniversary or Halloween Terror rolls around, you can expect to see posts like “When does this event end?” on Reddit, the game’s official forums, and elsewhere.
I can’t imagine that it would be terribly difficult to implement such a timer letting us know exactly when an event ends. It’d be helpful for players to know just how much time they have left to get their hands on special event loot boxes and enjoy the time-limited content.
Add More “Avoid As Teammate” Slots
Right now, there are three “Avoid As Teammate” slots in the game. These let you avoid one player each from being placed on to your team via matchmaking. Fans of the game have repeatedly requested more slots and Blizzard has so far only seen fit to increase the number from two to three.
I recently spent a good chunk of the last week playing many hours of Overwatch and found, much to my dismay, that a paltry three slots were somewhat lacking for avoiding the people I genuinely did not want to play with. Sometimes, I’d like to avoid my entire team.
Blizzard has stated that having too many of these slots would increase the matchmaking time for the player using them. I’d be perfectly fine with waiting longer if it meant that I’d be less likely to deal with troublesome people. I think we need more of these Avoid As Teammate slots with perhaps a warning after you’ve used a few of them telling you that it might take longer for matchmaking.
An Incentive for Healing & Tanking
I exclusively play Quick Play and the Arcade in Overwatch. Competitive Play is a dark road that I do not want to go down, lest I get too into the game and spend an inordinate amount of free time practicing a game instead of relaxing and enjoying it.
While the casual fun of Quick Play has its perks, it also has its downsides. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve had four or five DPS on my team. Sometimes we’ll win anyway, but it more often than not descends into a chaotic experience that isn’t really much fun as a team game.
“Role queue” is a long-requested feature that would lock certain players into certain classes, but there are some concerns about making things inflexible for players. After all, there are legit compositions that use more than two tanks or healers (the much-derided “GOATS” composition using three healers and three tanks, and quad tank compositions aren’t entirely unheard of, either). We may, however, see how this plays out at the highest levels of play as a sort of role queue is rumored to be making its way to Stage 4 of the Overwatch League’s second season.
With that said, I think the problem could perhaps be solved by somehow incentivizing tanking and healing. The game already warns the team at the Hero Selection screen if there is no tank/healer or only one tank/healer; perhaps players could be similarly rewarded in some fashion for playing the majority of a match as a tank or healer. There could be diminishing returns for the third tank/healer and so on. Something can surely be done to encourage people to tank and heal while also avoiding the situation where people eschew DPS entirely.
More Convenient XP / Loot Box Tracking
Every time you level up in Overwatch, you’ll earn a loot box and you may get a change in your hero portrait. If you want to check your experience bar in-game, that involves hitting escape and going to your career profile.
Similarly, players may want to check how many Arcade wins they have for their weekly Arcade loot box quota. This can only be done on the Arcade screen out of the game; there’s absolutely no way to check it while you’re actually in a game.
What’s the solution? I think there is one tiny thing that could be done to remedy this issue. Simply add the experience bar and the Arcade loot box tracker to the very bottom of the tab menu. As long as it wasn’t too big, it wouldn’t be any more intrusive than all of the other information on the screen.
More Arcade Cards
(and a Permanent Spot for Deathmatch)
I love FFA (Free-For-All) Deathmatch. It’s a great game mode where up to eight players can pick any of the characters they want and enjoy a fight to 20 Final Blows.
Unfortunately, FFA Deathmatch only comes around about once a month now. Chateau Deathmatch, Petra Deathmatch, Mystery Deathmatch, and other game modes will supplant it for a week or more, frustrating people like me who enjoy standard FFA Deathmatch gameplay.
Despite the cynical comments of some people out there, Overwatch has indeed been constantly coming out with new things for players to do. Unfortunately, the size of the Arcade menu has not increased to compensate, and it becomes less and less likely that you’ll be able to enjoy your favorite Arcade game mode as time goes on. Unless, that is, you like Mystery Heroes, a game mode that has somehow earned the right to a permanent spot in the rotation.
I think we need at least four more Arcade cards, and one of them ought to be dedicated solely to FFA Deathmatch. Rotate the others however you like, but give players more options for enjoying alternative gameplay modes beyond vanilla Overwatch.
Make More Information Available to Players
(and Make It More Consistently Available)
Information is key in a game like Overwatch. I’m not just talking about the position or composition of enemy teams; I’m talking about statistics. There are things that need to be quantified, and the game doesn’t do the best job of providing that information to you and/or the correct information to you.
Let’s start with a simple metric: healing. I have healed 3,000 HP in one match and 12,000 HP in another. Which is better? You might think that the higher number is better, but odds are, the latter match simply lasted longer. A much more useful stat is “percentage of team damage healed,” something that’s recently been implemented and sorely needs to supplant the actual number.
The same can be said for DPS and tanking. DPS can easily be represented as “% of team’s damage,” something that occasionally pops up on cards. Tanking might be slightly more difficult to calculate, but I’m sure that something could be done. Perhaps the game could calculate when a shot was going to hit an ally that was intercepted by a tank instead or something like that.
Another thing I’d like to see is “healing received.” I’ve played more than a few games where a Moira or Ana is running around DPSing the enemy instead of healing the team. If I’m playing main tank, it’s sometimes difficult to tell whether the healer is not doing their job or I’m getting healed and simply getting wrecked.
Overwatch is a lot of fun, and Blizzard has been steadily making improvements over the last several years. There are still a few tiny things that can and should be fixed. Here’s hoping that Blizzard takes heed and shores up these little gaps.
What small changes would you like to see in Overwatch? Are there any recent changes to the game that you particularly liked? Let us know in the comments below!