On August 13th, Patch 126.96.36.199 went live on Overwatch, bringing the most significant shakeup to the game since hero limits were added in 2016. Most notably, role queue and role lock have been added to the Competitive game mode, forcing a 2 damage, 2 tank, 2 support team composition every game. This, the addition of a new hero, and some major updates to existing heroes are all fundamentally changing the way the game is played.
Beta Role Queue & Role Lock
Role queue means that before entering a competitive game, players must now select if they would like to queue for one of their team’s two damage, support or tank roles. Any combination of roles can be selected, be it just damage, or all three roles at once, resulting in players only being relegated to a role that they have chosen. If you don’t queue support, you won’t be assigned a support role on your team, for example. Placement matches have been reduced from 10 to five, however five placements now must be played for each role type individually.
With role lock, players are only capable of switching heroes within their assigned role during a game. A damage player can switch from Tracer to Widowmaker, but not from Tracer to Mercy. This means that 2-2-2 compositions are now mandatory in Competitive, and following the current Role Queue Beta Competitive season, role queue and role lock will be added to Quick Play as well (with a planned “classic quick play” arcade mode for the nostalgic).
Currently, Quick Play features a role lock without role queue, meaning that, while six players will be assigned to a team without role preference taken into consideration, as soon as two tanks are selected, tanks will be unselectable for all remaining team members. Given that the current patch notes don’t outline any changes to quick play, this is thought by many to be a bug.
The current Role Queue Beta Competitive season has also raised some questions for players, mainly as to whether or not games played will effect MMR (Match Making Rating), which is a hidden evaluation of your skill level used to place you with similarly skilled players across all game modes. Part of a blog post outlining role queue states that “beta season stats will only be available for a limited time and will not count toward a player’s permanent Competitive Season stats,” which is understood to mean that SR and other stats won’t be affected by Beta games played, though as to whether or not MMR is among these stats, no further clarification has been given.
Hero 31, Sigma, is now available on all servers, following his announcement and addition to the PTR in July of this year. Sigma is a tank hero with abilities all themed around controlling gravity. These include a movable sheild, a slow and powerful projectile, and the ability to absorb enemy projectiles and convert them into sheilds. His ultimate lifts enemies up and slams them back down into the ground, giving Sigma an aerial boost as well.
Currently, his role in a team’s tank line is in the process of being defined as players are still settling into a meta following such drastic changes to the game. With a 1500 HP barrier, Sigma can synergize well with less-meaty off tanks (D.va, Zarya and Roadhog), while his shield has also been utilized to complement an Orisa barrier in a more static, shield-based tank line.
Sigma will be playable in the Overwatch League during the season playoffs, so expect some new meta compositions that include Sigma to be showcased by the pros when the playoffs start later this month.
Of all existing heroes, Brigitte has been far and away the most heavily altered by the new patch. Changes to Brigitte include:
• Healing from Inspire (her passive ability that heals allies on each flail hit) has been increased, while her self-heal from Inspire has been halved.
• Her repair pack now has three charges instead of just one, each of which heals for 120 HP over 2 seconds and can be stacked for an additional 2 seconds of healing, rather than an instant 150 HP burst heal.
• An increase in velocity and decrease in retraction time of her whip shot ability.
• A reduction of shield HP from 500 to 200, a reduction of stun duration from 0.9 to 0.75 seconds, and an increase in ultimate cost by 10%.
The most notable additional change is a global 12% increase to ultimate charge for all heroes, meaning that ultimates will be slightly less frequent. Also, slowdown has been altered so that friendly and hostile slowing effects can no longer stack.
Reinhardt has been given a new passive ability called Steadfast, which reduces knock-back by 30%, making it easier to position his shield against knock back-heavy comps.
A full list of changes is, of course, available in the patch notes.