Blizzard Entertainment promised big changes were coming to Overwatch‘s second competitive season and the studio wasn’t lying. Game Director Jeff Kaplan shared a lengthy list of changes via a Developer Update video posted to YouTube on Monday.
The big change coming is with the Overwatch Skill Rating as Blizzard attempts to better communicate where players compare with one another. The Skill Ratings will be expanded from the current ranks of 1 through 100 to 1 through 5,000. Kaplan says this will make it easier for players to see and understand their movement up and down ranks.
A tier system will be layered on top of the skill rating. Seven tiers will be available: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Master, and Grand Master. Each tier will be based on the Skill Rating numbers. Kaplan gave the example of Gold players with a rating of 2,000 to 2,499.
“What we want to do with the new system is try to focus you more on, ‘I’m a Gold player, I’m on average playing at a Gold skill level’,” Kaplans explains in the video. “Sometimes my skill rating goes up or down, but I generally think of myself as a Gold player. Or when I see a Silver player, or a Platinum player above me, I have a general idea of what their skill level is, or how they should be playing the game.”
The good news is players will be able to move up tiers, but won’t drop down tiers through play even if your skill rating drops below what is required for that tier. The exception to the rule is the two highest – Master and Grand Master. Additionally, players can lose standing in the Diamond, Master and Grand Master tiers if they fail to play Overwatch‘s Competitive mode. Not playing at least once a week will cause players to lose 50 Skill Rating points every 24 hours until they return.
The new skill ratings and tiers also drive changes in matchmaking for the Overwatch Competitive mode. Matches will start with players within 500 skill rating points near each other when the changes first hit the Public Test Region (PTR). That means a player at a skill rating of 2,000 will play against others in the 1,500 to 2,500 range. This could change when Season Two goes live, however.
“If it’s too aggressive we’ll loosen up on it a little bit,” Kaplan said. “But you have to realize what we’re fighting with here: The desire for people to play with their friends versus the unfairness of widely disparate Skill Ratings grouping with one another. It’s a tricky place for us to get to in terms of balance.”
The Overwatch Season Two changes also extend to the game modes. Blizzard Entertainment is doing away with Sudden Death overtime completely. Control Maps will still play best three out of five while Assault mode will keep the Season One time bank system with some alterations. Extra time will continue to carry over from one round to the next, but Blizzard is adding a bonus 30 seconds when assault point A is captured.
“The reason we’re doing this is there were those awkward times where you would capture a point in overtime and then the map would just end and you’d never have a shot at the second point. We want to make sure that if you’re having a really great comeback moment, we want to at least give you that chance to get to the next point and make a final push,” the Game Director stated.
In the event of a tie, both teams will receive Competitive Points. The difference is they won’t receive as many points as they would from a win. Kaplan noted ties are unsatisfactory to players, but Sudden Death seemed less so. The goal now is to make ties exceedingly rare.
Season One of Overwatch will end on August 17. Blizzard plans to keep a buffer of a couple of weeks between seasons, so Season Two should start somewhere around the end of August/beginning of September.
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[Image via Battle.net]