Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Vlad

overwatch What is Overwatch Closed Beta Like?

3 posts in this topic

13938-what-is-overwatch-closed-beta-like

 

We've been playing Overwatch Closed Beta since October the 27th, and we want to share exactly what it's like.

 

Overwatch's Closed Beta has been going strong for 5 days. Invited to the test so far are just a select few of the many Beta opt-ins, together with a rather large number of streamers, YouTubers and other press writers. Some of our staff, myself included, were extremely fortunate to be invited to the test, so I'm taking this opportunity to tell you just what it's like.

 

For reference, I got to play the game at BlizzCon 2014 (briefly), Gamescom 2015 and Road to Blizzcon 2015 (extensively), and I wrote an article about my impressions of the game shortly after Gamescom.

 

Smooth and Stable Experience

 

We had stated time and time again, ever since we first got a chance to play the game in 2014, that it felt very polished, practically ready for release. This has not changed, of course, and in fact, being able to play the game from the comfort of my home, I can say that I am very impressed by how smoothly the Beta client runs.

 

During the many hours of playtime I have put in since October 27th, I have not noticed a single instance of lag, nor have the severs ever gone down. Players occasionally reported the client crashing, but I never experienced this either.

 

Likewise, the feedback provided on the Closed Beta's forums (both the US and EU ones) indicates that most players are happy with the performance they are getting from their computers, so all in all, it seems like Blizzard have done a tremendous job as far as technical aspects are concerned.

 

The lack of a Mac client (or of 32-bit operating system support) has frustrated some, but given the scope of the release, that is hardly something to hold against Blizzard.

 

Lack of Features

 

If you're disappointed because you haven't received an invitation to the Closed Beta, this section should make you feel a bit better.

 

Despite everything I said above about the game being polished and in a very stable state, there are still many, many features missing from the game. In fact, if you've played any other modern (or even not-so-modern) first person shooters, you might find Overwatch to be quite bare-bones.

 

My greatest gripe with the game is the fact that user interface does not do a good job of conveying enough information to you about what is happening in the game at any given time. This makes it very difficult to stay informed, which in turn reduces the amount of teamwork potential.

 

Even in a competitive environment where all 6 members of a team communicate through voice at all times, the current lack of information would mean that these players would have to talk almost non-stop in order to provide one another with the required relevant information.

 

6SQpm7n.jpg

 

Overwatch's sleek and minimalistic UI leaves a lot to be desired.

 

 

I wrote a thread about this very topic on the Overwatch Feedback forums, which has had a large number of replies (some agreeing, others disagreeing). I will simply summarise my concerns here.

 

  1. The lack of a mini-map makes it practically impossible to keep track of your teammates positions.
  2. The lack of a kill feed (showing a notification on the screen whenever a player is killed by another player) likewise makes it very difficult to keep track of how many enemies and allies are in the fight, and also makes it difficult to tell which heroes of a given team are alive or dead.
  3. The lack of a player status display (showing which players on a team are dead/alive, and for how long) contributes even further to the general confusion. It is possible to see this information by opening up the scoreboard, but this requires a key-press and takes up the entire screen, which is likely to get you killed in the process.
  4. The lack of a detailed scoreboard (the current one only shows which players are dead/alive, and what hero each player is using) makes it very difficult to evaluate the performance of teammates (and yours by comparison).

 

There are a myriad of other features that players have requested on the Feedback forums.

 

Blizzard have agreed to add an option to permanently skip the (sometimes frustrating) kill-cam that you are shown after you die, and they have likewise indicated support for a way to have Widowmaker's sniper rifle remained zoomed in without you having to hold down the right mouse button.

 

Another feature that would make a great addition is a proper console that allows players to tweak settings in a more customized manner (there is currently no way to reduce mouse sensitivity below 1, which is still too high for some people's liking).

 

Other Problems

 

In addition to the above-mentioned missing or incomplete features, there are some other issues with the game that I would like to see Blizzard address before the game's release.

 

For starters, the game feels too fast. It is possible to have balanced, relatively long games, when the teams are perfectly matched, but not only is this rare, even these games do not often feel long enough. Just when you get to enjoy playing against the opposition, the game ends. How much of an impact this will have depends on the format Blizzard choose to adopt for competitive games (how many maps will be played as a part of a single competitive match?), but as of right now, the games definitely feel too short.

 

Moreover, one-sided games are over much, much too quickly. My shortest game, on Volkskaya Industries, lasted just over 1 minute. We were wiped out while defending the first objective, and we respawned just in time to be killed on top of the second objective and lose the game. Not only is this not fun for the losing side, it makes it a terrible experience for a spectator sport. Obviously, it is unlikely that there would be such a discrepancy in skill between teams facing each other at a high competitive level, but the issue is still a real one. Spectators need to have enough time to get into the game and understand what is happening if they are to enjoy watching it.

 

I also have somewhat of a problem with the strength of abilities (especially ultimate abilities) compared with the strength of main weapon damage. This is a clear design choice, which I can respect, but it often feels very disappointing to be killed by an opponent's lackluster use of a strong ability, rather than by them exhibiting some great feat of skill.

 

I mentioned ultimate abilities because it is there that the issue is most obvious. Many ultimate abilities in Overwatch are press-to-kill, requiring little to no further input from the player. McCree, Reaper, Soldier: 76, Pharah, and Hanzo are all guilty of this. Mind you, I am not complaining that these abilities are overpowered or that they cannot be countered. They certainly can be dealt with. My complaint is that they are too strong for just how boring and easy to use they are.

 

With regards to ultimate abilities, I mind how quickly it is possible to recharge them, and how having them recharge by doing damage means that in reality, the team that is dominating at a given time will probably recharge their ultimates very quickly and be able to dominate even more. There is also essentially no way of knowing when the ultimate abilities for the enemy team are available, given their dynamic recharge time.

 

Finally, I feel that the game is too strongly centered around good teamplay. This does not look like a problem on the face of it, and I'm sure Blizzard have had a blast testing their game in-house during development. However, in the real world, most people who play the game will be doing so in public games with strangers, where the heavy reliance on team work can prove to be a great frustration.

 

A large number of the game's heroes are only really playable within the framework of a team that is supporting them. Without that support, they simply do not work (an unsupported Bastion, Widowmaker, or Torbjorn is instant dead meat, or, err... dead scrap). On the other end of the spectrum, some heroes (like Tracer, Pharah, or Reaper) are extremely strong in almost all scenarios, and these will probably see a lot of play during disorganized public games.

 

What Is There To Do Right Now?

 

If you aren't playing the Beta, you may be wondering what there is to do in the game. The answer is... not that much.

 

You can play against AI to test heroes and maps or to improve your skill (the AI is surprisingly good).

 

You can create a private game and invite up to 11 other players to face off in an organized setting (but let us face it, with the low number of players that have access to the Beta, we won't be seeing any tournaments just yet).

 

And, of course, you can queue up for public games, where you will be matched with and against random players. This is a somewhat disjointed experience, where you will sometimes be placed into games already in progress, and other times you will be shifted around from one team to another. There isn't really anything to play for (except, of course, to test the game and improve yourself!), and there doesn't seem to be much (if any) of a matchmaking system in place to find opponents of "appropriate skill".

 

Of course, all of my points so far should be taken as constructive criticism. Despite all of this, I still enjoy playing the game and I think it has great potential. I just wish that Blizzard would address these and many other issues that are reported on the Feedback forums, and improve the game.

 

So far, the developers (including Jeff Kaplan himself) have replied to threads on the forums, indicating that they are taking improving the game very seriously, so there is hope that they will give it the required love and care for the remainder of the development process. Only time (and extensive playing!) will tell.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Really awesome write up Vlad!

 

I've been one of the lucky ones to get a chance to play the game too.  Sadly my uptime has been a little limited with me being away for the weekend but I've managed a few games in so far.

 

As a player of a number of FPS over the years (think old school Doom / Wolfenstein 3D / Quake) and Titanfall more recently my first impressions are positive.

 

I haven't really played too many "recent" games such as CoD or CS:GO and so wanted to try and get a feel for the game for somebody who wouldn't automatically make comparisons with other FPS games that are currently available (on console or PC).  With that said I didn't really have too much expectations either.

 

I have only played Public games so far  (wanting to jump straight in rather than playing against the AI) and the heroes that I have played (mainly Pharah) have been fun.  As Vlad mentions above the current interface feels a bit lacking.  I struggled to get used to seeing when my Ultimate was available and keeping tabs on my other abilities and especially if you are keen on communicating with your team (not that many of my games have got to that stage yet).  Maybe players are "rushing in" a bit more as it is only beta but sometimes the fights are that fast that I struggle to see whats going on (probably just because Im just bad though!)  Games are fast paced and I agree with a lot that Vlad has said regarding one sided games.  There seems to be a problem with snowballing in certain situations and I hope they take feedback on this as no one enjoys games where they feel they getting battered by the other team (even if they are over quickly).

 

I should get plenty of game time over the upcoming weeks and I do plan on streaming a little at some point as well.  But to summarise briefly - its really fun!

 

Hopefully (along with other Blizzard games) it will encourage players who have never previously played a certain type of game to give it a try.

 

So don't fret if you've yet to be invited folks.  It's worth waiting a little longer!

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This honestly worries me. These are such basic features that it leaves me wondering how it is possible for them not to be in the game already. Counter Strike was made by 2 guys and came out with a proper scoreboard and kill feed. After 6 months of beta, we had a proper radar as well and this was 16 years ago.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Similar Content

    • By Stan

      Another great feat for Blizzard! Overwatch won the title "Game of the Year" at Dice Awards 2017 and beat Battlefield 1, Inside, Pokemon Go & Uncharted 4: A Thief's End.
      Aside from that three additional awards went out for the game, securing a total of 4 awards for Blizzard, the same amount as Naughty Dog got for their Uncharted 4: A Thief's End game title.
      Game of the Year: Overwatch Outstanding Achievement in Game Design: Overwatch Outstanding Achievement in Online Gameplay: Overwatch Action Game of the Year: Overwatch Placeholder for tweet 83499084439438541
    • By Starym

      Wildcard24 makes some great WoW-themed skins for OW, as well as some SC and Diablo ones! As usual Rein and Reaper win.
       
      As you can see from the image above, wildcard24 really knocked it out of the park on these skins, making us yearn for some Blizzard-game themed events to come to Overwatch so we can see something like them. And there's a special one for everyone's favorite in WoW/maybe not so favorite in OW - Leeroy Genji:

      He even got the usual pattern of official event skin priority right: Reinhardt must have the very best one, and then the rest can be whatever, with one or two standouts (in this instance Pharah and Junkrat). He also made some options for other Blizz games:
      Starcraft:

      Diablo:

      Seriously, look at that Reaper and Zarya! We need to get this Blizzard-games event thing happening right away! Definitely check out the rest of wildcard24's art here.
      Via: r/wow.
    • By Starym

       
      A new PTR is underway and the previously announced big Bastion changes are there, but it also brings a lot of other Hero additions, most notably to Merc's ressurection and the server browser! A lot of  abilities also get the option to tune their individual targeting sensitivity.
      February 7 (source)
      PATCH HIGHLIGHTS
      New Feature: Server Browser
      Starting today, every player can create their own, unique Overwatch experience and share it with their friends, their teammates, or the entire world. Introducing the Server Browser.
      An extension of Overwatch's Custom Game mode, the Server Browser allows you to adjust the settings on various maps, modes, and heroes, creating your own tailor-made server. If, for example, you want to increase Pharah’s missile speed or remove the cooldown from McCree's Combat Roll, the power is yours. Once you're happy with your settings and you're ready to launch your game, you'll need to set up the permissions. You can limit the number of people who can join your game by toggling the "Friends Only" or "Invite Only" options, but if you want to put your strange creation to the real test, set your server to "Public" and click the launch button.
      The Server Browser is currently being tested, so we'll be making changes throughout the PTR. Thank you for helping us test the feature, and we're excited to see what you make of it.
      New Mode: Capture the Flag
      Capture the Rooster has been, without a doubt, Overwatch’s most popular brawl. We don’t want that excitement to end, so we’re bringing Capture the Flag to the Arcade as an ongoing game mode. Starting today, we’re adding Capture-the-Flag versions of Nepal, Lijiang Tower, Ilios, and Oasis, which gives you 12 maps to try when creating a Custom Game.
      HERO UPDATES
      Ana
      New Hero Option: Nano Boost Sensitivity Allows players to adjust Nano Boost’s targeting sensitivity Bastion
      Configuration: Sentry Deploy time decreased from 1.5 seconds to 1.0 second Bullet spread increased by 50 percent Bullet spread is always at maximum (it no longer increases as the weapon is fired) Magazine size increased from 200 to 300 Headshot damage multiplier has been removed No longer deals critical damage Configuration: Recon Bullet spread decreased by 25 percent Magazine size increased from 20 to 25 Self-Repair Can now be used while moving Now bound to secondary fire (formerly Ability 2) No longer interrupted by taking damage A new resource meter has been added that deplete while Self-Repair is active and recharges when not in use Configuration: Tank No longer grants bonus armor Bastion has a new passive: Ironclad Bastion takes 35% less damage while in Sentry or Tank configuration Developer Comments: The goal of these changes is to move some of Bastion's power from Configuration: Sentry to Recon, while keeping its sentry mode a strong option, especially versus tanks and barriers. Overall, Bastion should feel stronger and more flexible with these changes.
      D.Va
      Defense Matrix Projectiles (like Roadhog’s Chain Hook or Tracer’s Pulse Bomb) no longer need to travel a minimum distance before they can be blocked Developer Comments: Previously, there was a minimum distance a projectile had to travel before it could be destroyed by Defense Matrix. This made it nearly worthless in situations where an enemy was right next to your teammate, such as when Roadhog hooks your ally. This change removes that restriction so Defense Matrix should now reliably destroy projectiles regardless of how far they have traveled.
      Mei
      Cryo-Freeze Mei can now be targeted by allies while in Cryo-Freeze Mercy
      Resurrect While performing a resurrection, Mercy now becomes temporarily invulnerable along with the allies being revived Caduceus Staff Zenyatta can no longer be targeted when Transcendence is active New Hero Option: Guardian Angel Sensitivity Allows players to adjust Guardian Angel’s targeting sensitivity New Hero Option: Beam Sensitivity Allows players to adjust targeting sensitivity on Mercy’s Caduceus Staff beams Developer Comments: Mercy’s Resurrect has always been very powerful, but it often forces her to sacrifice herself to use it well. There have been changes in the past that attempted to help her in this area, but haven’t done enough to solve it. This change means that once she uses the ability, she will always survive long enough to be with her team again.
      Sombra
      New Hero Option: Hack Sensitivity Allows players to adjust the targeting sensitivity on Sombra’s Hack ability Torbjörn
      Rivet Gun Ammo is now loaded earlier in the reload animation Widowmaker
      New Hero Option: Grappling Hook Sensitivity Allows players to adjust Grappling Hook’s targeting sensitivity Zarya
      New Hero Option: Projected Barrier Sensitivity Allows players to adjust Projected Barrier’s targeting sensitivity Zenyatta
      New Hero Option: Harmony Orb Sensitivity Allows players to adjust Harmony Orb’s targeting sensitivity New Hero Option: Discord Orb Sensitivity Allows players to adjust Discord Orb’s targeting sensitivity MAP BALANCE CHANGES
      Eichenwalde  
      A second gate no longer closes after the payload passes through the castle doors. Instead, rubble from the damaged doorway partially blocks the entrance. Developer Comments: Once the offensive team gets through the castle entrance, the map becomes very heavily stacked in the defense’s favor. This change will give the offense more entrance options, which should improve the map’s overall balance.
      BUG FIXES
      General
      Fixed an issue preventing key bindings on the communication wheel from displaying properly Fixed a bug causing some key bindings to revert to default after the first round of a Control map Fixed a bug that allowed commendation cards to be recalculated and transferred to a new player after the previous recipient left at the end of a round Fixed a bug that caused the “experience gained” audio effects to continue playing, even after the players left the game lobby Environmental damage to barriers no longer counts toward the "Damage Blocked" statistic Competitive Play
      Fixed a bug preventing “60 seconds remaining” and “30 seconds remaining” voice lines from playing during the second round of a match Heroes
      Fixed a bug preventing Lucio’s “Sound Barriers Provided” statistic from being properly calculated Fixed a bug preventing Reinhardt’s shield from displaying cracks at low health with the Wujing skin equipped Fixed a bug that allowed Roadhog to turn freely while pulling a hooked target Fixed an issue that allowed Sombra’s Translocator to become stuck in the air Fixed a bug preventing Tracer’s ”Clock’s Tickin’’ spray from matching the thumbnail in the Hero Gallery Maps
      Torbjörn can now construct turrets on the stairs in Oasis Fixed an issue that caused Highlight Intros to clip into the roof of a building on Lijang Tower
    • By Starym

      Bastion to get a bit of an overhaul, aiming to make him more mobile and tough at the same time.
       
      It seems everyone's favorite out-of-game, least favorite in-game Hero is getting a bit of a revamp. Bastion has been considered both OP, no-skill and completely useless at the same time, but he is rarely used in top-end team comps in tournaments. Meanwhile, as a character in the Overwatch universe, he's won everyone's hearts and circuit boards, mainly with this:
      Lead designer Geoff Goodman took to the forums to respond to the "Can the developers address Bastion?" thread and explained some complex changes that will be coming to the Hero on the PTR soon. The changes try to make him a bit more tough and mobile, making his self-repair a key part of the playstyle. 
      Geoff Goodman (source)
      Here are some high level stuff we're likely to have testable in the next PTR:
      Recon Mode - Lowered spread and increased magazine size, to help with general viability in this mode.
      Sentry Mode - We're looking at focusing this mode into more of a tank-buster and barrier-buster mode, while also making it feel less suicidal to be transformed. To that end we're testing stuff like increased spread and removing headshots, but taking less damage while transformed.
      Self-Repair - We've been testing a few big changes to this that are feeling really good so far. Currently our internal build has Bastion able to use Self-Repair while moving and also having it no longer interrupted when taking damage. To balance that out it is now on a resource system (similar to the route D.Va's defense matrix went). These changes have turned this ability from a more niche rarely used ability, to a much more powerful and core survivability tool.
      We're still testing and tweaking things with Bastion but we'll hopefully have a PTR build coming fairly soon so you guys can try it out!
    • By Starym

       
      Today's new event came with patch notes as well, covering more than just the new skins and game mode: the much discussed PTR changes to Ana, Roadhog's hook and Sombra's Hack are in, as well as Lucio's backwards wall-riding. There are some more standard patch-y things in three as well, like crouch having a small cooldown, communication wheel improvements, and a whole bunch of bug fixes.
      Blizzard (source)
      PATCH HIGHLIGHTS:
      New Seasonal Event: Year of the Rooster
      Grab your friends, family, and loved ones and get ready to ring in the Year of the Rooster.
      Overwatch's Lunar New Year celebrations have begun and, for the next three weeks, we hope this seasonal event brings you happiness, prosperity, and (most importantly) lots of fun! Collect more than 100 seasonal cosmetic items from our special Lunar Loot Boxes, enjoy a festive fireworks display on Lijiang Tower, and get ready to capture the flag in Overwatch's newest brawl.
      To learn more, click here.
       
      GENERAL UPDATES
      General
      The “Stay as Team” button now lights up when anyone on your team clicks it Players can now join Team Chat from the Hero Select screen (Push “RB” on the Xbox One controller and push “R1” on the PlayStation 4 controller) Crouch now has a very small cooldown between uses
      Communication Wheel
      Players can now equip up to 4 emotes, sprays, and voice lines from within the hero gallery Voice line and emote submenus can be accessed from within the Communication wheel Players can now bind individual sprays, emotes, and voice lines to mouse buttons, unique keys, or controller buttons
      Kill Feed
      Hero ability icons are now displayed in the Kill Feed Headshot eliminations are now indicated with a red icon  
      HERO BALANCE UPDATES
      Ana
      Biotic Grenade Effect duration has been reduced from 5 seconds to 4 seconds Healing boost on allies has been decreased by 50% Developer Comments: The healing boost from Ana’s Biotic Grenade was providing too much healing, especially when used on targets with large health pools.
      D.Va
      Health increased from 200 to 400 Armor decreased from 400 to 200 Fusion Cannons Bullet damage decreased from 3 to 2 Number of bullets per shot has been increased from 8 to 11 Developer Comments: D.Va’s armor often made her feel like she had no weaknesses, even against heroes that are typically effective against bigger targets (like Reaper). The changes to her primary fire will result in a small overall decrease in damage, but her Fusion Cannons should feel more consistent now.
      Lúcio
      New Hero Option: Allow Backwards Wall Ride When enabled, allows Lucio to start wall riding while moving backwards.  
      Roadhog
      Chain Hook Targets are now pulled directly in front of Roadhog (rather than straight to him), except in cases where Roadhog drastically rotates Hooked targets are now released if they leave Roadhog’s line of sight before being pulled Line of sight checks (which determines if targets are hit by the hook) are now done from Roadhog’s position, rather than the hook’s position Developer Comments: The hook should now feel more consistent for Roadhog players, but it should also feel more reasonable to his enemies, as they cannot be hooked or pulled around corners anymore.
      Sombra
      Hack Cooldown has been reduced from 12 seconds to 8 seconds Time it takes to hack a target has been decreased from 1 second to 0.8 seconds Developer Comments: Sombra often had difficulty hacking enemies, even when she surprised the target. This change should help her execute hacks more easily.
       
      BUG FIXES
      General
      Fixed a bug allowing spectators to utilize the “Stay as Team” button during the end of a game Fixed a bug that caused the “Stay as Team” button to overlap with the Back button on the Social menu Fixed a bug preventing the Social menu from not correctly displaying World of Warcraft zones that have an apostrophe in the name Fixed a bug causing heroes to display a T-pose on the victory screen after a Mystery Heroes brawl Fixed a bug preventing Simple Checkout from being navigated by a controller on PC Fixed a bug preventing Alt+Tab from properly minimizing the game client while in fullscreen mode Fixed a bug preventing the Kill Feed from displaying the destruction of Teleporters, Shield Generators, and Turrets  
      AI
      Fixed a bug that prevented the Roadhog bot from being able to hook players through Reinhardt’s shield Fixed a bug that allowed the Sombra bot to hack through barriers Fixed a bug that made the Torbjörn bot unresponsive after placing a turret  
      Competitive Play
      Fixed a bug preventing players from receiving XP for playing offseason games  
      Heroes
      Fixed a visual bug with Ana’s “Toast” victory pose, causing her cup to appear blurry on the right side of the screen Fixed a bug causing a graphics issue with McCree’s “Hat Trick” emote Fixed a bug preventing the countdown timer from appearing on Mei’s Cryo-Freeze ability Fixed a bug with the placement of Mercy’s wings on her Valkyrie and Sigrún skins Fixed a bug preventing Symmetra’s Photon Barrier from playing its destruction sound effect when it is destroyed Fixed a bug causing Tracer’s “You Got It” voice line to play an incorrect line Fixed a bug preventing Widowmaker’s Venom Mine from attaching to walls Fixed a bug preventing Zenyatta’s Nutcracker skin from receiving a golden glow while using his Transcendence ultimate ability  
      Maps
      Fixed a bug preventing Pharah from being able to refuel while standing in some planters in Oasis Fixed a bug that caused Sombra to get stuck under the bridge in Eichenwalde Fixed a bug that caused Sombra to get stuck behind rocks in Route 66 Fixed a bug that allowed Symmetra to place her Shield Generator in unintended locations in Watchpoint: Gibraltar Fixed a bug that allowed Widowmaker to perch on an unintended location in Eichenwalde Fixed a bug that allowed Widowmaker to reach unintended locations in Ecopoint: Antarctica Fixed several visual artifacts on the Practice Range Fixed a bug preventing some projectiles from destroying the piñatas in Dorado Fixed a bug with the size of the capture point on the garden tier in Oasis Fixed an issue preventing the glass railings in Oasis from being easily broken by a melee attack