Overwatch

Overwatch’s new “Arcade” mode wants to make you a better team player. Announced at BlizzCon last week, the mode features five ways to play Overwatch that will make you a versatile teammate in a way that maining Bastion will not, ever.

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Arcade mode is currently available on the PTR and is comprised of “1v1 Mystery Duel,” “3v3 Elimination,” “6v6 Mystery Heroes,” “6v6 No Limits” and “All Brawls.” They each have their upsides and downsides, but for sure, most of them will get you playing heroes you’d never touched before and make you a more team-focused thinker.

I’ve definitely gotten stuck in an Overwatch rut. Because I’m matched with higher-level players now, I don’t always feel comfortable trying out new heroes in matches for fear of embarrassing myself or my teammates. So, I rotate between the five or six ones I know. But that’s not really how the game is meant to be played. Resourcefulness is the mark of a good Overwatch player.

Overwatch

The “1v1 Mystery Duel” takes place on a new, much smaller map called Eco-Point Antarctica. A random hero—the same one— is chosen for you and your enemy. Nearly every time I played, I was assigned a hero that I wasn’t totally familiar with. That meant that, whenever I encountered my enemy, I had to think fast: What would a seasoned Genji player do here? How do I maximize this hero’s toolkit to take out my opponent fastest? There’s no one backing you up, so you really have develop good impulses.

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My one complaint is that, even though Eco-Point Antarctica is a fraction of the size of other maps, it’s still too big: Blizzard should install a tracking system so 3/4 of a match isn’t wasted finding your enemy.

The Arcade mode’s 6v6 “Mystery” hero mode also selects a random hero for you. When I died, it was a fun surprise to be reincarnated as a different random hero. Team composition is switching up constantly. It feels quite low-stakes, which, for me, is a great environment to figure out the ins and outs of a skillset. There was a special fluidity to it. Switching heroes mid-match can save a game in Quick Play or Competitive, and “Mystery” mode will hopefully help players be less attached to sticking with one hero throughout a match.

The 3v3 “Elimination” mode is by far my favorite. When you die, you’re dead. And, quickly after, your teammates will die too. In “Elimination,” you and your teammates really depend on each other—because if one of you is alone and singled-out, you’re done for, and can’t support your team anymore. I look forward to figuring out how to be a better buffer for heroes I wouldn’t normally coordinate with.

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Here, everything you thought you knew about team composition is upended. The only comp rule is that, well, Mercy’s “Raise” might be pretty useful. I tried a few different classically balanced comps here, including Mercy/Roadhog/Sombra and Dva/Ana/Hanzo, but my gut says that some crazy mixtures will prove more effective. One of the best games I played had two snipers, which in Quick Play or Competitive, is frowned upon.

“All Brawls” is a wildcard. That, and “6v6 No Limits,” which is basically Quick Play as it is now, will be great ways to blow off steam. I don’t predict that they’ll have too much impact on players’ approach to the now-more-serious Quick Play, with its new single-hero limit, or Competitive modes.

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Overwatch is a multiplayer game, and it is rare that one person’s sniping or turret-placement ability completely carries a team. Now that the game’s been out for a few months, coordinating ultimate moves and mid-game team composition switches are being hailed as game-savers more so than shooting skill. I’m excited to see how gameplay evolves after players spend some time in the new Arcade.