Overwatch Season 2 is upon us, and with it come serious changes and improvements to Overwatch‘s Competitive Play mode. Blizzard has learned a lot from their previous season, and they’ve put their knowledge into good use. Here are some of the more notable features in this season of Overwatch (CA/UK).
New Ranking System
Season 1 introduced players to Overwatch‘s ranking system, the skill rating, which was based on a 100-point system. Winning or losing would result in players gaining or losing fractions of their skill rating, e.g. 3–4 competitive play wins would result in a 43 to 44 skill rating. In Season 2, skill rating has been updated to a 5,000-point system. Now, winning or losing will result in players gaining or losing multiple skill rating points rather than point fractions.
The previous skill rating mechanic gave players a similar feeling to League of Legend‘s “ELO hell”. Users would feel stuck in a particular skill bracket. There was also an inherent flaw in Season 1’s rating brackets. 60 skill rating does not sound particularly excellent, but players within that rating were actually in the top 6% of skill rating. The new skill rating is adjusted to reflect the actual skill of the player.
There is also a more subtle reason for the skill rating shift. Overwatch‘s development team has stated they want to move away from the skill rating feature being an outlet of frustration — wherein players focus directly on raising their skill level — to an indicator of skill, wherein players focus on their ability and in-game dexterity.
Make no mistake, however, Overwatch‘s new skill rating policy has not taken the competitive out of their competitive mode.
Season 2 will also incorporate skill rating decay. Players with a skill rating of above 3,000 (Diamond, Master, and Grandmaster Tiers) must play at least one competitive match over the span of a week. If not, they will lose 50 skill rating points for every 24 hour period they are not active. This drop will cease once the player is below 3,000 skill rating.
Season 2 is Overwatch‘s introduction to skill tiers, similar to ELO skill tiers in League of Legends.
Each tier has a new icon which will appear under your player’s icon in the beginning of every match.
In-game grouping will correspond to these tiers. Bronze to Diamond tiers will allow players to group with other players within 1,000 skill rating from one another. Master and Grand-master tiers will group players within 500 skill rating, presumably to decrease grouping wait times.
Except for the Master and Grand-master tiers, Season 2 tiers cannot be lost. Instead, your highest tier is maintained all throughout the season. If a Gold players receives a skill rating lower than 2,00, their Gold status is maintained.
Although Season 2 has not included any new game modes, it has improved many of the modes already in play.
Draw — First off, Sudden Death is canceled. This is pleasant news for most Overwatch players. If a match results in a point tie, or if there is no clear payload distance advantage, the match will result in a draw. Draws do not grant skill rating, but do not decrease skill rating either.
Time Banking — The time banking system, previously unique to assault maps, is now in play with Escort and Assault/Escort matches as well. More specifically, time banking has been added to the following maps: Dorado, Hollywood, King’s Row, Numbani, Route 66, and Watchpoint: Gibraltar. If, after one round of attack and defense, both teams reach a tie, a new match will begin with the team’s leftover time. Leftover time less than a minute is increased to a minute. If neither team manages a point advantage, the match will result in a draw.
Competitive Mode’s currency, otherwise known as Competitive Points, has also updated in Season 2. Player’s existing competitive points have been multiplied by 10, and players will now receive 10 competitive points for playing in ranked matches. Likewise, the cost of golden weapons has increased from 300 to 3,000.
There has also been a soft cap to competitive points. After 6,000 points, players will not be able to gain more competitive points through matches. Nevertheless, they will be granted end-of-season rewards.
The 500 Club — Those hoping to enter the top 500 club will have to maintain their status come Season 2. Top 500 status will require that players compete in at least 50 competitive matches. Anyone in the top 500 that does not compete in a competitive match for a week (seven days) will automatically be dropped from their status.
New Map: Eichenwalde
Eichenwalde, the new German-based addition to the Overwatch map catalog, is a hybrid (Assault/Escort) map playable in Season 2.
An official, cinematic video has also been released by Blizzard, which you can watch below.
The impressive new map includes a unique terrain to get used to. It is also worth noting that, like all others, this map includes a variety of Easter eggs that add to its immersive nature. Seriously, the beautiful aesthetic of this new map give players a whole new prospective as to the state of the Overwatch world.
New Reinhardt Skin — The new map was also accompanied by 2 new skins, Balderich and Greifhardt. These skins are fashioned after the armor of fallen king Balderich Von Adler, who makes an appearance in the final stretch of Eichenwelde. Not only was this a nice addition to the season, it’s safe to assume later skins will be developed alongside new maps. These skins cost 1,000 competitive points a piece.
In addition to the in-game improvements, Blizzard has also implemented an Overwatch Facebook streaming service directly into the game. This feature can be activated through the Overwatch launcher, and allows for easy game streaming.
You are also allowed to record and stream Overwatch using third-party software. Incorporating a streaming service with the game, however, is a definite step in the right direction for Blizzard. Overwatch‘s streaming service is currently in beta, and subject to improvements.
Watch Your Step!
Overwatch‘s Competitive Mode is only getting better, and Season 2 is a prime example of Blizzard’s ability to listen to their players. With the user’s enjoyment in mind, Blizzard had made strides to make Overwatch even more successful than before!
How are you enjoying Overwatch this season? Let us know in the comments below!