Instead of 1-3-2, Rebalance the Cast for Skill

Thought I’d post on this subject given Jeff’s recent post and SVB’s recent video. Review those and this Extra Credits Video to fully engage with this post.

Jeff’s and SVB’s statements recognize that OW is dying. The development team is exploring 1-3-2 to save it. SVB posits that 1-3-2 is a poor solution because the core problem is that there are too few tank players in the game because tanking is boring. He argues that 1-3-2 will only move tanking from “boring” to “unpleasant.” I think SVB is right. He also correctly notes why tanking is boring at present: because Orisa is the dominant pick right now.

But SVB’s explanation of why that is could use enhancement. The Extra Credits video bolsters SVB’s point by arguing that games must be balanced for player skill, not just against power creep. This is the real problem: since Brig was added, Overwatch has never been correctly balanced for player skill.

Extra Credits argues that if mechanic A takes half as much skill to use as mechanic B, to be correctly balanced it must generate less then half as much power as mechanic B. This is because if A generates more than half the power of B, players will simply use A, because B isn’t rewarding enough.

The video uses Chun-Li’s lightning kick from Street Fighter and COD’s grenade launcher as examples. These abilities all are “first order optimal strategies:” mechanics with low skill in to high power out. Their purpose is to give new players a chance against experienced ones. The new players should still lose most of the time to experienced players using more difficult mechanics, but they should feel they have a fighting chance.

In Overwatch however, we at least theoretically segregate games by skill. So at the highest levels, the game should see more mechanically demanding picks be commonplace, while more mechanically easy picks be less frequently used.

As SVB’s post notes, that is not the case right now. SVB says that in high level games if one team selects Orisa - the least difficult tank in the game (she can shield AND shoot and CC all at the same time, and more or less can and should do all of the above off cooldown), the other team can’t win without doing the same. I’d take his point one step further: if the game is correctly balanced for skill, Orisa should almost never be played at the highest levels.

The last time Overwatch was correctly balanced for skill, or at least the closest to that, was during the dive meta. That’s why Season 1 of the Overwatch League was the most successful and that’s why the game was fun back then. That’s also why tanking was fun. You could climb to a certain point with Rein and Orisa, but you needed to master more than just Rein and Orisa to continue climbing. You needed to learn dive tanks too.

My proposal to the Devs is more complex than I can state in this one post, but here it is in a nutshell: rather than fiddling with 1-3-2, rebalance each role in the cast to where–within that role–the easiest heroes to play do not generate enough power to compete with the more mechanically difficult ones at the highest levels.

The best part is, in my view at least, we are already close to the correct skill balance in the Support and DPS roles. Generally, the more difficult heroes give appropriately more reward than their counterparts within those roles. If we rebalance the tank roster the correct way (to where Orisa is, at best, a situational pick at high levels but is the least played tank), I think we’ll find the game becoming more fun again for enough people that it may make a resurgence.

About 75% of all new heroes since Sombra are NS. If you want good fundamental FPS mechanics, go play CSGO or even PUBG (questionable now after some recent patches).

OTherwise just accept the fact this is a casual orientated game that just HAPPENs to have a professional scene.

Blizzard are way too stubborn and obstinate about this game, possibly due to the humiliation and frustration of spending 8+ years developing the next big successful IP and completely failing.

They’re RPG guys, and the nature of that genre is to have asymmetrical balance. Great for Wizard’ing and doing fun things in an open expansive world, absolutely f0cking terrible in Arena-style shooters.

Anyways, whatever, the minute I heard Tigole was leading this project and made the shot calls, I knew mongoloid heroes like Brig would get released.

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I appreciate the response, but I don’t think just because the game is casual it can’t be balanced correctly. There’s a place for lower skill heroes, I just think their impact needs to be carefully managed, and the problem is it is not. The less skill a hero takes to play (we can all agree that some heroes require more skill in than others), the less power should come out. That means Blizzard needs to take steps to understand how hard a hero is to play and then err on the side of buffing heroes that are hard and nerfing those that are easy. And discard the fiction that every hero will get play at all levels. That won’t happen.