Tomorrow we’re scheduled to launch an Experimental mode featuring pretty significant changes to the Assault game mode. This experiment is a bit different than previous tests – we are not planning to move these changes over to live game modes. We look at this as more of a “failed experiment” with some great learnings and interesting data that we can use for this or other game modes in the future. We’d love to hear your thoughts!
What are we trying to address?
We frequently talk about the Assault game mode internally and we’ve tried a few things over the years to address some of the issues. While most of these never made it to the live game, we thought this iteration was interesting enough that we should allow everyone to try it out within the Experimental mode and give feedback. When experimenting with this new version of the mode we focused on the following topics.
- Snowballing – If Point A is captured quickly and aggressively, the attacking team tends to be better equipped to quickly capture Point B as well. The attacking team will be equipped with higher ultimate charge after an overwhelming offense on Point A, and is more likely to be able to carry this advantage to also quickly overtake Point B. Since the defending team was not able to charge their ultimate abilities after a quick defeat, they will be less prepared to defend Point B.
- Short matches/Blowout matches – This usually results from snowballing and is more pronounced in Quickplay, losing in just a few minutes never feels good and is technically impossible in our other game modes, whose mechanics force a more balanced pace to a match.
What is the mode?
See below for a description of how the reworked Assault game mode flows.
- The game mode has been changed into a shorter set of rounds where after each point capture, the round ends and teams switch sides. The game will begin with Team 1 attempting to take Point A. Once Team 1 either succeeds or fails to capture Point A, Team 2 will then attempt to capture the same point. If both teams successfully capture Point A, the game will move to Point B, where both teams will then repeat this process to attempt to capture the same point. The team who succeeds in capturing more points wins the game.
- Each team has 6 minutes on the clock. Extra time is not awarded on point captures.
- The Assemble and Setup times have all been dramatically shortened for rounds 3 and above.
- When a team defends Point A for the 2nd and subsequent times they will spawn in a new spawn room just off the point. This spawn room deactivates when the round starts. The intention here was to reduce setup time as much as possible.
- Attacker and Defender respawn times have changed. Most notably, the defenders take longer to spawn when defending Point B.
What was the outcome?
There are a lot of really great things happening with these changes. For example, snowballing is eliminated. Additionally, defending teams no longer need to make a decision as to whether giving up Point A is advantageous – with only one point, you’ll always want to fully commit. Focusing on a single objective per round is really refreshing. Also, blowouts can feel less drawn out in this mode: after losing Point A on defense, if a team can’t retake that same point, the match is over. An interesting side effect of the changes was that many of the matches felt paced better than standard Assault. There would be several minutes of intense action, followed by a short break for setup between rounds and then both teams would go at it again.
Even though we had some great results from these changes, it’s important to reiterate that they will not make it to the Retail environment, at least not in their current form. The biggest single problem with the mode is really short rounds causing the match to feel disjointed and choppy. It was too difficult to build ultimate charge with certain heroes and the game just didn’t feel like Overwatch in these cases. There are also issues with understandability of the mode. It can be confusing to switch sides so many times in a match, and there were many cases where the round would reset on Point B and the defending team would just run by it out of habit.
We’re hoping that you view this as a behind-the-scenes look into our development, share your thoughts, and have fun playing the mode. It is a lot of fun! As always, we look forward to hearing what you think of these Experimental changes.