Overwatch has updated with a major patch, bringing the second season of Competitive Play and the new map, Eichenwalde. All of the big changes in the patch concern the new Competitive Play mode, adding skill tiers and a new skill rating system.
Instead of the previous 100-point ranking system, player ratings are now from 1 to 5000. Within those ratings, players will be grouped into one of seven skill tiers: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Master, and Grandmaster.
There is a bit of a wrinkle though. In Competitive Play, players cannot group with others who have a skill rating difference of more than 1000. Up in the high strakes of Master and Grandmaster, that threshold drops to 500. Furthermore, players above Diamond tier can't group up with those still working on their placement matches.
"In season 1, skill rating became a central part of nearly every conversation about Competitive Play," said Blizzard in its update post. "Because skill rating was the only gauge players had for their relative performance, and because the number constantly fluctuated throughout the season, changes in value could be frustrating. We didn't intend for competitive players to focus on that one number, and so this season, we're introducing seven discrete skill tiers. Depending on their skill rating, players will fall into one of these tiers, but climbing into the next tier is possible as you improve."
The patch adds skill rating decay for players with a skill rating above 3000. Those top-tier players need to play one competitive match every 7 days, or they'll lose 50 points from their rating every 24 hours. That said, those players don't have to worry about their skill rating dropping below 3000.
Sudden Death is going away and instead, all modes will use the time bank system. The first team is timed on how long it took them to complete all the objectives, and the opposing team only has to beat that time to win.
Players in Overwatch will be competing on a brand-new map as well. Eichenwalde, a map that hails from Reinhardt's home country of Germany, is also a part of the patch. The map is built for the Assault/Escort game mode, with attackers trying to escort a battering ram to the doors of an ancient keep.
Blizzard also announced the first free weekend for Overwatch, taking place from September 9 - 12. Players on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 can download the game and play for free during this period with no restrictions. All heroes and maps are available, and players will be able to level up and earn Loot Boxes. If you buy the game later, you keep whatever progress you made. The free weekend will begin on September 9 at 11am PT/2pm ET and end on September 12 at 4pm PT/7pm ET.