Overwatch's First Experimental Mode is Benching a Tank For More Offense

Overwatch's First Experimental Mode is Benching a Tank For More Offense

Blizzard is experimenting with a little more damage.

Those dedicated Damage players who can't seem to find a game these days have reason to be excited. As the first of its Experimental modes, Overwatch is ramping up the Damage balance to three players per team.

The Experimental card, announced last month, is the Overwatch team's way of toying with the balance of the game in a live environment without disrupting the averager players' good time. While the PTR will continue to be a realm for bug-testing, the Experimental mode going live soon—tomorrow, Feb. 25, if everything goes right—will let Blizzard experiment with new gameplay ideas.

Triple Damage is the first of these cards, which builds on the role queue limits that Overwatch implemented last year to ramp up the damage. Instead of an even 2-2-2 split between Tank, Damage, and Support, the Experimental mode will scrap one Tank slot for an extra Damage position.

Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan says the Overwatch team will be looking at whether this actually affects queue times for Damage players. In a blog post, principal game designer Michael Heiberg expands on why the new card highlights this issue in particular. As he tells it, when role queue was first implemented, there were more Damage players in queue than Tanks or Supports.

"This created longer queue times, and one of the things we considered was, what if we tried to make the team composition closer to the actual ratio of players by role?" Heiberg says. "If that did work out, people would be waiting less, playing more. So, it behooved us to actually try it."

Pictured: A support player meeting their new Experimental queue mates. | Blizzard Entertainment

This is the time to try new things, as Overwatch ramps up towards its eventual sequel. While competitive play will stay the same even when an Overwatch 2 launches, the Experimental card might offer the Blizzard team an easy place to experiment and find out the best way to give its team-based shooter a new look before then.

To that point, Kaplan says "don't panic" about these changes. "These are changes we are unsure of, and that's why we're getting your feedback on them," Kaplan says. "It doesn't mean that they're imminently coming to Overwatch anytime soon. It just helps you get some insight into what we're focused on, and some of our design process."

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Eric Van Allen

News Editor

Eric is a writer and Texan. He's a former contributor to sites including Compete, Polygon, Waypoint, and the Washington Post. He loves competitive games, live music, and travel.

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