Overwatch is a competitive — to some extent, at least — multiplayer shooter. There’s no way to debate that. Through Overwatch’s release, Blizzard has managed to bring together players of all skill levels to play and enjoy a game together. People who have never played shooters before are playing with their experienced FPS gamer friends. This is amazing! However, there’s also the infamous enemy of all players. The Overwatch Solo Queue.
However, when it comes to competitive nature, that “multiplayer” part is a little…different. Many players seem conflicted about the benefits or downsides to what has come to be known as “solo queue” or “SoloQ.” Many swear by it, others think it’s a terrible idea.
For this Play of the Fortnight, let’s delve into the concept of SoloQ versus playing with a full team and everything in between.
To SoloQ or Not to SoloQ
SoloQ gains its name from the fact that players can queue up as an individual, particularly in a competitive context. The term originated in other games with ranked modes, with its roots possibly in MOBAs like League of Legends specifically. Players across the gaming world now know and use the term.
In most games where solo queuing is a thing, many players will shy away from it. There are dangers associated with SoloQ. In particular, there’s the unknown of what your teammates will be like and how well they will work together. Will they be toxic and ruin the game for everyone else? Will there be trolls?
At least in a game with some friends, you know you can rely on those people to some extent. In SoloQ, every player is a wild card. For this reason, many players will choose to at least queue up with another person they know, or even several. But there is a fine balance, which means players also avoid playing with a full team of six.
And yet, despite all of that, there are other players who favor SoloQ. What makes a player choose one or the other?
SoloQ – Pros and Cons
Believe it or not, queuing up as a solo player has its benefits. In fact, throughout most of Season 2 of Overwatch and practically all of Season 3, I have SoloQ’d my competitive matches. I’ve honestly had a fantastic experience doing so, with a few hiccups along the way.
While SoloQ doesn’t guarantee that your teammates will be good or positive, it is the unknown that appeals to many players. Sometimes you just don’t work well with your friends who also play Overwatch. Be it that your personalities don’t gel, one of you is better than the other, or that your roles just don’t complement one another. If you absolutely know that you and your friend(s) won’t work well together, is it really a good idea to play competitive together?
This is where the benefits of SoloQ come in. Each match you have a buffet of potentially wonderful players. Yes, there’s a chance they’ll be rubbish, or that you won’t be able to work well with them too. However, there’s that chance that you’ll find a player or two whom you just work perfectly with: like peanut butter and jelly!
The other major benefit of SoloQ is that you have less of a chance to be matched up against a group of people who work together far better than you and your friends do. I refuse to believe that it’s just me who finds that when I play with a group of my friends, the enemy team always seems to have their heads screwed on tighter than we do! With SoloQ, there’s no need to worry! Most of the time you’ll be playing with and against people who are just as haphazard as you and your teammates are.
Of course, there are plenty of downsides to SoloQ. The unknown does mean that you might get people who refuse to switch heroes. This leads to incompatible team combinations or even just clashes of personality. There’s also the danger of toxicity bringing the whole team’s morale down. These are the dangers of venturing out into the wasteland of the solo queue.
Full Team – Pros and Cons
This one is tricky. Playing with a full team of course means that you, hopefully, know everyone on the team and have played with them before. You already know that one player who can only play one hero no matter what map it is, and the other player who really likes playing offensive heroes even though they can’t shoot straight. You know the intricacies of how to deal with your teammates because they’re also your friends.
With a full team, you avoid most of the arguments and unpleasant behavior that automatically comes with playing by yourself. You can almost guarantee that no one will rudely demand that you play Ana even when you just really want to keep people alive and you’re not that great at shooting things. You can even almost guarantee that your friends will put up with your weird obsession of playing attack Hanzo or Widowmaker because they trust you’re good at it. Or at least that they can pick up the slack if you’re not…
But as we discussed above, the biggest downside to playing as a full group is that the enemy team is also most likely playing as a team of six. Unless you and your friends really know what you’re doing, you run the risk of the enemy working together like a well-oiled machine while your team runs around confused and shouting incoherently over voice at each other.
Partial Team – Pros and Cons
Of course, there is an in-between option. Many players will prefer to play with one or two friends to form a partial group. This is a pretty nice balance between SoloQ and a full-team. For example, you are fairly likely to be paired up with either another small group or solo players, and therefore are matched up against a similar team composition. It’s incredibly unlikely that your team will go up against a full team.
The benefits of this are simple — you not only have the joy of playing with a friend or two whom you enjoy the company of, but you also have at least that many people to rely on. You know how they play, and assuming you work well together this can be a fantastic benefit.
It does, of course, come with the cons of both SoloQ and full-team, but to a lesser extent. There are less unknowns, and because you’re not in a full-team you’re not up against a team of super humans who seem to be able to predict the future and know exactly what you and your team are going to do and how to counter it. At worst you’ll be up against a pair or a trio of people who know each other pretty well, but they might have those wild cards SoloQ’ing with them as well.
What about the Stay as Team option?
Ah, yes. The ‘Stay as Team’ option. Blizzard recently added this little gem as a small and unintrusive button in the bottom right of the end of game screen. It allows players to volunteer to group up together. How does it fit in with the SoloQ vs Full Team argument?
Honestly, as expected, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. I’ve had extremely positive experiences with it and then incredibly negative ones. For example, I’ve played with a great team who worked really well together and we used this feature. We went on to win six games in a row together before we broke apart to take a break. Everyone was respectful and friendly, and they were all extremely positive even if we started to lose. Because of that, we pulled it together! I’ve even had positive experiences with a team who lost but still chose to Stay as Team and went on to win a few.
However, that is balanced out with the awful experiences too. How about having a team that won in a complete stomp stick together only to find out that they’re actually all rude and can be tilted easily, leading to future losses? That’s happened a few times. As has the negative team who came together at the last minute, only to prove that they learned nothing from the results of their positive behavior last round and swing back into negativity in the next match.
I still like to utilize the option if the team has worked really well together. Just be prepared to have to bow out early if things get ugly. Sometimes going back to SoloQ, or your own group, can be a much better option.
There are pros and cons to every style of play, as is the case in any game and any situation. Some of us prefer SoloQ, and others prefer the comfort of having teammates they know they can rely on. I personally prefer SoloQ for my own reasons. I feel like I have the opportunity to prove myself while I claw my way through the ranks. Perhaps, more importantly, I know a higher ranked friend didn’t carry me. That makes me feel proud. I also quite like the great unknown. Will I get fantastic teammates or will they be awful and horrible to each other? Who knows?!
When you play competitive, do you prefer to play with friends or go it alone? Let us know in the comments and share your thoughts on the great SoloQ debate!Related: Blizzard Entertainment, Column, FPS, Overwatch, Play of the Fortnight, Shooter