An idea that has been fired around the Overwatch community for some time is the concept of Blizzard adding an Overwatch role limit. While it would probably only be applied to competitive games, what would a role limit mean for the game and its meta? In this Play of the Fortnight, we discuss potential pros and cons that a role limit could have on the state of Overwatch.
First of all, what’s a role limit?
Proponents of the Overwatch role limit suggest that there’s either a minimum or maximum number of tanks, damage, and healers. Some players want both a minimum and maximum, others want just a limit on a specific role. In an ideal world, a role limit would likely mean there has to be at least one of each role on the team (or at least one tank and one healer). Another suggestion players have proposed is that there’s a minimum of one tank and healer with a maximum of two.
There are various reasons players suggest a role limit. The biggest one for there being a minimum of each role is that frequently tanks and healers are seen as key to the game but also undesirable for many players to actually play. Having a minimum of one per team would mean, in theory, more viable team comps.
However, the request for a maximum number means preventing team comps that players find tough to go up against. For example, a team comp known as “GOATS” has been lamented by the community lately. This comp involves three tanks and three healers, usually Reinhardt, Zarya, D.Va, Lucio, Brigitte, and Moira. The team will charge down the opponents and single out one enemy at a time. A role limit would most likely prevent this kind of comp from flourishing.
What would be the pros of an Overwatch role limit?
Obviously, having a minimum of one tank and one healer on the team would mean having a balanced comp. Most comps have this as their backbone; it’s very rare to see team comps that don’t have at least one tank and one healer.
Having a maximum of two tanks and two healers would, in theory, prevent arguments between players who try to select roles when they’re already filled. It would also mean no crazy team comps to go up against like GOATS or the former four tank two support meta. There’s still some flexibility in allowing teams to drop one tank or one healer to fill in an extra damage dealer.
However, with all of this said, there seems to be more cons than there are pros to a role limit.
Team comp creativity would disappear
One of the exciting things about Overwatch is being able to come up with weird and wonderful teams. That could be a new way to obliterate the enemy team or just an interesting counter to the meta. It’s fun seeing new comps emerge as patches change the balance between heroes. Dive comp and GOATS are just some examples of the fun combinations players have come up with.
If we have a role limit that effectively strongly encourages a 2-2-2 comp, we would lose out on all of that creativity. There would still be combos between heroes, and a little flexibility with changing out a tank or healer for something with more punch. Ultimately, though, players would be much more restricted.
Would this mean less troll compositions? Probably, but is that worth losing out on all of the interesting ways to build a team? We don’t think so.
Disconnects in hero select would soar
Picture this: a Genji main connects to the game now. Genji is already selected. He considers leaving, but at least he can pick another damage dealer. So he does, and while his team might complain at him, he can ignore them and play what he’s used to.
Now role limits are in place. He joins the game and not only is Genji already selected, but all the damage dealer slots are taken. He now has to tank or heal. What does he do now? It’s not a sure thing that the player would disconnect, but it’s significantly more likely. Players are creatures of habit, and even if they’re not one-trick ponies, they’ll have a role they play almost exclusively. Taking that away from them won’t make them more likely to branch out. It’ll make them disconnect. If they do, we can only hope they do it early enough to cancel the game without wasting anyone’s time.
Couldn’t they make a new queue system to fix this?
Blizzard could certainly add a queuing system similar to the one in League of Legends now. Allowing players to queue up as a specific role means that they know they get what they want. There could always be an additional “flex” role that means players would fill. However, this already somewhat exists in the group finder tool.
Adding another layer seems unnecessary. Queue times would likely go up for damage, while tanks and healers would get queued up right away. Sure, that might encourage more people to play tank and healer in the first place, but it’s still going to make the experience quite unpleasant for at least a large portion of the community.
Our thoughts on a role limit
We don’t think a role limit is the best way to counter issues with team comp in Overwatch. While it’s true that players often don’t pick what’s “needed” and instead lock whoever they want, a role limit would impose too much of a restriction on the creativity most of us have grown to love in Overwatch.
It would, however, be nice to see Blizzard doing more to help prevent the trolling that many players complain about in competitive. Proactively helping the community by providing them with tools that allow them to prevent it in the first place would likely be easier and make more sense than simply banning people for picking the “wrong” hero. Who decides what is a “bad choice”?
We don’t think Blizzard is likely to impose an Overwatch role limit any time soon. Even so, it is certainly something members of the community have requested often. There are a few positives to having a restriction like this in place, but we feel these are significantly outweighed by the negatives. One day we’d like to see more changes to the way queuing works to improve team synergy, but for now there are just some downsides players are always going to be faced with in solo queue.
Do you want to see a role limit in Overwatch? Let us know in the comments below!Related: Blizzard Entertainment, Column, First Person Shooter, FPS, Overwatch, Play of the Fortnight, Shooter