Overwatch is constantly updating the way they approach competitive matchmaking. Most recently, Blizzard removed Overwatch map pools. Overall, I believe that the changes that Blizzard has made to the game were well-received by the community.
However, there has always been one question that is still heavily debated among players: should you be able to choose what map you want to play in Overwatch?
Choosing specific maps
Let’s first address the idea of choosing specific maps. A system allowing players the choice to filter out any maps they want – similar to how things work in CS:GO and many other games – is not a good decision for Overwatch. CS:GO gets away with this system because their whole competitive scene revolves around one game mode.
However, Overwatch has four competitive game-modes: Assault, Control, Escort, and Hybrid. Each of these game modes includes a wide variety of maps. Allowing players to choose exactly which map they want to play will split up the player base too much. There’s just way too many maps. Some maps would be ignored, some maps would be overplayed, and overall players would have to accept extremely long queue times.
Choosing specific game modes
If choosing a specific map is a bad idea, then should Blizzard allow players to choose a specific game mode instead? This approach would be a step in the right direction, but isn’t quite perfect either.
I believe that each game mode in Overwatch requires a different approach.
For example, Control is a very brawl-heavy game mode that puts a lot of emphasis on winning trades and managing ultimate economies. Assault, on the other hand, puts more emphasis on positioning and communication. Assault maps aren’t symmetrical like Control maps, and the defensive team usually spawns much closer than the offensive team.
Because each game mode needs to be approached differently, it would make sense for players to practice game modes that they want to get better at. If a player played a Control map and wanted to get better at it, they shouldn’t have to keep queueing up for games randomly in the hopes that another Control map would be picked.
However, there is still a problem with this, and that is queue times.
Even though role lock has made a positive impact on Overwatch in the current state of the game, it has also drastically increased queue times. This is especially true for damage players. Also, it is no secret that not all game modes are loved equally. Assault maps tend to be the least favorite game mode for the majority of players because of the amount of coordination required to play them. With that said, I believe that Assault maps are still a core part of Overwatch’s identity, and cater very well to high-level organized play. So is there any solution?
An alternative solution to Overwatch map pools
It’s established that it would be a good idea for Blizzard to give a way for players to have some sort of control over which game mode they play. At the same time, they also have to make sure that it doesn’t split the community in any way or create longer queue times.
My solution? A blind voting system. Let me explain.
Currently, when players queue up and find a game, they are instantly given a random map. Instead, Blizzard should give all 12 players in the match a selection screen of 4 random maps from any game mode. For example, they could be given 4 Control maps like Oasis, Nepal, Busan, and Ilios. In another match the could be given 1 of each game mode like Hanamura, Numbani, Junkertown, and Lijang Tower.
Then, players are given 10 seconds to vote on one of the offered maps, and their votes are kept hidden so that nobody is influenced by other votes. The map with the most votes gets played. In the case of a tie, a tie-breaker system is used. The tie-break logic could be random, or based on map popularity over the course of the season.
Of course, some of the details of this plan can still be adjusted. Ultimately, with this system, players would be given some control over which map they play, and queue times won’t be affected. As an added bonus, Blizzard could use the results of this vote system to determine how comfortable Overwatch players are with each map in general.
At the end of the day, I believe that being a good Overwatch player means being good at all the game modes. Overwatch is a team-based game that relies heavily on communication rather than raw talent. At its core, the game rewards teams that can effectively work together to complete the objective. Having a variety of game modes and maps is healthy, and forces players to adjust to different situations. The players that can do this are the ones that should rank up.
What are your thoughts on Overwatch map pools retiring? Do you have your ideas for improving the current system? Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments below!