Designed to be a primarily team-based shooter from its very conception, it wasn’t entirely unexpected that Overwatch shipped without any kind of deathmatch mode. It was, nonetheless, just a little bit surprising.
The most common, most basic of all multiplayer shooter modes is generally treated as a ‘default’ in the majority of games, but Overwatch went over a year without it.
Team deathmatch and free-for-all will soon be coming to Overwatch however, and they’re already live on the PTR as we write this.
These modes truly don’t need any introduction to anyone with a remote exposure to games, as they are the oldest and most common shooter modes you’ll find. Most multiplayer shooters that are 2-3 years old and have dwindling player bases will only support full lobbies in these game-modes.
The marvel of deathmatch lies in its simplicity. Kill other players. That’s it. Free-for-all is a no-reservations bullet fest where everyone is playing against everyone. Overwatch will set 8 players loose on one another in this mode. Team deathmatch, arguably the more popular variant, is pretty self-explanatory. Two teams vie to get the required amount of kills first. Two teams of 6 will be competing in this mode.
A number of maps in the game have been reworked to be better suited to these game modes, and a whole new map called Chateau Guillard, which is also live on PTR, has been designed for them too.
The maps in Overwatch were mainly designed around the objective-driven gameplay of the existing modes, with unique game modes available only during event either getting their own maps – like the now-available Lúcioball – or being played on tweaked versions of existing maps.
The game’s heroes were also clearly designed for a cooperative playstyle, which is likely why we didn’t see such modes before. Technically, only a single hero in the game, Reaper, is considered to be viable when playing solo, which will make FFA matches pretty interesting (unless everyone always picks Reaper).
Many heroes are balanced in a way to play off the strengths and weaknesses of others, not being much use on their own, while the whole point of Support heroes is often to aid their teammates. While this sometimes involves debuff skills targeting enemies, half or more of most support heroes’ skillsets will be worthless in an FFA environment.
Team deathmatch will be easier to get used to, as players will still need to work together and assist their allies to win, however one very important change has been made – since points are gained by scoring kills, all Mercy resurrections will deduct points from your score.
While on the first reading this means “never Ult with Mercy in TDM”, instead it needs to be viewed as a strategic decision. If, during a large clash between multiple players, a key resurrection timed right will help your team kill 3-4 opponents for the cost of a single point, it is definitely worth it.
Overwatch has nurtured a large and still-growing community around its complex game-modes which prioritize teamwork and strategic playing over the mindless mayhem of deathmatches, and this community will likely continue to define Overwatch in the future. However, the addition of a deathmatch mode will likely attract a larger number of casual gamers.
It’s clear from the get-go that the hero selection ratios will be entirely different in deathmatch modes than in the current selection of modes, which, considering that the community is often railing about how some heroes are in every match while others are never picked, is a great prospect.
We’ll see how popular deathmatches in Overwatch become, but an educated guess says very.