I didn’t watch the whole thing, but I listened to a few minutes here and there. I heard a lot of complaining about hard counters. This is a problem I see not just in Overwatch, but in almost all the popular asymmetrical competitive games regardless of genre.

I addressed this a little bit in the game balance panel. When does the fighting game start? Does it start before or after the character select screen?

There seems to be this belief, reinforced by the community, that there is a meta, and there should be a meta. That in an asymmetrical game where you select characters, build decks, create armies, etc. that those decisions you make before the game should matter. Some portion of the game should be decided before the game even starts.

Obviously nobody seems to advocate that the decisions you make before the game should be the most important, just that they should matter to some extent. Then the actual decisions you make during the game should take care of the rest. People don’t want to play rock/paper/scissors. They want Terrans vs. Zerg with both having a chance to win.

Sadly, what I am seeing from game designers is that they can’t figure out how to bring about this reality, even though they want to. They want to give players lots of fun and powerful abilities. To prevent them from being OP, they have no ideas other than just giving hard counters to the opponent. Tired of getting fireballed? Play Circle of Protection: Red. That’s the extent of the creativity of a lot of game designers these days.

Personally, I challenge the fundamental notion that the decisions you make before the game should matter. There should be no meta. Even if a game is asymmetrical, the decisions you make before the game starts should matter as little as possible. How cool would it be to have a CCG where you can just take any random legal deck, and have it be relatively equally powerful to any other. Now deck building is not an exercise of strategy or metagaming, but a matter of self expression. You choose your class because you like its style and identify with it. Winning and losing is determined solely by your skill and play during the actual game.

Is that hard to pull off? Very much so, especially if the game is very asymmetric. Still, it seems that just about everyone working on asymmetric games has decided it’s too difficult to even attempt solving it. Instead they circumvent the issue with other hacks like picks and bans, sealed drafts, or even Keyforge’s procedural generated decks. As hard as it is, I think it’s worth making the attempt, and I have some ideas I’m working on.


I don’t feel any of the frustrations expressed in that video…


In Overwatch, even competitive, you can change characters at any point. The match starts the moment you pick your characters. You can change characters at any time to adapt to the situation at hand. Also if you’re good enough, most of the “hard” counters are pretty soft…

There’s a reason I forced myself to be pretty good with most of the characters. I’ll make decisions in the course of the game. If I’m tanking with Reinhardt but we’re lacking DPS overall (failing to deal enough damage to actually bring the other team down), I’ll switch to Zarya to do more damage and shake things up while still being able to shield. If the other team is pretty static I’ll switch to Orisa instead, get her shield up, and lay down constant suppressing fire.

Recently I was playing an unlimited match (no limit on picking multiple of the same character on a team), and I saw that the other team was overall pretty bad at aiming (relative to other matches). So I picked Pharah and started rocketing the shit out of them.

They could easily have killed me, but they weren’t skilled enough. If they’d been better shots, I’d probably have switched to Brig instead and closed with them.


TL;DR: Anyone who wants to be good at one or two characters and be able to play them in every game is someone I really don’t want to play with or against.


Because Overwatch is the first FPS I’ve actually put serious time into playing and I already have some wrist issues, my aim sucks. I remedy this by shield tanking or healing. I will sometimes play D.va as off tank, but I just don’t have the accuracy to be an effective DPS player


I havn’t been able to watch the video, but the “meta” in these pulls in at least two directions: efficacy and simplicity. In my opinion a lot of people conflate the two.

In League of Legends, for example, you don’t too often see people break the 2 person botlane and 1 jungle “meta” outside of pre-formed groups. You can talk about dragon control and the specifics of the map and why that’s the decided upon meta for that particular decision, but at the end of the day you probably go along with that assumption not because it’s actually ideal. You most likely go along with that decision because it makes the entire world of the game a thousand times simpler to not have to consider everything outside that box for every single game. Pro games can play outside of it because the coordination to play outside of that box is a solved problem for them.

A couple years ago League made two simultaneous changes. They added role selection (Top, Mid, Bottom, Support, Jungle) and at the same time went from solo/duo competitive queue to “dynamic queue” (any sized group can be matched against any other sized group, some preference for equal sizes, etc baked in). The latter was eventually removed because having 4+1 vs 5 and 3+2 vs 1+1+1+1+1 is still pretty toxic. A lot of pro players want to move to competitive solo queue being different from dynamic queue being different from group queue, but Riot doesn’t want to dilute their game too much with separate queues because that’s often how you alienate/lose a section of players as whatever is least popular dies (teambuilder in league).

As for Overwatch, which has always been dynamic queue but only recently added the “option” of role selection… they have a lot of the same problems PLUS the most basic “meta” isn’t as efficacious as league’s and doesn’t really simplify the game anywhere near as much. Swapping “properly” is even more complicated, because you’ve got both roles and counters and ult going into it, so as much as you think you want to say force 2/2/2 sometimes the best possible move is for x to swap with z simply because it’s more opportune.

When you get down to the flavor of the month part of meta (grav dragon bridgette meta, dive comps, etc) this has less say on that and that feels more like a specific tuning problem and more traditional “balance” stuff. That’s a lot more like specific champions in league and what not which are more balanced by those fine tuning changes. If a character is a bit too strong that’s one thing. If people really hate playing against meta comps like that though the changes that need to be made are probably more complicated. That’s one thing I vaguely like about the lock-out arcade modes… it forces you to play the entire roster.

Ramble ramble ramble…


One of the things I’ve loved about Overwatch for a long time is that it is not a traditional shooter. I currently main Winston/Zarya, actually, used to play a ton of Pharah/Mercy though - I have a pretty dang good win percentage with Mercy, too. I love that this game allows for folks to play without “standard” DPS skills.

I think what I have found frustrating, personally, is the introduction of CC and (to a lesser extent now, though it was very bad a couple seasons back) spam with pretty much every character that has been introduced to the game since launch. Main tanking is really tough. I find Brigitte fun to play but not fun to play against - I feel the same way about Doomfist and Sombra as well. I just find Orisa frustrating. (I do find pharah and tracer fun to play and fun to play against, personally, because of the 1v1 potential.) I do feel like watching pros is more of an ult-fest than relying on teamwork and superior strats (sure, there’s an argument here that teamwork makes the ults happen, etc etc, which is true. But I still think there’s a meaningful delineation.)

Balance in this game is hard. I’ve played since season 1 and I had never played any sort of FPS before this, which speaks a lot to how good this game is for nontraditional gamers. I think I would be very happy if there was a little less CC in the game. I think I do agree that some of the heroes that have been added have made you significantly more dependent on your team, which can be just… frustrating, imho, especially as just an ‘average’ player who fills. I think there’s a toxic carry mentality that some folks can get, but I also think there’s something to be said for having a chance to outplay another player based on skill and not juuuust character choice. I think there’s a difference between the highest level and midlevel play, though, so I wouldn’t be surprised if folks wind up having different opinions based on where we play in the game, or even what you find most fun about it.


I will stand by my assertion that competitive mode and E-Sports damaged the fun factor of Overwatch. Competitive mode introduced a toxic element in the player base and a pivot away from tuning the game for the casual player to have fun and instead catering to the higher echelons of comp players. It’s even in QP, people whining about picking non-meta characters in games that literally don’t matter and people try-harding like it does. Without comp there would be no ‘meta’ to argue about. No one would care because there’s no number to show how big your e-peen is. Less toxicity because no salt over your e-peen number being lower or gloating over it being bigger. No random balance changes that balance at the pro-level and completely unbalance QP. Comp Overwatch and QP are two completely different games from average player skill and attitude alone but Blizzard beats them both with the same rod. Case in point, Mercy was considered OP in comp. When they hard nerfed her she became pretty much useless in QP because of how different the game is, and yet in comp she was still considered OP and nerfed AGAIN.


toxicity within a game is a reflection of the toxicity in the culture of the players.
cultures that prioritize individual achievement and competition will have different team dynamics than cultures that prioritize social co-operation. same thing with winning vs fun, sincerity vs insincerity, wholesome vs pranking/schednfreude.


Those are all good points. Perhaps then the things I mentioned just magnified what is already just a cultural problem?


Yeah, under pressure people’s insecurities are multiplied against their cultural values, and then mitigated by their emotional development and support. With social, performance, and non-stop reflex pressure, the inconsistent and uncontrollable quality of faceless teammates, plus the constantly shifting nature of the meta in relation to play-style preferences (having to learn and adapt is hard, especially to situations out of your control, even when you want to), it’s an easy equation for spin out.

Players don’t experience big picture.


This has kind of always been my problem with shooters in general, not meta per se but the way I want to play a given game is almost always the opposite of what is considered ideal.


Long video but the background is just random gameplay so you can treat it like a podcast.


I generally agree with most of the stuff in the video, but I’m not high enough ranking to experience all of what he’s talking about. Some of it I think is just an unavoidable consequence of increasing the number of heroes but some of it seems to be by design.

Most of the newer heroes I find frustrating to play against now that I think about it. Ana and Orisa are fine but as someone that plays supports a lot CC / spamy things and flankers that kill me before my team notices are no fun.

Recently I almost exclusively want to play CTF. I think because the unfun games tend to only last a couple minutes and when good games get going the same players will match several games in a row.


What the fuck is CC? The Internet says it means “crowd control”. Isn’t that just AoE? Why is this new word needed? Also, why is AoE even effective in a 5v5 game? Doesn’t seem smart to bunch all your team together in one spot.


Bunching up is pretty necessary in Overwatch. DPS can hide/shoot behind tank shields, support abilities mostly have short ranges, etc… Some characters are designed to go somewhat solo (snipers, some characters can fly) but they need to either have a pocket healer or use their abilities to go back to the main group for healing.


Crowd control and AoE are not the same. AoE just refers to how many people it impacts. CC is specifically for skills that hamper the other team’s mobility or actions, things like stuns, slows, roots, forcing them to move away or towards you, etc.


Now I’m happy I never played this game.


What’s wrong with stuns and hampering enemy movement?


in almost any game (especially where Hyperawareness and Adrenaline is a factor), when you’re hit with an ability that removes your ability to interface with the game.

Nobody likes those death scenes when they play out, making them effectively longer is putting salt in the wound.