Overwatch’s Capture the Flag is a rare misstep for Blizzard
Overwatch’s latest seasonal event – Year of the Rooster – has been live for nearly a week now and still has two weeks to go.
As usual, the cosmetic items that can be acquired, particularly the Journey to the West ones, are of a high quality. Players have come to expect that Blizzard will provide fans with new and exciting content.
It’s a part of the reason that Overwatch has been and remains so successful. With over 25 million players, Blizzard has obviously hit on a winning formula.
Along with new cosmetics, Season Events carry another expectation. Brawls.
Last year we were given Lucio Ball, Junkenstein’s Revenge and Mei’s Snowball Offensive. Each and every one featured a new and interesting way to play that differed enough from the standard Overwatch experience while not undermining what made it so good in the first place.
Capture the Rooster – Year of the Rooster’s Brawl – isn’t as successful. It can be a lot of fun and it’s undeniably an interesting spin on the Overwatch formula, but it’s highly flawed. Jeff Kaplan admitted as much in the developer update and said “Overwatch works best when there’s a single objective.”
In Capture the Rooster, teams need to both attack and defend at the same time. It splits teams up, lessens their effectiveness and renders some heroes almost useless while others are superstars.
Ever since she was updated, Symmetra has become a much more viable character in standard play. Although she was nerfed slightly recently, her turrets still pack a wallop. In Capture the Rooster she has become almost unstoppable. Especially considering that Capture the Rooster takes place exclusively on Lijiang Tower. The flags are located behind walls or architecture that allows her to create a nearly impenetrable laser grid, stopping almost all attempts by the enemy.
Other defensive heroes like Torbjorn and Bastion are similarly effective. Heroes that don’t fare so well include Ana, Widowmaker, Mcree, Hanzo, Sombra and Mercy. In a standard Overwatch game, these heroes all have a place and a job to do, but in Capture the Rooster, their effectiveness is dramatically reduced. They’re not offensive enough to capture the flag nor are they defensive enough to effectively protect their own.
That’s not to say that playing with them is impossible, it’s just that they’re not well suited to the mode. Or perhaps the mode isn’t well suited to Overwatch’s roster.
Having put around 8-10 hours into the new Brawl I’ve seen a majority of teams consisting of Symmetra, Torbjorn, Bastion, Winston, Genji and Pharah. There have been variations, but this seems to be the go to line-up. When both teams have this roster the inevitable outcome is a draw. If one team has a much higher skill level than the other, then the match is over before anyone even knows what’s happening.
Capture the Rooster isn’t terrible, but it’s an anomaly in that the balancing that keeps Overwatch so engaging in regular play is absent. It’s also telling that despite the mode being fresh and occasionally nail biting, it feels like a failure.
Blizzard has done such an amazing job with its regular content that anything less than stellar seems sub-par. Blizzard will of course be watching, analysing and listening to fan feedback on Capture the Rooster and will use the information to improve future Brawls.
It’s a shame that the first event for 2017 hasn’t been perfect, but less than perfect in Overwatch is still a far cry better than most.
How are you finding Capture the Rooster?