Blizzard has done it again. Overwatch’s Deathmatch mode – against all odds – is a triumph. It was always going to be touch and go as to whether the game could make the transition. It does so with aplomb.
Overwatch is so well designed and so well balanced that Deathmatch works, even though it probably shouldn’t. I’ve read some comments and opinions that the mode sucks. That couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s not flawless and I can understand some criticism, but it’s far from bad.
Château Gaillard is a masterclass of level design and the revamped existing maps are surprisingly good. I found sections of the map, usually unexplored or seldom used in Quick Play becoming hot beds of activity. Deathmatch makes everything old feel new again and brings a hell of a lot of fun to Overwatch. Something it already has in spades.
You could be forgiven for thinking that team composition is less important in Deathmatch. Especially with no objective, but I disagree. Having two fewer players on your team and an opposing force with only one objective means team comp matters more than ever. Case in point. In a Team Deathmatch game, our team was Tracer (me), Zenyatta, Junkrat and Roadhog.
In TDM this is a pretty balanced team. It has plenty of DPS, healing potential and mobility.
The enemy team was composed of Widowmaker, Junkrat, McCree and Reaper. Another decent team comp, but without a healer, my team should have had the upper hand. We lost though. The reason why is due a few reasons, but largely poor game sense and team comp.
The enemy Widowmaker managed to get a few quick kills in the beginning. Instead of using his Concussion Mines to get up high and disrupt her, Junkrat switched to Sombra. Not an issue in and of itself, but having both Tracer and Sombra in TDM isn’t ideal. They’re both mobile and can deal out damage, but they’re both squishy and both fill a flanking role.
To make matters worse, McCree was making short work of our Roadhog and he made the classic mistake of trying to counter an enemy with the same character. Our team comp was shot and all the switching meant we lost far too much ult-charge. In the end, we lost because we didn’t work as a team.
Therein lies the biggest issue I’ve found with Deathmatch. You need to play with at least a three stack, but four is obviously best. TDM leans so heavily on team comp and team work that a lone wolf, even one who can carry, is going to mess it up for your team. In Free-For-All, none of these problems exist, though it’s much more chaotic. I found it difficult to settle into a rhythm. Although, that is likely in-part due to my lack of map knowledge.
Some criticism has been levelled at Deathmatch due to not all heroes being viable. Again, I disagree. In Free-For-All, some heroes do seem to have a slight edge, but then again, simply being outplayed doesn’t count. I’d only argue that Ana, Mercy, Zarya, Orisa and Reinhardt have a tough time in Free-For-All. That being said, I’m sure there are mains for each of those heroes who disagree with me.
By the same token, there are some heroes who are not suited to Team Deathmatch. Doomfist is a beast in Free-For-All, but in TDM, team shooting renders him impotent fairly quickly. Tracer works better in TDM, but can still be very deadly in Free-For-All and the same is true of Reaper. Each and every character has abilities and skills that make them viable in their own right. In the hands of the right player, each hero can be effective in both Deathmatch modes.
Having played a few hours already my picks for top heroes and team comps thus far are;
- Soldier 76
- Zenyatta, Zarya, Junkrat, Soldier 76
- Lucio, Zarya, Reaper, Pharah
- Ana, Orisa, Tracer, Roadhog
These are just my personal favourites and teams I’ve seen work. Under the right (or wrong) circumstances they could be easily as bad as they are good.
That’s the beauty of Deathmatch and Overwatch more broadly. It’s an ever evolving beast. Not just the meta, but within each match. And Deathmatch is a distilled example.
I for one am all for Deathmatch and think it’ll be my new game of choice for a while. At least until the competitive bug bites again.