Overwatch announces new Deathmatch mode, and all hell may break loose

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    Overwatch gave FPS some fresh air with cartoony action, likeable heroes, dedicated team play, and wonderful strategy battles. Now it’s gone old fashioned, bringing back Deathmatch. Get excited!

    Deathmatch, the old staple of FPS from the glory days of Doom, Unreal Tournament, and Quake III Arena, remains super popular.

    And why not? Every man for himself or straight team killing is simple fun. Racking up kills and topping leaderboards always feels good. Call of Duty has made an empire from team deathmatch and most multiplayer FPS games have some variation of this.

    This will be great for letting you play freely without worrying too much about team compositions – think Hanzo or Genji or even poor old Widowmaker (who gets her own deathmatch map too and some new lore).

    No need to worry if your picks upset your team! No complaints!

    So, why now? Well, this might just be an attempt by Blizzard to head off some big name competition. Deathmatch was definitely not a thing not that long ago and looked like not being a thing at all, but now it suddenly it is.

    Could it be here to head-off deathmatch heavyweight Quake Champions, or the just-released Lawbreaker? From the makers of Gears of War, this new title borrows heavily from Overwatch in its gameplay style which probably has annoyed a few Blizzard folks.

    There’s a possibility that the Overwatch overlords think that this will be a boon for console players as well, where plenty of people have grown up on Halo or Call of Duty and so on. It’s only fair that these guys want to play their heroes and simply shoot ’em up. And that’s perfectly fine, just not in Quickplay.

    The mix of heroes presents some interesting choices. Team Deathmatch is currently 4 versus 4 so the meta mix of 2-2-2 now becomes something much more fluid, like one tank and one healer and DPS heroes.

    Playing solo in straight deathmatch makes me think heroes like Reaper, Solider76, Pharah, the newly-buffed Junkrat, Mei, Bastion, Roadhog, and Zarya, will be natural choices for their solo gunning strengths or self-healing abilities. Mercy’s ultimate no longer revives, which would be amazingly weird in a free-for-all, removes kill credit from the enemy team. If you can manage to get your ult in quick time and find a group, you’ll be set.

    It’s going to be super fun to explore the mix of heroes that consistently hug the top of the kill boards in the straight free-for-alls.

    Of course, fragmenting the userbase will be tricky for Overwatch. Games in the Arcade can already take a long time to search – capture the flag, another classic staple of older FPS games, seems on death’s door in that regards.

    On the esports front, nothing will change too quickly while the new mode is felt out. Overwatch’s competitive modes suit complex teamplay and are juicy for watching and broadcasting. Deathmatch might be fun to test out compositions and staying-alive-while-killing-them strategies, but without a payload or a point, it probably won’t impact the competitive scene too much.

    Seeing how it goes will be interesting – there’s a chance it doesn’t survive beyond a narrow window, or could come back as an annual event like LĂșcioball. In the meantime, I have some heroes to try out…

    Tristan Rayner
    Tristan Rayner

    Tristan is a writer, consultant, racing enthusiast and former Editor of The Roar who has turned the Melbourne Cup into a year-round study via racingtalk.com.au.