Overwatch devs reveal why controversial mode was cut from Overwatch 2

Overwatch devs reveal why controversial mode was cut from Overwatch 2
Blizzard Entertainment

Written by 

Sascha Heinisch

Published 

10th Aug 2023 20:00

About ten months ago, the Overwatch experience changed considerably.

Attempting to add value by subtraction and with the launch of Overwatch 2, several features were weighed and found left wanting. Besides the controversial removal of a tank slot, a polarising game mode also didn’t make the cut in Blizzard's new game.

During a developer panel, Overwatch Game Director Aaron Keller elaborated upon the decision of why Assault/2CP was cut from the active map rotation with the introduction of Overwatch 2.

What is Assault?

Spawn room in Assault map Paris, Robot on stage
Click to enlarge

Assault, often called two capture points (2CP) by the community, was one of the initial game modes that Overwatch launched with.

With a pool of five different maps in Hanamura, Temple of Anubis, Volskaya Industries, Paris, and Horizon Lunar Colony, the game mode made up a significant amount of content of the game but was replaced by the game mode Push upon Overwatch 2’s release in October 2022.

The map featured two different capture points attackers had to capture while defenders attempted to stop them from achieving said goal.

If both teams managed to cap both points during their attack phase, the mode would go into another round of attacks. 

This could potentially loop several times, causing the match time to fluctuate significantly.

From stomps during which one team got an attack done in two fights and held their defence to games that would go on for several rounds, with requiring hero setup phases and adding additional time onto the game clock, 2CP was certainly inconsistent.

The reasons for the removal of 2CP

Lifeweaver
Click to enlarge

While some justification for the removal of the game mode was given, the details remained on a surface level.

During the initial announcement of the removal, the beta patch notes in late April 2022 stated:

“After examining all our maps and game modes, we noted that the Assault game mode has always been a source of discontent for many members of our community. We believe many of the issues for the Assault maps could only be solved by making major changes to the game mode and major reworks to the maps, resulting in complete level rebuilds. We’ve shifted our focus to create maps in exciting new locations across the world such as Toronto and Rome.”

As in the patch notes, Game Director of Overwatch 2, Aaron Keller reiterated ahead of Season 6 that his team had tried several times to make the game mode work, though the project was eventually deemed too much of a time sink in comparison to where the development team could add value elsewhere.

We really weren’t able to solve it without totally redoing those maps. So we had to move away from the game mode because we just didn’t feel like internally for all our different ranks of players that it was actually serving them in a way that we think the rest of the game modes do.

According to Keller, one of the major issues with the game mode was the prevalence of so-called stomps, a term used for matches which are dominated by one team and feel unbalanced from a match-making perspective.

Worse yet, the issue was present at all levels of play, as Keller explained:

“As far as 2CP goes, that to me wasn’t a high-skill or a low-skill issue. One of the things we’ve been talking a lot with our community about lately is the presence of stomps in Overwatch matches.

“Sometimes it feels like one team is ranked much higher than the other team. A lot of the times you will get complaints from players that it almost feels like a match-making problem.

 “2CP was a game mode that really sharpened that problem. We tried for a really long time to do it. If you think about 2CP, the attacking team could win in two team fights.”

The underlying goal appears to be in line with Blizzard’s recent focus on improving the matchmaking experience.

The development team has released several update blogs on the subject in recent months.

Moreover, in a recent blog post called “Director’s Take” in which Aaron Keller shares thoughts around recent Overwatch community talking points, he addressed the issue as well.

He explained that while the matchmaker does contribute to the balance of each individual match, they also realised that even in games during which teams are evenly matched, stomps could still occur:

“We are continually working on our matchmaker, but the biggest gains for perceived competitiveness in Overwatch lies in looking at our core mechanics and game modes and making adjustments here.”

It appears that 2CP was one of the game modes with a set of circumstances that facilitated stomps to occur too often. With no easy and efficient solutions available, the team opted to invest in new ideas such as its new game mode Flashpoint.

For more on Overwatch 2, check out what Aaron Keller says the team has learned since launch, as well as his comments on the sheer volume of content coming in Season 6.

Sascha "Yiska" Heinisch is a Senior Esports Journalist at GGRecon. He's been creating content in esports for over 10 years, starting with Warcraft 3.

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