Overwatch: The Comp Matchmaking System

I have a lot of strong and mixed feelings about Overwatch, most of which will come out in posts here on Robot Follow. For the moment though, lets focus on the terrible matchmaking system in the games competitive mode, and how it really screws everyone over when someone choses to rage quit the game.

This night started like any other. I decided to solo queue in Overwatch competitive, which is always stupid. No one uses mics, communicates or plays well together.  It’s a perfect storm when you actually get a team that wins. But tonight was an evening of people rage quitting like I have never seen before.

In the above clip you can see someone leaves the game just shy of 4 minutes into a match. We weren’t even losing, they just up and quit. Now I can give them the benefit of the doubt and say they were booted from the server for some reason, but they still would have been able to rejoin, which is why I think they left of their own misguided free will. Somehow though, we managed to not only hold the objective as a 5 person team of mutes, but also pushed in hard enough to win the game in the following round. This is the one positive game I could publish. The other say… 15? Those were a hot mess.

I had a game where we were winning capture points 2-0, and when we lost one match 4 people on my team quit. I’ve been in Platinum (level 2500) games where the matchmaker places me with people still unranked, and it’s always the same outcome. Weather on my team or the opposing, if they begin to lose, they quit. Leaving the team shorthanded. In most cases though it’s someone on your team unhappy with the pics of your other characters which causes them to flame on and leave the game. There are lots of reasons, but in playing tonight, I don’t think I played a single game where someone on my team or the other didn’t leave, and this is a problem.

The issue here is that Blizzard, the makers of Overwatch, don’t really do anything about it when someone throws the game like this. The losing team is still docked SR (Season Ranking) the points which determine rank, at the same level as though a fair game had been played. Tonight I dropped 150sr because of this, in another night a month ago I lost 400sr in one sitting. All due to poor sportsmanship on the part of other players. These players who quit however receive no lasting punishment. They lose SR as though they lost the match, and maybe get a ban of 8 minutes before they can play again, and ruin someone else’s day.

It’s far worse on a console where I play than on a PC, because there is no way at all to report players in any way, shape or form to Blizzard, Sony or Microsoft. I’ve spoken with all 3 companies and they have all given me statements saying it’s not possible to monitor that on a console. But, really, it is. Call of Duty and the Tom Clancy games can have players reprimanded and banned from console games. But even of we can’t have that system in place, why is the SR calculator so broken that it punishes the losing team so much for trying to play with a disadvantage? The winning team gets the same SR as though they fought 6 players, why then can the game not correct the amount for the losing team when it drops to 5, 4 or 2?

There are many fundamentals broken in Overwatch, but this is one that should take precedence over many others. Especially before they introduce more game modes, characters, and make silly changes to the game like the way a characters pants look when they emote.

Review: Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon – Wildlands

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon® Wildlands - Open Beta_20170225214411I’d like to start off by pointing out how miraculous it is that since his death in 2013 former game designer and novelist Tom Clancy seems to be able to still put out a new game every year. I hope I’m that active when I pass away.

As close to Sarah Connor as the game would allow, which is actually pretty close.
As close to Sarah Connor as the game would allow, which is actually pretty close.

Right off the bat we need to make one thing clear about Ghost Recon: Wildlands, it’s pretty much The Division. At least it’s everything The Division should have been. It’s also a little GTA5 when you drive anything, and feel very Far Cry with the missions and factions, but we’ll get to that in good time.

The driving feels a lot like your in GTA, and the car physics are more cartoon and feel out of place in this game.
The driving feels a lot like your in GTA, and the car physics are more cartoon and feel out of place in this game.
This was moments before I fully flipped the vehicle, the NPC's popped out for a split second before the game noticed I had recovered, and then teleported everyone back inside. Also the vehicle took little to zero damage from this fall.
This was moments before I fully flipped the vehicle, the NPC’s popped out for a split second before the game noticed I had recovered, and then teleported everyone back inside. Also the vehicle took little to zero damage from this fall.

The character generator for the game is where you start off. It’s actually nicely dumbed down from other games Ubisoft has made recently, which is quite nice. I of course opted to make my character looks as much like Sarah Connor form Terminator 2 as possible. Looking at the options I was provided, it seems like this can only be what the developers had in mind, so I went with it. I did have the option of fancy backpacks, ghillie suits, and fancy pants, but I opted for simple all black. I was disappointed I couldn’t get the aviator glasses right away, which would have made my character look uncanny to her T2 counterpart. I think I did pretty good anyway.

The game looks and plays a lot like The Division
The game looks and plays a lot like The Division

The game engine itself looks very much like everything they rolled out for The Division, which is about 6 months old at the writing of this article. You’re in a third person viewpoint until you look down sights, and the world around looks fairly pretty. I have zero complaints about how this game looks, and surprisingly little about how it plays.

The Squad leveling menu. If you're playing solo this is a necessity, but I believe a waste of skill points if you'll be playing online with friends.
The Squad leveling menu. If you’re playing solo this is a necessity, but I believe a waste of skill points if you’ll be playing online with friends.

Moving your character is easy, targeting and aiming are the same. Which is actually a huge step up from the fumbling around in recent Ubisoft shooters. It feels somewhere between The Division and Tomb Raider, smack in between the both of those. Switching weapons is fast and easy, as is targeting enemy characters.

What I find unique in this game is the AI which follow you around and help you complete missions. They aren’t as stupid and dependent on you as previous Rainbow 6 games, they move semi fluidly with you, and if they don’t I found they just sort of appear where they need to be. It’s nice to have a mechanic in game that works as well as this does, because the game is really meant to be played online with friends or strangers. I’ve been prompted several times in games to join a “random” game or invite friends, but it’s nice to have the option to play solo.

Here's a sample of the game map, and you can see how similar it looks to previous Tom Clancy game, and even Far Cry in terms of how the missions are spread and their types.
Here’s a sample of the game map, and you can see how similar it looks to previous Tom Clancy game, and even Far Cry in terms of how the missions are spread and their types.
A first look at the factions you can align yourself with.
A first look at the factions you can align yourself with.

The gameplay on the other hand I cannot praise as much as the aesthetics and mechanics. It plays just like every other game of the genre, all of the missions kind of feel the same. There are multiple things to do at any time, multiple factions you can murder people to impress, and all kinds of small kill and fetch quests to gain XP for the inevitable character leveling. There’s just nothing that makes it stand out, it’s very formulaic, and for that it hits all the right notes, but had it hit some new ones it would be more worth the initial price tag.

I played Until Dawn, until dawn.

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Last weekend was pretty technologically rough for me, and being without the Internet I did what anyone in my position would do, I went down to my local video game store and bought a copy of the 2015 horror video game Until Dawn. Then played it until I was done, which worked out to be dawn the following morning.

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Until Dawn is brought to us by Supermassive Games. Creators of such memorable content as Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock, Killzone (The HD remaster), and Little Big Planet 2 (the PS Vita port only). So… you know, it’s those guys. If you haven’t heard of any of those games, don’t feel bad no one else has either. And they don’t matter, because we’re here to talk about Until Dawn!

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The premise of the game is simple, a group of teens go into a cabin in the woods, and things go wrong. They return a year later on the anniversary for the last year’s horrific events, and more horror ensues. This may seem like a story you’ve heard before, even the characters themselves may seem familiar. The jock, the bitch, the geek, the innocent girl and so on. But let me assure you that there is little about them you have seen before. The game uses all of the classic horror tropes to lull you into thinking one thing, and then violently shifts you into another direction. And it does a wonderful job of it.

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The game is based around a choice system, meaning what you do at certain points will directly effect the game later on. Though the story is linear, it could pan out in any number of ways as it has dozens of branching paths. The game equates this to the butterfly effect; a butterfly flaps its wings in one part of the world, and a hurricane hits somewhere else instead of sun shine. At it’s simplest definition that is how the game works. However I get the strong impression that the developers watched a scene from Jurassic Park to get their full definition of how the Butter fly Effect actually works. Wherever the source, the game engine works pretty well. Most game changing events are obvious as they are about to happen, but the trick is you don’t know what they will effect nor do you know when that effect will happen.

This game mechanic is very similar to the 2010 Quantic Dream game Heavy Rain. In fact some gamers think that the same team made Until Dawn because elements of the games seems pretty close to one another. It’s the execution and pacing of Until Dawn that sets it far apart from its predecessor.

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It’s a very cool game, and very well designed. The cast of real actors like Hayden Panettiere and Peter Stormare make the game feel all the more like you’re watching an actual high-end horror movie, and not just playing a linear video game. For a console the graphic rendering is also far above what I would have expected, and the sets, atmosphere and sound really make this someone that should be experienced in a home theatre setting or with a nice pair of headphones.

I had a great time playing through the game, and would recommend it to anyone who would like a solid 10 hours of being entertained, and maybe a little spooked along the way.