By Michael Mendis
Welcome to our Overwatch series! Overwatch is a fast-paced, colorful, team-based shooter that we are playing with gamers as part of our outreach efforts to the gaming community. This series takes a look at some of the key aspects and strategies of the game. This second part focuses on the different game modes that are playable in the game. Click here if you’d like to read the first part, focusing on the game’s Heroes (now updated to include the latest character, Sombra).
On Assault maps, one team plays on offense and the other on defense. The goal for the offense is to capture two points on the map before time runs out; the defense’s objective is to stop them. Each point must be captured sequentially; if the offense manages to take the first point, time is added to the clock as the fight shifts to the second point. Typically speaking, maps are designed in such a way that the first point is easier to capture (more routes and ways to flank defenders), while the second point is easier to defend (fewer side paths for attackers to exploit, and a closer spawn point for the defense); this is generally true for Escort and Hybrid maps as well, game types that also feature attacking vs. defending teams.
On Escort maps, the team on offense needs to push a payload (a car, truck, or other vehicle depending on the map) past several checkpoints on their way to the final destination, and the defense has to hold them back. The payload is moved forward by one or more attackers standing on or near the vehicle, as long as no defenders are near as well; if the defense can keep the attackers off the payload for a time, the vehicle will slowly roll back towards the previous checkpoint. Each time a checkpoint is reached, time is added to the clock.
Hybrid maps are a combination of Assault and Escort. The first objective is an assault point that the offense must capture, and from there they move a payload the rest of the way to the end of the map.
On Control maps, each team fights for control over a single point. The first team to hold the point until their counter reaches 100% wins the round; a new round then begins at one of two other parts of the map, and the team that wins the best of three rounds (or best of five in ranked play) wins the match. Unlike Assault, Escort, or Hybrid, each Control map is completely symmetrical, so that no team has an advantage. And since both teams are fighting over the same spot, a mix of both offense characters and defense characters will usually be necessary to win a match.
Elimination is radically different from the other game types listed above; rather than fighting over varying objectives, the goal here is to kill the enemy players in order to win a round. Each team is made up of three players, and there are no respawns; once a player is dead, all they can do is spectate the surviving player(s) on their team until one side runs out of players and loses the round. The first team to win three rounds wins the match. While there are a wide variety of strategies that can be successfully employed in this game type, having someone who can heal themselves, if not others as well, is a crucial element; if you run low on health and have no way to heal, it can become next to impossible to mount a comeback when outnumbered.
Another special aspect of Elimination is that, as of this writing, only one map, Ecopoint: Antarctica, is used for this game type. Like Control maps, Antarctica is perfectly symmetrical, but unlike any of the other maps in the game, it doesn’t have any health packs, thus further emphasizing the importance of having healing abilities amongst your teammates.
Mystery Duel is essentially a one-on-one version of Elimination, where the players fight it out in a best of nine match. Like Elimination, Mystery Duel matches take place exclusively at Ecopoint: Antarctica; unlike Elimination, players don’t get to choose their character. Rather, both players are the same character, and the computer switches that character at the start of each round.
Be sure to check back next month when we take a close look at each of the game’s maps!