Blizzard said that the new Role Queue system for Overwatch will help make sure that matches remain “fair and fun,” but the jury is still out on whether the change is good for the long-term health of the multiplayer shooter.
The Role Queue system is designed to ease the tension at the start of Quick Play and Competitive Play matches, when players select their heroes while responding to the choices of others to create a formidable team, according to Blizzard. Under the new system, players will first choose the kind of hero that they want to play — Damage, Support, or Tank — and they will be matched into a group of two Damage heroes, two Support heroes, and two Tank heroes.
The three roles will have their own queue, with estimates provided for the waiting time of each one. Blizzard said that players who line up in roles that have high demand may get rewards, and for Competitive Play, each role will earn separate Skill Ratings.
Role Queue is currently available in the public test region on Overwatch for the PC, with a two-week beta from August 13 to September 1 for addition testing and feedback. The system will then be fully available in Quick Play and Competitive Play starting September 1 for the start of Competitive Season 18. The change, however, will be implemented in all Overwatch League matches in Stage 4, which starts on July 25.
The pending addition of the Role Queue system is expected to change the Overwatch landscape, and its sudden entry into the Overwatch League will shake up the metagame. The new feature appears to be a reaction to GOATS, a strategy named after the team that popularized it, that rolls out three Tank heroes and three Support heroes.
GOATS was effective, but it was not considered fun to watch as there were no flashy plays from popular Damage heroes such as Tracer and Genji. While game director Jeff Kaplan tried to dispel any misconception that the implementation of the system is due to a desire to change the Overwatch League metagame, the fact is that Role Queue effectively kills the GOATS strategy, and brings back Damage heroes to the spotlight.
The Role Queue system may have its merits, but there are concerns that queue times in Quick Play and Competitive Play may be too long for Tank heroes and Support heroes, as most players want to use Damage heroes. In addition, the feature eliminates flex Overwatch League players who specialize in switching between roles depending on team’s need.
Blizzard is attempting to patch up some problems in Overwatch through the Role Queue system, but fans will have to wait and see whether the feature will benefit the game in the long run.