Imagine, for a moment, a world in which Overwatch allowed you to select a role - tank, support, DPS, etc - and hop into a match expressly for the purpose of playing that role. No more squabbling over who does what. Peace. Quiet. Serenity.
People have asked, but Blizzard hasn't delivered. Here's why.
During an interview with Jeff Kaplan at Blizzard HQ earlier this week, I asked the Overwatch director why the game doesn't have role-based match queuing, even though it sure seems like it'd solve a lot of headaches.
Kaplan replied that his team's discussed it at length, but they don't think Overwatch is ready for something like that yet.
"There's two versions the community has proposed, and neither is fully satisfactory to me," said Kaplan. "One is the honour system version where I queue up as a tank, but actually I want to play McCree, and the game lets me do that since Overwatch is very much about fluidly responding to the enemy team's composition. The other version is that it locks you in. I think that also hurts the spirit of the game."
He added that he thinks those ideas are good "starting points," but they're flanked by minefields. He pointed to the pitfalls of a similar feature in World of Warcraft: the group finder, which lets people queue up for dungeons, raids, and PVP matches according to a number of factors that include players' roles.
"The issue I have with it right now, which we would run into if we're not careful, is that tanks and healers get matched just like that," Kaplan said.
"It takes a second and you're in a dungeon. But if you say you're DPS, it takes like 30 minutes. I don't think that's what people are expecting right now. So I want to be careful."
Kaplan stressed, however, that he thinks the complaints that have led people to ask for role-based queuing are valid. He just wants to solve some of the problems people think role-based queuing would address before trying to implement such a system.
That starts with grouping. Kaplan figures that if people grouped-up more, they'd find more people amenable to the idea of letting them play the roles and heroes they actually enjoy playing, rather than being disappointed by the hands that fate (and matchmaking) deal them.
The problem, he explained, is that Overwatch doesn't do a great job of helping players find people they'd actually want to group up with right now.
"I do think people know what role they want to play before they play, I do think people would have more fun playing in a premade group than just sort of randomly hoping the matchmaker finds them someone with the same values as them, and I do think people's reasons for not wanting to group are actually valid right now," he said.
"I think we need to address all those things at once before we can just get to a role queue."