Overwatch Is Becoming Unplayable

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Overwatch got a much needed boost with the introduction of role queuing, but as the months have rolled on there's a problem. If you're Australian, the game is slowly becoming completely unplayable.

It's an issue Blizzard saw coming. "If you say you're DPS, it takes like 30 minutes. I don't think that's what people are expecting right now," game director Jeff Kaplan told Kotaku last year, before the current role queuing system was enabled. "I don't think that's what people are expecting right now."

Mostly, the system works. But in smaller regions, particularly countries like Australia, the queue times are quickly becoming brutal. It's not so bad if you're a tank - queue times are generally two or three minutes max - but if you've got a full stack of six players, or even three or four spread across multiple roles, it's not uncommon to cop a 10 minute wait.

The queue times are approaching Metro Trains' definition of "on time", but what's really ruining the experience is what happens when you get connected. Increasingly over the last week, players have been redirected to Asian or even American servers, both in quick play and competitive modes, without warning. Prominent Australian Overwatch players, like former ORDER support main Jarrod "Frogger" Meredith," have been running into the issue, but American players have been getting matched onto Australian servers as well.

Lag is never something anyone wants to play with, especially when Blizzard has plenty of servers in Australia to play one. It makes some characters, particularly hitscan or snipers, much harder to play, if not completely unplayable. It's an especially rough experience if you've waited an aeon with friends to get into the game in the first place, only to find yourself immediately at a disadvantage.

Not how anyone wants to start a match.

It all highlights why the rework to Overwatch's skirmish mode is so essential. From today, players will be able to play deathmatch, hit up the practice range, or custom games while queuing. The update will include the long awaited nerfs to shields, tweaks designed to lower "the overall amount time players spend damaging barriers".

But the tweaks are really only papering over the bigger problem: players are waiting way, way longer than they should. And it's not a problem that can be solved with things to fiddle with in between matches, like a training range. It's a problem caused by a lack of players, and a lack of flexibility in bringing those players together.

Systems like role locking make sense globally, but small regions like Australia are disproportionately hurt by the change. It creates a vicious cycle as well: if more players aren't brought into the fold, and queue times don't improve, eventually players will tire of the experience. Overwatch's biggest hook is giving you a competitive shooter in short, bite-sized chunks that fit into your life. The more those chunks grow with queue times and unsatisfactory experiences, the quicker people will leave.


Comments

    Ah, the 'on time' definition is intimately familiar with someone has spent a couple of decades catching Sydney trains. Its nice to see American players suffering lag too. Thats one thing that always amused me about FFXI, was listening to the complaints. 'Now you know how the rest of the world feels when we get stuck on East Coast servers'.

      Remember when Americans were trying to claim that playing on 200ms was actually an advantage

        That would be like saying rubberbanding in WoW or Anthem is a feature!

        I mean it was in Overwatch as an offensive character back in the day thanks to the game favoring the shooter really hard, so like early Siege you got a massive peeker's advantage

        It is on some games with client side hit detection *coughbf4* and bad netcode in general.

    I used to be a DPS player, but sadly that isn't an option for me anymore.

    In quick play, Blizzard should consider a balancing system whereby priority is given to people that haven't played a particular role in a while. If you play DPS 95% of the time you have to have a couple of rounds of Support or Tank to bring your queue time down.

      I agree. They need to implement a role priority feature where each person will select their preferred, secondary and third roles in that order. It would pull queue times down massively and ensure that your not getting trolled by the same person in every game in the same role. Like right now i prefer to play dps, but i also like to play support as well.

      In saying that, the salt in the games may also run high due to the "why are you playing that character, they're/your crap" complaints I've been seeing from my random team mates to other randoms.

      Lag has been really noticeable as late, although majority of games i have been having haven't been that greatly affected, it really makes you question playing when it does happen.

    Why would you implement this sytem into quickplay? thats just stupid

      It has made quick play games more reliable; you get a lot less teams that instalock Hanzo/Doomfist/Widow/Tracer, one healer and the one person left over who goes "wow guess I'm playing a tank then".

        Why isn't there a casual queue where you can just play whatever hero you want, even if it means a full team of six Genjis, like in the good old days?

          That appears in Arcade sometimes ("No Limits").

    I got fed up with the unfair lobbies. You either got smashed or smashed the other team. Never any close games.

      Yeah, as soon as I start six stacking with friends on a server, we start getting matched up with other 6 stacks that literally include people in top 500. We have NO BUSINESS going up against that skill level and we get annihilated. On one occassion, we got crushed, waited like 5 minutes for another match.... and got paired with the exact same godstack again. Daddy Jeff could have at least remove the wait time if he wants to keep offering us up like sacrificial lambs in his broken queuing system.

    Arcade = Classic Quick Play or Mystery Hero's are my preferred game modes nowadays.

    I don't mind playing Tank or Support in standard Quick Play but, as the article says wait times for DPS suuuucks

    So they've done with this game the exact same thing that has been done with WoW since they added group/raid finding. Not a surprise. (1 tank, 1 healer, 3 dps)

    I loved this game when it first came out, stopped playing around the time Moira came in, just fell out of love with it, and the players where so toxic and screamy. Typically just people screaming at others to play the way they wanted them to, or to go a character that they themselves would never play.

    I was interested in overwatch 2, but it honestly just looks like DLC to the existing game, and that's a cesspool I'd rather not wade back into

    What happened to the good old days of dedicated servers.....

    Overwatch went downhill when they stopped supports being the backbone.

    Lucio/mercy meta was beast, as it rewarded tactics and raw mechanics, not cooldowns.

    Even a solid mercy res meant nothing of you had a decent widow, or the mechanics to bait a rez then counter with a combo ult.

    It was also a simpler game without so many heroes or maps.
    Also it rewarded flex players.

    High diamond was easy to reach when you could flex between off tank, off support and off dps in one match.

    They ruined the game by listening to dps mains and ramping the power of abilities.

    They didn't need more heroes, they needed more versatile game modes and less linear maps.

    Last edited 11/12/19 2:11 pm

    Interesting, I play only DPS these days. The longest wait at any time for me is about 10minutes. I'd say maybe 1 - 30 games I'm effected by bad ping (Sydney based).

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