Overwatch, on its surface, is a fantastic video game. The heroes are diverse, the gameplay is thrilling and the amount of depth hidden beneath the surface is staggering. There is no other way to put it, Overwatch may just be the best team shooter game out there, period.
There is however a serious problem, or rather an unintentional side effect of how the game gives players feedback during a game. Overwatch tries too hard to give you nothing but positive reinforcement. You’re doing great and everyone else on your team is the reason you’re going to lose.
When you hit an enemy, regardless of damage caused, you are considered part of that elimination. This means that when they die, you get a message on screen saying “Eliminated Blazeit420". Now there’s nothing inheritently wrong with that, but unless you got the killing blow, surely you merely assisted in eliminating as opposed to eliminated them outright.
Keep doing this and you’ll start getting messages about killing sprees, even if you merely grazed them with a single bullet, you’re on a killing spree!
You may think I am being needlessly nit picky, and you may be right, but this isn’t the only thing the game does to make you feel good. It does nothing but.
Death in this game is mechanically a big deal. You are out of the game for 10 seconds and have to walk back to the action. This trek can be the difference between winning and losing a game. The thing is, deaths are not glorified in Overwatch, and the kill feed is deactivated by default…for some completely stupid reason.
There’s zero way to see how many times others have died, therefore it’s very hard to call people out and suggest they choose another hero. You alone can see your death count, and it’s the only negative statistic on your stat screen.
The rest of the stats listed are ranked and medals are presented based on your performance within the team. Gold means you’re the best at that particular stat and so on.
The true issue here is the constant positive reinforcement. It is a corrosive in disguise, one the makes a team game into a comparison of medals and narcissism where everyone else is wrong and you are right. Why do I keep getting put with bad players, why is matchmaking so broken etc.
How many times have you been in a game and seen a teammate ask another to switch, only for that person to say “I have multiple gold medals so I am not the problem.”
Medals in reality are only useful gauges of contribution in a small amount of cases. A player using Lucio who has gold damage is a sign that something is wrong, a Roadhog with gold healing means the supports need to step up their game.
What medals don’t tell you is how effective you’re being in any given scenario. Things change on the fly in Overwatch, you have to counter and be flexible in order to fight back.
A Junkrat saying they have gold damage is pointless if the enemy team has a Pharah that is countering him continuously. The Junkrat could have 5 gold medals and still not understand that they need to switch to another hero to be more effective. The effectiveness of your hero is the most paramount concern during any game, and that knowledge is what sets apart lower and higher tier players.
I don't know how they fix this, or if it's just something that bothers me given how much competitive I play, but toxic games are becoming increasingly common and because people hardly ever admit they might be at fault, everyone will just keep bouncing around competitive SR.