Games

'Overwatch' and Anger Issues

I get angry in Overwatch not because I hate to lose, but because most of the time when I do lose, I can see so clearly how the loss could have been avoided.


Overwatch

Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Release Date: 2016-05-24
URL

I am not an angry man. In fact, I consider myself to be quite level-headed. Even so, I think Overwatch is giving me anger issues.

I’ve been getting very hostile while playing Overwatch, Blizzard’s latest action-shooter game, and I’ve been trying to figure out why. So I verbally assault my teammates? No. Do I swear like a drunk sailor in chat and curse the gods who put four Hanzos on my team when playing against two Tracers, two Genjis, and two Winstons? Absolutely. What were they thinking? Seriously.

I know the feeling of losing, intimately, and it’s something that I’m comfortable with. I’ve still been playing Dark Souls III lately, happily invading and dying against my fellow players. I’ve also been completing a pacifist run of the game, so I know what it’s like to try and fail. I get angry in Overwatch not because I hate to lose, but because most of the time when I do lose, I can see so clearly how the loss could have been avoided.

Overwatch is a remarkably simple game. Most of the modes require capturing and holding a point for a set amount of time, and occasionally you’ll have to push a vehicle to some point farther into one of a handful of maps. Each team has only six players per side and games last, on average, ten minutes or so. Even the aesthetics are charming, like they were designed to reduce stress.

It’s this very simplicity that makes lopsided defeats so frustrating. See, I’ve been playing League of Legends for years. I’ve lost hundreds and hundreds of games, predominantly as support. Just this week, I lost three in a row. As a support, while it’s easy to feel like the rest of my team is to blame, I also know my own actions and the way that I communicate with my team are just as often the reason that we lose. League is complicated. I learn from my mistakes and move on.

Learning and improving is much harder in a game like Overwatch, in which losses come again and again from problems with simple solutions. Take a game that I recently lost against five Tracers. It was a silly enemy composition, really a coordination check more than a serious strategy. Tracer is an incredibly agile character, able to blink around the battlefield and to rewind herself to an earlier position. She’s a lot of fun to play and can be an absolute pain against snipers.

Unfortunately, I had three snipers on my team. Now thankfully Overwatch lets you swap characters on the fly. To counter a group of Tracers, those snipers should have switched to someone like McCree, who can stun Tracer in place and kill her in a short volley of bullets.

Alternatively, to mix things up, they could have played Roadhog or Winston, two tanky counters to the speedy Tracer. But no. In the face of a Tracer onslaught, no one on my team switched. No one was even on mic, communicating. Instead, players started dropping out of the match entirely.

In a genre that rewards playing a particular class again and again until you’ve mastered it and then sticking with that class because, after all, you’re pretty good at this point, it is woefully difficult to convince obstinate people to change characters. Swapping heroes mid-match isn’t just some optional element, it’s imperative. Overwatch is all about bringing the right composition at the right time, having an answer to your opponent’s every maneuver.

When you play on a team with people who refuse to change characters or coordinate, you’re not really playing Overwatch at all. There can be no lessons learned when the scale is so heavily lopsided. Or rather, the lesson is already obvious: counter the Tracers! When you play Rock/Paper/Scissors on a team that only throws Rock, the game isn’t fun. It’s infuriating.

Overwatch’s fast pace and charming aesthetics undermine attempts at strategic gameplay. It’s just too easy for players to grow accustomed to the swings of victory and defeat, opting to hop into another match rather than improve communication or grow comfortable swapping characters according to the team’s need.

There is hope in the recently released competitive mode. Most of the explicitly competitive matches that I’ve played thus far have been positive with more players talking and adapting than usual. Now if I get into a decent tier of competitive players, I might just avoid breaking my keyboard in half with rage.

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Television

'Everything's Gonna Be Okay' Is  Better Than Okay

The first season of Freeform's Everything's Gonna Be Okay is a funny, big-hearted love letter to family.

Music

Jordan Rakei Breathes New Life Into Soul Music

Jordan Rakei is a restless artistic spirit who brings R&B, jazz, hip-hop, and pop craft into his sumptuous, warm music. Rakei discusses his latest album and new music he's working on that will sound completely different from everything he's done so far.

Reviews

Country Music's John Anderson Counts the 'Years'

John Anderson, who continues to possess one of country music's all-time great voices, contemplates life, love, mortality, and resilience on Years.

Music

Rory Block's 'Prove It on Me' Pays Tribute to Women's Blues

The songs on Rory Block's Prove It on Me express the strength of female artists despite their circumstances as second class citizens in both the musical world and larger American society.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 3, Echo & the Bunnymen to Lizzy Mercier Descloux

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part three with Echo & the Bunnymen, Cabaret Voltaire, Pere Ubu and more.

Books

Wendy Carlos: Musical Pioneer, Reluctant Icon

Amanda Sewell's vastly informative new biography on musical trailblazer Wendy Carlos is both reverent and honest.

Music

British Folk Duo Orpine Share Blissful New Song "Two Rivers" (premiere)

Orpine's "Two Rivers" is a gently undulating, understated folk song that provides a welcome reminder of the enduring majesty of nature.

Music

Blesson Roy Gets "In Tune With the Moon" (premiere)

Terry Borden was a member of slowcore pioneers Idaho and a member of Pete Yorn's band. Now he readies the debut of Blesson Roy and shares "In Tune With the Moon".

Books

In 'Wandering Dixie', Discovering the Jewish South Is Part of Discovering Self

Sue Eisenfeld's Wandering Dixie is not only a collection of dispatches from the lost Jewish South but also a journey of self-discovery.

Music

Bill Withers and the Curse of the Black Genius

"Lean on Me" singer-songwriter Bill Withers was the voice of morality in an industry without honor. It's amazing he lasted this long.

Film

Jeff Baena Explores the Intensity of Mental Illness in His Mystery, 'Horse Girl'

Co-writer and star Alison Brie's unreliable narrator in Jeff Baena's Horse Girl makes for a compelling story about spiraling into mental illness.

Music

Pokey LaFarge Hits 'Rock Bottom' on His Way Up

Americana's Pokey LaFarge performs music in front of an audience as a way of conquering his personal demons on Rock Bottom.

Music

Joni Mitchell's 'Shine' Is More Timely and Apt Than Ever

Joni Mitchell's 2007 eco-nightmare opus, Shine is more timely and apt than ever, and it's out on vinyl for the first time.

Music

'Live at Carnegie Hall' Captures Bill Withers at His Grittiest and Most Introspective

Bill Withers' Live at Carnegie Hall manages to feel both exceptionally funky and like a new level of grown-up pop music for its time.

Music

Dual Identities and the Iranian Diaspora: Sepehr Debuts 'Shaytoon'

Electronic producer Sepehr discusses his debut album releasing Friday, sparing no detail on life in the Iranian diaspora, the experiences of being raised by ABBA-loving Persian rug traders, and the illegal music stores that still litter modern Iran.

Television

From the Enterprise to the Discovery: The Decline and Fall of Utopian Technology and the Liberal Dream

The technology and liberalism of recent series such as Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and the latest Doctor Who series have more in common with Harry Potter's childish wand-waving than Gene Roddenberry's original techno-utopian dream.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 2, The B-52's to Magazine

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part two with the Cure, Mission of Burma, the B-52's and more.

Music

Emily Keener's "Boats" Examines Our Most Treasured Relationships (premiere)

Folk artist Emily Keener's "Boats" offers a warm look back on the road traveled so far—a heartening reflection for our troubled times.

Music

Paul Weller - "Earth Beat" (Singles Going Steady)

Paul Weller's singular modes as a soul man, guitar hero, and techno devotee converge into a blissful jam about hope for the earth on "Earth Beat".

Games

On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.