Patch 126.96.36.199 launched and has brought a number of changes to Overwatch, many of which seem to have sparked a new energy for fans. Sombra’s well anticipated release helped push the PTR to its limits last week as thousands flocked to try out the newest hero, and alongside her a number of new game modes discussed at Blizzcon the week before. Among the changes comes the change to the classic Brawl game mode, and the addition to two totally new modes: the 1v1 and 3v3 on the new map Eco Point: Antarctica.
The Brawl modes now exist in a playlist, rather than a separate, week-long game mode. Through the Arcade section, the Brawl playlist automatically puts you in a Brawl rotation, where each game/game set runs you through a random Brawl mode. Instead of spending days grinding Brawls like “Mobawatch” or “Girl Power”, Brawls now continuously move through the rotation, with the exception of special event Brawls, like Junkenstein’s Revenge and Lucioball.
The change of pace is refreshing and fun, and gives the Brawl features a bit more variety. In the original Weekly Brawls format, Brawls in general began to lose their popularity and appeal towards the end of the week. They were also never a game mode people talked much about, aside from the special event modes, such as Lucio Ball and Junkenstein’s Revenge. The playlist features gives the Brawls a good time slot to experience them, then move onto the next without feeling like you’re grinding the same playset and rules over and over.
Among the Brawls featured in the current playlist are the two new Brawls “This is Ilios” and “Charge!”. Lucio makes a key appearance in both, as “This is Ilios” takes place on Ilios’ notorious Well map*, with Roadhog being the other hero option. The game mode works similar to a normal KOTH map. Capture 2 objectives to win the game, 6v6, but with only two heroes up for pick. The only map features in “This is Ilios” is the Well map, making it a race for who can capture the point first, and who can knock more Roadhogs and Lucios into the pit. I played Lucio throughout the deration of the match and found it easier to just knock the enemy team out of the contested area during Overtime, as opposed to trying to knock every Lucio off their wall grind into the pit.
* Editor’s Note: We’ve personally played This is Ilios on maps other than Ilios. Whether or not this is a bug is unknown at this time.
Charge features another hero limitation: Lucio and Reinhardt only. Unlike This is Ilios! where you can have more than one Lucio on your team, you can only have a single Lucio per team in Charge. There’s no map limitation.
Alongside the Brawls, the Mystery Duels and 3v3 Eliminations are a fun change of pace from what we’ve experienced previously from Overwatch. Both take place in the new “arena” map, Eco Point: Anarctica, an area known as the location where Mei was cryogenically frozen for several years and was the only survivor of the experience. The map is full of right rooms and walkways which make it easier to isolate targets or set up death rooms depending on your composition. The 3v3 Elimination mode pits you and 2 other players against 3 enemies in a last team standing playstyle and there are no health packs either.
While playing, I ended up running Zenyatta the most and finding great results with a hero that naturally regenerates health, and who can heal their teammates, and tag enemies for bonus damage. Torbjorn also seems to be a favorite pick, as he seemed to appear in almost every match I played. His armor packs help in a pinch when you’re running low on health, and his turrets create great cover fire to create a safe zone for teammates when you’re getting out numbered.
The Mystery Duel is a fun 1v1 style match where the hero is picked at random, and both players have to duke it out in a mirror fight to the death in a first to five death match. These sorts of fights are fun, especially given how neither player can auto-lock their mains. Symmetra seems to make a frequent appearance on the rotation, as she’s appeared in both games I played in Mystery Duel, as well as several matches recorded and put online by the community. Part of the appeal of both the Mystery Duel and 3v3 Elimination is the 1 loot box reward for the matches, with a total of 9 available per week. This mechanic makes playing these modes a great alternative to grinding Quick Play for hours to level up.
All in all, it seems like the new patch changes have been a much needed refresher as Overwatch makes its way closer to its six month mark. Sombra brings an interesting new level of gameplay and team composition to the meta, both competitively and casually, and the new Arcade sections allows more people to find the sort of game mode they’re looking for at any given day.