If you’ve been playing Overwatch, there’s a good chance that one or more of your deaths have seemed a little off. On occasion, it may appear like you’re getting shot through a wall. Overwatch’s director, Jeff Kaplan, explains why that is and how his team is addressing it.
In an interview with Eurogamer, Kaplan explains that players are blaming something called the server “tick rate.” That’s jargon for the rate at which the server is updating with information from clients.
Overwatch servers are “ticking” at 60Hz (which is quite fast), but the clients aren’t updating as frequently. That leads to kill-cam displays that aren’t quite accurate to how things went down.
You can play with 60Hz tick rate on the client side in custom matches (the “high bandwidth” option), but very few users are doing so. In fact, only 0.08 percent of games are taking advantage of the feature.
Blizzard is experimenting with it to make sure it works correctly before adding it to quick play and the upcoming competitive mode. Kaplan explains what would happen if Blizzard were to turn make the high bandwidth mode mandatory today.
“Right now, for example, what we’ve seen is that it wouldn’t work for about 20 per cent of our users,” he says. “That’s a problem we can solve if we get more testing on it, but we couldn’t just put it live. As you know, we announced that number of seven million players last week. The last thing we want to do is take 20 per cent of those people and tell them you can’t play Overwatch anymore because people were angry on the forums and we flipped the switch and added this thing.”
Other changes in the pipeline include a nerf for McCree’s Fan the Hammer attack that unloads all of his remaining shells in rapid succession. Right now, he can take down many characters quickly.
Blizzards wants him to still have that impact on Tracer, Reaper, and Genji, but not on the tanks. Expect that to be the first balance to come down the pipe.
D.Va is also under consideration for changes, though Blizzard isn’t quite sure how that will play out. The team is also figuring out how to improve the much-loved Play of the Game feature to take into account things like a dead Torbjorn’s turret mowing down enemies. Those aren’t terribly fun to watch yet, but somewhere down the line, we may see some improvements.
While I’m fairly terrible at Overwatch, I keep coming back to it. That is a testament to the character design, art style, and diversity of play (even in the relatively thin mode selection) available right now. I’m eager to see how the game grows in the months and years to come.