The development team at Blizzard for the popular team-based FPS Overwatch made some serious changes to the social system in the most recent patch.
On June 26, a plethora of features and fixes came to the live game. Two key social features, and a rework to the infamous defense hero, Symmetra, were the highlights of the patch. The addition of an endorsement system, allowing players to reward other players for good teamwork, and the Looking for Group (LFG) system, increase the control an individual has over their gameplay experience.
A few weeks after launch, I want to look at the real game changer, LFG.
The LFG feature allows players to create a team of 2-6 players and queue up for games with them. The system allows the group creator to make certain decisions about how the team should play. The following are some of the possible ways to create your ideal team
- Restrict roles to force teammates to only play heroes in the role selected
- Require voice chat
- Set the number of each role or allow for players to flex onto different roles
The beauty of using this system comes from being able to set up the environment to play in. If a player wants a 2-2-2 composition, then that player can set up roles for two tanks, two DPS, and two healers. This removes the luck-based element that previously plagued the character select screen. A player no longer must hope that someone on their team will play healer or reluctantly play that role themselves.
The LFG system has seen a lot of use after its release. On a forum post a week after launch, lead game designer, Jeff Kaplan, posted a graph outlining the use of the system.
From my own experience and that of others in the community, I have seen there are two main ways the LFG system is used.
The first and best way to use the system is to find people to play with. That seems self-explanatory but what it really means is to find people to add to your friends and then play with later.
Say you group up with some people and you meet a Winston player that is vocal and plays super well with you as D.va. After you are finished playing with each other add that player and next time they are online group up before going into games. After doing this for a while, you will eventually form a full 6-stack and start to build synergy as a team.
The other way people use LFG is not to create a team, but to make sure no one is throwing. By using the LFG tool to create a 6-stack, one can guarantee everyone has a mic and can force people to play the role they selected.
There is not anything inherently bad about using LFG in this way, but it does result in a lot of the toxicity the tool is designed to avoid. I have personally been in far too many games where my team loses a close one and everyone rage quits. LFG is a tool to play better Overwatch, not to win you every game.
Ultimately, LFG does a lot of good whichever way it is used. It gets people thinking and working together and raises the general skill level of the player base. It encourages cooperation and teamwork among players, even if just for a little bit.