Thoughts on Overwatch’s New Capture the Flag mode
Overwatch’s new season event is here, a Chinese New Year themed event called “Year of the Rooster”. As usual, the event comes with the new thematic skins, sprays, and other goodies that are delivered in a firework laden loot box. While all that is pretty much standard far for a seasonal event in Overwatch, the biggest change is a new game play mode.
If you head over to the arcade section in Overwatch (as opposed to quick play or competitive) you’ll see a new game option: Capture the Flag (CTF) or “Capture the Rooster” as Blizzard calls it. Veterans of first person shooter games should be familiar with this mode of play. I’ve played CTF games since my early college days in Quake and Unreal Tournament and have always been drawn to this play mode.
There are a few maps for the Overwatch CTF game, they all use the pre-existing map Lijang Tower, yet in a few new creative ways. If you’ve ever played a CTF game before, then you will be right at home here. Grab your opponent’s flag, bring it back to yours. Boom. Point scored. There is a twist however, players don’t need to have their own flag in their base to cap your opponent’s flag. That’s a striking departure from the standard CTF gameplay. The first team to three captures, wins.
Except the problem is, the wins rarely happen in Overwatch CTF. I have played maybe a dozen or so games of CTF so far and I’ve won about 3 times and lost about twice. The rest of the time the match ends in draws. WAY too many draws.
But I’m sure the developers at Blizzard had to know this was going to be an issue. The very nature of Overwatch heroes encourages players to “Turtle up” around their flag. Expect to see plenty of Mei, Symmetra, Bastion, and Torbjorn huddling around the flag while the other team does the same.
What this means is that most matches will either end in a draw, or be over quickly as one team completely obliterates a team of clueless players. None of my games have been the gripping nail biter that many of my 2CP or Payload maps are. Usually it’s two teams focusing heavily on defense with 1 or 2 heroes ranging out to their opponent’s base, only to get slaughtered.
While I enjoy CTF in general, it’s just REALLY unsatisfying in Overwatch. The obvious fix is to neuter or ban some characters.
However, if you ban the usual defenders, you’ll have the opposite problem. Tracer, Lucio, Winston or Sombra will be capping flags in no time at all. There is even a video online of Sombra capturing an opponent’s flag in literally 1 second.
If I had a suggestion for fixing CTF in Overwatch I’d say to make a match go to sudden death overtime if no one is winning when time runs out. The twist would be that there would be no respawns (like in 3v3 mode). That way, teams will eventually start to run out of players and the match will end with a winner.
As it stands now though, I can understand why CTF is not in the standard rotation for quick play and competitive modes.
Good luck getting that loot box for your first win.