The developers of Overwatch announced in early August 2017 that a new Deathmatch gameplay mode was coming to the game's Arcade, and it was added to the game proper a couple of weeks later. I've been enjoying it myself and I've found that the 8-player free-for-all (FFA) Deathmatch has been my preferred way to get my weekly Arcade loot boxes. It's a boatload of fun, but I've noticed two tiny problems that I think ought to be resolved with the mechanics of FFA Deathmatch, namely the concept of an Elimination and the On-Fire meter.
Let's begin with some definitions. In Overwatch, an "Elimination" is when an enemy player is killed. A "Final Blow" is the last hit to reduce an enemy's HP to below zero. Lastly, the "On-Fire" meter is a bar on the bottom left of the screen that provides general feedback on how well you're doing in the game. Getting Eliminations, completing map objectives, and assisting your team makes the On-Fire meter go up. Dying or otherwise not contributing to the progression of the game causes the meter to gradually decline.
In a normal game of Overwatch, it doesn't really matter who gets an Elimination. If I do 75% of the damage to an enemy but someone else gets the Final Blow, I'll still get credited with an Elimination. This is a feel-good mechanic to make players focus on the fact that an enemy has been killed and de-emphasize just who happened to kill them. Overwatch is not the first game to use a mechanic like this and it won't be the last.
However, in FFA Deathmatch, your score is calculated by Final Blows. This means that regardless of how many people you helped to kill, only the killing blow itself will score you a point. This is properly shown at your score at the top of the screen. However, the on-screen pop-up of "Eliminated [PLAYER]" does not represent this accurately. I've found myself taking someone down, seeing "Eliminated," and then finding that my score didn't go up because someone pinched the kill.
The issue of Eliminations and the messaging therein doesn't apply to Team Deathmatch. If you do most of the damage and someone else lands the Final Blow, it's still counted as a point for your team. This particular problem is wholly unique to FFA Deathmatch.
[gallery size="large" columns="2" link="file" ids="162242,162239,162241,162240"]
In these four images, the on-screen pop-up shows that I Eliminated a player but my score (at the top of the screen) remains at zero. This happens consistently. These screenshots were taken in four separate games on the September 19, 2017, patch.
I'm fine with the game mode being defined by Final Blows. Considering the way Eliminations work in Overwatch, I don't think a Deathmatch mode could work any other way. However, the UI needs to represent this accurately, and as it stands now the on-screen pop-ups do not. This needs to change.
I understand that Blizzard Entertainment would want to ensure that their messaging stays consistent. An "Elimination" should be the same in any game mode, and what matters in Deathmatch is not Eliminations. I think they ought to change the on-screen message to "Final Blow on [PLAYER]" to more accurately represent when you've scored a point.
This is the big problem; the On-Fire meter presents a smaller one. Typically, dealing damage to enemies is good in this game. Once again, it is only Final Blows that matter in Deathmatch. You can end up doing a lot of damage to enemies, being "on fire" (having the meter around 75% full or better, represented by your character portrait being engulfed in blue flame), and actually be performing pretty poorly in terms of score. I think the On-Fire meter might need to be tweaked specifically for this game mode where it only goes up when you score a kill and perhaps factors in the damage you've done after the fact rather than beforehand.
You can see your score in Deathmatch easily enough by looking at the top of the screen, but in heated moments where it's a point or two away from victory you might be tunnel visioned on fighting the enemy. Looking away from the center of the screen—even for a split second—could cost you a critical Final Blow or result in your death and the loss of the match. It's a tiny thing, but I think it's important that Blizzard takes the time to resolve this issue so it's clear to players when they've actually scored a point in Deathmatch. Until they do, I'll keep right on playing and hoping that I don't eat a Rip-Tire to the face because I've had to glance upwards to check my score.
What do you think of the Deathmatch gameplay modes in Overwatch? Do you think that Blizzard should change the Elimination messaging for this particular game mode? Let us know in the comments below!