Blizzard has implemented a massive change into Overwatch's Public Test Realm: a role queue feature that dramatically alters the way matches are played. The game has been receiving frequent updates lately, from a new anti-cheat system to the annual Summer Games event. The role queue update itself has been live since last week, and has already caused quite a stir for all kinds of Overwatch players.
To really understand what the role queue is and why it was implemented, one needs to understand the GOATS meta. Named for the esports team that used it to steamroll through the open divisions in Season 2 of Overwatch League, the GOATS meta has been dominating all types of competitive play in Overwatch for the better part of this year. The meta involves players building their teams out of three tanks and three healers, creating a nigh-unstoppable wall of health bars that slowly pushes forward towards the objective. It's such an effective strategy that almost all competitive Overwatch players have adopted it in some way, which has homogenized the game and made it much less interesting for many vocal players and viewers.
However, Blizzard's latest update to the game will put a definitive end to the GOATS meta. As detailed in the newest video from game director Jeff Kaplan, the 2-2-2 role queue will become the new standard for team composition in Overwatch. Players will now have to queue up for specific roles before entering a match, choosing between Tank, Damage, Support, or a combination of the three. After joining a game, players will be locked into one of the roles they chose for the duration of the match, but can choose freely between characters in that role. There can only be two players on each role per team, hence the "2-2-2" moniker. The role queue is already available in the PTR, and will make its way into all primary game modes for all systems on August 1.
Many players (especially those who hated the GOATS meta and its effect on the game) are excited by this complete restructuring of team composition. They have remarked that the new system essentially demands that every player be useful to their team by either committing to a character or being comfortable in switching between characters in their role. The 2-2-2 setup has also been praised for creating more dynamic play, with more counter-picks and adaptation on the fly. In addition to purging the GOATS meta from the game, role queue prevents players from instantly picking multiple snipers at the start of a match, for example. Some aspects of the Overwatch community have been asking for a role queue system for a long time, and this seems to be everything those players wanted.
On the other hand, this drastic change has its fair detractors as well. Some view it as Blizzard copping out of balancing their game properly in light of the GOATS meta, and most importantly, stifling player creativity and the freedom to choose their own teams. There's also the issue of much longer search times for matches, since players are now queuing for individual roles. Others further believe that two roles of each hero on each team is not an optimal team comp and will still develop a rigid meta of its own over time. Blizzard knows that this a huge adjustment to the game and will be adding a "Quick Play Classic" mode to the Arcade, which allows players to play matches without role queue. However, the benefits of the 2-2-2 system are undeniable - it makes teams much more manageable, makes each role more useful, and gives players a much greater chance of playing their favorite character consistently. As Kaplan says in the developer video, this change will likely be a positive thing for Overwatch going forward.