If the news cycle for current events works on a 24-hour cycle, the news cycle for Overwatch isn’t too far behind.
Changes, updates, and new information are constantly streaming down to the 40 million monthly players of the game, and each change can be dissected and its ramifications for casual players and pro-streamers on Twitch analyzed. The latest of these updates is the news that Blizzard, the company behind Overwatch, is getting rid of the GOATS meta, which many have deemed to be restrictive. But what does this mean for gameplay in the future?
What is the GOATS Meta?
The Overwatch League has been plagued – as many players would attest to – by the GOATS meta since the second season of the Overwatch League. The meta or metagame refers to the strategy that can be used in the game, which affects everything from hero picks to rotations and positioning. The meta is defined by trends that most players use, so the one with the most provable success rate at any one time. The GOATS meta uses three tanks and three healers and is derided by fans because enacting the strategy leads to an unsatisfying chain of events in the game, which seem to go against everything that the excitement and tension of the game represent. The name of the meta, GOATS, comes from the team who deployed the successful tactic to accrue 10 wins and no losses as well as winning the BEAT Invitational. Many criticize the overuse of the meta as it is considered very safe gameplay – and gamers know that the worst thing a game can do is be deemed safe. The abolishment of the GOATS meta is a welcome piece of Overwatch news and may show that Blizzard are willing to listen to fans and implement changes to keep the gameplay engaging.
Why is Overwatch Abolishing the GOATS Meta?
According to former pro, Chan-hyung ‘Fissure’ Baek, a change will be enforced at the start of the esports competition's fourth stage, which will see the GOATS meta blocked. The abolishment will come from the fact that stage four will see a 2-2-2 lock, which will negate the ability to run the GOATS meta, often also called three-three. Players will form a team of two tanks, two DPS and two supports, meaning that they won’t be able to rely on the crowd control moves of GOATS. The move will see competitive balance restored, prevent the further stagnation of those watching the strategy play out, and allow players to return to their original roles. While Blizzard have ruled out any changes previously, the insider information from a former pro implies that they have changed their mind as they see how potentially damaging to the future of Overwatch gameplay the GOATS meta is.
Gaming needs to listen to its players in order to succeed, and Blizzard likely understands this. While GOATS was a spectacular tactic for the initial team, the piggybacking of others onto the strategy means that many games have become less interesting to watch. If the reports are true - which many are already believing them to be and social media is all for them - then Blizzard will help get over the hurdle of stagnating gameplay and force teams to reconsider their strategies.