Overwatch’s game modes vary greatly. One mode that was added this time last year was the Capture the Flag mode. Coming out for their Year of the Rooster event, it wasn’t without its problems; the maps used were the King of the Hill maps with the flags thrown in, rather than new maps for the new game mode. The mobility balance was also an issue; with characters like Winston and D.va able to grab the flag and run off without a chance to stop them unless a strong enough defense was put into place to stop them. This gave the mode a very defense-heavy meta, with players more willing to not let the enemy team get a point instead of working towards getting points themselves; which leads to many matches ending in draws. You wanted to get all your weekly loot boxes when this mode was available, welp too bad draws don’t count as a win! Despite the issues, I personally liked this game mode for the short time it was available, and I was super excited to hear that not only they were going bring back Capture the Flag, but they were also making some changes to it as well.
If any poor soul runs in there they’re gonna have some big problems. If my trap doesn’t stop them then all these turrets will!
The first noticeable changes are with the flag mechanics in general. In the first version of the mode you had to wait a short period time to capture the flag, but now you grab it instantly. Now at this point, most players who would grab the flag would usually have a mobility ability to run towards their point, but with this new update that won’t be possible anymore. Now if you were to use an ability like D.va’s boost or Soldier 76’s sprint, you’ll drop the flag behind you. During my playtime of the new map, (which I’ll come back to,) I’ve seen enemy Tracers and Lucio’s grab my flag and immediately drop it as they try to blink or boost away. (I almost feel bad for them when it happens. Almost.)When the enemy drops the flag you have a chance to pick it back up, but that will take a bit of time to do. The capture rate goes faster the more teammates are on top of the flag, so remember that when you see someone trying to get back their flag. The last change is the issue with the draws at the end. Now instead of the game ending with a draw, it’ll go into sudden death. The flags get moved closer to the center of the stage and the first team to make a point wins. These changes, while a new change of pace, still brings in some issues in terms of the maps; and this is more apparent for their new map made for the mode.
With an objective as simple as this my team will surely win, right?…
Ayutthaya is the new map made for the CTF mode, and although it is beautiful, this shows the main problem with the game mode as a whole. The main problem is with how the maps are being made from a linear point of view and not many others. The new map has three main lanes, with the flags placed right in front of the spawn rooms. While you do have a couple of routes in and out of the routes, you have no real way to avoid the enemy team seeing how you have to go right where they’ll spawn in to get the flag. If a team is smart they’ll have a Symmetra setting turrets up by the flag or a Junkrat leaving his trap on top of the flag (which I do a lot) for an enemy to get caught in it (which they do get caught in. A lot.) This problem is much less apparent in the older maps because there’s a bigger distance between the spawn point and the flag, you’d have an easier time getting the flag after winning a fight without worrying about them changing out to someone faster to catch them.
In general, the main issue with Overwatch’s CTF mode is the lack of vertical options on the maps. A good example of what I mean would be TF2’s 2Fort map. This is also a CTF map, but instead of having the intelligence (their version of the flag) straight ahead of the spawn point, it’s underneath it (granted they have 2 spawn points, the other being closer to the middle.) The enemy team can either go the short way straight through the base to get the intelligence or if they want to be sneaky about it, they can take an underground passage instead. This route takes longer but it works well for characters that can go through it fast or are able to hide away from any fights. And if you just so happen to have your intelligence stolen you have a better chance of catching up to them with the use of the second spawn point which is closer to the center of the map. The only map that comes close to this in Overwatch is Oasis University with its underground routes. This map works well in this regard because you have options for both getting to and from the flags, especially if you can cause a big enough distraction for a teammate to make the run to and from the points.
This Symmetra is doing the God’s work. Oh and if you’re wondering, not only did she get the flag back to base, she also got play of the game for this too.
Overall I do think Overwatch is going in the right direction in terms of making CTF a stronger game mode for themselves. The original version in its own clunky way had me learn Torbjorn, a character that I would have never even touched until I wanted to do somehow decent because of the new mode. (It’s a bit sad to say that he’s now one of my most played characters in the game because of this mode…) Now with the changes, it gives me more of a chance to try out characters I wouldn’t normally play in the other modes. (I’m looking at you, Sombra.) There is some work that still needs to be done of course, and it’s going to take some time, I just hope that this time around this mode won’t be delegated to just a timed event. Fixing the issues that we are faced with now will only take longer to fix if we only get to play it for a short time once a year.