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Real Talk: Overcharge as a game mode
I know this is not a new topic as Overcharge has been discussed multiple times since the alphas came out. I feel like the subject needs to be revisited since the audience has expanded and the mode received no changes. Overcharge, in it's current form, simply doesn't work very well and isn't compelling. On a surface level it seems fine and as a screw around game mode it is also fine but under the hood it's just a mess from a mechanics and design perspective. I'll break down what Overcharge currently is, point out it's flaws and then suggest some potential changes that would keep the same core gameplay of the mode while hopefully making it better.
Overcharge (current): You go to the center of a map and you steal a "battery". You then take the battery to your base and secure it then you proceed to defend your base area from oncoming attacks while you wait on the battery to charge up to 100%. If you have the battery when it hits 100% and the timer expires your team gains a point. Once you accrue two points you win the match.
On the surface this seems fine. At least until you realize that you don't really have to do anything until the battery is almost charged. That you're going to have to grind for almost no value, that it's a bad experience for players both getting beat badly (not all games will be even) and for the people who are winning, it makes the rest of the map a ghost town and other issues I'll discuss below. First, the pros as I see them.
- It's simple and easy to understand for new players.
- If every player is constantly going for the battery it can be fun.
- Stealing the battery and capping it after you've spent all game getting destroyed can feel great...at that moment.
- It requires a potential change in your lineup/character choice to make a better offense or defense. This adds a bit of strategy to composition and play.
- There is no point of doing anything until the 90% charge point if you lose the initial fight and the other team gets the battery. Go in and hope to get an early pick (which would require bad play from the other team), drop ults and pray somebody can get out. That's the best you can hope for.
- The mode requires bad play from your team to lose the battery. People who leave the base, overextend and get picked off (since it would be 1v5 or 2v5) and leave the base open to a full attack. It's never a good idea to have a mode that relies on bad play in a competitive game to be effective.
- It's way too easy to defend the battery. Each base has a recharge station extremely close and the game now features a fairly good medic making it hard to kill good evasive players in a lot of situations. If the recharge station lost it's power while the battery was capped it would make things more interesting...but it would only be a bandaid. There is too much of an advantage with the right team composition to make it worth trying to go in before you have all your team resources ready to go.
- The mode does not use the rest of the map effectively. The first fight for the battery is great. Then the rest of the map is a ghost land unless, again, you are in a pub and fighting bored players or in a match and a player overextends and makes a bad decision. You are mostly fighting in one base or the other the whole time with little going on elsewhere.
- The grinding required to try and get the battery is off-putting to new and old players alike. It's simply not fun to constantly run into a meat grinder of a properly setup defense.
- The battery does not charge faster the longer you hold on to it. Right now the charge rate is fixed. So what happens when you are facing a team that you clearly outclass in a pub? Or are on a team that is clearly being outclassed? The match drags on and on and on. It takes what feels like forever for a battery to hit 100% and it's boring all the way to infuriating for all players involved. This is not a good outcome in a game mode and a huge turnoff to all types of players. There are way more leavers in Overcharge than in Turf War, in my subjective experience (that isn't backed up by any hard numbers...but I bet BKP could provide them) simply because of this fact. If the charge rate went up faster the longer you held on then it would partially remedy the situation. But like turning off the recharge stations in a base during a cap it's a bandaid more than a fix.
- When you get pounded for a whole game and then steal the battery while it's at 100% and cap it, it feels hollow. You didn't outplay the other team...you just happened to get lucky. And it feels the same way in reverse when it happens to you. You get these moments of intensity near the end that end up being shallow because the whole game leading up to that point wasn't that interesting. And it also leaves some people with a feeling of it being unfair when you win or when you lose...which is never a good feeling to leave with people. Sure, it might feel OK at the exact moment but overall it's just a hollow win or loss. You tried one potential huge moment of excitement for a game full of "why are we doing this?". And when you combine that with a lot of games being grinds or blowouts that drag on you get a really poor reception of the game mode from players
- It simply doesn't make any sense. I know this isn't a big factor because this is a videogame but why is your team charging this battery? What does it do? It would make more sense if the battery was a power source that did the charging itself and charged up a base. But I'll touch on this topic later in my potential solutions section.