Blizzard launched a major update for Overwatch last week, and it has made what was already one of the best games of the year even better.
I’ve already covered playing with Sombra, which is the new hacker character that can make a huge difference in team fights, but don’t let the purple cyber criminal overshadow the excellent new Arcade mode. Blizzard has dropped the weekly Brawl mode, which would introduce a new and often wacky remix of the shooter’s standard format. In its place, the game now has Arcade. This stands alongside Quick Play and Competitive and features a playlist of all the Brawls from previous weeks, a 3-on-3 mode with permadeath, and more. But I’m having the most fun with the 1-on-1 Mystery Duel game type that has you going head-to-head against another player in a best-of-nine fight where you each play as the same, random character through each round.
Mystery Duel is intense, and it is one of the best additions Blizzard has made outside of the core experience. I’ve recorded a Mystery Duel match I played in at 4K, and you can watch it by pressing play on the clip in the header.
This Arcade mode got my heart beating because it all comes down to your skills, your knowledge of the character’s abilities, and your creativity. You cannot rely on the talents of those around you, and you can’t complain that the opponent is using a better character, because you’re both using the same random hero. That means the battles come down to pressuring your enemy until they make a mistake. That’s easy for me when I’m playing Mei or Zenyatta, who I’m very comfortable with using. But when I have to use someone like Roadhog or Junkrat, the other person may have the advantage because I tend to let other people play those heroes in Quick Play and the ranked modes.
But the best moments happen when both players are clearly confident with the chosen hero and their abilities. This is when creativity pays off. In one match where I played as Mei, I was able to throw my ice shield down in front of me vertically on the ground, which lifted me up to the second level of the Ecopoint Antarctica map (the new location for Arcade mode). I knew my opponent had just seen me on the ground, and I predicted that they would try to wrap around and fall on top of me. But I was already upstairs waiting for them and was able to freeze my evil döppelganger for the win.
Overwatch’s Mystery Duel feels more like a fighting game than anything else, and I think this reveals what an incredible job that Blizzard has done with the design of the heroes for its shooter.