“Git gud.” This is often the snarky reply to any Overwatch player who asks another how to get better at Blizzard‘s team-based shooter. But how, exactly, does one get good? Well, like in anything else, you practice. But practicing is hard to do in Overwatch. Enter the new Deathmatch mode, which gives players a place to hone their skills with many of the game’s characters.
Competitive mode will not tolerate you if you’re trying to learn a new character. Quick play is a better option, but it’s not an efficient place to practice things like aiming, since fights break out in waves with some down time between them. The practice range is useless. Its bots either stand still or move in a predictable pattern. You can only learn so much by playing with them. Even the 1-vs.-1 mode doesn’t help much, since it only focuses on mirror matches.
Deathmatch accomplishes more than adding a mode where you can just play on your own — it’s also a great way to practice. It brings in eight players, all on their own, running around a smaller map with a short down period between deaths. The goal is to get the most kills. This means that the action never stops, giving you tons of opportunities to practice.
I decided to test this with McCree. Aiming matters more with this pistol-wielding cowboy than with the rest of Overwatch’s cast. I’ve been trying to play him more in Quickplay to get better, but as I mentioned earlier, that isn’t the best way to learn. And I still feel bad making my team suffer in Quickplay as I try to improve with one of my worst characters.
But in Deathmatch, no one else suffers. I’m by myself. There’s no pressure to perform. I can just run around and keep getting into fights, learning more about matchups against other heroes while better understanding how to use my abilities to be a more efficient killer. If I lose most of my battles, so what?
Now, Deathmatch isn’t the solution for every character … at least if you also care about winning. Since only last hits count as a kill, characters that deal consistent burst damage (like McCree, Widowmaker, or Hanzo) have a better chance of winning than those that specialize in faster but more steady damage (like Tracer or Bastion). Doomfist also does well, since his charging punch move can score a lot of one-hit kills.
The mode generally favors offensive and defensive characters over healers and tanks, which makes sense. Their roles are to deal damage, while others are supposed to protect teammates … and Deathmatch has no teammates. But even still, you can get good practice in even if you rarely win. And some of the healers, like Lucio, do better than might expect. Being able to heal yourself is a useful tool.
Overwatch’s team-based modes will always matter more than Deathmatch. And that’s great. But I’m glad that Blizzard has added a way to hone my skills in a stress-free environment. If you’re looking to improve with any specific character, I recommend giving the Deathmatch try.