As well as a wonderful selection of skins, sprays, emotes, and victory poses, the lunar new year event brought with it a brand new mode. I have sunk far, far too many hours into Overwatch, but there is definitely a case to be made for its selection of modes not being too brilliant. Of course, we recently got the addition of the Arcade which added a bunch more content into the game. But the main meat of the game is still the attack vs defense modes on quick play or competitive.
So a mode being brought to the table that is very different from that was a breath of fresh air. On the surface, the Capture the Rooster mode sounded very unbalanced on paper. Surely a capture the flag mode is going to be made to look like a joke by heroes such as Sombra, Tracer, and Genji? Since it will become a permanent fixture in Overwatch’s selection of modes, it’s worth taking a critical look at the mode and our overall thoughts on it.
As I’m sure you know, Capture the Rooster only takes place on any of the three Lijiang Tower maps, which are basically the same as their quick play counterparts. Of course, given that the two teams are vying for the others’ flag, the map feels a lot smaller given the short distance between the two spawn points. Given the relatively short distance between the two flags, there is definitely an emphasis placed on fast moving characters. However, I wouldn’t really cry “inbalance” over that, as each map in the quick play/competitive rotation
However, I wouldn’t really cry “inbalance” over that, as each map in the quick play/competitive rotation favours certain heroes over another. Thankfully, this mode was brought into play after the one hero limit made its way into all modes. Just the thought of playing this mode as 6v6 Tracers sends a chill down my spine. The usual setup for teams was 3 on defense on 3 on attack, although as ever in a mode played with pubbies, there were sadly a few instances of the whole team attacking as no one wanted the job of staying with the flag.
Ignoring that, though, I personally saw the most success as Sombra. She is quite hard to master and make proper use of in quick play, but she really came to life for me in this mode. The tactic was simple: hack the health packs near the enemy flag, throw my translocator away from the flag, and run in with invisibility. Once the flag is captured, translocate away and run for your life. As Tracer, I saw little success. Warping in and warping out saw the enemy team catching up too fast, and utilising her Recall to escape with the flag left her vulnerable to being burst down by heroes like Reaper.
Sombra just felt so much more versatile, as her ability to hack health packs basically meant you could hack one near the enemy flag and repeatedly harass the enemy team while going back for healing. Given that getting a healer in this mode is a huge dice roll, her hacking ability became a godsend. Giving the attacking heroes on your side to heal up faster was pretty critical, and assisted in the victory even if you couldn’t grab the flag yourself.
Even on enemy teams, I saw very little Tracer action. Instead on the attacking side, I saw utility heroes like Sombra and Soldier 76, with Symmetra and Torbjorn being a must pick for the defense. Capture the Rooster definitely exemplified the problems that Symmetra currently has, as trying to attack the flag with her on it was all but impossible without support. She is still unbelievably broken at the moment, and I think we will all cheer when she is hit with the nerf bat.
Overall, however, I enjoyed Capture the Rooster. While more could be done to make some of the other heroes more viable for this mode, just the mode’s very nature is going to mean slow heroes are unlikely to be picked for anything but defense. Still, given that it gave some criminally underused heroes their time in the sun, I can’t fault it too much for relegating certain heroes to the dustbin.
The main criticism of the mode is actually on the flag placement. With each team spawning near their flag, it makes it very, very difficult to get in without a lot of support due to the inevitable Symmetra and turrets set up that will be waiting for you. It makes the already strong Symmetra and Torbjorn very tough to deal with, especially given that your capturing of the flag is interrupted by taking damage.
One way to fix this is to have a single flag in the dead centre of the map, and task each team with attacking and trying to grab it before the other team does. This will shake up the 3 attack 3 defense set up, and also render heroes like Symmetra a bit less useful. It could also potentially open up more of the roster to be usable on this mode, while also addressing some of the OP-ness of others. Of course, with this set up the delay to pick up the flag will have to be reduced.
I doubt there is any way to make this mode completely and utterly balanced, and in all honesty that’s fine. Blizzard have made it clear this mode will not be coming to competitive (probably due to the fact that certain characters will always be OP here), and it’s purely just for fun. That’s not to say it can’t be improved, however. As I mentioned the biggest issue is the flag placement, and if that were addressed, the mode would probably end in a draw less of the time.
But, even if it is to stay the same, I won’t be sad to see Capture the Rooster stick around.