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Overwatch adds Competitive Play mode, new penalties for quitters

Blizzard adds new features for players seeking serious challenge

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

The closed beta for Overwatch has a new game mode, thanks to an update released this week. Competitive Play is now available and aimed at players "seeking a more serious challenge" in Blizzard's hero-based shooter.

Overwatch's new Competitive Play mode will let players rank up through a series of divisions and tiers in monthly seasons. It's restricted to players level 25 and above, game director Jeff Kaplan said, in an effort to keep brand-new players out of the system, ensuring that Competitive Play is populated with players who are familiar with Overwatch's maps and characters.

Competitive Play will offer five tiers for players to advance through: challenger, advanced, expert, master and heroic. Each tier has five divisions, and players can rank up from division one to five, then progress to the next tier. Kaplan notes that players can't lose ranking points in the challenge tier; they always make upward progress until they reach the advanced tier.

The top tier, heroic, is similar to Hearthstone's legendary ranking. Should a player reach that competitive tier, they'll see how they rank against other heroic tier players around the world.

Kaplan says that not all features of Competitive Play are implemented yet, and the "pre-season" that Blizzard is running in the beta may extend into the full release of Overwatch. Kaplan said Blizzard has "further plans in the future to make [Competitive Play] cooler."

Overwatch's latest update also adds new progression rewards, in the form of legendary character skins, and new punishments for players who frequently quit out of games. Players who leave matches before they're done will eventually get a warning from Blizzard, and if they repeatedly leave, they'll incur an XP gain penalty.

More details on the latest changes to Overwatch are available in Blizzard's patch notes and in Kaplan's video below.