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Blizzard details Overwatch's new competitive play mode

Who wants a golden gun?

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

Overwatch's revamped competitive play mode is on schedule to release sometime later this month, game director Jeff Kaplan said in a video today, and will come with some important changes.

Competitive play in Overwatch is aimed at "players who want to take the game more seriously" than those who jump into a quick play game and players who want a quantitative sense of their skill level and how they rank against other players. Blizzard will be implementing a new skill rating in competitive play mode and doing away with the tier-based structure that players experienced in the game's beta.

According to Kaplan, a player's matchmaking rating (MMR) in Overwatch will directly correlate to their skill rating, which is presented as a number between 1 and 100. Players will be shown their skill rating — and the ratings of their teammates and opponents — prior to competitive play matches. Blizzard will also display each team's average skill rating, "so you can see how fair of a match is that's about to happen," Kaplan said. Blizzard will also let you know when other players are partied up, so you know what you're up against.

Unlike the previous tier system, which moved players upward through ranks (Challenger, Advanced, Expert, Master and Heroic), players' skill rating will fluctuate up and down, Kaplan said.

Competitive play will get a handful of other changes. Seasons are changing in length from one month to about three months, with a short break between seasons.

Blizzard is also working to minimize the number of "sudden death" moments that occur in competitive play, though Kaplan said more details on that are forthcoming.

Kaplan also teased new cosmetic rewards that will be tied to success in competitive play. In addition to sprays and player icons that will be exclusive to those who play competitive play seasons, a new "golden gun system" will be introduced. Kaplan teased items like Reinhardt's golden hammer as one of the cosmetic rewards that will be given to highly skilled players.

More on Overwatch's competitive play mode, as well as teases for new quality of life features, are detailed in the video above.

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