Overwatch's Competitive Play mode is out now on Windows PC, and with it comes a more serious take on Blizzard Entertainment's successful new franchise. There are a lot of moving parts to the new type of gameplay, including new maps, a skill rating system and other features, all of which Blizzard detailed in a post following the competitive update.
For anyone at level 25 or above — Competitive Play is only open to experienced players — here's what you need to know to start getting competitive with Overwatch:
Competitive Play introduces a season-based structure to Overwatch. The mode hosts — no surprise here — four seasons annually, starting with the current Summer 2016 season. In between each will be a two-week break. While the seasons will typically run 2.5 months, this inaugural round will only last until Aug. 18, due to the update's late launch.
Earning your skill rating
In order to compete during the season, you'll need a skill rating. These fall between 1 and 100 and are assessed by players' performances in a series of placement matches. Once you have one, they'll be visible to you and your similarly skilled opponent at the start of each match. But the skill rating you begin with won't stay the same throughout the season; Blizzard explains that they'll increase or decrease "based on a number of factors, including your own performance and the skill of of the other players in the match."
Competitive Play brings a slew of rewards to the game, and these start getting doled out before the season even starts. After finishing the 10 placement matches, players will receive a special spray and a different player icon each season. There are also golden weapons to be picked up with the competitive points that players collect with every win.
There are changes coming to the maps, penalty system and Sudden Death as well. Blizzard goes into the nitty-gritty of it all in its full post.
The most notable of these is the penalties players could face. Competitive players can expect to be reprimanded for leaving — or even steeping away from — a game before it's done. Do this too many times, and it can lead to a ban.
For more Overwatch, catch up with the timeline below. That will help tide over those on console, who will have to wait until at least next week to get cracking at the more intense mode.