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Overwatch 'high-bandwidth' update is live for PC, here's what it does

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Blizzard exploring how to bring it to consoles

Overwatch has just rolled out its "high bandwidth" update for the game's PC version, promising higher quality online play that still keeps players with weaker connections in the game.

In the video above, Overwatch's lead engineer Tim Ford and senior engineer Philip Orwig lay out the changes and what they will mean for players. It's a highly technical discussion, but basically, PC users will see the game run a lot more smoothly and with fewer surprises attributable to netcode.

That said, the high-bandwidth update is not available to the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One versions of Overwatch. "We're still investigating how to roll this out to on console," Orwig said. It is available in most but not all regions on PC, too.

As Ford explained, the update sharply reduces something called the interpolation delay, which is basically the server predicting where one player is going and how fast and then rendering that on other players' clients, ensuring a smooth experience for everyone. For players with a clean connection, the new netcode shortens that delay by more than half.

Those with substandard connections still may play, they will just be moved into a lower-bandwidth grouping, automatically, to keep them in the game and everyone's experience smooth and enjoyable.

"The net result is you will be shot around corners less, you'll be able to predict escape moves better and the server will hear about it sooner," Ford said, explaining what the high bandwidth patch does for those playing with up-to-standard network connections.

Users sensed something was in the works when they noticed some in-game statistics and references to interpolation delay. Orwig said the Overwatch development team focused on assuring very stable online support through the game's launch and first few months, with the high-bandwidth support held aside as a "back pocket" feature in custom games set up by users. Now that is being deployed to the game at large.