Overtime is a necessary mechanic in Overwatch. It allows the game to continue after the time given expires as long as attackers are contesting the objective. Rather than abruptly stopping the game in an anti-climatic manner it gives the opportunity to the attackers for a final hurrah push onto the objective, and a last attempt to deny them as defenders. While some people might advocate the removal of Overtime, most people would probably prefer to play the game with overtime mechanics in place as it allows the game to end in a more conclusive fashion. However, the Overtime mechanic in Overwatch isn’t perfect.

In the July 19, 2016 patch, better known for the patch that saw the release of Ana and the newly reworked D.Va, Overtime was changed to increase respawn time by 2s (from 10s to 12s), and the Overtime fuse would deplete much faster after 20s of Overtime. The former, I think, is a problematic mechanic.

Overtime arbitrarily favours the team that is winning when Overtime begins. Whichever team that gives away a kill first in Overtime is at a larger disadvantage than they were if that happened in regular time. This leads to situations which can only occur in Overtime. For example, if the team is not confident of taking the Assault (2CP) map on Attack with time remaining, and they’re already low on time, they should start the engage just before or during Overtime so that they can extend their advantage by investing heavily into kills after Overtime, thus delaying the defending team’s respawn. This makes it easier for them to aim for a map completion rather than risk capturing with time remaining versus not completing the map. In the recent OGN APEX finals, Lunatic-Hai only did a full engage in their Round 3 attack on Anubis point B when it was closer to Overtime even though they were already set up for the push. It was even an invitation for Kongdoo Panthera to use EMP, though they did not manage to gain anything out of it. There was more incentive to wait for the Overtime before pushing due to the extended respawn timers, making the last point push easier. If not for the Overtime respawn mechanic, LH probably would not have waited and did a more spontaneous push rather than being fully vulnerable to EMP in an enclosed space. Fortunately for LH, KDP failed to follow up on the EMP and ends up conceding the round. This isn’t just applicable to 2CP, but also for every other mode where you only want to aim for completion of the point or map. Establishing that Overtime favours the winning team during that period, this leads to another problem.

Overtime diminishes the advantage of the team with the larger time bank and enables snowballing. Due to the longer respawn times in Overtime, it takes more time for a team to reset after they drop player(s). To minimize snowballing in Overtime, the team with player disadvantage will typically either wait for the longer reset, or go for a quick engage to even out the fight by getting a pick of their own, or simply hasten their deaths to avoid staggering. On payload maps, this could mean that the cart can go for longer distances with less team fights. In which case, it is possible that the team with a smaller time bank on payload modes could gain more distance during Overtime with a smaller amount of engagements compared to the team with a larger time bank which will burn more time on more fights to cover the same distance. Regardless of whichever team wins, it isn’t fair that the team with a smaller time bank could potentially grab an advantage if they manage to push the payload during Overtime. Assuming that both teams are about even and wins the same amount of fights, the team with lower time bank gains more value from winning each fight. While not the worst example, in the France vs Denmark World Cup match on Hollywood, both teams captured an astonishing 7 points, 4 of which in Overtime. It was an exciting game to watch, but it would not have been possible if not for the longer Overtime respawns allowing snowballs to occur. Every pick and every fight won greatly increases the distance pushed, significantly extending the game where normal respawn times would have likely let the defending team take on more fights and stop the progress earlier without conceding as much ground.

Overtime is an exciting period of the game to watch, but it could often be confusing for spectators. With the longer respawns, every kill has a different weight from what spectators are accustomed to. Bodies are thrown on the objective to keep the Overtime running, and it typically ends up in a messy fashion of kills and respawns. The longer respawns attaches a ‘one fight wins it all’ condition to the game, and blurs the expected outcome of the fight for the player. It confounds the number advantages that the teams have and throws the result up in the air. Will the attacking team who are holding onto multiple ultimates cycle them properly and win, or will the defending team use their one Pulse Bomb and suddenly just end the round? Is the team that dropped a player going to instantly lose the fight because of the longer respawn? The fact that the game can be played so differently due to one mechanic isn’t really good for spectators either. Extended Overtime fights are exhilarating, but it also pulls the game away from its norm so much that the outcome is no longer as clear where it can suddenly just swing either way. It leaves people feeling a little empty, thinking whether things would have been different if it hadn't been during Overtime. Perhaps if Lunatic-Hai attacked on Anubis just a little earlier, they wouldn’t have captured the 4th point? How much of a factor did Overtime play into their successful round?

The change to Overtime were presumably made to reduce stalling capabilities and in some ways it does do that by giving an advantage to attackers to complete an objective. However, the changes also brought along a bunch of other problems. It gives a further advantage to the team already winning in Overtime, reduces the time bank advantage of the team with more time, and is ultimately not desirable for spectators due to how Overtime is dissociated from normal game play. Overtime is necessary, but the current iteration seemingly has the misguided aim of attempting to address stalling whilst also introducing a different set of issues. It is true that excessive stalling is a real problem on some game modes, mainly 2CP and Control. However, stalling in those modes doesn’t just occur in Overtime. Indefinite stalling is not an issue that Overtime should try and solve. That would be a topic for another time though. For now I have come to the conclusion that the Overtime changes have only served to create more problems than they have solved. Overall, Overtime respawn change should be reverted, and the game modes themselves need tweaking instead.