Blizzard fixes exploit that let cheaters and griefers control robot spawns in Overwatch PvE

For a few days, Overwatch Uprising gave players a way to spare their team of angry robots... or unleash hell.

Over the weekend I dove into Overwatch's temporary PvE mode, Uprising, looking for a relaxing distraction from all the Battlegrounds I've been playing. I wasn't expecting to be immediately subjected to peer pressure. 

"Do you guys need to get the 80 percent achievement?" one of my teammates called out in chat a few minutes into the match. I didn't know that they were talking about a unique Uprising achievement you can earn for safely guiding the payload (a hovercar) to the final phase of the map with 80 percent or more of its lifebar still intact. 

"Let's do the exploit," another teammate chimed in. As an Uprising rookie, I didn't know what the exploit was, or what my part would be in this illegal action. What if I screwed up? Would I get banned for doing it? Everyone was counting on me—I was the pure and impressionable Mercy in our four-person co-op squad. In that moment, I was behind the school cafeteria in sixth grade again, being offered drugs I didn't understand.

Fearing the rejection of the three random people I'd solo queued with, I silently colluded. After all, the stakes were high: you get loot box rewards for winning rounds of Uprising.

We glided along, sitting atop the hovercar during Uprising's escort phase. Other than a few ambient sounds, the map was quiet. No enemies were spawning, but there wasn't any dialogue either—this wasn't a scripted lull in the action. "GJ," one of my partners in crime called out in chat. The payload drifted peacefully toward a pair of double doors near the end of the modified version of King's Row that Uprising is played on. Our Torbjörn took the opportunity to showcase each of his individual emotes.

In this downtime, a teammate explained how the glitch worked: when the payload reached the double doors, it stopped omnic attackers from spawning as it prepared to detonate, triggering the end phase of the map. But if a character put themselves in the same position at the doors, Overwatch seemed to treat them as just another object, activating the same trigger that stopped the omnics from spawning.

As promised, our Tracer was standing idly at the double doors, waiting for us as we turned the corner. No omnics came.

It worked. We won, I earned an Uprising loot box, and quickly requeued for another match. Little did I know that karma was about to swiftly reclaim what I'd taken from it.

It's a reminder that games are moments in time.

Payback

In my next two Uprising matches, teammates use this same technique to grief us. Again we entered the payload phase, three of us lulled into a false sense of security as our fourth (Tracer) zipped forward to anticlimactically hold the door and save us from a few waves of robots. But this time, when the payload rounded the corner, Tracer teleported out of position. "Have fun," they typed, a moment before quitting the match.

A barrage of enemy spawn warnings sounded off, layering over each other. Oh god. Dozens of the humanoid mechs stormed in alongside multiple Bastion minibosses, far more omnics than I'd ever seen on screen. We died almost instantly, surrounded on all sides.

Apparently when Tracer left the double doors before the payload has reached them, most or all of the enemies that hadn't spawned over the past couple of minutes spawned all at once. Tracer was essentially clogging a pipe, and when she abandoned her post, all of Overwatch's accumulated robot fury came spewing forth.

RIP

After acknowledging the glitch over the Easter weekend, Blizzard patched out the exploit this morning along with a few other tiny issues. No one will experience the dull thrill of cheating Uprising, or the shock of being hoisted by their own petard as someone griefs the team to release all of the omnics at once.

This Uprising cheat will probably be forgotten as quickly as previous Overwatch exploits, but it's a reminder that games are moments in time. Some age and change more than others, but when we play a game often matters as much as what we're playing.