Overwatch 2 has a new way to judge other players, and I'm nervous

Overwatch 2
(Image credit: Blizzard)

For as much flak as Battlefield 2042 caught last year for launching without a traditional scoreboard, this has been business as usual for the last six years of Overwatch. The Overwatch score screen lets you see your own performance stats, such as your kill and death counts, but obfuscates the stats of your teammates and enemies. Well, obfuscate no more: Overwatch 2's new PvP beta has a real, honest-to-god scoreboard, and it's putting me on edge.

There's nothing inherently scary about a colorful spreadsheet, of course, but I'm skeptical that this one will make Overwatch 2 more fun. At worst, the new scoreboard could make Overwatch 2 less fun, especially for solo players.

Overwatch 2's new scoreboard (Image credit: Blizzard)

Tensions run high in competitive shooters, especially in games like Overwatch, where a single teammate underperforming can be the difference between the team winning or losing. There's a lot of pressure to perform well—if not to win the match, then at least to spare yourself from being harassed by other players in text or voice chat. 

Having all of your stats laid bare, as they are in CS:GO, Valorant, and Rainbow Six Siege, gives both teammates and enemies ammo to 'back up' abusive comments or other generally crappy behavior. Overwatch 2's scoreboard isn't unusual, but part of Overwatch's appeal has been that it doesn't try to be just like other team shooters, so I'm not sure why it is now.

Regular Overwatch forgoes a normal scoreboard for a medal system that was actually designed to curb the toxicity of stat-obsessed teammates. Your individual stats can have gold, silver, or bronze medals that tell you how you're stacking up against your team—if you have a gold medal in damage, for instance, you've dealt the most damage of your team. Silver is second-most, bronze is third. Medals are an effective way to know how you're doing at a glance without getting a definitive peek at your teammates' numbers, but that hasn't stopped players from weaponizing them against each other. It's common for players to use their medals as evidence that the rest of the team is doing poorly. In this way, obfuscation can sometimes lead to misguided accusations or serve as camouflage for judgmental teammates. That cocky Genji boasting about his gold medals will naturally leave out the part where he died eight times and sucked up all of Mercy's revives.

Overwatch's current scoreboard (Image credit: Blizzard)

When medals aren't enough, nosy players peek at teammates' Career Profile pages to see previous season ranks or how many hours they've played their current hero. "Lmao at this sh*tty 12-hour Mercy," a teammate of mine once remarked. Profile prodding has become so intrusive and abusive that most Competitive players nowadays have their profiles set to private.

So, no, Overwatch's current systems aren't a silver bullet for toxicity, but a fully transparent scoreboard doesn't solve the problem either. At best, having a greater context for a match is helpful for explaining what went right or wrong. In a friendly environment, that can be constructive. But if useful stats are the goal, then Overwatch 2's scoreboard is already lacking. 

It's striking that in Overwatch 2, an objective-based game, none of the stats on the scoreboard have to do with the objective. K/D ratios and healing values aren't everything. A top-fragging Solider can hurt the team by not protecting his supports. A Mercy complaining about losing after healing 10,000 damage might've underutilized her damage boost. Meanwhile, the medal-less Ana who pushed the payload while everybody ran ahead gets zero props on the scoreboard. At worst, Overwatch 2's scoreboard means jerks now have more tools with which to be jerks. Unfortunately, these games attract a lot of jerks, so the cons are outweighing the pros in my eyes.

Having spent years in Rainbow Six Siege lobbies, I'd readily give up detailed stats if it would get its players to chill out. I really don't need a casual match of Overwatch to include my K/D ratio being mocked by the enemy team's Cassidy. It can be fun to compare stats with my friends though, so maybe a nice compromise would be to only show my stats to my party.

Blizzard has been clear that nothing in the Overwatch 2 beta should be considered final, so it's possible the scoreboard will look different by the time it's out.

Morgan Park
Staff Writer

Morgan has been writing for PC Gamer since 2018, first as a freelancer and currently as a staff writer. He has also appeared on Polygon, Kotaku, Fanbyte, and PCGamesN. Before freelancing, he spent most of high school and all of college writing at small gaming sites that didn't pay him. He's very happy to have a real job now. Morgan is a beat writer following the latest and greatest shooters and the communities that play them. He also writes general news, reviews, features, the occasional guide, and bad jokes in Slack. Twist his arm, and he'll even write about a boring strategy game. Please don't, though.