Image: Blizzard

The launch date of Overwatch 2 slowly approaches, bringing with it a new battle pass, a brand new hero, and, announced today in a blog post, a brand new anti-cheat, group safety, and moderation device referred to as the Defense Matrix. Named after the D.Va ability that permits her to soak up and negate incoming assaults, the Defense Matrix is a collection of options that Blizzard says are “designed to help protect the integrity of gameplay and promote positive behavior in Overwatch 2.”

With Defense Matrix, Blizzard is implementing a number of new account safety and moderation instruments, the most important two of that are SMS Protect and voice chat transcriptions. Starting on October 4th, all Overwatch 2 gamers can be required so as to add a legitimate cellphone quantity to their battle.internet account so as to play. Multiple accounts can not use the identical quantity on the similar time, nor can gamers use the identical quantity to create a number of accounts. Additionally, sure sorts of cellphone numbers, comparable to VOIP numbers, is not going to be permitted.

In an interview with The Verge, Bill Warnecke, Overwatch 2 lead software program engineer, mentioned that the concept behind SMS Protect is to primarily make it that a lot more durable to cheat. In the times of Overwatch prime, the consequence of dishonest was merely a banned account and, subsequently, the edge to return to dishonest was primarily the price of shopping for the sport once more.

“SMS protect focuses a bit on the bad actors and the players who are willing to use cheats and potentially are willing to cycle through many, many accounts,” he mentioned. “Losing an account in Overwatch 2 is a much more significant penalty than it was in Overwatch 1.”

The group can be conscious that SMS Protect would possibly unfairly punish gamers who merely have a number of accounts. Warnecke defined that, of their discussions, the necessity to fight motivated cheaters outweighed the considerably edge circumstances of a number of account gamers. RIP the tried-and-true tradition of “smurfing”.

Reminiscent of technology Riot currently uses in Valorant, Blizzard can be implementing a system that can report and transcribe voice chat audio.

“Audio transcriptions allow us to collect a temporary voice chat recording of a reported player and automatically transcribe it through text to speech programs,” Blizzard mentioned in its Defense Matrix weblog submit. This system is simply engaged if a participant is reported, and since audio logs aren’t stored for lengthy, gamers are inspired to report abusive habits as quickly as doable.

In addition to audio transcription, Blizzard can be eliminating the final chat characteristic. Unlike group chat or group chat, normal chat was an open discussion board for each participant related to the Overwatch servers — and, when you’re acquainted with the old Barrens chat meme — it was a little bit of a cesspit. Blizzard agreed.

“The General Chat in the game menus is being removed from the game because we found it to be an area where frequent disruptive behavior occurred,” the weblog submit mentioned. “General chat doesn’t serve a productive purpose, and it could be removed without compromising the core mechanics of the game.”

But normal chat wasn’t the one avenue of textual content abuse in Overwatch. I requested if, along with eliminating the Overwatch taste of Barrens chat, the group had applied any improved chat filters to forestall teammates from being dickheads, however the reply was rather less encouraging.

“It’s technology we’re working on,” replied Overwatch 2 precept designer Scott Mercer. “It’s something where, as the culture changes, as the words we use change, it’s something we have to be aggressive about. So we’re definitely looking to do more in that area.”

As marginalized Twitch streamers coping with hate raids and inventive assholes discovering new and ingenious methods to make use of slurs can attest, progressive and proactive chat filters can go a great distance towards curbing abuse.

Finally, Overwatch 2 is including a brand new onboarding expertise for brand-new gamers, designed to get them on top of things earlier than they’re allowed to affix the closest Deathmatch. Dubbed FTUE, or First Time User Experience, new gamers with new battle.internet accounts made on or after October 4th can be shunted right into a system whereby they unlock heroes and gameplay modes.

“The first phase of our new FTUE rapidly unlocks all the game modes and the ability to chat in-game, and the second phase unlocks all the original Overwatch heroes over the course of approximately 100 matches,” the weblog mentioned.

If you’re an skilled first-person shooter participant experiencing Overwatch 2 for the primary time, sadly you can’t decide out. (Or, when you’re a lapsed Overwatch prime participant, i.e., me, you equally can not decide in. Bummer.) However, these restrictions are eliminated when in a gaggle with different gamers.

Designing the brand new consumer expertise was twofold, in line with Mercer. “One of the basic things, from a game design standpoint, is that we simply didn’t want to overwhelm a new player with 30-plus heroes all at once,” he mentioned.

He additionally defined that FTUE mixed with SMS Protect provides an extra barrier to malicious actors attempting to get again into the sport. “We want to make sure that if players do something horrible, there’s a bit more of a cost for them,” Mercer mentioned.

Overwatch 2 cometh, lastly, on October 4th, and there are simply 5 extra days earlier than Overwatch prime goes offline.

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