“Versus AI” is one of the three main game modes available in Overwatch, coming with its own MMR, XP levels and stat-tracking page in your career profile. I usually play a single Vs AI match when I start up Overwatch for the day so I can warm up and grab that +1500 First Win of the Day bonus in a stressfree environment. I also had a roommate in Texas who was too intimidated by the thought of fighting other humans and so would play a lot of McCree and Mei versus AI. So for multiple reasons, it’s an appreciated game mode and I’m very pleased Blizzard gave it the prominent space on the Play menu it enjoys.
However, for a very long time now the queue times have been really bad. I’ve waited over five minutes for a match to start, skirmishing against the filler 76 and Zenyatta bot in an otherwise-empty Skirmish server, watching people connect, get bored, disconnect, and never reaching the 6 players needed to start a match. And I think there are a few things Blizzard could do to shorten the queue times for the Vs AI game mode.
Firstly, I think Easy difficulty could be completely removed and Medium renamed Easy. At the moment, Medium is already impossible to lose so long as two people on the human team know vaguely how to play Overwatch, and the Easy difficulty is only offering the same experience while dividing the queue. If everybody searching for Medium and Easy matches were sorted into the same queue, that would significantly reduce the wait time while offering an indistinguishable gameplay experience. Or, if they don’t want to delete modes, how about an “ANY” queue that throws me into the first open Vs AI match? Easy, Medium and Hard are completely indistinguishable to me, I just want to find a match as soon as possible.
Secondly, regarding the aforementioned skirmish mode, could we get a full AI team? The Soldier and Zenyatta are depressingly dull for more than a single player to fight against, and a full team would give the waiting players a lot more to shoot at. If Blizzard is worried about the skirmish AI overpowering the humans through sheer strength in numbers (the only possible explanation I can think of for limiting their numbers so), I can assure them that I’d be more than happy to rise to the challenge or, failing that, snipe the bots safely from the impenetrable spawn exit. The absolute tedium of the skirmish experience is a major part of why the queue times are unbearable.
In regards to the actual combat against the bots, I have a few suggestions there but they aren’t as important as the last two. I would prefer if the bots were limited to one per team or their code were adjusted to make that more likely, because right now the bots absolutely love Zarya, Zenyatta, and Soldier 76, and it’s not uncommon for 4 of the bots to be pairs of one of those characters. It would also be nice if more heroes were available for the AI team (at the moment they have less than half to choose from) but I recognize that coding the AI is no easy feat and Blizzard has done a good job adding more AI heroes as time goes along considering there are twice as many AI hero choices as when the game went live.
Last but not least, while we’re on the topic of queue times, the weekly brawl commonly has the same problem where it can take an inordinately long time to find a full match. Part of the problem is that many of the brawls are simply restricted versions of the base game (with just a punny name and certain heroes/maps deactivated), which get boring almost immediately. Someone on reddit had a pretty good idea for populating the brawl where players can earn a loot box by winning a single match every time the brawl changes. Hearthstone uses a similar system already, awarding a free card pack for the first win in a new brawl, and Hearthstone card packs are arguably more valuable than Overwatch lootboxes.