Our Server Browser guide contains everything you need to know about the new Overwatch feature, covering customisation options, creating servers, and tracking them down.
Blizzard issued a pretty significant Overwatch PTR update earlier today, one which not only includes some pretty dramatic hero tweaks, but also a brand new custom server feature for the game. In our Server Browser guide, we'll bring you up to speed with everyone that's currently known about this exciting new addition to the game.
Much of the content contained in the first edition of this guide has been taken directly from the recent developer update video covering the new feature. Once we've had an opportunity to play around with the mode on the PTR, we'll flesh this guide out even further with tips for finding great games, and even a round-up of the most fun servers currently in circulation.
What is Overwatch's Server Browser feature?
Overwatch's Server Browser is very much like the custom servers you'll have encountered in other shooters in the past. It puts game customisation directly into the hands of the players, rather than the developers, and allows you to make numerous significant changes to the game.
You'll be able to locate player-curated servers based on region (Asia, Americas, Europe etc), and there'll be plenty of other filtering options to help you find what you're looking for in terms of maps, heroes, game modes, fundamental gameplay tweaks and so on.
The Server Browser has been added to Overwatch to allow players to try out new things and play the game in very different ways. It's not possible for the developers to create a matchmaking system that connects people with wildly different tastes together, so this puts control in the players' hands.
Note that you can still earn experience points and work towards unlocking new Loot Boxes while playing in Server Browser games! Whether there are any restrictions on the amount of XP you can gain in this mode is not yet clear.
Server Browser is also the new permanent home for the game's recently released Capture the Flag mode with the Year of the Rooster update. Now though, there'll be a total of 12 maps to compete on, making use of every Control map in the game: Ilios, Oasis, Lijiang Tower and Nepal.
What can you change in Server Browser mode?
There are many variables that you can change when creating a game in the Server Browser. In the developer update video, game director Jeff Kaplan used Capture the Flag as an example. You might want to change things up in the following ways:
- Force a team to be in control of their own flag if they're to capture the enemy's.
- Give the flag a shorter or a longer pickup time.
- Change the match time or adjust how many flag captures are required to complete the match.
Further examples were given for Payload maps and other battlegrounds too:
- Change the travelling speed of the Payload.
- Adjust the capture speed of each point on Control maps.
- Allow only certain heroes, and even tweak their cooldowns and ability availability. Consider a Widowmaker with infinite Grappling Hook usage!
The developers will be paying close attention to what the community cooks up collectively, and may well incorporate some of these changes into the official version of the game. They've also promised that plenty of other filters and options will make their way into the Server Browser in due course.
Finding matches in Overwatch's Server Browser
There'll be a number of different filtering options in the Server Browser, which will allow you to pick the precise match you want, based on those filters. Hopefully there'll be some kind of "closest match" element as well, so you can find something that's as close as possible to your ideal setup.
At the time of publishing this article the PTR was offline, but we'll update this article with screenshots of how to get things going as soon as it comes back online.
How to set up a Server Browser match in Overwatch
When the PTR server comes back online, we'll also provide you with a step by step guide to creating your very own custom server! Watch this space for an update in the very near future.