Overwatch is getting high bandwidth servers in the coming weeks

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One of Overwatch’s best features is the simple fact that it’s playable here in South Africa. Despite being so far away from the European servers, it feels like the shooter has no lag whatsoever thanks to some truly magical netcode.

It’s not perfect unfortunately. You see, Overwatch’s servers run at a refresh rate of 21Hz, which is actually rather low for a competitive shooter. Have you ever tried to Recall with Tracer for example, and seen the animation start to take place, only to witness your death a moment later? That’s thanks to the game’s low refresh rate.

The community have long wanted something better, and it looks like Blizzard are going to deliver just that. They’ve announced that they’ll be rolling out high bandwidth servers for Overwatch over the coming weeks.

When we implemented the “High Bandwidth” option to Custom Games back in beta, we also noted that—if the feature performed well and players responded positively to it—we would investigate adding it to other games modes. We’re holding to that promise and are currently in the process of rolling out high bandwidth support globally for PC. This process may take a few weeks for all regions, but once fully deployed all games including those in Quick Play and Competitive Play will be running in high bandwidth mode by default.

So what does that mean? In Overwatch, our high bandwidth option adjusts the game’s client update rate (the frequency at which your client gets updates from the game server) from 21 updates per second to 63 updates per second. This reduces the amount of time between when you complete an action and when your client hears back about the result, which in turn will help make the game feel more responsive.

This is excellent news for sure, but I’m not sure how these new servers will affect our performance here in South Africa. Will the lag be better, or worse? I was always under the impression that a lower refresh rate worked in our favour (i.e.it levelled the playing field somewhat between ourselves and European players).

That, and our Internet (the ADSL at least) isn’t exactly known for stellar upload speeds. There’s also the problem of data usage – this update is going to triple it, which is a problem for those who aren’t on uncapped plans.

Thankfully, Blizzard are gracious gods. They’re putting tech in place that will cater to every kind of Internet user.

Since we know that not all internet connections are equal, we’ve also added in tech that will automatically and adaptively scale down your update rate if we find your connection can’t keep up. Similarly, because high bandwidth servers (as the name suggests) will increase your bandwidth consumption, we’re also looking to add an option to self-limit your update rate in a future patch.

Well that’s nice at least. Still, I wonder if these new servers will really benefit us, or prove to be detrimental.

What do you think? Am I just being a moron? I don’t really know much about refresh rates and such, so that may very well be the case!

Last Updated: August 15, 2016

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