New Overwatch Update is Big News for High Bandwidth Players

Published: 13 September 2016Updated: 14 September 2016
Overwatch Developer Update High Bandwidth

The new Overwatch High bandwidth update has rolled out.

A brand new Overwatch update has rolled out over the weekend and it should now be available in most regions across the world. This latest update makes some much-needed changes to the netcode, and it might just mean that you’ll be able to say goodbye to lag in Overwatch for good.

In the previous update, we saw the introduction of season 2 and a number of gameplay changes to accompany it. The latest update doesn’t change any gameplay content but instead fixes up the servers to improve the performance and cut down on latency.

In simple terms, this should mean things should run smoother behind the scenes to cut down on overall network lag. If you’ve played Overwatch before, you’ve probably noticed a few ‘off’ deaths here and there.

Things like dying after you’ve already made it behind cover, or getting taken out in a 1v1 situation when it feels like you put in more than enough hits to land a kill.

With the latest update, this kind of scenario should happen far less, and as a result, the rage levels and blood pressure of the most dedicated of Overwatch players have probably dropped considerably.

The New Netcode Explained

The update primarily works for those with a faster internet connection and has been nicknamed the ‘High Bandwidth Update’ by Overwatch’s lead engineer Tim Ford and senior engineer Philip Orwig.

This is because in the cases where a player does not have a fast enough connection to take advantage of the new netcode changes, things will be adjusted on the fly and the servers will ‘downgrade’ the data that will be sent to their PC.

It’s a rather complicated subject, so perhaps the best people to hear it from are the guys who created it. Below we have a developer diary from both Orwig and Ford as they explain the update in more detail.

One thing that’s important to note is that you do not need to join ‘high bandwidth only’ servers to get the most out of the new changes. Everything is done dynamically and the Overwatch team have built a smart mechanism that can adaptively measure how well your connection is handling the data it’s receiving from the server.

Simply put, you can play with the laggiest guy on your friends list and still have a smooth experience for yourself.

Orwig and Ford discuss the new Overwatch Update.

Orwig and Ford discuss the new Overwatch Update.

If you’re stuck with a limited internet connection this latest update won’t mean much for you. If your connection cannot keep up with the requirements for ‘high bandwidth mode’ then you’ll be seeing the same kind of experience that the servers offered before the update was rolled out.

However, every Overwatch player that does have a fairly decent internet connection should already be able to notice the changes to the netcode. I don’t think that the new Overwatch update will be exclusive to those with godlike internet speeds – it’s likely that the necessary speeds are more than achievable in most regions.

It would be nice to have some kind of clarification from the Overwatch team to confirm the speeds we need to make use of the new netcode changes, though.

In summary, this will definitely bring a more fluid experience to the whole player base, but these changes could mean bigger things for a higher level of competitive play . I could see these recent improvements to the netcode as an important change for providing a more competitive environment for the Overwatch esports scene.

Esports could improve with the Overwatch high bandwidth update.

Esports could improve with the Overwatch high bandwidth update.

The update should have rolled out to almost all regions by now for the PC version of Overwatch. There’s no status page to tell us what regions have received the update yet, but if you’ve got an average or better internet connection, you should be able to notice the changes once they have hit your area.

From what I’ve last heard, the update is still not live on the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, but the Overwatch team are looking for the best way to implement it. It may be the case that the console camp will need to wait for the next client update for Overwatch before the changes can be seen.

Looks like I won’t be able to use ‘lag’ as my excuse for poor performance now. Let’s just hope the new update will make a worthwhile change, especially considering that it won’t make as much as a ripple of difference to those who would be lagging on the old netcode anyway.

In other news, Overwatch – Origins Edition has recently been discounted by $10 on Amazon for all platforms. There wasn’t an official announcement for this price reduction so we can’t be sure how long the sale will last. It may have something to do with the recent free weekend for Overwatch on the PS4 and Xbox One.



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