All Overwatch Arcade game modes explained

A breakdown of all 18 Arcade modes in Overwatch.

Image via Blizzard Entertainment

The Overwatch Arcade features an ongoing rotation of unique modes with diverse rule sets. Some modes are available year round, while other modes are only seasonal. There’s plenty of fun to be had playing the various weird, wacky, and unique modes that the Overwatch Arcade card has to offer.

Here is a brief explanation of every Overwatch Arcade mode.

Free-For-All modes

Deathmatch

Deathmatch is an Arcade mode where eight players are pitted against one another in a race to reach 25 kills. Whoever reaches 25 kills first or has the most kills when the time expires is declared the victor. Although a few of the free-for-all maps are set in traditional Overwatch objective maps, the majority of matches take place on dedicated maps like Chateau Guillard and Petra.

Hero Gauntlet

Hero Gauntlet is a free-for-all Deathmatch mode where players must achieve kills as 22 different Overwatch heroes to claim the victory. Every time a player gets a kill in this mode, they immediately change into a new hero who they must then achieve a kill with. To win, you must work your way through the following heroes in this order:

  • McCree
  • Soldier: 76
  • Ashe
  • Pharah
  • Genji
  • Hanzo
  • Zenyatta
  • Junkrat
  • Mei
  • Tracer
  • Ana
  • Bastion
  • Moira
  • Widowmaker
  • Sombra
  • Doomfist
  • Reaper
  • Roadhog
  • Reinhardt
  • Lúcio
  • Mercy 
  • Torbjörn (hammer only)

This mode is essentially Overwatch’s version of Gun Game from other titles like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive or Call of Duty.

Mirrored Deathmatch

Mirrored Deathmatch assigns a hero to all eight players in the match. Players will play as that random hero for a set amount of time before the entire server is eventually switched over to a new hero. The game cycles through several heroes before the time expires. The first player to 25 kills wins.

Variations of quickplay

Mystery Heroes

In Mystery Heroes, players compete in a normal Overwatch quickplay match. But every time a player respawns they will spawn in as a random hero. Although there would usually be a role lock in which heroes can be selected in normal quickplay, the Mystery Heroes mode places no constraints on which hero you can spawn as. This means that team compositions can get pretty wonky in this game mode.

Total Mayhem

Total Mayhem is played just like quickplay would be, but this mode is only played on Escort and Hybrid maps, all players have twice as much health, and their ability cooldowns are significantly lowered. On top of that, ultimate charge is also 50 percent faster in this mode.

With everyone having more health and lower cooldowns, this mode ends up being total mayhem. Typically, the match devolves into both teams spamming abilities in the hopes of winning a futile battle of attrition. In this mode, fights can feel more of a marathon than a sprint.

No Limits

No Limits features the original Overwatch quickplay ruleset from when the game first released. That means there are no limits on roles and heroes, so team compositions can include multiples of the same character. Despite this freedom, many No Limits games end up being very similar to a normal match, with players often not even doubling up on heroes. But occasionally teams in No Limits will push the mode and discover completely broken combinations of doubled or tripled heroes.

Capture the Flag

Capture the Flag pits two teams of six against each other on Overwatch capture point maps to capture flags from the enemy base while protecting their own. While carrying the flag, the flagbearer cannot use any of their movement abilities, so they must be escorted by their teammates to bring the flag home safely. Victory goes to the team who either captures three flags or has the most flags captured when the time limit expires. If there is a tie when time expires then there will be shortened overtime round, wherein the bases are moved closer together to make it easier to take enemy flags. This mode only takes place on points from Lijiang Tower, Oasis, and Nepal, as well as on Ayutthaya. 

Low Gravity

The Low Gravity Arcade mode is just like traditional quickplay, but the gravity of the world has been reduced to 25 percent of the original gravity value. As a result, characters can jump higher and their movement abilities are impacted by the lower gravity as well. It can produce some interesting interactions between characters who are impacted in various ways by the gravity change and can be a fun way to play the game.

Quickplay Classic

Quickplay Classic features the hero lock but no role lock. This means that the infamous three-tank, three-healer GOATs competition, for example, is still a legal strategy in this game type. Many people play this game mode to avoid long DPS queues, so if you queue up for it, expect plenty of DPS players on your team.

Team elimination and deathmatch modes

3v3 Elimination

3v3 Elimination is a round-based elimination mode with no respawns. Teams of three select heroes with no role limitations. Whoever kills all the members of the opposing team first wins the round. If no one has won the round in a specified time period, a capture point will open up in the middle of the map to force a final confrontation. 

Like the free-for-all modes, 3v3 Elimination is played on its own set of dedicated maps. There are five maps in total, including Ayutthaya, Black Forest, Castillo, Ecopoint: Antarctica, and Necropolis. There are two variants of 3v3 Elimination, one with no limits on hero picks, and then 3v3 Lockout where the heroes which were used to win a round are unavailable to a team for the rest of the match.

6v6 Elimination

6v6 Elimination is identical to 3v3 elimination, but with six players on each team. Like with 3v3, there is also a 6v6 Lockout elimination mode, where teams can’t play the heroes they won around with for the rest of the match. 

4v4 Team Deathmatch

4v4 Team Deathmatch features two teams of four who will race to 30 points. Every kill will net your team a point. Suicides will lose your team a point and resurrections by Mercy will take a point back from the enemy team. This game mode is hosted on the dedicated 3v3 Elimination map set as well. Unlike 3v3 and 6v6 Elimination, 4v4 Team Deathmatch features respawns, so the strategy in this mode often revolves around targeting the weaker players on the enemy team, while protecting the weaker players on your team.

Duel modes

1v1 Limited Duel

1v1 Limited Duel pits you against a single other player. Each round, both players will receive the three options of heroes to select from, then they will duel it out to see who comes out on top. The possible hero selections will change with each round. The first player to win five rounds claims the victory. This game mode takes place on the dedicated 3v3 map pool. 

1v1 Mystery Duel

1v1 Mystery Duel is just like the 1v1 Limited Duel mode, with all the same rules. The only difference is that 1v1 Mystery Duel will randomly assign both players the same hero each round, instead of giving them a choice from three heroes.

Seasonal Modes

Lucio Ball

Lucio Ball is a seasonal event that is available in the Arcade during the Overwatch Summer Games event. This mode pits three Lucio players against each other in a soccer match. There are jump boost pads placed in front of both goals and situated around the field to help with mobility, and Lucio’s ultimate gives him a super-speed ability with lower cooldowns on his Soundwave ability.

To win, players must zoom around the field using their melee ability and their Soundwave abilities to blast a soccer ball into their enemies goal while protecting their own. Whoever has the most goals when time expires wins.

Junkenstein’s Revenge

Junkenstein’s Revenge is a co-op Arcade mode that is available during the Overwatch Halloween Terror event every year. This co-op mode sees four players teaming up to defeat waves of enemies, with the objective being to defend the door on Eichenwalde from evil zombie robots and monsters. Along with fighting the zombie robots, your team will also face various bosses in the form of spooky Roadhogs, Junkrats, Symetras, Mercys, and Reapers.

Mei’s Snowball Offensive

Mei’s snowball offensive is a seasonal event available during the Overwatch Winter Wonderland event. This mode is similar to 6v6 elimination, however every player is Mei and your only weapon is snowballs which you can pick up from snow piles scattered around the map. Mei can also charge an ult, which lets her fire a flurry of snowballs without having to reload. If you are hit by a snowball you are out until the next round. The first team to claim three rounds wins the snowball fight.

Yeti Hunt

Yeti Hunt is a seasonal game mode available during the Overwatch Winter Wonderland event. This mode is an asymmetrical mode which pits five Meis up against one super powered Winston in a Yeti skin. The Mei’s goal is to kill the Yeti, while the Yeti’s goal is to kill all of the Meis. 

Mei’s base abilities in Yeti Hunt remain the same, with the only difference being that her Cryo-Freeze ability only lasts two seconds now. Her ultimate ability is replaced with a giant Yeti trap, with which to ensnare the wild Yeti. The Yeti, on the other hand, has a 5,000 hit-point health pool. He can also charge his ultimate by collecting cuts of meat which are scattered around the map. If he collects four of those, he will enter his Primal Rage ultimate ability. This game mode typically favors the Yeti, though it is certainly possible for the Mei’s to win if they work together well.