Feb 9 2017 - 3:20 pm

What is Overwatch's server browser?

Blizzard introduced the new feature to Overwatch's public test region on Jan. 7.
Overwatch Staff Reporter
Image via Blizzard Entertainment

Server browsers were popular in shooter games nearly a decade or more ago, but they're making their way back into the mainstream. Last year, Halo 5: Guardians got one. This year, it's Overwatch's turn.

Overwatch's server browser is a robust version of its custom game mode, allowing players to open up their favorite custom games to everyone in their region.

"It's a really cool feature where people can run custom versions of the game and then other people can find that game in a public list and then join it," Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan said in developer Blizzard Entertainment's latest Developer's Update. All custom games running in a player's region will populate a huge list in the server browser. Players are able to sort and filter game types making it easy to find exactly what they're looking for.

Custom games allow for players to create new experiences in Overwatch unavailable on the quick or competitive ladders. Say, maybe no heroes are able to use their ultimate abilities. Maybe there's no cooldown on ultimates. Payload speeds are also adjustable, too. Options are endless. "You can now go into each individual hero abilities and turn them on or off and adjust their cooldowns, if you want," Kaplan said. "One of the things that's really fun that we've been having a blast with is setting Widowmaker's cooldown on her grappling hook as low as it could possibly go. You can pretty much Spider-Man through the map with Widowmaker if you want."

Players will also now be able to gain experience in custom games, Kaplan said. Competitive players, particularly, will benefit from this in regards to gaining levels and earning loot boxes—professional players typically scrim against other professional players, and aren't often playing on the ladder.

Screengrab via Blizzard Entertainment

Additional Capture the Flag modes will also be playable in the custom game server browser, making wacky variations easy to find. It'll also be in the Arcade, Blizzard said. Along with Capture the Flag and the server browser, Overwatch's latest PTR patch brought hero balance changes to Bastion, Mercy, D.Va, and plenty others, too.

But if you don't think those changes are fair, you're likely to adjust them, within limits, in custom games. Just take away Bastion's turret mode.

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