Blizzard Entertainment’s epic multiplayer first person shooter, Overwatch, is now out and its good… it’s really good. Available on Windows PC, Play Station 4 and the Xbox One, Overwatch is taking gamers by the hordes with its immersing characters& graphics, environments & maps,a whole new set of hero skills and, did I mention the amazing FPS game play.
The game features 6 player teams fighting it out with roles chose from offence & attacking heroes, defense heroes, support heroes and the all new “Debuff” heroes. The maps are well balanced according to reviews and impressions so far and the art direction is the best of any shooter in recent memory. However, that does not mean that the game is without technical flaws and it’s not like we will tell you the problems without any issues. The best way to counter most of these problems is to by using a Gaming VPN that reduces lag, bypasses ISP throttling and you can play on a high speed server.
Overwatch Lag Spikes Issues
Overwatch was released on 24th May 2016 after completing successful Beta releases in North America, Europe and Asia. Some users reported issues of lag spikes & worsening frame rates in Overwatch with users reporting latency on particular maps and animation lag during team fights. While no lag was recorded during stress testing weekend the issues began right after. Check out what Overwatch users have to say on Reddit.
If you notice, Overwatch does not require a PC made in the Andromeda galaxy. A simple PC with an i5 processor, 6 GB Ram and a Radeon 7950 will suffice. Overwatch is a CPU intensive game, which means the game will drain all the raw power of your PC to maximize performance. Rather than having a massively powered graphics card, it is recommended you have a powerful CPU (RAM inclusive) with a decent graphics processing unit.
Note: Optimizing connection to game server
If your ISP is using a substandard hop route to the game server, then you’re probably getting a higher ping (or more lag) than you would if you connected to the server more directly. Sometimes this can be circumvented by connecting through a VPN server that utilizes a better hop route than most ISPs. Use the following VPN services to eliminate lag caused by ISP hop routes:
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Overwatch Lag Spikes After Update
A number of users reported events with lag spikes ruining their Overwatch experience after updating their OS to Windows 10. Although I’m not an Overwatch gamer I found the following page while configuring my laptop for StarCraft 2. The official Blizzard blog provides detailed information on the active ports that you should consider forwarding through the Windows firewall.
Blizzard identifies that the following ports must be forwarded in the Windows Firewall exceptions:
- TCP – 1119, 3724, 6113, 80
- DCP – 6250, 5062, 5060, 12000-64000, 3478, 3479
Windows 10 users can easily forward these ports by following these steps:
- Click the Windows Start Button
- In the search box type ‘Firewall’, select Windows Firewall and press Enter.
- Click Advanced Settings, in the left hand menu.
- In the left hand menu click Inbound Rules.
- From the right hand, under the Actions click New Rule.
- Now, click the Port option, and click Next.
- Select the TCP and in the Specific Local Port box enter 3724, then Click Next.
- Select the ‘Allow the connection’ option, then click Next.
- Ensure all 3 Domain, Public, & Private check boxes are ticked, now click Next.
- Enter any name for this rule, then click Finish.
You have successfully configured & forwarded TCP Port 3724 on your Windows 10 PC. You can do the same trick for all available ports and forward them through your firewall to ensure you don’t experience lag spikes due to the update. For more information about port forwarding and how to do it on your router you can also check out http://portforward.com/english/routers/port_forwarding/.
Going through Reddit, I discovered this thread from user GJToby on r/Overwatch, the comment provides some good tweaks to reduce lag spikes in Overwatch after updating to Windows 10:
- Turn off the peer-to-peer updates (Settings>Update & Security>Windows Update>Advanced options>Choose how updates are delivered>Updates from more than one place = Off.)
- Turn off one-drive.
- Turn off BITS (Background Intelligence Transfer System) – this kills windows updates, so you have to run them manually.
- Windows 10 has S*** wireless card drivers, so if you’re using an old card upgrade the card or simply use a wire to connect to the router/modem.
- Turn off Cortana, since she is constantly connected to give you real time search results.
How to Fix and Reduce Lag in Overwatch
The official Blizzard Support page identifies several factors that may occur lag during Overwatch gameplay. The list identified by Blizzard requires uninstalling the following apps or drivers from Windows PCs:
- Gigabyte, RealTek, etc. LAN Optimizer
- KillerNIC (killerservice.exe)
- Asus GameFirst III or IV
- Hamachi VPN
- Specific Router Quality of Service (QoS) options
For gamers who use routers with QoS packet shaping, Blizzard recommends contacting the manufacturer to disable QoS services or alternatively configuring the router to use with Overwatch.
Gamers who wish to turn off the QoS packet scheduling on their routers can do this by going to their browser and typing in “192.168.1.1”, which is the default IP address for most router configurations. In cases you cannot access the router configuration with the above address, it has been changed by the manufacturer or administrator. Contact your IT administrator or manufacturer for the correct address. Alternatively, you can hunt through Portforward.com to see if your router’s setup guide is listed there.
Reducing Lag Using KillPing
As gamers constantly complain over erratic lag spikes in Overwatch, there must be a one stop solution for them to kill the enemy every Overwatch gamer is facing. Hong Kong based KillPing is a leading edge ping reduction app readily available to gamers with multiple lag reduction features.
Overwatch players can subscribe to Kill Ping and reduce lag by up to 60% (according to some tests, YMMV!). KillPing offers remedial lag reduction features including:
- Optimized Gaming Servers
- Exclusive Support for DOTA 2, Overwatch, LoL and CS:GO
- Support for 100+ MOBA & MMORPG games
- Custom Game Configuration
- Access to All Kill Ping Servers with One Subscription
- Infinite Server Switches
- Server Selection Recommendations
- 24/7 Live Tech Support& Assistance
Kill Ping employs its high speed & state of the art servers around the world to enable online gamers to connect to servers closer to the region they want to game in. For instance, if a Malaysian gamer wishes to play Overwatch in the EU region they can choose from a vast list of European servers including London, Frankfurt, Milan, Paris and many more (check out the list of Kill Ping servers on their official website).
Gamers can also get real time server statistics on the KillPing webpage and check the status of all servers. In case subscribers face issues there are brilliant FAQ and tutorials sections while expert tech supports representatives are always available for help. Their 1 year package is currently on sale and can be had for cheap if you hurry:
It is suggested to use tunneling protocols with low strength encryption primarily OpenVPN (UDP & TCP), gamers can however also use iKEV2 protocol because of its high speeds.
Having an incapable internet connection can be a major factor causing Overwatch packetloss. Unstable bandwidth can cause packet data to travel slower and induces packet data loss, causing massive lag spikes in Overwatch gameplay.
This also causes input lag, as identified by many gamers during Overwatch gameplay. Input lag occurs when a gamer clicks the mouse button or command heroes using the keyboard but the action either doesn’t occur or response is delayed.
A number of tweaks can be applied to ensure your internet connection is not causing Overwatch lag spikes. Here is what you need to do:
- Disable download software in the background including Torrents, download managers, auto-updates (for Windows, Anti-Virus and other applications).
- Ensure you are connected using a CAT5E or CAT6 cable rather than connecting through the WI-FI.
- Upgrade your internet connection. It is imminent to have a high speed broadband connection to ensure fast data packet delivery and minimize data packet loss.
How to Check Ping/Test Ping in Overwatch
Gamers can trace route directly to the dedicated Overwatch game servers as published by Blizzard on their website. This allows gamers to testing real time the possible lag affecting their internet. The server addresses for Overwatch servers are:
North & South American Continent 126.96.36.199
I tested my Ping, and the results for the respective servers were:
Once a test has been conducted proper measures can be taken to counter Overwatch lag spikes during game play. Reviewers and gamers alike have also demanded that Blizzard adds a feature to test & check lag before beginning a match with the official release of the title.
How to Check Ping in Overwatch Xbox
There is no way to check or test ping on Overwatch servers on the Xbox.
How to Check Ping in Overwatch Play Station
There is no way to check or test ping on Overwatch servers on the PlayStation 4. While there is a built in speed test to test the speed of your broadband connection in the PS4 there is no dedicated tool or app designed to test the ping of Overwatch servers.
In-Game Tweaks to Improve Overwatch Framerate
There are certain tweaks that can be made in the settings menu to improve overall Overwatch framerate. Here are settings you can tweak to ensure lag free gameplay:
Render scale: This option upgrades and downgrades the rendering resolution in Overwatch. If graphics are not sharp enough turn this setting to “High”, it will radically affect your frames per second (fps). Do remember the PC will start heating up in case you have a built in graphics card. The “High” option (100%) is optimized for your default display resolution (set under Display Settings). The “Ultra” option increases rendering resolution by 150%, while the “Epic” option increases rendering by 200%.
Local Fog Detail: Setting this option on “Low” improves your fps. Although gamers & experts have been unable to explain what this option basically does, it does impact massively on frames per second.
Model Detail: Improves overall character and scenery graphics but does not have a massive impact on fps.
Shadow Detail: Although this has minor effect on lag and fps, setting this option off improves mouse accuracy and aiming. This option basically makes shadows appear blurry when set to low and makes them appear sharper when set to Ultra.
Refraction Quality: Negligible improvement in input lag (mouse) and fps, gamers can test with this option on and off.
Local Reflections, Ambient Occlusions, and Dynamic Ambient: These settings cause major mouse lag and should be kept off, but has no effect on fps.
Texture Quality: For gamers with ample of vRAM it is a good idea to keep this setting on max. There is no effect on fps and improves the texture of all elements in the game. Graphics cards with 2 GB or less vRAM keep this option on low or off.
Texture Filtering Quality: Also necessary for good textures in the scenery and on characters. This setting will reduce fps and must be kept at medium, low or off.
Dynamic Reflections: Affects fps significantly and must be kept off.
Translucent Shadow Detail: In case you have shadows off, there is no need for this setting to be on. It has no major effect on
Anti-aliasing Quality: Known for affecting fps and hence must be tested properly on Overwatch. Some gamers have established that it has not caused them any lag.
Simple Ambient Light: Makes no difference to improve or degrade fps, it is recommended to test it first on and off.
Gaming content producer James at Logical Increments suggests the following tweaks:
Improve FPS considerably with little to no impact on visuals
- Set Dynamic Reflections to Medium or Low
- Set Local Fog Detail to Low
Improve FPS by larger amounts with moderate impact to visuals
- Set Dynamic Reflections to Off
- Set Shadow Detail to Medium or Low
- Set Lighting Quality to Medium or Low
Settings Screen Shot from Reddit User Katnipz
While Overwatch was built with the mighty optimization power from Blizzard’s magical programming team, it still has its limits when it comes to scaling down to older hardware. If you have a weak graphics card or a CPU, then your frame rate might feel choppy or the game could even suffer from hiccups as a result of bottlenecks.
Since Overwatch is a CPU intensive game, having a high quality resolution monitor can also be very handy. Since the game has inbuilt 4K capabilities, it is always good to have the best output devices ready for a great Overwatch experience.
Upgrading to an Intel Core i5 CPU with a decent graphics card might alleviate the issue. Here’s a list of video cards that can run the Overwatch with optimal performance. Before we even go in the bits and bolts of eliminating lag from Overwatch we MUST go over the minimum system requirements to play the game first.
Minimum System Requirements for Overwatch
GPU: NVIDIA GTX 460, Radeon HD 4850, or Intel HD Graphics 4400
CPU: Intel Core i3 or AMD Phenom X3 8650
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Recommended System Specifications for Best Overwatch Gameplay
GPU: NVIDIA GTX 660 or Radeon HD 7950
CPU: Intel Core i5 or AMD Phenom II X3
Memory: 6 GB RAM
Overwatch Lag Spikes On PS4
Like its PC counterpart the PS4 version of Overwatch is also experiencing lag spikes, like these users reports on Reddit:
The strangest fact is that no other games are lagging for PS4 users, with Overwatch being the only game posing lag problems for multiple users. The problem lies at the core of Overwatch servers since both PC & console users are experiencing severe lag spikes as they try to find matches. Another user also established that uninstalling and reinstalling the game has made no significant difference either.
Finally after much research I found a sub-reddit with a proper answer, Blizzard mod Araxom responded to a user query acknowledging the issue and informing that it is being currently investigated. My honest suggestion for both PS4 & Xbox One users is to contact the official blizzard support center in case you experience lag spikes.
In A Nutshell
Overwatch is a trending challenge for gamers from all over the world. Smooth game play, brilliant story line, new characters, extraordinary hero skills and the Blizzard brand all promise that Overwatch will be a marvelous addition to the online gaming arena. Overwatch faces sturdy competition from the like of Team Fortress 2, HALO, CS: GO, Left 4 Dead, and Call of Duty but it does have great potential to be a global success, take the lag away though.