Season 3 of competitive Overwatch ended a week ago and Season 4 of Competitive has officially begun this morning at 8.00 AM SGT (4:00 PM PST) and there are a few changes that will and will not affect gameplay. These changes are on the Skill Rating decay, top 500 rewards adjustments and respawn changes.
Skill Rating Changes
The skill rating decay system was introduced back in Season 2 along with a new 4-digits SR system, where players in the Diamond, Master and Grandmaster tiers will have to complete at least one competitive game every seven days or else their SR will decay by 50 every 24 hours. For Season 4, players with 3000 SR and above will now have to complete at least seven games in seven days instead of the old one game in seven days. The reason why Blizzard changes the SR decay system is because they wanted a more accurate SR that players have, making maintaining the SR more difficult for high SR accounts, as well as making the grind up to these tiers more meaningful.
When you complete a match, the amount of time until skill rating decay occurs is reset back to 24 hours, and you can bank up to seven days per week. You could play one match per day or complete all seven in a single session, as long as you manage to play seven games over a one-week period, your skill rating will not decay.
The Overwatch team is happy with the SR system changes they've made during Season 3 where the game will accurately place players into an appropriate tier but there are still issues that were found in the extreme ends of the skill rating spectrum, whihc is 0 and 5000. The example given by Blizzard is players that throws games intentionally just to see how low they can go in terms of SR, and they despises these act as it beats the purpose of Competitive Play. Therefore, they are making it a little more difficult to reach 0 and 5000 SR this season, and players with less than 500 SR will not be able to see their SR anymore. The changes above will have no effect for players who have SR between 500 and 4500.
Top 500 Rewards Changes
Don't get me wrong, these changes does not involve the rewards itself, but the recipient of the reward. In previous seasons, any player who managed to climb up to the top 500 at least once in a season would receive a special spray and player icon once the season ends. From Season 4 onwards, these exclusive rewards will only be given to players who are in top 500 leaderboard at the end of the season. The reason for this change is to encourage players to maintain their competitive edge as the season progresses, and also making the end-of-season leaderboard rankings much more competitive to reach the top 500.
This is big one, and one you'll need to know before jumping into a Competitve match. A common defensive strategy on Assault, Escort, and Assault/Escort maps is stalling the attacking team from capturing an objective is often done by throwing yourself into enemy lines to contest the point, even when you know you have a significant disadvantage. Most of the time it does not change to outcome of the game but just to delay the enemy from capturing the objective.
In Season 4, Blizzard has implemented a respawn time delay that activates automatically when the attackers outnumber the defenders on a contested point. However, the defenders respawn timer will slowly begin to increase until it hits a maximum value if the point hasn't been captured and the defense hasn't regained the advantage after a specified time. If the defense manages to gain the upper hand, the timer resets to zero.
These changes made are a temporary solution aimed to reduce the number of draws as Blizzard is currently working on a more robust solution to reduce draws on Assault maps.
Season 4 is live right now on all Overwatch playable platforms and it will last for approximately two and a half months. What are you waiting for? Attack the objective!
Source: Overwatch Official Blog