Our tier list for the best Overwatch Arcade game modes

By Olivia Richman


Dec 24, 2019

Reading time: 10 min

When Overwatch players don’t feel like dealing with role locks or the pressure of climbing up the competitive ranks, they turn to Arcade. This is a play mode in Overwatch that rewards you with loot boxes for each three Arcade games you win, allowing players to get up to three extra loot boxes each week. 

Arcade features a rotating list of various game modes, but not all are made equal. In fact, some are downright dreadful. We’ve put together a tier list of Arcade modes below, but feel free to explain your own choices in the comments. 

S Tier

Classic Quick Play

For Overwatch fans who still want to practice strategy, communication, and map knowledge, Classic Quick Play is the right choice. It’s the exact same as the current Quick Play except there are no role locks, meaning nobody is forced to choose heroes from within just one of the three roles in the game for the duration of the match. This allows for a bit more flexibility with team composition, but still keeps the core concept of working together with your team to capture a point or push the payload. 

Miss GOATS for some reason? This is your chance to relive the first half of Overwatch League Season 2 for yourself. Just keep in mind that Brigitte has been nerfed significantly since that time, so it may not be as successful as it once was. 

Team Deathmatch

This Arcade mode divides players into two teams of four. Each foursome competes to reach 30 eliminations first, or to have the most kills when the 10-minute timer runs out. Team Deathmatch is a lot of fun since you can pick whichever hero you desire, coming up with unique team comps and strategies for your team. You can even switch heroes in the middle of the match if your team is falling too far behind. 

There are three maps in this mode: Black Forest, Necropolis, and Ecopoint: Antarctica. Each map differs greatly in aesthetic and setup, meaning different maps call for different heroes and team comps. 

3v3 Elimination

This is another game mode that allows you to pick whichever hero you desire. Three-hero teams compete to eliminate the opposing team three times by eliminating all of their players. When one enemy is eliminated they don’t come back, unlike Team Deathmatch. This mode is played on Black Forest, Castillo, Ecopoint: Antartica, and Necropolis. 

With only three people on your team, communication is definitely key to working together as one unit in hopes of staying alive. Spreading out or not properly strategizing spells certain disaster, since an overly confident Hanzo that goes solo will simply be eliminated, leaving only two of you to fend off the enemy. 

A Tier

Mystery Heroes

Mystery Heroes takes all the game modes of Quick Play (Assault, Control, Escort, Hybrid), but you can’t pick your hero. For that reason, it’s not S tier, since many people prefer to select heroes they most enjoy playing. But it’s also high up on the tier list for that exact reason, since many people also find it useful to be forced to play new heroes to become better at the game overall.

Playing a random hero you don’t normally play not only helps you get better with them, but also helps you to better understand the hero for when you end up facing them in a competitive match. 

Also, it’s fun to not know which hero you’re going to be next. Yeah, you may end up playing Doomfist when you’re a Mercy main, but you can just get the enemy to kill you quickly so you can come back as someone else. But remember, simply launching yourself off the map will make you come back as the same hero again.

3v3 Lockout Elimination

This game mode is exactly the same as 3v3 Elimination except once you win a round with a hero they become unavailable for the rest of the match. Again, this isn’t great for one-trick players. But forcing players to strategically pick who they are going to play each round, and coordinating that with their teammates strengths and picks, is a lot of fun for players looking for a new challenge.

If you’re a D.Va main but you have a pocket Reinhardt, maybe bring out Reinhardt first so you can later surprise the opposing team with some spicy D.Va play when they think they have you backed into a corner. 


This free-for-all game mode was a huge hit when it first came to Arcade, since it took away every aspect of teamwork and focused solely on a player’s ability to kill. This appealed to DPS players who are often only out for glory in Quick Play and Competitive anyway, except this time nobody can yell at them for doing so. With no payload in sight, players are free to roam a variety of maps looking for their next victim. 

Deathmatch has eight players competing to to reach 20 eliminations first, or have the most kills when the 10-minute timer is up. While it’s always fun to not rely on other players once in a while, this mode isn’t perfect since specific heroes are heavily favored in this scenario. A Reaper or Soldier: 76 will rack up more kills than a Reinhardt or Ana. Some heroes, like Mercy, also lose a lot of their abilities. With no teammates, Mercy loses her mobility since she can’t fly to another player when she’s in trouble. 

Still, if you’re a DPS main, Deathmatch is a quick way to get your three loot boxes for the week. 

B Tier

6v6 Lockout Elimination

Much like 3v3 Lockout Elimination, this game mode has two teams pitted against each other hoping to be the last one standing for three rounds. The only difference is that there’s now six players on each team, meaning the heroes you pick is even more important.

If you find yourself in the lead with two wins, that means there’s already 12 heroes gone. A lot of times, this is the round where the losing team catches up, since they still have their strongest heroes left. So remember to keep some of your best heroes for late-game. 

C Tier

Total Mayhem

This mode is just insanity. Complete chaos. It’s Classic Quick Play, but on steroids.

Teams of six compete to push the payload or capture the point, depending on the game mode, except this time around it’s just madness. Each player has 200% health, 150% ultimate gain, and 75% faster cooldowns, meaning every hero is hard to kill. And every hero is popping off ults all over the place, rarely amounting to anything since everyone is so OP. 

While this mode is a lot of fun, it’s down in C tier because it takes forever. Especially near the end of a match, players on both teams continuously swarm the objective, rarely dying. Tracers slap Pulse Bombs on everyone over and over to no avail. Moira has two orbs going at once. Zenyatta is making his team invincible left and right. It can be hilarious and entertaining, but it’s not for the feint of heart. Or for anyone short on time. 

1v1 Limited Duel 

This game mode offers you three random heroes per round. You can pick between them, attempting to play to your strengths and your enemy’s weaknesses. Mercy and Lucio are not available in this mode. Win five rounds by eliminating your opponent. 

Since Overwatch is a game so dependent on teamwork, it can be a fun break to play a 1v1 game mode. So it has its purposes. But 1v1 Limited Duel doesn’t really serve a great purpose.

You can say it’s good practice to try out different heroes and that’s sort of true, but only to an extent since you aren’t practicing them in competitive scenarios. Unless you’re both Widowmaker, there’s really no point running around a map alone, playing hide and seek with your opponent. This really doesn’t help form strategies or hero knowledge as well as other game modes. 

Still, what better way to show off your prowess and accuracy on so many different heroes than dueling your opponent one on one? 

6v6 No Limits

This is basically Classic Quick Play, but you can pick whichever hero you want, even if someone else already has them selected. In fact, it’s encouraged. You’ll notice that your teammates will often select and deselect a hero over and over until everyone else on the team has also picked them. 

While this mode can be a lot of fun, it often ends in disaster. When a team starts to lose, they’ll all go to their favorite hero in hopes of turning the game around, making you wonder why they bothered to pick this niche game mode instead of Classic Quick Play to begin with. Or they’ll just all go Bastion. What could be more fun than watching six Bastions sit on a payload, eliminating your teammates as they continue to stupidly solo rush them? 

D Tier

Chateau Deathmatch

By now, you might notice a pattern: a lot of these game modes are the same, except with a few different rules. Well, Chateau Deathmatch is just like Deathmatch except it only takes place on Chateau.

Chateau was the first map to feature Deathmatch, but many maps have been modified for the game mode since then. Are there really people out there who prefer to only ever play on Chateau?

1v1 Mystery Duel

This is basically 1v1 Limited Duel, except in this version you can’t pick between three heroes. Instead, you are both the same random hero each round.

This makes it just about as pointless as 1v1 Limited Duel, and now you can’t even come up with hero picking strategies. Who wants to play a three-minute game where you both run around invisible as Sombra? Or swing wildly at each other as two Reinhardts? 

Like all game modes, this definitely can be fun here and there. But when compared to some of the other arcade modes, it just seems lazy and drab. 

Low Gravity

This is basically Classic Quick Play, except movement gravity settings have been lowered to 25%, meaning that everyone floats when they jump. Unles you’re looking to practice your aim as Widowmaker on a bunch of slow-moving targets, it’s unclear what the purpose of this game mode really is. 

Hero Gauntlet

This Workshop mode isn’t very popular with competitive players and many have asked for it to be removed from Arcade completely. While it’s questionable if Workshop modes should even be in Arcade to begin with, this one is definitely the most popular.

Players all start as McCree and work their way through a set list of heroes, becoming the next one each time they get an elimination. The first player to reach Torbjorn and get a hammer kill wins.

The issue with this game mode is that many players cannot keep up. A player who isn’t too great with McCree may be stuck on him for half the match. A lot of times, the majority of players leave Hero Gauntlet when they realize they’ll never win. It definitely has its flaws, but it can be fun for players looking to practice their accuracy with heroes they never think to play otherwise. 

Capture the Flag

This game mode used to be F tier, but it went through some changes.

Capture the Flag has teams competing to capture the enemy team’s flag on the opposite side of the map three times within the time limit. In the past, you were able to tie if both teams ended up with the same number of flags. This meant you’d often waste five minutes or more of your life playing this flawed game mode, just to end up with no victory.

Now, there’s a tiebreaker round that just puts the flags a bit closer together and makes both teams do it all over again until one of you finally gets the enemy team’s flag to your side. 

It’s no surprise that this game mode is still hated. Often, both teams will have the same strategy: Send out a few DPS heroes to attempt to snag the enemy flag, while some tanks wait in the middle, and a Symmetra, Bastion, and/or Torbjorn wait by your own flag to make sure the area is too saturated with turrets for the opposing team to even safely get near the flag, let alone stand on it for the required amount of time it takes to grab it.

Players also don’t like how long it takes to rush the flag back to their own side. Tanks can help protect you as you run across the entire map, but that’s about it. Some have found that a Roadhog being pocket healed by Mercy can do the trick, since Roadhog can heal himself as he slowly lumbers back.

Heroes with extra mobility, like Sombra, Lucio, Doomfist, Tracer, Reaper, and Soldier: 76, cannot use their mobility abilities without dropping the flag. So basically a lot of heroes lose their flavor and become pointless to involve in the game mode. Who would select squishy Tracer when she can’t even rush back to her own point once she captures the flag? 

Mystery Deathmatch

Only recommended for people that want to keep becoming Zarya over and over again in a deathmatch game.