Overwatch 2 Devs Agree: Tanks Are Miserable To Play Right Now

Image: Blizzard Entertainment
Image: Blizzard Entertainment

Overwatch 2’s tank role has been in an awkward spot since the sequel took one of them out of the mix. Where once the role prioritized team-wide defense, Overwatch 2 has built and reworked tanks to be frontline brawlers. Since then, the role has been in constant flux as Blizzard has tried to better define the role. In recent seasons, it’s struggled immensely, as changes like the damage hero passive that weakens healing have turned some tanks into giant glass cannons. After months of complaints, Blizzard is now actively acknowledging the problem.

In a new Director’s Take blog post, game director Aaron Keller said that the team’s data confirms tank characters are struggling right now. He says much of the problem boils down to characters not feeling “tanky” enough, and it requires support heroes to focus all their healing on them just to sustain a fight. This means support players are somewhat tethered to tanks, so two of three roles are struggling, while he damage heroes light everyone else up.

As a result, the team has started using a new internal metric of “tankiness” that measures the number of hero deaths a tank character has compared to how many they “ought to experience.” Keller says that he can’t go into detail for what an expected death rate entails, but says that players’ struggles with the tank role are backed up by the data Blizzard uses internally. Some of this was intentional and a result of recent changes, but most tanks (except Wrecking Ball) moved “a lot further” down in survivability compared to other roles. The headshot damage reduction for tanks helped, but it’s still not where the team wants it.

Now that the problem’s been identified, Keller says the team is looking to see how they can address this, both with broad changes across the game and targeted tweaks for different heroes. Some ideas mentioned in the blog post include reducing the impact of the damage role passive, and giving Reinhardt’s shields some buffs. Blizzard will be releasing a patch targeting tankiness across the board that will drop either mid-season 11 or at the beginning of season 12.

Ultimately, video game balance is in a constant state of flux and it’s rare that everyone is satisfied, but it’s at least good to see a widely-regarded problem getting the attention it deserves. I have pretty much stopped playing tank in my own time, and while part of that is because I’d rather play my damage and support characters on most days, the role could use an overhaul if it’s going to get me back to playing Orisa and Ramattra.


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