Sorry folks, no TL;DR this time, I’m diving in hard.
Of course I must start by saying Overwatch 2 is far away and I’m writing this based solely on marketing, which often doesn’t resemble final product. WIth that said, devs have marketed that tanks in Overwatch 2 will function as more high damaging, “toe to toe brawl action characters rather than defensive heroes”. That’s a basic summary of the tank talk, I’m all ears for more info though.
Immediately that strikes me as… Wrong.
As a tank player, tanks have always been very high damaging and I cannot conceive of myself doing my job as Rein, Winston, Zarya, Sigma, Orisa without dishing out outrageous amounts of damage. Tanks are about very high damage. Yes, high damage. There’s conditions to that damage, but it is high still.
Generally speaking tanks have been range limited and more consistent than other heroes when it comes to their damage. Winston and Rein, the OG main tanks, are incredibly dangerous once conditions for that damage is met – in those two tanks specifically, it’s their range. Winston will drain a squishy in your backline if you let him, Rein will hammer your face in if don’t run away from his positively medieval weapon and both these heroes ignore most tanks defenses such as shields and Defense Matrix. They also hit AoE with 100% accuracy, meaning despite not having the highest single target damage per second, their damage increases multiplicatively with each enemy around them. All that compounds to a few things from the enemy’s perspective:
- Tanks cannot eat up damage from other tanks.
- You can and must outrun tank’s damage.
- The more people paying them attention, more valuable tanks become.
- You are obliged to deal with tanks or risk eliminations.
And that’s how tanks, the OG main tanks anyway, created space, it’s not absorbing damage, it’s creating so much pressure around themselves resources must be spent on them. Please understand resources not only as cooldowns, ults and primary fires, but attention, position and time as well.
That’s the role, that’s the power fantasy distilled, to be such a big problem when you play your cards right, enemies either spend resources to fight you or you get a kill!
Just think about OWL, who are the best main tanks, the legendary players of the role? Guxue’s Winston? Super’s Rein? Maybe you prefer the Bumper’s mad lad play style? Or the more methodical like Mano?
Whichever player you like, do you know the name Guxue because his bubbles defended so much damage? No of course you don't, you know his name because in the World Cup 2018 his ults became known as Primal Blades and he went bananas with the frags, so when Guxue’s Winston engages, half the enemy team turns around.
How about legendary Rein players, such as Super, Bumper, Sado or LHCloudy? Remember how Rein’s shield held strong that one match? No I bet you don’t, but you do remember when they outplayed the enemy and hammers met faces.
How about the great “Eye of Kaiser” play in RunAway vs LW Blue? Is that remembered because Kaiser defended anything? Heck no, It’s because Kaiser found his opponent distracted and proceeded to hammer their mistakes clear into their skulls.
So tanks in the beginning meant: Close range, consistent, hard to deny high damage. Beyond the OG main tanks, Dva can’t damage a barn’s door from the inside and Wrecking Ball will ignore whatever damage eating resources you have with his Grapple rolls and Piledrive.
However with Orisa and Sigma that changed, both these heroes break some tanking rules. Sigma is ~20m range and Orisa has no fall off on a projectile primary fire, meaning both have considerably more range than any other tank since. Before those two, the most ranging tank were Roadhog and Zarya, the first payed for it with defensive resources and a 20m cooldown and the latter a 15m beam.
So the rules of tanking were broken. It used to be “outposition to kill” and now it’s just “kill and here’s a self-sustain CD”. The role itself was broken when the rules went out the window.
That’s why Orisa is unfortunately disliked by the pros even though she is actually quite skilful. Her damage is high, around 130 DPS before crits, yet it doesn’t feel empowering, it just feels… Cheap, you’re not meeting your enemies face to face, you're just poking. Pros would preffer 60 DPS Winston and 88 DPS Rein over 130 DPS Orisa.
Point is, high damage is not inherently attractive, there’s context around it. There's something basic about short range threats. It’s why monsters in horror films need to get close before they kill the characters, it’s why Michael Myers, Jason and Freedy Kruger didn’t use guns… The invasion of space itself is a struggle for power.
Heck, to use a more contemporary example, in Avengers Endgame Thanos fought the heroes with a spear. A simple spear, no laser beans, projectiles or otherwise futuristic weaponry, he just tried to punch the Avengers to death even though he's an alien with unimaginable technology and magic, because the film needed him to be a menacing presence.
But now… Rein is gonna have 2 fire strikes, yay, I guess? It’s just disheartening to see such a design decision. It speaks to the core of Overwatch itself, instead of enabling the great dopamine outplays, we’re just gonna make tanks fat DPS? How is this “toe-to-toe brawl action” supposed to hold up when the brawl ends in a blink of an eye because of all the damage and little way to block it? You realize increasing tank damage increases damage going into tanks, right?
That’s not tanking (save it GreyFalcon). It’s not gonna be rewarding. Tanks will feel vulnerable, exposed and punishable for aggression instead of fun because of it. Peek and you die from all the 5 “DPS-friendly heroes” running around – which is a lot like what current Rein and Winston play like. Despite their multiple buffs you have to play defensive or otherwise just get deleted, so few resources are spent on you no space is made at all.
The shot backfired already I’m afraid. Those engagements supposed to draw space? Enemies want them to happen now, you want Rein to peek-swing, you want Winston to engage the backline, because then they just explode from all the damage. That’s what more tank damage and less tanking resources do, it’s not enabling aggression, it’s punishing it because that tank damage goes into other tanks as well and even that damage could be tanked you are reducing those resources anyway, so is the TTK for tank in OW2 to be even lower than OW1? Where is the fun of being a tank if you’re deleted outright? Is TTK to dimish even more?
Furthermore, I’d like to share what tanking is to me on a primeval and bestial level. Remember the movie Mad Max Fury Road? Remember the big truck the bald protagonist lady drove across the desert? (That’s frankly the whole plot if you don’t remember you haven’t seen it)
It was a single truck, slow, slumping, crawling almost… LIterally every other vehicle catched up to it at their wish. But to what end? Those vehicles catched up and got murdered savagely, the big War Rig crushed them all, drove into a deadly sand storm as if it was a breeze and plowed its way through the sand like an awakened colossus unhappy with its environment. That’s tanking.
And of course the Doof Warrior is Lucio..
- Why are lower ranks so obsessed with rein/zarya? I truly don’t understand.
- What tank to play if Winston is countered?
- My take on balancing all tanks
More about OverwatchPost: "Rumination on what tank used to be and OW2’s marketing for it" specifically for the game Overwatch. Other useful information about this game:
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