After over a year of talking about co-op modes in Overwatch 2, Blizzard has finally revealed some of the major changes coming to its main PvP mode. By far the most radical change on the way is a shift from 6v6 to 5v5, a change that game director Aaron Keller says "simplifies everything" about Overwatch's often-chaotic firefights.
As a result of the reduction, Overwatch 2's team compositions will be limited to two DPS heroes, two Supports, and only a single Tank. Early reactions from fans about the player count shift are all over the map, but I've noticed a distinct uncertainty about the future of the Tank role.
"Horrible change for offtank players. Like… the toxicity of not picking a shield tank. Ugh," said Reddit user Revoldt in reaction to the 1-2-2 news. User ImHully replied with a similar concern: "As a D.va main I'm wondering: Do I switch to something else or just switch to a new game?"
They're not wrong—the inherent usefulness of shields in Overwatch has long demanded that each team have at least one shield tank (like Reinhardt, Sigma, or Orisa) to succeed. The other Tank slot (the 'offtank') typically has more freedom to play an aggressive (in my opinion, more fun) hero like Zarya, Roadhog, or D.Va.
Now with only room for a single Tank on each team, players are worried these offtank rolls will have no place on a team. Blizzard might hope to address this by reworking Tanks into a more aggressive, DPS-lite role. We saw some of this in today's livestream. Zarya now has two bubble charges that she can use on herself or teammates independently, meaning she can choose to double bubble herself or lend extra support to a teammate. Winston has an entirely new alt-fire ability that lets him fire bursts of lightning at range.
It seems clear from the outside that something has to change about the current shield meta if every Tank is to be viable in Overwatch 2 (unless every Tank just suddenly got a Reinhardt shield, but that'd be silly). Aaron Keller took some time during the livestream to address the "jarring" Tank changes and encouraged players to keep an open mind.
One response from Reddit user Tipakee with over 100 upvotes feels painfully true. "Why balance the roster distribution when you can just release more DPS heroes, and kill off half the tank players," they said.
The feeling seems to be that Blizzard is taking the easy way out by shrinking the Tank role, but that hasn't been my personal reaction as a de facto Tank main. Tanks are wildly unpopular in Overwatch. The vast majority of players favor DPS and Support, meaning that you sometimes have to wait five to seven minutes for a match unless somebody in your group bites the bullet and chooses Tank. That guy is almost always me. Taking away one of those slots feels like an indirect acknowledgement of the status quo from Blizzard.
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