With Overwatch 2 still in the works and a new meta seemingly completely removing barriers from the game, one has to wonder how the devs will be revising the sequel, with one potential solution being a cap on barrier tanks.
For nearly a year, Overwatch was dominated by a meta that consisted of two shield tanks with teams regularly running Sigma and Orisa together. While hero pools managed to disrupt the meta significantly, they weren’t well-received by the community, eventually leading to them strictly being used in pro play.
Now, the devs have nerfed the shield tank culprits immensely, giving birth to what many are predicting to be a Zarya-Roadhog meta with shields completely off the menu. It’s controversial, to say the least, with some players even missing double barrier.
The problem that could arise from this depends on how Blizzard will deal with main tanks in Overwatch 2. Surely if another barrier tank is introduced, then they could potentially synergize very well with one of the existing main tanks.
Once that happens, we would once again fall into a double shield meta - something that Overwatch Game Director, Jeff Kaplan, seems to be heavily against.
“My personal feeling is that I would like to see less barriers and crowd-control in the game." he said during a Reddit AMA. "I want to see Overwatch trend slightly more in the FPS direction, rather than the MOBA direction.”
Additionally, Kaplan stated that nerfing was double shield an “immediate priority,” but at the same time, it looks like Orisa was nerfed too heavily in the process.
Nerfing specific heroes because they synergize too well with each other has proven to be difficult in the past. With GOATS (triple tank/triple support), the team nerfed the composition’s key pieces, but the meta remained strong.
As a result, by the time role-lock and 2-2-2 kicked in, GOATS was no longer able to be played but the heroes, as part of the composition, still suffered the consequences. Those nerfs have slowly been reverted over time.
With Overwatch 2 being a fresh start of sorts, the best solution could be as simple as not allowing teams to run more than one main tank, while still giving the option for double off-tank.
Keep in mind, there was a time where players were allowed to pick multiple of the same hero and Blizzard reverted that decision. This would be more similar to that change than the implementation of 2-2-2.
By capping teams at one barrier tank each, Kaplan can get his wish about having less barriers in the game and can better balance tanks accordingly.
It remains to be seen if this is the definitive direction the developers will go, but it’s definitely one way to make sure the new tanks can be added without the fear of reentering another year-long double shield meta with the sequel.