With Overwatch 2 trimming team sizes down to just five players, the Tank role is taking a major hit as only one is allowed per side. Though Blizzard has now defended this drastic shift and revealed some hefty buffs on the way for fan favorites like D.Va and Winston.
Although it’s been a while since we’ve seen anything new on Overwatch 2, the community is still going back and forth over changes announced in May. During the last gameplay showcase, Blizzard confirmed the sequel is swapping from 6v6 to 5v5 gameplay.
As a result, Tanks were cut down, with only one allowed per team moving forward. This fundamental shift completely alters the core experience players have grown accustomed to over the years, and naturally, there’s been a great deal of concern.
Looking to defend the radical decision, Overwatch Community Manager Andy Belford took to the Blizzard forums with an explanation along with some big announcements.
Justifying Tank role changes in Overwatch 2
By the time Overwatch 2 launches, players will have more than six years of Tank experience under their belts. With two Tank heroes in every game, there come certain playstyles, tendencies, and metas. In the future, the Overwatch experience will be entirely different with just one-half of the Tank power.
This means no ‘double shields,’ and thus, a new responsibility in the field. Rather than serving as “push-leading protectors,” Tanks in Overwatch 2 will have another purpose.
A shift to just one Tank “opens an avenue for them to focus more on getting in the opposing team’s face and pressuring with damage and disrupting enemy lines,” Belford explained.
Rather than leading the charge and keeping teammates alive, Tanks are now more engaged with team fights. As a result, “each player needs to be more careful about the way they position themselves.”
Without two massive shields to hide behind, “flanking becomes a more potent strategy.” The overall flow of combat is rendered completely different as “maps are being used to their fullest” in Overwatch 2.
Reinhardt, D.Va, Winston, & Wrecking Ball buffed in Overwatch 2
But with such drastic changes to the core pillars of Overwatch comes some equally drastic hero changes. Characters from six years ago can’t exactly keep up with this enormous shift in gameplay. Thus, many popular picks are being rebuilt.
For Tank heroes with “overwhelming team defensive capabilities,” such as Reinhardt, these will be buffed with direct improvements to “damage and utility,” Belford confirmed. These changes come at the cost of their “group protection” abilities, however.
Similarly, Tanks “rooted in mobility” will have their “utility improved” along with various additional buffs. Certain heroes like D.Va, Wrecking Ball, and Winston will all gain more “defensive stopping power,” he added.
These changes allow the lone Tank hero to function as more of a “flex” pick in Overwatch 2. Rather than sticking as a purely defensive role, Tanks can flip between “offensive impact and being a defensive bulwark.”
With such significant changes, it remains unclear how far along the development process may be. Dexerto’s latest reports indicate an early build may be used in the 2022 Overwatch League season, though a full public release window is yet unknown.