During this week’s Overwatch 2 PvP livestream, Blizzard dropped a major bombshell. The highly anticipated multiplayer hero shooter sequel will be lowering the team size from 6v6 to 5v5 in standard PvP matches.
The change will most impact the Tank class as team comps are changing from two damage roles, two support roles and two tank roles to two damage, two support and only one tank. The change is designed simplify combat, making it “easy to read and very understandable.” Fewer heroes on the battlefield will obviously remove some of the chaos.
But why tanks?
According to game director Aaron Keller, tank heroes are the most problematic.
"“A DPS hero is simple, they’re shooting. But a tank has abilities that can be noisy, or when stacked with other tanks can cause problems for other teams to try to overcome and counter.”"
As a result, teams will now have one less tank, but that’s not the only change. Some of the tank heroes are undergoing significant changes to become more aggressive brawlers, not just meat shields.
The change to the team size and tank class has been met with mixed reception, especially from pro players on Overwatch League. Their main concern, especially among those who main the tank class, is that they’ll be out of a job.
But I applaud Blizzard for the change, as it appears to be one that was made to create the best overall gameplay experience, and not simply to cater to the competitive league aspect of the game. Too often we see developers balance and adjust their games based on feedback from pros while ignoring the community that massively supports the game. You know, the ones who actually spend money on it.
Without having played Overwatch 2 yet, I can’t comment with certainty as to whether this change will be for the better or worse, but I’m optimistic it will improve the overall gameplay experience.
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For starters, making tanks more aggressive could result in more players actually wanting to play them. As we see in not just Overwatch, but other online games, like MOBAs and MMOs, the tank role, besides healer, is one of the least exciting for many players. Everyone wants to do damage and make highlight reel-worthy plays. While you can do that with a tank in Overwatch, the flashy plays typically come from the damage heroes.
Even in a game like League of Legends, which has clear roles, we’ve seen more top lane champions introduced as brawlers. They’re still tanky but are capable of dealing more damage. I see Overwatch following a similar route with its tank heroes.
Not to mention, a focus on offense and aggressiveness is obviously more exciting to play and watch as a fan. Think of every major sport or eSport. Who wants to see a stalemate play out because tanks keep disrupting and resetting the battlefield?
Typically, developers like to see a meta form naturally but in the case of Overwatch 2, this change is going to drastically change things up. And I think it could be for the better. It’s unclear what sort of role the tank class will have in matches now, but it will be fun watching it evolve.