(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnHitoFVdY8 (/ embed)
After more than 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 along the way is the change from 6v6 to 5v5, a change that game director Aaron Keller says "simplifies everything" about Overwatch's often chaotic fires.
As a result of the reduction, the compositions of the Overwatch 2 team will be limited to two DPS heroes, two supports and only a single tank. The first reactions from fans about the player count change are all over the map, but I’ve noticed a clear uncertainty about the future of Tank’s role.
"Horrible change for offtank players. Like … the toxicity of not choosing a shield tank. Ugh," the Reddit user said. Revoldt in reaction to the 1-2-2 news. User ImHully responded with a similar concern: "As a D.va principal, I wonder: can I switch to something else or just switch to a new game?"
Make no mistake: The inherent usefulness of shields in Overwatch has long required every team to have at least one tank of shields (like Reinhardt, Sigma or Orisa) to succeed. The other tank slot (the "tank") usually has more freedom to play an aggressive hero (in my opinion, more fun) like Zarya, Roadhog or D.Va.
Now, with only room for a single tank on each team, players are worried that these off-tank throws will not take place on one team. Blizzard could hope to fix it all by reworking the tanks on a more aggressive DPS-lite paper. We've seen a bit of that in today's live broadcast. Zarya now has two loads of bubbles that she can use on her own or for teammates independently, meaning she can choose to fold the bubble by herself or provide additional support to a teammate. Winston has a whole new alt-fire capability that allows him to shoot lightning remotely.
It seems clear from the outside that something needs to change about the goal of the current shield if every tank is to be viable in Overwatch 2 (unless each tank suddenly has a Reinhardt shield, but that would be nonsense). Aaron Keller took some time during the live broadcast to address Tank’s “baffling” changes and encouraged players to keep an open mind.
A response from the Reddit user Tipakee with over 100 positive votes it feels painfully true. “Why balance the distribution of the list when you can only release more DPS heroes and kill half the tank players,” they said.
It seems like Blizzard is taking the easier way out by reducing the role of Tank, but that hasn’t been my personal reaction as a de facto Tank principal. Tanks are very unpopular in Overwatch. The vast majority of players are in favor of DPS and Support, so sometimes you have to wait five to seven minutes for a game unless someone in your group bites the bullet and chooses Tank. This guy is almost always me. Removing one of these slots feels like an indirect recognition of Blizzard's status quo.
I'm pretty excited about 1-2-2, at least as an idea. As a mostly casual player, it could help queue times and Tank changes can encourage my DPS-focused friends to try Winston.
6 groups of stacked overwatch who decide who will be voted off the island in overwatch 2 pic.twitter.com/8HCqc7iU6uMay 20, 2021
5v5 also means that groups of 6-player Overwatch friends have an awkward decision to make cash. Who gets to be the only tank and who stays on the bench? Professional players in the Overwatch League, in particular, need to feel some pressure. At least one player will definitely be seated when Overwatch 2 appears, and several could lose their positions altogether.
I’m certainly interested in what the overall Overwatch player base changes about the Tank, but I’m more concerned about the opinion of the most important Overwatch player of my life: my partner, who is the best principal of Mercy I know. She’s also pretty optimistic about the 1-2-2 from the perspective of a supportive mother who hates watching her Tank children die. "I think it will be a good reset for the supports, as they don't have to prioritize two tanks now, but it will also put a lot more pressure on both DPS players to coordinate and stay current."
It’s one thing to watch a few games live and it’s another to actually play the game, so we’ll have to see how these meta-changes occur when Overwatch 2 launches (maybe with luck) in 2022.