Following a brief stint as a Genji, McCree and Ana main, I’ve played the Main Tank role in Overwatch for almost two years now. Altogether, I have hundreds of hours invested in characters such as Reinhardt, Winston, and Orisa. I play that same role for one of my school’s collegiate teams. And I have to say: it’s really, really not fun anymore.
There have been a series of events that led to the decay (in terms of fun) of my favorite experience in Overwatch. The principal offender is, of course, Brigitte. If you’re part of the community, then you know the level of vitriol that is directed at this character. The “Delete Brig” movement has even seen support from some Overwatch League players. The issue is that ever since Brigitte released, she invalidated my personal favorite character, Winston. Her armor mechanic makes it so that Winston’s already-negligible damage is cut in half and her burst healing will often make all your hard-earned damage useless in a millisecond. The most fun I’ve had in this game was playing Winston, and he’s just not viable anymore.
Brigitte didn’t just hurt Winston though, as Main Tank staple Reinhardt also suffered a bit with her release. Brigitte’s ability to stun through shields has made her a fearsome opponent, and with the right timing and collaboration, it can lead to an Earthshatter combo that will most likely wipe your team.
This is why the game just isn’t fun anymore for Main Tank players. The essence of the role is to be a bullet sponge, to absorb damage for your teammates, to get in harm’s way to protect others. Few characters accurately represent this. Most of the time, when I play as Reinhardt, I get stunned, hooked, frozen, or slept into oblivion without even the slightest possibility of me reacting. Sometimes I don’t even get the opportunity to protect my teammates due to all that’s happening to me. Truly, there’s a disconnect between the actual experience and the intended one.
Instead of making changes to the game to aid Tank players, Blizzard seems to consistently do the opposite. McCree’s right-click ability, Fan the Hammer, recently got buffed to the point of absurdity. Earlier this week I was playing as Reinhardt against a McCree who had seemingly made it his life mission to only right click. For the uninitiated, McCree can empty his gun, Roll, and immediately reload his gun. Which is exactly what this person did against me. My shield would get melted, I would get stunned, and I would die in a matter of seconds. At one point in the game, I was being solely healed by both our Supports and the damage was so much that I had no option but to sit there and take it. It was me against the McCree, and I was forced to keep my shield up the entire time despite my two healers being there with me. That feels wrong; it’s not exactly the most riveting gameplay.
McCree is not the only offender, as the recent Reaper buffs have also severely hurt Tank players. Reaper, a tank-buster, was made stronger by adding more Lifesteal (meaning he gets health back per the damage he does) to his shotguns. It used to be that skillful play from a Tank would be rewarding and you’d be able to take down the Reaper by yourself. Nowadays though, it’s practically impossible to kill him by yourself before he bursts you down. Oh, and this has made Winston even worse – because he apparently really needed to be that bad.
It’s currently a sad state of affairs for Tank players. And while there have been some good changes that have aided our quality of life, such as the Doomfist nerf, playing Main Tank remains one of the most frustrating experiences in Overwatch. If this keeps up, I’m not sure how much longer I can keep playing…