I’ve long stopped playing Overwatch and I’ve even been 99% successful at not writing articles about it either. But after a long conversation with Phovos on the incoming 5v5 changes, plus seeing the community collectively freak out harder than CS:GO’s after the R8 incident, I finally feel like I have at least 500 words to say on the incoming change.

Overwatch League chat taking as nuanced a stance as they ever do

Why I like the change

Part of me feels bad taking the dev’s side, as I have an unfortunate habit of siding against the outraged gamer hordes in situations like these. Yet I can’t help but see a lot of positives to reducing the gameplay to a single tank. It’s a net boon for the tank mains, the devs, and the rest of the players in the queues. Because despite what people on reddit are claiming, the queues were truly awful. There aren’t enough tanks playing the game, and that drags down the wait times for everyone. And IMO, part of the reason there weren’t enough tanks is that they have a thankless job. Everyone’s shooting at them, but they can’t be hulking juggernauts because Overwatch builds every class as a pseudo-DPS. The best tanks currently get are chonky health pools and some damage mitigation abilities.

Well, they can have a lot more power now that there’s only one of them. It feels like the player base is forgetting that Blizzard is going to buff every tank now that they have to fill their job solo. They can turn tanks into mini-bosses who get the flashiest and scariest attacks in the game. Tanks can get invulnerability phases and more AoEs and more battlefield control options. They can give tank players the whole enchilada because everyone’s already focused on them. This change is taking the already-most-important role on the team and making them even more important.

Pictured: Reinhardt after being buffed to solo-tank everything in the room

On Off-Tanks

The primary loss is in off-tanks, and it sounds callous but I consider that an acceptable sacrifice. Off-tanking was already a bit odd as a team role, playing more like flankers/pseudo-DPSes. It muddied the waters on what a tank is. While that’s not terrible or anything, I can see from a dev perspective why it made balance harder. I personally like their movement towards making tanks a more standalone class role.

In general, Overwatch is clearly moving away from their old design philosophy of “everyone’s a DPS.” They want to fix the problems that prevent people from wanting to play tank. And then they also want to make tank more rewarding as a battlefield role. And I think changing it to a single tank is a great way to give them the freedom to redesign each tank to kick massive amounts of ass in a vacuum, without worrying about how they’d combo with all the second tanks.

Just imagine the insane mobility on a Wrecking Ball designed to solo-tank!

Now, of course, I could turn out to be giving the devs too much credit. They could not take tanks in the direction I think they will. The rework could easily crash and burn and be terrible. But I think the potential for a better game is in there, and we shouldn’t just dismiss the concept of 5v5 solo-tanks without another thought.