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Blizzard Entertainment is testing out the Triple Damage Experimental Card beginning today, and part of those changes will include an Overwatch Roadhog rework. This adjustment to one of Overwatch’s craziest combatants is part of Blizzard’s efforts to make tanks more fun in their experiment.
“When we created our tanks, we didn’t think of any as off-tanks,” Overwatch Game Director Jeff Kaplan stated in an interview on the game’s official website. “In fact, we had anticipated people playing with only one tank. That’s much of how early Overwatch was played. If you ever jumped into Quick Play before Role Queue, you know that having one tank was a luxury.”
The man speaks the truth. I am one of those fabled “flex players” — I play everything and anything, filling whatever gap is needed in the team. While I certainly prefer DPS, my fifth most-played hero is Ana and Rein is number seven. There’s not a hero on my roster with fewer that eight hours played.
If I didn’t switch, there would be one tank or one healer — sometimes both — in most Quick Play games prior to the introduction of the 2-2-2 Role Queue. With the upcoming Triple Damage Experimental Card, an Overwatch Roadhog Rework will fix one of the problems behind being a tank: it’s just not as much fun.
Making tanks more fun in Overwatch
“I also think the reward mechanisms in the game are skewed toward damage,” Kaplan explained. “If you think about all the visceral feedback you get from a kill—we light up the kill feed, you get an elimination message, there’s a very satisfying sound—we don’t do quite the same level of diligence when it comes to things like how much damage did you block, or did you save somebody from dying by healing them at the right time. And that’s on us. That’s something that we need to fix over time.”
Part of the problem is that there is just more choice when it comes to DPS. The game currently has eight tanks, seven healers, and 16 damage heroes. There are literally double (or more) options when you play the damage role.
The availability of choices aside, I always had fun playing damage. I have sometimes not had fun playing tank or healer. I can recall the moments where I’d be bounced around like a living ping pong ball as Roadhog or how a coordinated enemy dive would wreck me as a healer, my teammates nowhere to be found as they’re off trying to get kills instead of playing the objective.
The Overwatch Roadhog rework is going to be a necessity to make the Triple Damage Experimental Card work. What little we’ve heard about it gives me hope that Blizzard’s endeavor to try new things could work out well.
The Overwatch Roadhog rework
So, what will the Overwatch Roadhog rework entail? The dev team has certainly cooked up something crazy according to Jeff Kaplan.
“As part of this experiment, we’ve re-tuned [Zarya, D.Va, and Roadhog] to be main tanks—including giving Roadhog a new ability,” he said. “Now when he uses Take a Breather, he gets a gas cloud around him that mitigates damage for everybody in the area and heals him.”
I’ve often played Roadhog prior to Role Queue (and still occasionally today). Sometimes it’s not because I’m trying to mesh well with my Main Tank; rather, I’m trying to make up for a lack of healing so that I can play my role properly. This shift should give Hog a nice buff for the Triple Damage Experimental Card.
If you’re hoping to see the Overwatch Roadhog rework make it to the current game, though, you’ll surely be disappointed (at least for now).
“That Roadhog would be broken in 2-2-2,” said Overwatch Principal Designer Michael Heiberg.
“You’d see him in every match,” Jeff Kaplan added.
An alternative to reducing queue times
The main goal of this Triple Damage Experimental Card is to try to reduce the queue times for damage players. Speaking as someone who enjoys the role (and lives on the East Coast of the U.S.), I typically see two to four-minute queue times for tank and healer and four to 10-minute queue times for damage. Sometimes, it takes even longer than that.
Jeff Kaplan and Michael Heiberg liken the three queue times to different flavors of ice cream. If there are lines for chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla, and the vanilla line is very long, you shouldn’t get more people to eat strawberry and chocolate — you should make more vanilla ice cream.
That analogy works with ice cream, but not with role queue. By “making more vanilla ice cream” — switching to one tank, two healers, and three damage for this experiment — you are making less chocolate.
There is, however, a solution that can work and would certainly make for a fine addition to the Experimental Card: adding a seventh player to the team. Two tanks, two healers, and three damage would reduce the damage queue, probably make everyone happy, and introduce some interesting new variety to Overwatch’s meta.
I can’t say for certain how the Overwatch Roadhog rework will play out in the Triple Damage Experimental Card. I hope it goes well, but I also hope that Blizzard figures out a way to keep two tanks in the game. It’s a role that shouldn’t be downsized.