Nathan Kiehn is the author of over 100 blog posts on his family website Keenlinks and "The Gray Guard" ebook fantasy trilogy on Amazon.
With both the offense and defense classes of heroes covered in the previous articles, it's time to move on to class three of four: the tank. It's not surprising that these are the big characters and the immovable objects that get in the way of your enemies' unstoppable forces. I'm not nearly as proficient with this class as I am with offense or defense, but tanks are an integral part of any team.
Because this is a team-based game, most players tend to like having a well-rounded team, which typically includes at least one tank hero. I say at least because, depending on who you play, you could go up against two or even three tanks on one team. While having more than two tanks is most likely not recommended, as that takes up half your team's roster in some cases, a tank or two is a good thing to have. Like I said, these guys—D.Va, Orisa, Reinhardt, Roadhog, Winston and Zarya—are the big guns, not in the sense that they'll be the ones who consistently deliver the most damage, but in that they make critical plays, they push the payload forward, or they use their mass to keep foes at bay.
With that introduction out of the way, let's examine the six tank heroes that you play as in the world of Overwatch. As a note, all tank heroes have increased health, so since that's the same for everyone, it's not worth repeating much in the entries below.
1. D.Va: "I'm gonna have to shoot you down!"
The first tank on this list is also my favorite. If I see that our line-up needs a tank, I'll select D.Va over all the others. A professional gamer from South Korea, Hana Song was selected by the Mobile Exo-Force of the Korean Army (MEKA) to join their ranks of mech pilots (because, you see, only professional gamers had the dexterity to handle the mech's controls properly, which should a lot about Overwatch's gaming community! There's hope for us geeks yet!). Now going by the handle "D.Va," Hana pilots her mech into battle with omnics when she isn't winning over the adoration of fans (cause she's a "diva," get it?).
As I mentioned, she's my favorite of all the tank heroes and the only one I can seem to get a proper handle of playing. Her main weapons are her fusion cannons, firing blasts at enemies that, while not the most powerful, can do a lot to decrease an enemy's health, especially with the help of another player. A recent update also gave her micro missiles as a secondary offensive weapon, a stream of missiles she can fire at foes. D.Va is also equipped with rocket boosters, which can be used to get out of the path of oncoming fire, circle around enemies, reach points, or just traverse longer distances quickly. In a spot of trouble? Boost right outta there. Oh, Hanzo thinks he's safe sniping from at the top of that wall? Guess again, pal, here comes D.Va to blast you down. It's my favorite aspect of the character. She's the only tank who can move like that, so it's nice not having to be confined to the ground. This additional maneuverability makes her less of a tank that will stay in place but more of one that will get things done. Her Ultimate is a self-destruct move that, if timed properly, can wipe out whole teams of foes, much like Junkrat's tire. But watch out for enemy fire. maybe your Defensive Matrix can protect you, but it runs out with time as it eats damage. Sustain enough, and the mech will blow up, leaving D.Va to run around armed with only a small blaster. Skilled D.Va's can dodge enemy fire long enough to call the mech back, but she's fairly weak and can die quickly if hit straight on.
2. Orisa: "You are advised to move behind my barrier"
The newest tank to join the Overwatch ranks, Orisa was released early 2017, and fans were quick to play as her. Invented by the Numbani child prodigy Efi Oladele, Orisa is programmed to be a hero. Where other characters have chosen to join Overwatch or made to do so to fix their mistakes (like McCree), Orisa adds a different dimension to heroes by having been created to be one. Saving people, protecting people is her prime directive, which is quite different to the murdering omnics or a character like Bastion, whose programming was altered. It's a neat backstory that gives you a sense of determination while playing her. She's all about keeping people safe, and it's something you feel as you play her.
Orisa is the type of hero you need to keep the enemy from moving. Her Fusion Driver, like D.Va.'s is a hand cannon she uses to blast enemies away. To me, it feels more rapid and powerful than D.Va.'s, and I also find that I just enjoy playing as character armed with more machine gun types of weapons. While this weapon is definitively offensive, she comes with some other good defensive measures as well. She has a signature move literally called "Halt!," a graviton charge that can be fired anywhere; if enemies are in the vicinity, it will pull them all to that point, either yanking them away from important objectives or clumping them together for east kills. It's supposed to keep your foes at bay. Likewise, her energy barrier can help protect friends and set up a point from which to combat enemies from. Sure, opponents can run through the barrier, but if you've got a hallway and can set up a barrier, it's an effective place to fight from. Orisa can also use Fortify to reduce the damage she takes when faced by an opponent or a barrier is breached. Her Ultimate, called the Supercharger, which increases the damage capabilities of nearby allies, making their weapons more effective in clearing up the battlefield. As you can see, Orisa is the character who will stand her ground and does a lot to ensure her team will stay on that payload or keep it from moving a few inches closer. In a pinch, a barrier and rapid-fire machine guns might be what you need.
3. Reinhardt: "Come out and face me!"
Reinhardt is a terrifying mass of a German man in metal armor who swings a giant hammer. That sentence alone should make you absolutely terrified of him. At first glance, Reinhardt is definitely scary. One of the original members of Overwatch, Reinhardt Wilhelm was a verbal man in his heyday, being a vocal supporter and critic of the team. He served for a long time, fighting omnics and other enemies, until his age required his retirement from the group. He still battled for justice on his across Europe, answering the call to return to Overwatch when Winston issued the team recall.
As I said, Reinhardt is a terrifying man. Coming around a corner and meeting face-to-face will most likely get you killed, by one of two ways. First, Reinhardt can swing his Rocket Hammer, crushing enemies in just a few blows. Secondly, he can burst forward in a rocketing charge, and any foes in his way will get caught up and crushed against walls, to die or be finished off by his hammer. There's little escaping this deadly combo. Reinhardt can also use the charge to gain some distance, or his Fire Strike to target enemies farther off. Defensively, Reinhardt can create a Barrier Field, a tough shield that can protect him and allies behind it. Unlike Orisa's shield, Reinhardt's moves with him, meaning its mobility offers greater protection than hers. His Ultimate is the Earthshatter, which knocks down his opponents for a time. If done well, nearby allies can come and finished off enemies staggered by the blow. In terms of efficiency, it's unfortunately limited. Reinhardt is also fairly slow, and if you can get behind him or avoid his charge, it's easy to attack from the back and do decent damage to him.
4. Roadhog: "I'm a one-man apocalypse"
For a short while, I actually wondered if Roadhog was a mutated man-pig or something like that. I still don't know what's under his mask, but I'm assuming he's just ugly. Roadhog is the friend and bodyguard of Junkrat, a defensive hero I talked about in the previous post. Once named Mako, the man who would become Roadhog watched as the Omnic Crisis devastated his home country of Australia, turning to crime and rebellion. Though he got on the bad side of the Queen of Junkertown, Roadhog befriended Junkrat and went on an international crime spree. The two make a devastating pair.
Like Reinhardt, Roadhog is imposing, his terrifying bulk a sight to behold. And like Reinhardt, Roadhog is not a character you want to see when you round a corner. His primary offensive weapon is his Scrap Gun, which has both a primary and secondary fire method. The primary sends out a shotgun-like wave of metal at enemies, the seconds sends out a ball of metal that can fire farther and hit more directly. It's his hook, however, that most players gravitate towards. Using this, players can whip his hook at an enemy, hook him or her, and pull them towards Roadhog to finish them off with his Scrap Gun. It's a dangerous combination; getting hooked by Roadhog gives a player a sense of dread; you're stuck, and you're getting reeled in like a fish to be blown away. The hook has gone through several stages, ad developers constantly tweak it after various complaints regarding it's effectiveness as well as glitches (letting the hook snag a player through a wall for example). It's a great tool for any Roadhog main, and the bane of those caught by it. His ultimate, Whole Hog, makes his Scrap Gun churn out the metal like a machine gun. Though not as effective as other Ultimates, skilled players can aim it well and do a lot to knock enemies back off of ledges. Roadhog is also the only tank who can heal himself, reclaiming lost health after receiving heavy damage. Like Reinhardt, Roadhog is slow, but he's a sturdy character to come across, one that can take a beating and keep on swinging.
Roadhog and Junkrat: Schemers and Dreamers
5. Winston: "Once more unto the breach!"
Winston is the only non-human Overwatch hero who also happens to be an animal, a gorilla to be exact. A genetically-enhanced ape raised on the Horizon Lunar Colony on the moon (meaning he's also the only hero not originally from Earth), Winston was named after Dr. Harold Winston, the scientist who raised him. He grew in knowledge and stature on the moon, until the other apes there, led a rebellion, and slaughtered all the scientist, including Winston's surrogate father. Escaping to Earth, Winston joined Overwatch as its resident scientist and was responsible for pulling the team back together, as seen in the video below.
Winston is, aside from D. Va, probably the most mobile of the tank heroes. His Tesla cannon fires a short-range stream of electricity, meaning he has to get in close to his opponents. Though the cannon has such a limited range, Winston's speed, agility, and Jump Pack (which propels him through the air for a short distance) allows him to not only get in close to adversaries but stay close to them, running rings around them as they attempt to escape. It's really annoying to be on the opposite end of this attack. Therefore, Winston feels like a more offensive tank hero than a defensive one, a guy you can send ahead to clear out enemy heroes. However, he can help defend well when necessary, laying down a Barrier Projector that eats up damage. This is helpful in defending both himself and allies. Though not mobile like Reinhardt's, it's easy to drop on a moving payload to protect the heroes moving it. His Ultimate is called "Primal Rage" for a good reason, as he grows into a massively crimson ape that bellows and swings his arms to bash enemies back. Though not the most effective Ultimate, much like Roadhog's, it's an intimidating one and, if nothing else, can punch a hole through a line of enemies or keep them away from an important objective. Like most tanks, I'm not a huge fan of Winston, but it's easy to see the key role he can play for any team.
Overwatch Animated Short: "Recall"
Zarya: "Is that all you've got?"
The last tank hero on our list is also probably my least favorite, considering I can see myself trying out the other tank heroes, but never really Zarya. One of the world's strongest women, Zarya is both an athlete and a soldier, fighting for her home country of Russia during the Omnic Crisis. Like Roadhog, she watched as her home country was devastated by the war, but unlike him, she made a pledge to help defend her country, much like Orisa.
Zarya's primary weapon is her Particle Cannon, and unlike a character like D.Va (who has various weapons, like her missiles, barrier, and guns), Zarya's capabilities from her cannon and only her cannon. It's primary fire shoots a beam of energy; like Winston's electricity, it's short range, but it can deal a fair amount of damage if players sustain it look for long enough. It's secondary fire creates explosive bombs that can be lobbed at people. Perhaps they have a shorter range than, say, Junkrat's bombs, but they can still cause damage. Zarya also can create defensive shields around both herself and her allies. Like Reinhardt's, these are mobile, but they surround the heroes in an energy field which can protect them for a couple of seconds. Thus, Zarya feels more like a defensive hero, there to assist her allies rather than getting kills, but definitely capable of causing damage and havoc when she needs to. Her Ultimate is the Graviton Surge, a gravity bomb which pulls all nearby enemies into it and causes them to get stuck, opening the door for her teammates to inflict damage and death on grouped-together foes. I've seen videos where strategically-minded players will use Zarya's Surge to clump players together and then have Doomfist dive bomb them with his Meteor Strike Ultimate to kill a bunch of them. Cause we all needed more reasons to be mad at Doomfist.
That finishes off the list of tank heroes that Overwatch players can become. As I mentioned, I'm not very proficient with this particular class of hero, but I see the merits of players as these individuals. As a player, I know how terrifying it is to stare down a tank and how difficult it can be to take one of them down. If you know how to use your Orisa or Winston well, you can easily turn the tides of combat for your team, crushing foes or pushing them back and move you and your friends onward to glory.
"I Came in Like a...Tank"
© 2017 Nathan Kiehn