The changes that Overwatch 2's worst heroes need to stay competitive
These heroes would be significantly more viable with these changes.
Fans have finally had a chance to play Overwatch 2 thanks to the Overwatch 2 beta, and while the sequel's transition from 6v6 to 5v5 with one fewer tank hero per team is exciting, it also disrupts the balance of Overwatch PvP significantly. To address this, developer Blizzard has implemented a variety of balance tweaks and hero reworks in an effort to ensure that every hero has a place in the 5v5 era. Unfortunately, though, there are still a few characters that feel out of place in Overwatch 2 due to the lack of important utility in their kit.
As a result of this, these heroes are widely regarded as the worst heroes in the game — and for their viability to rise, each of them will need some big changes. Here's a closer look at each of these underperforming heroes that goes over why they struggle to find value in the 5v5 era, as well as what changes are needed to make them more effective.
The biggest issue with Roadhog in Overwatch 2 is that unlike every other tank hero in the game, he lacks an effective way to mitigate incoming damage for himself and his team. While his Take a Breather healing ability gives him 50% damage reduction when used, it has an 8-second cooldown and only gets value if Roadhog is injured already. Compared to other tanks that have barriers or abilities that allow them to destroy projectiles, Take a Breather simply isn't good enough.
On top of this, the feast-or-famine nature of Roadhog's Chain Hook and Scrap Gun combo fits poorly into Overwatch 2. The best tank and damage heroes are able to deal effective damage consistently, which has proven to be very important in the faster-paced 5v5 format. It's true that you can have large bursts of impact with Roadhog if you land hooks and pick off squishy targets, but his Scrap Gun shotgun is incredibly difficult to use otherwise. That means every whiffed hook results in 8 seconds where you're essentially an exploitable ult battery.
To solve these problems, I'd like to see Roadhog get a new tanking ability that he can use to effectively reduce damage, just like Overwatch 2's other tanks (the damage reduction of Take a Breather could be removed to compensate). It would also be nice to see the Scrap Gun get a tighter spread and some extra range so it's more consistent and effective between Roadhog's hook throws.
Symmetra was a solid close-range pick in the shield-heavy 6v6 era of Overwatch, as her Photon Projector's primary fire could rapidly destroy barriers and dish out strong damage to the tanks using them, too. However, the removal of a tank and the widespread nerfs to barriers brought by Overwatch 2 have made Symmetra's anti-shield niche feel rather useless. Though her damage is still effective, she lacks the range that damage characters need to succeed in the more open battlefields of Overwatch 2.
Therefore, I think the best way to buff Symmetra would be to give her beam weapon a longer effective range. It's currently 12 meters, so perhaps the developers could bump it up to 15. This would allow Symmetra to engage her opponents more effectively at medium range, giving her more overall damage uptime and preventing enemies from easily avoiding her.
Pharah's Rocket Launcher is as devastatingly powerful as it's always been, but she has a very hard time shelling enemy teams with it since hitscan damage heroes are very strong in Overwatch 2. Characters like Soldier: 76, Ashe, and Widowmaker are all strong in 5v5 since there aren't as many tanks and barriers in their way, and all of these heroes excel at shooting Pharah out of the sky. And while you can still succeed as Pharah against these characters, it's generally a better idea to just switch to a different hero.
While it's still important for Pharah to have these counters, it's also crucial that they don't feel too oppressive against her. With that in mind, I think giving Pharah a small amount of armor health would be a good idea. Armor reduces all incoming damage by 30%, so this change would give her some extra survivability against hitscan heroes and would give her a chance to fly behind cover or fall back before being picked off.
Like Symmetra, Junkrat was a good pick in the original Overwatch if you needed to pump heavy damage into tanky shield compositions. With those compositions effectively gone in Overwatch 2, Junkrat struggles. His Frag Launcher does excellent damage, but it's difficult to use against non-tank heroes. This makes Junkrat's damage output inconsistent compared to other damage characters, and while his Concussion Mines give him some great burst damage and mobility, he's ultimately still less reliable than most other heroes.
To make Junkrat feel less awkward in Overwatch 2's 5v5 combat, I'd like to see the developers make his Frag Launcher projectiles faster and give them less of an arc. This would make the weapon more reliable, which would in turn help Junkrat dish out damage on a more consistent basis. Blizzard may need to reduce the damage of the Frag Launcher a bit to compensate for making it easier to use, but I think the tradeoff would be more than worth it.
In an era where supports are significantly more vulnerable than they were in the original Overwatch due to the lack of a second tank, Zenyatta suffers the most. Unlike every other support hero in the game, Zenyatta doesn't have any way to escape from flankers who pounce on him. This means that unless Zenyatta players manage to land some difficult headshots up close, they'll likely be assassinated by characters like Genji very quickly.
Blizzard tried to address this in a recent patch for the Overwatch 2 beta by giving Zenyatta's melee attack more damage and extra knockback, but flankers can easily get around this by staying just outside of melee range. As funny as Zenyatta's "super kick" is, I think he needs a dedicated movement ability to be viable. Maybe the developers can give him a short dash with a long cooldown, which would help Zenyatta escape dives without completely removing his weakness to flanks.
What do you think of the balance changes I proposed here? Have you had any ideas for other balance tweaks? Do you agree that these heroes need changes to be competitive? Let me know.
The Overwatch 2 beta represents the Overwatch community's first taste of Overwatch 2, a massive (and free) overhaul to the original Overwatch that will rework many of the game's characters and shift the PvP to a 5v5 format by removing a tank from each team. If you'd like to try out the Overwatch 2 beta, you'll need to own a copy of the original game and then sign up for it. Overwatch is one of the best PC games available, so you should definitely pick it up if you don't have it already.
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Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.