Today, we’re looking at Tanks. These are the big heavies that typically make up your front line, soaking up damage with their large health pools and defensive abilities.
Once again, they’ll be listed by my personal preference of most to least useful.
Breakdown: A Tank in the most traditional sense, Reinhardt is an must-have for most team compositions. He’s the rare Hero with the ability to contribute on Attack or Defense, no matter the map or objective. His durability and generous shielding means he can either hold back an assault or push through a choke point with his friends, always threatening to maul anyone that gets too close. The fact that he’s very easy to use is just icing on the armored cake.
His hammer swing is incredibly satisfying but has limited utility. It’s mostly going to be used for taking out low health enemies or creating space. The only time you’ll want to swing wildly is after stunning a group with your ultimate first, looking to take out everything in your sight.
A vast majority of your time with Reinhardt will be spent with your Barrier Field active. It’s his greatest asset to a team and with 2000HP, can stay up for quite a while, though you’ll want to drop it occasionally to recharge. The benefits are obvious, allowing your teammates a safe spot to retreat and shoot behind. It’s also why Reinhardt shouldn’t run alone, always a better option to soak up damage than one of your lighter teammates. The Field makes for a good combination with a Sentry mode Bastion, protecting him from frontal assault while also being there for the inevitable flank. It can also be used to push back a group of enemies into a trap, like Symmetra’s turrets.
The Charge is a high risk move that can kill most targets when they impact a wall, but you have to choose when to use it wisely, as it’s easy to see coming and will leave you wide open if it misses. It’s best used when there’s very little distance to close and you want to take out a high priority target. You can also use it as a form of Kamakaze attack, flying off of the map and taking someone with you. This is one of the only counters to D.Va’s Ultimate, though obviously you’ll sacrifice yourself in the process.
Fire Strike is his only projectile, good for taking out turrets or stationary Defense Heroes like snipers. It’s easy to avoid, but you can actually cancel your primary attack into it for a nice fake out. It’s his least used ability, but that also makes it one that your enemies will often forget about. In a rare moment you have the Barrier Field down, throw one out to keep everyone honest.
His Ultimate, Earthshatter, is best used on grouped enemies and in combination with another attacker. The stun doesn’t do a lot of damage on its own, but is an excellent setup for something bigger.
The downside to playing as Reinhardt is that he’s slow and not very flashy. Everyone knows his deal and will try to get behind him as quickly as possible. Aggressive Reinhardts exist, but you’ll mostly want to stay back, since he’s a big easy target and needs his Barrier Field active to benefit his teammates. He’s no good to anyone by himself.
Heroes to Target: Anyone that gets a little too close. Otherwise, it’s typically no one unless you’re right on an objective and a Bastion or Torbjorn turret is giving the team trouble. He can withstand the assault long enough to get in and deal with the problem, since all it should take it one well-timed Charge.
Heroes to Avoid: Anyone that can get behind you, like Reaper and Tracer or someone with a weapon that ignores your Barrier Field, like Symmetra or Zenyatta.
Breakdown: To call D.Va a Tank is a little misleading, since she functions differently than any of the other damage sponges in her category. She’s more of a hybrid Attacker that can serve multiple roles on a team. Her ability to continue fighting after her mech has been destroyed can serve as both a blessing and a curse depending on the situation and she acts as a good Hero to switch to mid-match if you need to clear out a rather persistent grouping of enemies.
Her primary weapon, the Fusion Cannon, has infinite ammo at the expense of limited range. In very close quarters, they can take out most single enemies in no time, but positioning is key since she is slowed down significantly when firing. Most of the time, you’ll want to be right on top of an enemy looking for the kill or offering suppressing fire when at a distance.
Her Boosters offer her movement options that other Tanks don’t have, perfect for getting up on ledges to pick off helpless snipers or even let her flank in certain maps. It has the ability to knockback enemies at the expense of some minor damage. It’s worth it if you can knock an enemy off of the map or even just off of the objective for a few seconds.
Defense Matrix will protect from any projectiles directly in front of her line of sight for a few seconds, best against burst fire from a turret or machine gun. It’s not as good as Reinhardt’s Barrier Field, obviously, but can help in a pinch. Since D.Va is usually a high-risk Hero to play, this is easily her most underused ability and, if well timed, could save you from having to walk around without your suit due to easily avoidable damage.
The Self-Destruct Ultimate is arguably one of the best in the game, always a huge threat to anyone caught in its generous range. The damage is enough to kill anyone at full health and your allies are immune to it. You, however, are not and can get killed by your own attack if not careful. A move you need to practice is a quick hit of the Boosters before you activate it. This will fling your mech forward, making it much easier for you to avoid the blast. You can also do this to fling the mech straight up into the air, making the fuse even shorter when it hits the ground. It’s insanely fun to watch everyone scatter when a giant explosive gets dropped right in the middle of the objective. The threat of her Ultimate alone is why a team with multiple D.Vas can be incredibly frustrating to deal with.
Outside of her suit, she is a very fragile, yet reasonably mobile attacker. Her out-of-mech blaster is ironically better than her primary Fusion Cannon and she’s less of a huge target in this mode. It’s essentially like having a second life, albeit a very delicate one. You’ll want to charge another Ultimate to get back into your suit as quickly as possible. It also may be to your benefit to simply die and respawn with the charge so you have another Self-Destruct to play with.
The disadvantages to D.Va are her generally low damage output, range, and risky play style. Mobility is key to using her, but she’s also a big target, meaning that a large mech rocketing towards the enemy is still a large thing to focus your attack on. Despite her large health pool, her Mech always seems to go down a little too quickly, leaving you to play Zero Suit Samus until you can get another charge. Even if you’re a good shot, absolutely no one is scared of a mech-less D.Va. They’re scared of the one thing you can’t access in that mode – your Self-Destruct.
Heroes to Target: You will be the bane of any poor Widowmaker or Hanzo on the enemy team. You can reach any high ground they may want to hide in and mow them down without much resistance.
Heroes to Avoid: Zenyatta. You’re going to see that name a lot. Just like with how snipers are deadly to Support Heroes, the Orb of Discord really really likes to stick to tanks. She also hates Mei. Everyone hates Mei, but D.Va really really hates Mei, since your most effective range is exactly where she wants you.
Breakdown: Winston is a great choice for anyone that wants a Tank that’s easy to use, can soak up damage for the team and be more proactive than some of the other options. He’s a good middle ground between the defensive abilities of Reinhardt and the mobility of D.Va and is effective on Attack or Defence, though will generally lean towards the latter. If you’re looking for a starter Tank and holding up a barrier the entire match seems lame, then you may want to get up to some monkey business.
The Tesla Cannon is on perpetual easy mode, always firing out a beam for as long as you hold down the button. It has a generous auto-aim that will catch pretty much anyone silly enough to get near you, though the range is somewhat lacking. It’s also useful for taking out any Symmetra turrets that my be hiding nearby.
His ability close a distance is reliant on his Jump Pack, which flings him forward in whatever direction he’s facing. Like with D.Va’s Boosters, this can be used to access enemies up on perches, but will mainly be used to rush towards objectives where you can immediately throw down a shield. The landing will actually damage anyone caught underneath, so try to make a habit of aiming for a body on the way down.
Another habit that you need to get into with Winston is throwing down a Barrier Projector the moment he lands, since you’ll typically be aiming for a control point or a payload. It forms a decent sized bubble shield around Winston and is his greatest asset to a team. A common strategy is to stand on the payload and throw down a Barrier, turning it into a traveling shield for a few seconds. It’s also good to keep in mind that it generates a full sphere, so you’ll also be protected on bridges or ledges from shots below. If using him more offensively, a fun trick is to throw a Barrier Projector at a turret or an enemy in the middle of an AOE Ultimate. They will be unable to shoot outside of the sphere and allow safe passage for your team.
Anyone looking to attack Winston will have to step through the shield, which is exactly the range you want them to be at for your Tesla Cannon or a well-timed Ultimate. Primal Rage, as it’s known, allows Winston to go, well, apeshit, wildly flinging his arms at anything in front of him and causing significant knockback. It’s not as much of a kill move as it is a way to clear an area and/or separate the enemy team, as the visual of a giant red beast running around is usually enough to get them to scatter, even if you don’t actually hit. While it’s possible to kill him in this mode, it’s pretty difficult and not really worth the effort. It’s best used when Winston is near-death, since it refills all of his health on activation.
Like most Tanks, Winston isn’t much of a damage dealer and has very limited options if caught with his abilities on cooldown. He’s a Hero that’s all about positioning, not just for his own survivability, but for the benefit of his team. Because of his big face, he’s also very easy to headshot and will not do well if isolated from his team for too long.
Heroes to Target: Snipers and Support, generally anyone that you can jump and bully that can’t defend themselves up close. Genji is also one to seek out since the Tesla Cannon is one of the few weapons that he can’t Deflect.
Heroes to Avoid: Anyone that’s much deadlier at close range than you, like a Reaper or McCree. Zenyatta, again, is also an issue.
Breakdown: Roadhog is easily the most offensive-minded Tank, able to dish out a hefty amount of damage with or without the help of his team. He’s one of the biggest one-on-one threats in the game, the anti-thesis of what you’d normally imagine a Tank would be, as he can survive and often excel when by himself. With the highest HP pool in the game, he can be very hard to move off of an objective and the fear of his Chain Hook will generally keep enemies running the other way.
His gun has two fire modes; the primary working as a close range blast and the alt sending out a medium range ball of scrap that sort of acts like a grenade launcher. Roadhog is actually the only Hero in the game that will likely spend more time firing his alt weapon than his primary, sending out shots to pester anyone you’re too slow to reach.
The primary fire is highly damaging but only useful from very up close, which is where you want your targets to be. To aid in this goal, he has the Chain Hook, which will pull the enemy towards you, Scorpion style. This can not be stressed enough – the Chain Hook is everything to Roadhog. His entire gameplan revolves around being able to use it effectively, so spend time in the practice range getting a feel for the spacing and timing. Once you’ve gotten the hang of that, you need to master the Hook-Fire-Melee combo, which will kill most enemies and severely damage everyone else. Another thing to keep in mind with the Chain Hook is that it can interrupt someone in the middle of an Ultimate, making it one of the very few defensive applications that he has.
If you do find yourself in trouble, Roadhog can regen health with his Take A Breather ability. It leaves him stationary, so you’ll want to be in cover whenever you use it. The cooldown is relatively fast and Roadhog has a lot of HP, so he can wander ahead and even flank without worrying about hunting down health packs.
Roadhog’s Ultimate, Whole Hog is… the worst Ultimate in the game. There’s really no sugarcoating it. It’s a minigun that’s often very hard to hit with and is really only effective against groups that you need to knock back. It still has its uses, especially when trying to keep the enemy team from the objective, but no one is scared when Roadhog activates his Ult. They’re only afraid of the Hook.
Though he can heal himself, Roadhog is still a big slow target that’s likely going to take a lot of damage. Unlike the other Tanks, he has no shield ability to speak of, so he can’t do much to protect his teammates and the enemy team knows that you will have a long run back if you end up respawning. Missing with the Chain Hook will also announce to them that you pose no threat for several seconds, which is another reason why you should practice with it. Without his Hook, he’s nothing.
Heroes to Target: Support heroes, especially Mercy. If you want a big practice dummy to try out your Chain Hook on, go for Reinhardt, though you’ll want to attack from the side since it can go through his shield. You probably won’t kill him but can be used to pull him out of position. Once you’ve gotten the aiming down, try pulling a Pharrah out of the sky. On the ground and up close, she’s useless.
Heroes to Avoid: Though you can pull Snipers from their perch, chances are they’ll be too far out of range for you to connect. Most of the Offense heroes are poor choices to pick a fight with since they either have better mobility options or better damage up close than you. Also, have I mentioned Zenyatta?
Breakdown: Like Zenyatta, Zarya sits at the bottom of my list despite being the most damaging Hero in her category, mostly because of how difficult she can be for new players. If she were a fighting game character, we’d define her as “high execution”, a very dangerous weapon that many will find themselves unable to use effectively, since there can be a lot to keep track of.
Zarya’s Particle Beam acts like a stronger variation on Winston’s Tesla Cannon, having the same easy aim, but with two modes of fire. The Alt fire is a weaker grenade launcher that does splash damage at a greater distance. The primary fire is your main threat, as it gets stronger as you gather energy. Like the Tesla Cannon, it also can’t be stopped by Genji’s Deflect of D.Va’s Defense Matrix.
Energy is stored by her Particle Barriers, which can be activated on herself and one teammate. All of the damage absorbed by the Barriers will convert to Energy for her weapon, increasing in strength the more you have absorbed. A fully powered Zarya is a death machine, able to take down even the heaviest tanks with relative ease. You’ll generally want to throw Barriers onto easy targets like your Supports. Also keep in mind that your personal Barrier doesn’t last as long and has more of a cooldown, so it should be used with a bit more discretion.
Her Ultimate is Graviton Surge, a very good utility move that essentially works like a black hole, pulling all nearby enemies into a nice vulnerable grouping. As you’d imagine, it’s best for setting up another Ultimate or simply bombarding an area. On some maps, it will even pull enemies off the map or into a pit, though certain shields, like those from the other Tanks, can block it.
The thing with Zarya is that either she’s an absolute beast or nearly ineffectual, depending on the player and the coordination of her team. There is very little middle ground with her and she relies on timing and pressure to make any progress, since her damage counter decreases quickly and her shields don’t stay up for very long. She lacks mobility and is also not very good as a primary tank, better paired with a Reinhardt or a Winston.
Heroes to Target: Sentry Bastions and turrets are easy damage to absord with your Barriers. Finding a Junkrat or a Mei is like Christmas, since all of the spam they want to throw at you will only make you stronger. Also, that Zenyatta that’s been bothering all of your other Tanks? Zarya’s Barrier removes it.
Heroes to Avoid: Zarya has significant trouble with snipers like Widowmaker. You simply don’t have the range or mobility to do much when caught in her sights. Faster heroes like Tracer and Reaper can also be difficult to hit, no matter how much Energy you’ve stored up.
Tomorrow, we’ll cover the Defensive Heroes.