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Roles are categories that heroes in Overwatch 2 are categorized by. A hero's role describes the general characteristics of the hero and their purpose on the team.

Tank

New Tank Icon

Tank heroes soak up damage, create space for your team, and break apart fortified positions, like closely-grouped enemies and narrow choke-points. If you’re a tank, you lead the charge.

There are currently 12 Tank heroes in the game:

Role passive

Role: Tank
Hero-ability-circle
TankIcon
Type
Passive Ability
Reduces knockbacks and critical damage received. Less ultimate generated by healing and damage received. Increases base health in Role Queue game modes.
Dmg. modification:
-25% taken

Ability details:
  • Reduces the speed of knockbacks received by 40%
  • Ultimate generation is reduced by 40%.
  • Reduces the total damage received from critical hits, such as headshots, by 25%.
    • Weapons with a lower 1.5x headshot modifier ignore this damage reduction completely.
    • The effectiveness to abilities that deal critical damage through other means than headshots is ambiguous: Ability-reinhardt5 Earthshatter and Overrun icon Overrun are affected by the damage reduction, but Ability Sombra Virus Virus and Volatile Chaingun icon Volatile Chaingun's forced critical hits against burning targets are not.
    • The reduction stacks additively with other modifiers affecting damage taken.
  • All tanks have 150 more health in Role Queue. The amount of armor and/or shields remains the same.


Exceptions

Roadhog lacks a barrier and has no armor or shields, so he is unable to be a protector for his teammaes. However, his Take a Breather ability reduces incoming damage by 50% while healing back half of his health, allowing him to survive large amounts of damage. This leaves the door open for his teammates to pick off distracted enemies, and for Roadhog himself to single out enemies with his Chain Hook.

Wrecking Ball offers very little protection to the team, making him weak when defending. Unlike other Tanks, he is not meant for long engagements, since his only protection ability, Adaptive Shield, has a long cooldown and a relatively short duration. Instead, Wrecking Ball's role is to disrupt the enemy team with Piledriver, or simply deny space with Grappling Claw or Minefield. This makes Wrecking Ball an aggressive Tank, suitable for dive compositions.

Zarya has a smaller health pool than the other tanks, no armor, and cannot protect multiple team members at once. However, her ability to project barriers onto allies can help her and her teammate survive large bursts of damage while dramatically improving her firepower. Because of the lack of defense she offers to the team, she is often played to provide sustainable close-range damage. She is most effective when used in and around cover, taking limited bursts of damage at a time and relying on her shield health to regenerate between exposures. Because of this regeneration, she is able to work effectively by herself as a flanker, as she does not require constant support and can project barriers from a significant distance.

Damage

New Damage Icon

Damage heroes are responsible for seeking out, engaging, and defeating the enemy using their varied tools and abilities. Playing a damage hero means it is your duty to secure kills.

There are currently 18 Damage heroes in the game:

Role passive

Role: Damage
Hero-ability-circle
OffenseIcon
Type
Passive Ability
Damaging an enemy temporarily reduces their healing received.
Healing modification:
-20% received (non-tanks)
-10% received (tanks)
Duration:
2 seconds

Ability details:
  • Does not stack with itself or the passive from another damage role hero.
  • Stacks multiplicatively with other modifiers that affect healing received.
  • Objects that deal damage, such as turrets, may also apply the effect.
  • Self-damage does not apply the effect.


Exceptions

Due to her self-sustain and relatively low damage output, Mei is often considered a Damage/Tank hybrid that focuses less on damaging incoming enemies and more on guarding choke points. She has abilities that can provide more utility to her team than other Damage heroes, and is effective at contesting an objective. Mei also excels at setting up enemies for easy pickings by her team's damage dealers by using her primary fire's freeze effect.

Sombra deals less damage, and requires skillful aim. She substitutes the burst damage of her fellow Damage heroes in exchange for incapacitating key targets with Hack for her allies to swarm. She's far less self-sufficient than other Damage heroes, relying on team coordination and communication to operate at her strongest.

While Symmetra has the potential to output tremendous amount of damage when fully charged, she is often picked for her utility role instead. Her turrets are effective at slowing down mobile targets and disrupting the enemy team, while her teleporter is useful for providing mobility to traditionally immobile heroes and even allow unusual strategies exclusive to her kit. Much like Sombra, she requires a highly coordinated team to reach her highest potential. She is also often considered a Damage/Support hybrid, and in the early stages of Overwatch, was in the Support role.[1]

Support

New Support Icon

Support heroes empower their allies by healing them, boosting their damage, and providing vital utility. As support, you’re the backbone of your team’s survival.

There are currently 10 support heroes in the game:

Role passive

Role: Support
Hero-ability-circle
SupportIcon
Type
Passive Ability
Begin regenerating health more quickly.

Ability details:
  • Reduces the time before passive health regeneration starts from 5 to 2.5 seconds after taking damage.


Exceptions

Lúcio and Zenyatta both provide low amounts of healing compared to the other supports. As such, they may find it difficult to sustain their teammates over the course of long fights. However, they make up for this deficit with more powerful utility in the form of Speed Boost and Orb of Discord, respectively. In addition, their ultimate abilities are exceptionally powerful due to the amount of healing provided, and can save their allies during fights; or be used as a way to engage in a team fight.

Moira offers very little direct utility for her team, having access to only high healing and lower damage. However, her movement capacity can make up for this, as she can escape many flankers and situations that would render other supports helpless. Additionally, although her damage output is relatively low, she can aid Damage heroes with its consistency, and counters heroes that can absorb projectiles (such as Genji or D.Va). Lastly, her ultimate ability has the capability to sustain teammates and do massive damage simultaneously, making it a great engagement ultimate.

Brigitte provides valuable offense when in need, while providing constant support with her passive area of effect healing. This "carefree" healing allows Brigitte to focus on using her abilities to knockback, displace and kill certain heroes while providing sufficient healing to her nearby teammates.

Role Queue

Role queue

An example of separate SR for each role

Role Queue is the primary queue mode in Overwatch 2, and restricts each team composition to one Tank hero, two Damage heroes, and two Support heroes. Players first select one or more roles before queueing, and once in a match, can only play heroes within the role that they were matched into.

In Competitive Role Queue, players have a separate rank and skill tier for each role.

Development

Merging roles

During the first two years of Overwatch, the Damage role was split into two separate roles, "Offense" and "Defense." The Offense role included more aggressive heroes (such as Tracer and Sombra), while the Defense role was for heroes whose strengths were more suitable for a solid defense (such as Bastion and Torbjörn).

These merged into the single role in the June 26, 2018 patch. Blizzard stated that merging the two roles made more sense, as it was becoming harder to differentiate one from the other.[2]

Since the line between Offense and Defense heroes has become increasingly blurred, we’ve decided to group all those heroes into a single new “Damage” category. We believe that the term more closely matches the role name that is now being used in Overwatch League and across most of the game’s community.
~ Blizzard Entertainment

Introducing Role Queue

Role Queue was added in August 2019 for Competitive Play, and September 2019 for Quick Play. The goal of the new system was to reduce tension, pressure, disappointment, or even hostility as a team composition comes together, leading to matches that players are in roles that they want to be in, rather than ones they were forced onto.[3]

Although Role Queue has standardized team compositions, it has drastically increased the time it takes to find a game, especially for certain roles. To pass the time, the While you wait feature was introduced in December 2019, and allows players to use the Practice Range and play specialized game modes while waiting.

Another effort made to try and reduce queue times was an experimental mode dubbed "Triple Damage," which was available from February 25th to March 3rd, 2020 as a trial. It increased the number of Damage heroes per team from two to three, while the number of Tank heroes decreased from two to one. According to a forum post by Jeff Kaplan, queue times for Damage heroes were drastically cut, but community responses seemed mostly negative, and none of the changes in Triple Damage were made permanent.[4][5]

Prior to Role Queue, Blizzard previously attempted to standardize teams by allowing players to enforce roles using the Looking for Group feature. This has since been removed.

Overwatch 2

Upon release of Overwatch 2, all roles received a new passive ability that applied to each hero in the role. Support heroes regenerated their health after staying out of combat, Tank heroes gained knockback resistance, and Damage heroes reloaded faster after getting an elimination.[6]

Each team's player count was also reduced to six to five, allowing only one Tank per team in Role Queue. In addition to the new role passive, Tank heroes received various buffs to accommodate the reduced frontline presence.[6]

Season 9: Champions

Season 9 of Overwatch 2 reworked the Damage role passive, removing the original speed boost and making it so that enemies they damage have temporarily reduced healing. Additionally, the Support role passive was applied globally to all heroes, but with a longer delay for Tank and Damage heroes.

Season 10

Season 9 of Overwatch 2 expanded the functionality of the tank passive, causing it to also reduce damage taken from critical hits.


References

  1. List of Heroes by release date
  2. June 26, 2018 Patch
  3. 2019-07-18. Introducing Role Queue. Blizzard Entertainment, accessed on 2024-05-01
  4. 2020-02-04. Developer Update | Experimental Mode: Triple Damage | Overwatch. YouTube, accessed on 2024-05-01
  5. 2020-02. Jeff Kaplan: "I’m glad you’re enjoying it. The feedback is really polarizing." Blizzard Forums, accessed on 2024-05-01
  6. 6.0 6.1 2021-05-20. Overwatch 2 Drops Standard PVP Count To 5V5. Game Informer, accessed on 2022-05-08
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