“The world could always use more heroes,” Tracer said back in one of the original Overwatch shorts. Now, so could the game itself.
It seems like every year in Overwatch, Jeff Kaplan has to personally address the community with a plan to change a morbidly stale meta. There was dive in 2017 and 2018, GOATs in 2018 and 2019, and now double-shield has dominated since the fall of GOATs. Jeff has once again promised a developer update, and pros and joes alike are anxiously awaiting what he has to say.
A more consistent and steady stream of new hero releases could help remedy stale metagames.
The problem with Overwatch
Overwatch suffers heavily from long and stale metas. This is due to the fact that certain team compositions lack appropriate checks and counters, and the best counter becomes playing the same team comp better. While the “best” team comp is arbitrary and based around the map and players, trends still develop and certain heroes become “must-picks”.
At lower ranks, players can generally get away with playing different heroes, though they might face harassment from their teammates for doing so. At higher ranks and in professional play, however, not playing the best team comps puts teams at a severe disadvantage.
These metas create a number of problems for the game. Using the same heroes and strategies every game gets boring to play and watch. Then, heroes like D.Va, Tracer, and Brigitte get nerfed into the shadow realm through ineffective balance updates and become useless once Blizzard makes radical changes to force the meta to shift.
Why introducing more heroes could benefit the game
There are currently only 31 heroes in Overwatch. 16 of these heroes are damage heroes, eight are tanks, and only seven are healers. This is a tiny pool to choose from, especially when considering other hero-based games like League of Legends and Dota 2 boast well over 100. When heroes or strategies become popular in these games, there are almost always decent counter picks for them. However, this isn’t always the case in Overwatch.
Overwatch is vastly different from traditional MOBAs, but that doesn’t change the fact that having more heroes means having more options. A rock-paper-scissors game like Overwatch will get stale when players keep choosing rock because paper and scissors don’t exist. The solution to this? Introduce more options.
Brigitte is the best example of how much one hero can change the game. Prior to Brig being released, dive comps were extremely overpowered because there wasn’t a counter strong enough to stop them. With her ability to stun dive heroes and provide instant heals and armor to teammates, Brig ushered in a new meta. She certainly wasn’t the most fun to play against, but there is no denying her impact on the meta.
By releasing new heroes, Blizzard can effectively create more counterplay options which could help prevent things from getting too stale. This won’t solve everything, of course; certain heroes will always have an edge over others. In saying that, it’s still something that needs to be considered.
Tanks and healers
Overwatch has a severe lack of tanks and healers when compared to how many damage heroes there are. Now that 2-2-2 is enforced, the game has a desperate need for more options at these roles.
A lot of counterplay in Overwatch comes from the damage role. Tanks and healers are generally confined to a small pool of meta picks, such as Orisa, Sigma, and Baptiste. Damage players have a wide range of heroes to counter opposing picks by swapping between heroes like Mei, Hanzo, Reaper, Doomfist, Pharah, and others. This makes the role more enticing to play.
Damage is easily the most popular role in the game, especially at lower ranks. A big part of this may be that there are simply more options for this role. Introducing new tanks and healers will draw players to the roles to try them out, and some people may end up falling in love with the new heroes. This would help queue times a lot.
All in all, introducing new heroes would benefit the game by shaking up the meta, creating more counterplay options, and helping players find their new favorite hero. Hopefully, Blizzard will announce at least one new hero in the upcoming developer update.