Overwatch features a variety of well-rounded, interesting tanks to match with a variety of playstyles. While tanks are often Overwatch’s least popular role, that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth studying and learning how to counter.
Tanks are a fairly monolithic category—literally. Though some are considered main tanks and others off-tanks, they all take the role of the damage sponge. This means they all have something in common: more durability than the average Overwatch hero, whether that’s in the form of shields, armor, or simply a high amount of health. Because of their higher-than-average HP, they’re affected more by shotguns. As such, unless otherwise stated, all tanks on this list are countered by Reaper and Roadhog, the standard Overwatch “tank busters.” (Yes, this means Roadhog counters himself.)
Here are the best counters for each Overwatch tank.
Overwatch’s resident member of the Mobile Exoskeletal Korean Arms is unique in that she technically has two forms: one where she attacks with her large mech suit and another where she attacks with her sidearm outside of the mech. Because mechless D.Va isn’t usually a hard hero to kill—and she’s also not really tanky anymore—we’re going to focus on her mech form.
The best way to counter D.Va is to attack her with beam-based weapons. Bullets and projectiles can be absorbed by her Defense Matrix, making them much less useful. Characters with beam weapons, like Zarya, Symmetra, Moira, and Winston, can attack her even when she has the Matrix up, cutting through her defensive façade.
Efi Oladele’s robotic creation is designed to stay in place and defend specific areas. Her small barriers aren’t mobile like Reinhardt’s, but she can place them in one area and freely move around, defending another side of the payload, for example. Her other abilities also play into her role as a defender, allowing her to fortify herself against movement-reduction skills and pull enemies together for easier dispatch.
Because of this, she isn’t as strong against extremely mobile characters. Heroes like Tracer, Genji, Doomfist, and Pharah can zip around her barriers and attack her team’s backline without much interruption beyond her brief Halt! pull. Sombra’s Hack can also be devastating to Orisa since it prevents her from putting down barriers and and initiating her fortification (though it won’t cancel Orisa’s fortification early if she’s hacked in the middle of it). The hack also disables a deployed Supercharger for 10 seconds, preventing Orisa’s team from gaining a power boost.
Everyone’s favorite armored dad is a fairly straightforward character: He’s essentially a mobile shield, preventing damage from reaching the backline and enabling smaller, more damage-heavy heroes to thread in front of and behind him to lay down punishment on the opposing team. Reinhardt also has disrupt and stun potential with his dangerous Earthshatter ultimate.
Even so, he’s not immune to counters. Reinhardt loses a lot of his strength if he’s unable to use his barrier. Anyone who can stun him out of it, like Cassidy, Ana, Mei, and Brigitte, holds more power over him than the average hero. Sombra’s hack can also prevent Reinhardt from using his barrier, opening him up to focus fire and burst damage from tank busters and AoE damage. Some heroes are also simply better at bursting his barrier down: Junkrat and Pharah are both more mobile than Reinhardt and can simply blast his shield away from long distances.
As mentioned above, Roadhog is one of the few heroes that counters himself. If both teams have Roadhogs, they’d do best to watch out for each other. His hook can more easily catch the other Hog’s large hitbox and his shotgun will do a lot of damage to an enemy Hog’s high health pool. This large hitbox also means that he’s weaker against characters that deal a lot of AoE damage, like Pharah, Junkrat, and Zarya’s alternate fire. Anything that explodes even remotely near him will probably deal some damage.
While Roadhog’s hook is his strongest ability, it can be evaded. Heroes who can escape his hook quickly after getting caught, like Echo, Pharah, Genji, Tracer, Sombra, and Doomfist, have a better chance of survival, especially if he misses part of his follow-up shotgun attack. Anyone who can attack him at a distance, like Widowmaker, Pharah, Echo, Ana, and Junkrat (to a lesser extent), can also deal a fair amount of damage while staying out of range of his attacks. Just watch out for that hook.
Overwatch’s master of gravity has a lot of power on his side. He can ruin the attacks of mobile DPS heroes by catching them in his gravity-manipulating ultimate and catching their projectiles in his Kinetic Grasp, turning them into shields for his own use. He also has similar barrier mechanics to other tanks, making him undoubtedly a tough opponent to play against.
All the same, he has his weaknesses, just like any other hero. His slow main fire and abilities mean that characters with small hitboxes who are fast can avoid his projectiles fairly easily. Characters like Lucio, Tracer, and Genji are best for this, though Genji can’t deflect his Accretion projectile. Like Reinhardt and Orisa, Sombra’s Hack prevents Sigma from putting down barriers and defending his team. Some heroes can also get out of his Gravitic Flux safely with movement abilities, like Moira with Fade.
Winston is one of the more traditional tanks in Overwatch. His damage output isn’t that high, but his main tank-style shield and movement potential can more than make up for that in the right situations. No matter where he lands on the battlefield, he always makes a splash.
If a Winston is causing trouble for your team, he can be dealt with in a similar manner to other tanks: stuns and AoE. Heroes who have a stun ability, like Ana, Mei, Brigitte, and Cassidy, can stop Winston from jumping out of a fight and saving himself. Characters that deal a lot of AoE damage, like Junkrat, Pharah, and Zarya with her alternate fire, can also do a fair amount of collateral damage to Winston thanks to his large model. Just make sure you don’t let him monkey around too much.
Wrecking Ball’s extreme mobility potential has been the bane of many teams’ existences. He’s the tank equivalent of Lucio, flying around the battlefield until someone can finally stop him. Wrecking Ball is especially good at point control: His various slams and knocks are great at chasing attackers off of an objective.
Like Winston, Overwatch‘s other very mobile tank, Wrecking Ball’s main weakness is to stuns. Cassidy, Brigitte, Ana, and Mei are all able to either slow him or stop him in his tracks, preventing him from gaining momentum and protecting a given area. While he can be difficult to hit with a stun initially, especially if he’s already gotten going, he’s relatively easy to burst down once he stops thanks to his big model.
Zarya is unique in that she has a higher damage potential than most of the game’s other tanks. Her Energy mechanic makes it so that the more she gets hit, the more damage she can deal. Because of that, the best strategy with Zarya is to avoid hitting her barrier at all costs, which denies her Energy. Heroes that deal a lot of burst damage, like Bastion, Echo, Junkrat, and Pharah, are capable of running her down quickly while her barrier is on cooldown. But beware: If you misjudge her cooldown timers, you could find yourself facing a high-energy Zarya in no time at all since she also counters burst damage.
Zarya’s ultimate ability is Graviton Surge, a projectile that creates a black hole that traps everyone nearby when it lands. It remains a projectile before it hits the ground, though, meaning that it can be deflected by Genji or consumed by D.Va’s Defense Matrix. Deflecting it as Genji makes the Graviton Surge work for your team rather than the enemy Zarya’s team, while consuming it as D.Va simply removes it from the battlefield (and triggers a fun voice line at the same time).
Overwatch is a varied and complex game, but as seen here, its characters still follow some of the same conventions as other FPS games. Thanks to the game’s hero swap mechanic, players can mix and match team setups until they find the right way to take on the enemy, making knowledge of each character’s strengths and weaknesses more important than ever.