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Overwatch’s Experimental Mode introduces terrifying tanks

Bubbles for everyone!

Overwatch - Roadhog lifts his chain and faces away from an explosive in the background Image: Blizzard Entertainment
Cass Marshall is a news writer focusing on gaming and culture coverage, taking a particular interest in the human stories of the wild world of online games.

Overwatch is seeing some changes, thanks to the game’s new Experimental Mode. Blizzard debuted this new Arcade variant with the goal of putting wild balance changes and compositions out for testing. Nothing may result of Experimental Mode, and game director Jeff Kaplan wants to assure everyone with the phrase: “Don’t panic.”

That being said, I’m sweating a little looking at these patch notes. The new metagame experiment allows for three damage heroes, two supports, and one tank. Blizzard is upping the utility and power of the game’s “off-tanks,” and the results are both terrifying and intriguing. Off-tanks are heroes that play a secondary tank role. They lack the defensive tools of an Orisa or a Reinhardt, but they can soak up extra damage and survive scenarios a squishy damage hero cannot.

Here’s a look at some of the more dramatic balance changes to tanks in Overwatch:


Take a Breather

Now leaves behind a cloud when used. This cloud heals all allies within it for 25 health per second and provides 25% damage reduction

Chain Hook

Cooldown reduced from 8 seconds to 6 seconds

Scrap Gun (Primary Fire)

Damage per pellet reduced from 6 to 5 (150 damage per shot down to 125 damage)

Whole Hog

Cost increased by 15%

Roadhog has always been the main tank who has the least amount of tools to help his own allies. His chain hook pulls people close for elimination, but otherwise, he’s a bit of a lone wolf. No longer! Experimental Mode allows him to hook more, but also heal his allies. When Roadhog huffs his healing juice, allies will want to gather round for healing and damage reduction.



Shields health pool increased from 200 to 300. (Total health is now 500)

Maximum energy gain per barrier decreased from 40 to 30

Particle Cannon (Primary Fire)

Maximum primary fire damage per second reduced from 170 to 140

Particle Cannon (Secondary Fire)

Maximum secondary fire damage reduced from 95 to 80

Particle Barrier (Self)

Cooldown decreased from 10 seconds to 8 seconds

Particle Barrier (Ally)

Now creates barriers on all allies within 8 meters of your target

Duration increased from 2 seconds to 3 seconds

Zarya’s particle cannon mechanic has always relied on her gaining energy from shields. Those shields are getting much more powerful in Experimental Mode. When Zarya bubbles herself, she enjoys a lower cooldown. If she bubbles a friend, everyone around that ally gets a shield too. It’s a very powerful buff that more than makes up for the slight damage nerfs.


Adjusted armor to health ratio (Total health is still 600)

Armor health pool increased from 200 to 400

Base health decreased from 400 to 200

Defense Matrix

Duration increased from 2 seconds to 4 seconds

Fusion Cannons (Primary Fire)

Movement penalty reduced from 50% to 30%

This version of D.Va isn’t radically changed; she has more armor and more pew pew. Her Defense Matrix has a wider window of opportunity, allowing her to gobble up more enemy projectiles. D.Va’s Defense Matrix has been a tough skill for Blizzard to balance, and it’s seen some nerfs in the past. Doubling its uptime will be an interesting experiment.

There are other tank changes that buff the main defensive ability of the rest of the tank line, as well as a Mardi Gras challenge with an unlockable Ashe skin. The full patch notes can be found on Blizzard’s site.

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