Our essential Overwatch Hero tier list for February 2017 breaks down the entire roster of characters into their most competitive brackets, with massive guides for each one as well!
We've all got our favourite characters in Overwatch, and although some of them can sometimes look on paper to be a bit more powerful than others, we take a pretty clear position when it comes to producing our tier lit of all the game's heroes. Put simply, we think Blizzard has done a pretty good job overall of crafting a roster of characters which are not only wonderfully distinct from one another, but also pretty well balanced as a collection - by and large, that is. The Overwatch team hasn't been shy to introduce buffs and nerfs where they've been required in the months since launch, and we expect things to only get tighter over time.
With all this said and done, it's fair to say that some heroes prove more consistently useful than others when it comes to contributing to a wide variety of team compositions. With that in mind, we've decided to compile a regularly updated tier list that will help you pick the best hero in any given map. Please do keep in mind though that if you've got a favourite hero that we've ranked lower down the list than you'd like, you should still play that character! You'll always do better with a hero you genuinely love, instead of feeling forced to pick another, just because someone else disagrees with their position.
With that caveat out of the way, how exactly have we gone about compiling our Overwatch tier list? For a start, we take our own experience with the current meta into consideration, then factor in the generally accepted wisdom of the crowd via alternative hero ratings. We also lean somewhat in our rankings towards playing with other random players, rather than team builds favoured by tightly coordinated competitive teams. These professionals are outliers when it come to the strength of the average player (although if you have a group of friends working together and communicating, you'll obviously do much better!)
Depending on your own skill at the game and playstyle preferences, you could easily move each one of these heroes up or down a rank, as every player brings their own strengths and weaknesses to Overwatch. As a general rule of thumb though, we think this list should help you pick a hero that's proven to have a major impact on every map, and with just about any given team composition.
Editor's note - February 2017 Update #2: The latest round of rebalancing has improve the fortunes of Overwatch's Offense category of heroes considerably - and particularly for those capable of dishing out burst damage. We've readjusted our tier list to take account of these changes.
There's further change on the horizon, however, with further tweaks planned for Bastion, Winston and Roadhog in the weeks ahead. Once those updates have been made, we'll revisit out tier list for the next competitive Season.
Overwatch Tier List and Character Rankings
Before we go into the details, here's how things shape up as a snapshot. Read on after the table below for an analysis of how we've arrived at our tier list rankings, and our general thoughts on each hero.
|Tier 1||Lucio||Lucio guide||Support|
|Tier 2||Soldier: 76||Soldier: 76 guide||Offense|
|Tier 3||Tracer||Tracer guide||Offense|
|Tier 4||Junkrat||Junkrat guide||Defense|
|Tier 5||Hanzo||Hanzo guide||Defense|
|Tier 6||Bastion||Bastion guide||Defense|
When it comes to character design and abilities, Lucio has been one of our favourite Heroes in Overwatch, right from beta through to the present day. In solid hands he can shine as brightly in a random team as he does in truly collaborative pre-made efforts, and although he doesn't have a huge amount of health to play with - and his weapon projectiles are rather wobbly to deliver - his exceptional versatility, flexibility and ability to sustain his teammates and rush them back into action makes him a top tier pick for any team. His speed boost was nerfed fairly hard in a recent patch, but we think it's going to take a lot more than this to knock Lucio out of the highest bracket.
It would have been tempting a while ago to actually move Reinhardt down the list a little due to the need for teamwork. People have, thankfully, learned that that big glowing shield is there to be hidden behind as the team moves forward as a group. As you can probably imagine, he's an essential choice for any map involving a Payload, but he's also a solid pick for pushing through chokepoints when you need to capture a point. If you don't have a lot of experience with this hero, take some time to practise with the Charge skill, as travel is heavy once you're on your way, and you really want to try and hit a good target with it in the thick of battle.
Soldier: 76 [Offense]
It's a little tempting at first glance to think that Soldier: 76 is just another boring run-and-gun Hero - and it's no accident that he's the first character you encounter during the game's tutorial - and yet there's plenty of mastery to be had here despite this surface simplicity. His DPS is very strong, his Sprint ability allows him to get back into the thick of battle nice and quickly, and that group heal can often mean the difference between victory or a rather embarrassing group wipe. He's a solid all-rounder that could easily be considered a Tier 2 hero in skilled hands.
Ana was a relatively recent hero to be added to Overwatch, and although she certainly adds a little extra flavour to the typical team pick, she initially failed to have the kind of significant impact on the metagame that you might like to see from a completely new character. That's changed quite a lot in the wake of a few rounds of re-balancing efforts from the Overwatch developers, and she's now a pretty strong choice of healer.
As a Tank Hero, Zarya is stunningly tough to take down and she represents an extremely frustrating obstacle for any enemy team to deal with. Everything about her screams survivability, from her own personal shield that provides a huge buff, to her health pool and the deployable shield that can be used to keep a teammate alive a little longer. Her damage output, which is increased in strength by the damage those very same shields absorb, isn't exactly dreadful either - especially when you consider her defensive nature. A team that does not coordinate itself well is going to have a lot of trouble dealing with Zarya, and will struggle to keep her locked out of the match.
There was a time when every Overwatch player on earth would have instinctively placed Tracer in the very highest tier of our overall rankings, but things have changed a lot since the earliest days of the beta. Players have wised up a little to her rapid re-positioning skills, and while she's still good at taking out turrets and Bastions, both this Hero and Torbjorn have woken up to the immediate danger a Tracer represents. She's a twitchy hero to play as well, and in the wrong hands her playstyle can go to pieces. Skilled players can still shine with this character though, and she's a bit like Genji in that regard.
Zenyatta's surging popularity in Competitive Play and the pro scene has finally begun to bleed over into Quick Play as well, which has a resulted in a gentle rise up our overall rankings in recent months. We still probably favour Lucio if we could only pick one single Support Hero if we're honest, but don't listen to the naysayers who claim the recent round of nerfs have made Zenyatta significantly weaker than he was before. He's designated as a hard Hero to play, believe it or not - you just have to work harder now than you had to before in order to get the same results.
While we're pretty big fans of D.Va in general, there's no denying she's lost quite a bit of her impact since the community began to wise up to some of her sneakier moves. An earlier balancing patch made her Defense Matrix skill much more useful, but the latest changes have affected her performance in the other direction. Expect her rating to shift a bit once the meta resettles.
Roadhog really shines at frustrating the enemy team, due in no small part to his intimidating presence which also comes with an equally massive health pool. This physical size, combined with a health regenerating ability, helps him to hang around for a very long time indeed as he pokes at his team's opponents - or just pulls them into range for a massive smack about the head. He's a solid tank that can really change the course of battle when he's played to a high standard. Played poorly though, he can provide the enemy team with a great big sponge with which to charge up their Ultimate abilities.
More great Overwatch guides:
Junkrat is another one of those heroes that performs best when working with a solid team, but he's also capable of terrorising the opposition on his own in claustrophobic situations. His weaknesses are pretty obvious - being a character with untargeted damage - no ability to restore health in battle, and nothing particularly special in the way of mobility - beyond the springboard effect he can get from bouncing off his own traps, that is. Even saying that though he is incredibly strong at harassing the enemy team, particularly when you're waiting for your fallen comrades to get back into action and you need to stall the advancing troops. A very good player can have their moments of genuine glory with Junkrat, although they'll have to work a little harder to get them.
We wobbled a bit about placing Genji this far down, but we feel as though he's in the right spot for now at least, and during the current stage of the ever-evolving metagame. Part of his placement in this overall ranking will depend largely on your own ability at the game, as he's very tricky to play to a high degree of efficiency. If you can skilfully blend his amazing mobility skills and precision aiming together though, consider placing him a tier higher than he currently is. More than most Heroes, how Genji is ranked by anyone is determined largely by your own ability at playing him. Just be warned that it's a tough gig...
We really enjoy playing McCree, despite the handful of nerfs he's received in recent months. This hero comes with a caveat, however, in that you'll need quick reactions to succeed in just about any of the many duels he's likely to find himself in. If you're clumsy with your shots, consider McCree a much lower pick. Having said that, his Flashbang grenade ability is amazing for locking down a squishy kill, and anyone who manages to master this hero can expect make a serious difference to a team's performance on any given map or game mode. Put simply, if you expect lots of close-quarters combat, McCree is an exceptionally potent force on the battlefield.
Pharah's ability to eliminate opponents from above, and do so by dishing out a decent dollop of damage, makes her a really solid pick if you're on the right map. Her amazing vertical mobility allows her to scout the situation from above before making her deadly moves, and then focus on the most problematic threats for your teammates to deal with. A handful of re-balancing updates after the game's launch have made her bit more vulnerable than she was originally and as a result she doesn't rank quite as high as she did in the game's earliest months.
We hesitated a little when placing Reaper in Tier 4 tier this month, and he's easily nudged up a rung if you know this hero - and the game's maps - inside out. His teleportation skill helps him get behind enemy lines fast, which makes him great for picking off Support and long-range damage dealers, and his general damage output is impressive too. With that said, we don't feel he's quite a member of the true elite right now, although we may well change our mind as Overwatch's third competitive season plays out. We'll be paying close attention to Reaper in the next edition of our Overwatch tier list.
Much as we enjoy playing Mercy with friends, it does take quite a lot of cooperation for her to excel when played alongside random players. She's got a really fun mix of buffs to play around with, but you need to be among players who are savvy enough to know that they're being sustained by those same buffs - that can be a lot to ask for when you queue up with random players. People are getting a lot better at that in general, and so Mercy is still a pretty solid pick - even if she struggles to give Lucio and Zenyatta a strictly equivalent run for their money.
If Winston's damage output and effectiveness range matched his incredible mobility and health pool then, he'd probably need to be nerfed if we're being absolutely honest. While it's true that those particular combat areas feel a little underdeveloped - and arguably prevent Winston from taking a spot higher up in our tier list - we still think he's a solid choice of tank regardless. From harassment potential to raw survivability, he's a fantastic hero all things considered, and one that everyone should spend some time getting to grips with.
It's not that we think Hanzo is bad per se, it's more the fact that he has a higher skill ceiling than the average characters that you'll find within this category of hero. While he has great mobility, he also suffers from a lack of hard escape options, and so he can be easily picked off by the enemy team. Thankfully, his wall-climbing ability allows him to reach some very sneaky spots, although he needs to choose his targets carefully when he gets into position, and finish his victims off pretty quickly if he's to live to fight another day. It goes without saying that his Ultimate can be a game-changer if the enemy team is daft enough to stay bunched together - not uncommon in the random queue by any means!
Not only does Mei have a whole truckload of annoying crowd-control abilities to frustrate the enemy team with, she can also summon down a massive wall of ice that provides a super-annoying barricade for your future victims to have to deal with. Her excellent, immobilising Ultimate ability does require you to have a team who are savvy enough to capitalise on the opportunity though, so she's by no means a first pick if you're queuing up for a match with randoms. In a well-organised team, however, she can be a bit of a menace for the opposition to deal with. Expect your teammates to roll your eyes a bit when you choose her though.
An extremely accomplished Widowmaker player can cause the enemy team a huge number of headaches, but played strictly solo she can be a somewhat fiddly and fragile character to dominate with. When she's fully zoomed in on the action at hand, she's extremely vulnerable to being eliminated by a flanking aggressor and with no guaranteed protection from a teammate she can be taken out of combat pretty quickly. Her popularity has dwindled quite a bit as well since the first rounds of post-launch balancing by Blizzard, but you could move her up at least one rung if you were truly born to snipe. Those who don't excel at this particular niche will find her a tricky Hero to make any real impact with though.
A very quick note on Overwatch's newest Hero. Depending on who you ask - not to mention that individual player's personal skill-ceiling - Sombra is either hideously under or overpowered in the current metagame. Consequently - and just going with our gut for a moment - we've decided to place her in a middle-tier position for now. When we overhaul our tier list later on this month, you can expect a more meaningful position to be determined for this character.
There's a lot to like about Symmetra when you take everything into consideration. She's got a fantastic buffing ability in the form of Photon Shield, her Teleporter skill can be used to get fallen comrades back into battle incredibly quickly, and those turrets can do a mean job of nibbling away at the enemy team's health. Unfortunately she doesn't have much in the way of mobility, and while her potential damage is solid, it takes skilled hands to get her to that point and survive long enough to present a significant threat to the enemy. A recent reworking has shaken things up a bit, but we're still waiting to see what the long-term effect on this hero's ranking will be.
There was a time back in the closed beta when you couldn't have crowbarred Bastion out of the top tier of Overwatch characters, but people have long-since learned to play around this Hero now - and do so a little too well, you might even say, given that Blizzard felt the need to provide Bastion with a little more mobility in the second round of the game's beta testing phase. He serves a very specific purpose in the game - blocking off choke points and holding objectives - but it feels as though he's lost a little something overall. We'll make a special note that Bastion's a great Defense character for new players to get stuck in with.
There's a lot of love for Torbjorn out there and with very good reason. Turrets always provide a real problem for the opposing team to deal with, and if they lack the wits to switch Heroes and neutralise the threat, they'll find themselves on the backfoot for the entire match. The only problem though is that people have long since wised up to the urgency of eliminating this particular threat, and so this hero is struggling to punch hard in the current metagame. You'll still curse turrets and Bastions and swear they're overpowered from time to time, but the reality is that the answers are there to be made use of if you're prepared to make the necessary change.