Season 8 is all about Mauga, but what about the state of Overwatch 2 balance going forward? Changes are needed to fix the mess we’re in.
No esports game ever achieves perfect harmony when it comes to balance. It could be argued that non-hegemony isn't even an ideal state. After all, video games often boil down to power fantasies and that includes the idea that one player can make an extreme difference in a match outcome. To talk about the state of Overwatch 2 balance and the meta, we have to keep in mind that 'perfect' isn't attainable.
However, some genres handle that wild power imbalance better than others. One could argue that MOBAs live off this idea that a few key ability sets and archetypes will "hard carry" the team. And while Overwatch 2 has always sought a middle ground between first-person shooter and arena brawler genre, it's proven a difficult line to walk. This is no more obvious than the current state of the game, dominated by the specter of its newest tank: Mauga.
Forum posts, Reddit threads, and the general inside baseball discussion about Overwatch is dominated by Mauga as of late. Possessing the highest win-rate in the game, it's not so much that Mauga himself is 'broken'. However, he is the fulcrum by which the entire game now pivots, allowing other Heroes with game-changing abilities to effect the meta.
After all, is Mauga the problem or is it a combination of Kiriko's cleanse, Mercy's Resurrection, and Bastion's added firepower that truly makes him busted? Chicken or the egg? Regardless, one thing is clear: Something has to change, whether that's Mauga, the best abilities in Overwatch 2, or the structure of the game itself. Because the game in its current form has never felt more stifling or like there's only a few "correct" ways to play.
Overwatch 2 balance: Mauga edition
Added at the start of Season 8, Mauga has already seen as many balance changes as some Heroes see in a calendar year. And yet, it may just be that the kit itself is the issue at hand and not a simple matter of number tweaking. Time and again when questions about the Overwatch 2 balance meta come up it often relates to the Heroes with the 'best' abilities. Powers that function to change the rules of Overwatch at its core.
This include Mei and her Ice Wall, Reinhardt's shield, Roadhog's hook, and more. Take the above clip from one of many "Is Mauga broken?"-esque posts on Reddit. It's not so much in this instance that Mauga is the problem--he is merely the agent of destruction, plowing forward. In this clip we see two teams dump every ability available into their tank. After all, we've talked about before how the Mauga mirror match is a pure nightmare for this very scenario.
It's not until the Mercy grabs a long-distance and completely safe Resurrection on the downed Mauga that the skirmish ends in a kind of sad draw. But to get there it took two Cage Fights, two Nano Boost, a cleanse, and a Resurrection that pushes the boundaries of the ability's intent.
An act of Mercy
I don't know about you, but as a healer main by trade, this just isn't fun. I didn't sign up to play a game where my job is to just spray my healing fire hose nonstop on my tank and hope we come out on top. However, Mauga's extreme damage-dealing and self-heal is the thing that enables this mess.
How did the state of Overwatch 2 balance reach this point? As much as I don't want to admit it, the switch to 5v5 has a lot of blame. In a two tank world Mauga would be a more manageable target. However, it all kind of trickles down from there. Mercy has grown as an increasing problem to handle thanks to her extreme speed and mobility in the air. This is even before you bring up the topic of how Resurrection becomes even more busted in 5v5.
If I'm being honest, the Mauga meta feels very close to the era of GOATS--an Overwatch meta based around a specific rotation of tank and healer Ultimates. The similarities come from the fact that it currently feels there is only one correct answer when it comes to asking what is currently good in Overwatch 2. In turn, it seemingly appears the only answer to a Mauga composition is to swap to its mirror.
But what's the solution? The real answer lies in tackling some of the biggest enablers. Resurrection needs a combination of a distance nerf, a longer casting time, or a reduction of HP upon being brought back to life for the target. Tank damage has been too high across the board since Overwatch 2 launched, Mauga included. And while nobody wants to admit it, it may be high time to talk about Hero bans on a trial basis--perhaps one per team.
Bans are never a substitution for actual balance changes, but I'd be willing to see what it looks like in action. Anything is better than what we're currently facing. Never before has one tank felt like the only viable option, but here we are. I'm sure we'll see changes in the coming weeks and certainly before next season. Will it be enough?
Stay tuned to esports.gg for esports news and Overwatch 2 information.