The Defense category of heroes is one of the most densely populated in Overwatch, and so you're more likely than usual to find yourself asking which of them represents the all-round best character to play. As part of our wider series of guides which rank the various hero categories in the game, we're turning our attention today to these powerhouses of team protection.
As always there a quite a few factors which determine how we've chosen to rank our Defense heroes this month, and not all of them are particularly easy to pin down. There's the wisdom-of-the-crowd aspect to consider when looking at the context of the wider metagame, of course, and no doubt the various tweaks Blizzard will make in the months ahead will also change our opinion over time. We're also taking the general skill level of the broader playerbase into consideration as well - something else that will change, particularly now that Competitive Play is upon us.
Finally, there's the general versatility of each Hero to consider. When you're fighting with random players, certain characters will allow you to make a bigger, broadly effective difference to the tide of battle - whichever map you happen to be fighting on. We'll add our usual caveat which is that - all things considered - you will do better with characters you love to play and will generally work within your current team, instead of one that you feel obliged to pick due to a third-party opinion. That, we think, should be the factor that overrides all others.
With all of that taken into account, then, here's our personal appraisal of the best Defense hero in Overwatch, updated for the month of February. We'll revisit this round-up regularly in the weeks and months ahead, so keep us bookmarked for the latest updates.
Editor's Note: Now that February's underway, there haven't been any significant changes in the rankings. Although Junkrat was nerfed in the latest patch, he's still as strong as ever and we'll certainly see him dominating the competitive scene for a while yet. It's his devastating Riptire and ability to pepper chokepoints with incredible damage that keep him reigning supreme - at least for now.
Defense hero rankings - Season 8
There was a time in the very early stages of the first Overwatch closed beta where Torbjorn - like Bastion - was a dominant force in every game. Those turrets are still an incredibly powerful way of holding back the attacking forces, but if you lack the imagination to find new creative placements, you'll come unstuck pretty fast - the community has quickly switched on to their likely locations. Players are more confident at switching Heroes to eliminate the threat they pose as well, and so you'll find it harder - although by no means impossible - to dominate with this hero.
In the first of Overwatch's closed betas, Bastion was the absolute scourge of the metagame. A swift nerf to the turrets soon followed, however, and the playerbase quickly got wind to the importance of sending in an assassin to eliminate this threat. A recent patch completely reworked Bastion, attempting to give him a little more versatility, but it didn't quite have the impact Blizzard intended. Despite this, he still remains a highly situational pick which can take enemies by surprise and swing the momentum in your team's favour.
While we are - by confession - not the most accomplished sharpshooter in the game by any means, a skilled Widowmaker can make absolute mincemeat out of the opposition. In the right hands she's superb at protecting a point in defense, or taking out the trash so her teammates can keep pushing forwards. Versatile and deadly is always a good combination in Overwatch, and few Defense heroes can make a better claim to those two qualities.
Although every Hero gets their time to shine on particular maps, we increasingly find that it's Mei and her incredible Ice Wall skill that makes an impact. Her freezing effects are nothing to be sniffed at to be sure, but that ability to bloke off a chokepoint or separate a significant enemy from the rest of the pack is proving to be an increasingly game-changing play. The Defense roster has always felt a bit duff, but Mei's probably where she belongs in this category.
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The recent slew of changes to Hanzo's kit have seen him shoot up our tier list in recent months. It's his ability to fire highly damaging arrows at a frightening pace, all while clambering around the map with ease. Let's not forget the power of Dragon Strike which can wipe out an entire team if they get caught in it's clutches. While he's a defense hero, he's now got the aggressive capabilities of an offense hero, and this is what makes him our top pick.
We're big fans of Junkrat at Metabomb, and once you've mastered the scattergun nature of his core attacks you'll find yourself capable of operating as a one-man army. Wherever there are corridors and alleyways, you'll be sure to find a Junkrat. While he hasn't always been a top-tier member of the Overwatch Defense squad, he's everywhere right now - not only that, even beginners can do well with this particular Hero.