Wrecking Ball is Overwatch’s most inventive hero to date

Overwatch’s new tank hero, Wrecking Ball, is an adorable hamster that pilots a giant round mech. I spent the evening taking him for a spin on the test servers to find out if he’s any fun to play with, what his strengths are, and where he might fit into the meta. 

You can read the full list of his abilities here, but the one that defines him is the grappling hook, bound to right click. Think of it like Spider-Man’s web: it’ll lodge into walls and ceilings, and you can swing around the point at which it’s attached, hitting space to break the connection and fly through the air. You can’t string swings together because there’s a five-second cooldown, but it’s perfect for one-off jumps to hard-to-reach spots, or to retreat from danger. 

It makes him the most mobile tank in the game. Controlling his swing feels fiddly at first, but it only took me half an hour of practice to get the hang of it. That means the best jumpers aren’t going to be those with the nimblest fingers, but those that find the most imaginative swing spots. Players have already found a way to travel halfway across Eichenwalde in a single swing, and to get under the final capture point on King’s Row.

Personally, I enjoyed finding this jump on Horizon Lunar Colony, which takes you from near the attacker’s spawn right onto the first capture point.

These long jumps mean he could slot into a dive composition made up of aggressive, fast moving heroes. He doesn’t deal much damage with either his primary dual machine guns or any of his abilities, but he does have the potential to create chaos at short range while his harder hitting teammates bring the pain.

The ideal combo will be to use his grappling hook to jump above the enemy team, hit Piledriver—bound to Ctrl—to slam into the ground and send enemies high into the air, and then pop Adaptive Shields. That last ability gives you 100 shields immediately, plus an extra 100 for each nearby foe.

With a base of 600 health, that means if you can get near three enemies and deploy it then you can absorb a massive 1000 damage for your team. Combine that with both his grappling hook and the fact you can hit Shift to curl up into a ball at any point, which makes you go faster, and you’ll be able to live through even the most drawn-out fights. 

However, getting close enough to enemies to feel the full benefit of Adaptive Shields is going to be tough, because its range is incredibly short. In the clip below, the three enemies look to be right on top of me, but none of them are close enough give me extra shields. When I use the ability (you’ll see the screen flash blue) I only gain 100 hit points. 

As well as slotting into dive comps, he could act as a harassing off-tank, buzzing around the enemy team and annoying them with chip damage as your main tank—a Reinhardt, perhaps—pushes the front line. Seeing him swing overhead is a massive distraction and could open up chances for your teammates. 

Alternatively, I can see him being used for area denial on specific maps that have tight entry routes to capture points. When you’re swinging in wrecking ball form, you’ll knock back and damage any enemies you hit, which could keep them off certain control points, like the one on the Garden section of Oasis. Plus, your Ultimate—which deploys a field of mini mines around you—can deny enemies entry to an area. It’s also powerful in chaotic battles, because the mines can be hard to spot.

Mobility is Wrecking Ball’s calling card, which means he’s countered by heroes that can stun him, such as Brigitte, McCree and Doomfist. Even with a large health pool, if they can keep him in one spot then he’s a big, easy target that will draw focus fire.

Overall, he’s a very fun hero to control, and I can’t wait to see the imaginative grappling hook jumps that top players come up with. Blizzard has some tweaks to make—I really think they need to be more generous with the distance enemies register for Adaptive Shields, for example—but those aside, I can see him being a popular pick when he rolls onto the game’s main servers.

Samuel Horti

Samuel Horti is a long-time freelance writer for PC Gamer based in the UK, who loves RPGs and making long lists of games he'll never have time to play.