Ronin, Mauler, Flatline, Mandrake, Nightingale.
Heimlock, Phalanx, Keel, Halo, Dogface, Caine, Butter, Francois, Panzer, Min, Castellan, Bolt, Ifrit, Moss, Razorback, Odachi, Kobold, Hardscope, Vanguard, Artemis.
Baron, Cast, Gammond, Clyde, Kunoichi, Kaishi, Operator, Sapphyr, Jarek, Cinder, Hideo, Wesson, Oracle, Sentry, Anvil, Cross, Callidus, Prophet, Hivemind, Ghoul, Brogan, Maven.
Beck, Halloway, Salvatore, Savage, Steele, Surge, Elite Rifleman, Scum, Phoenix, Heckler, Matador, Fischer, Galante, Chesterfield, Ryker, Pris, Fortress, Yanlong, Richter, Oro.
Long Thoughts about the Metagame:
A lot has changed since my last tier list, but the biggest game-changer has been the shotgun pellet change. The change has accelerated the issue of backline heroes ironically being the hardest to kill and damage calculations for pellets have caused tectonic shifts in the metagame.
After introducing Kobold, HHG also apparently felt the need to play catch-up with other shield heroes and gave huge buffs to Butter and Phalanx. In classic HHG fashion, while treat nerfs with an overabundance of caution (how many months was Panzer pretty much the only DPS that mattered?) they tend to drop buffs haphazardly without even the faintest concern for how those buffs might effectively nerf other heroes into the ground. Butter and Phalanx were already good heroes who were being oppressed into lower tiers by Panzer. They could have used a little love, but HHG strolls in and practically doubles the strength of their shields and that has had major consequences. Flatline had already put most bio DPS on near-extinction status, now with significant buffs to the best energy shielders, you should simply forget that most bio DPS even exist.
We also cannot forget the Ronin buff. While most of it was inconsequential (eviscerate became a joke, bide time basically just became another version of “regain health on kill” that we already have on like 6 other DPS), the buffs to riposte, including the unlisted change of giving it a stagger, were significant. Ronin was already a god-tier hero who was only in “competitive” because, you guessed it, Panzer would simply run over him. Buffing Ronin was like the inverse of the earlier Fortress nerf, taking someone at an extreme of the power spectrum and pushing them in the WRONG direction, and really makes you wonder about the developer’s judgment.
Anyway, these changes have brought a new toxic relationship into focus, Panzer and Flatline. Flatline hasn’t seen major individualized changes since her release last June, but in her launch month she was a big deal. While she wasn’t terribly difficult to deal with due to Dogface being everyone’s default DPS, she still became a staple in teams because when every game boiled down to “stop the enemy Dogface before he mows down your entire team in 10 seconds”, Flatline served as another step in the checklist you had to finish before you could kill the enemy Dogface. However, she was still only around for a month, supports had pretty low HP and few people had her starred up, so it wasn’t a major balance concern.
Then we saw Panzer come out. Panzer immediately pushed Flatline into extinction since one breach & clear at the start of the match would always kill her instantly. The following month saw Flatline get a brief resurgence when she, along with most other heroes, got a major HP boost and Ifrit could endlessly revive her, while that meme was hotfixed, weak players still clung to (and complained about) the Ifrit+Flatline combo for months - but Panzer was still the universal solution and Flatline’s gold, the skill that makes up like 65% of her utility, has never worked after being rez’d by Ifrit since that fix.
Fast forward to now. Panzer is actually capable of more damage than ever due to the shotgun changes, but the huge caveat is that the damage is realistically only available against front and mid heroes on certain maps. Against backline heroes, especially those with small hitboxes like Flatline, Panzer can usually only muster 1 pellet, if any. Throw in the buffs to Phalanx and Ronin, and you can now commonly expect to see Flatline with a buff of 200,000-300,000+ to her total starting “health”. We have also seen other top-tier healers like Nightingale and Keel have their heals take longer to charge, accelerating the shift toward the only AI healer that can reliably protect someone in the first 15 seconds of the game.
This has placed Flatine in this absurd position of being a very OP support, while simultaneously being the only thing protecting us from a meta where the enemy DPS just blows someone away in 5 seconds flat and steamrolls from there. However, it should be said that the “DPS blows someone away in 5 seconds” issue boils down to a few root problems that should themselves be addressed alongside Flatline:
Plat Bars consistently give roughly 2x as much damage as HP. The result is that as we’ve added more and more bars, we’re getting back to the point where DPS, not just Panzer, can easily secure a kill in the first 10 seconds, well before any other healer AI besides Flatline could hope to save them. I’m honestly kind of blown away at the difference between my 90k matches and my 40k ones, my savage might have 850k hp but when the enemy DPS can do that much damage in under 10 seconds, that’s not really reassuring now is it?
We still have broken DPS. Panzer, Ronin, and Mauler+Halo can put out DPS in the opening seconds of the match which exceeds their power level x 3. If this game is ever going to be more than just running people over with overwhelming damage in the first 10 seconds before they can even use skills, all three heroes still need to be addressed. Panzer has been neutered against the backline which has made her unattractive, but just because the cancer is in remission doesn’t we should ignore it - she still makes energy/mech frontline and many midlines simply unplayable without flatline around to bail them out from the opening 100k DPS burst. I don’t think HHG thought carefully about how her plat synergizes with the pellet change.
I’m not opposed to high damage in general, but high DPS using nothing more than your weapon at the start of the game is simply toxic for this game’s meta. It’s kinda nuts that we still only have a couple heroes that can do serious damage with their active skills, because I’d much rather be in a situation where enemy DPS can use skills 20 seconds in to bring some serious burst damage… with the option for other heroes to counter those skills (with cleanses, stuns, silences, staggers, etc.), than continuing this meta of “well the match just started and the enemy DPS, with nothing more than their gun and team passives, will kill someone on your team in about 5 to 10 seconds unless you roll them around like they’re having a seizure, or you lose, so I hope you brought your kneepads…”