Roadhog is the best hero in Overwatch and everyone knows it.
OK, that might be pushing it (everyone knows Zenyatta is actually the best).
Still, Roadhog is a great character that adds a unique strategy to the game as well as a cool design. Despite all of the great stuff surrounding him, he can’t seem to catch a break. Over the past year, Roadhog has been changed and nerfed so many times that it is hard to keep track.
First, they made his hook more consistently grab people, no longer allowing it to go behind walls. Now, they have taken down his ability to one shot almost every character, trying to give him more strength in his gun play than a sole reliability on the hook. No matter what Blizzard has done, they can’t kill the hog. Even if he falls away for a moment, he will surely be back for more in a few weeks.
Well, the answer is pretty simple: he has a strong kit. The ability to instantly remove another character from the enemy team is a very powerful one. This is a little more complicated a balance issue than people give it credit for. See, Roadhog is a high risk, high reward pick. If you pick him, you better not miss those hooks, otherwise you are depriving your team of a useful teammate.
When first designed, the team made smart decisions with Roadhog. They could have given him a halfway decent gun that wasn’t solely dependent on Roadhog’s proximity to the target, but that would have been too strong. Instead, we have the Scrap Gun, a piece of complete garbage that deals ludicrous damage at close range and extremely minimal damage from afar.
With Roadhog’s current pull-or-nothing style, it has to be this way. If the hook isn’t a death sentence, than Roadhog needs a better alternative route to kills. With the latest balance, that is what the Blizzard developers are trying to do. If they focus him more as a skirmisher with the hook as a finishing move, they will reduce frustration against Roadhog while adding to his viability.
While playing Roadhog adds its own frustrations, such as the inability to do much without your hook, playing against him offers very little counter-play. When playing as Roadhog, your primary goal is to hit the hook, a satisfying waiting game that relies on your own skill to pull the correct target at the perfect moment. It offers an incredible gameplay loop of hook, shoot, kill.
The problem with that loop from the other side is that getting hooked by Roadhog does not offer the same kind of interesting play that throwing the hook does. To counter him, the only thing you can really do is dodge the ability. Roadhog has six other targets to hit, but there is only one Roadhog to focus on for you. This means that while Roadhog can always be looking for different targets, you always have to be focused on one enemy harder than anyone else, lest you get yanked to your doom.
If your only counter-play option against an enemy character is “don’t get hit,” they probably aren’t very fun to play against. The contrast between playing as Roadhog and against him is fairly staggering. That is why he has so many players who main him and so many offensive and support mains that hate him.
As sad as it makes me, as a Roadhog fan, he has to be moved in a direction that makes him more fun to play against. This means giving him less reliability on a hook-to-win strategy. With the recent nerfs, that seems to be where Blizzard is trying to take him. The struggle will be trying to make Roadhog an interesting opponent without neutering his playstyle all together.