Roadhog is an offensive tank hero in Overwatch who excels at picking off enemies with his Chain Hook and Scrap Gun combo. While he certainly doesn’t have what it takes to be the main tank, he is a very potent off-tank and flanker, especially on attack-escort and king-of-the-hill maps. He also has 600 health, which happens to be the largest health pool of all the heroes in Overwatch.
Just make sure you pull the enemy support or DPS. The last thing you want is to pull a tank into your team (who you can’t one-shot) and have your teammates get obliterated by a Reinhardt or Zarya ult as a result (you will get flamed a lot, in case you were wondering).
Roadhog, formerly known as Mako (yes, like his legendary skin), may look like a fun, vigilante, ruckus-causing character from his trailers with Junkrat, but in reality, he has got some tragic lore. So, let’s get the SparkNotes version of it so we can get into his gameplay.
The Inciting Incident
After the first war with the Omnics, the government gave the Australian Omnium to the Omnics in the hopes of avoiding further conflict. What’s an Omnium, you might ask? An Omnium is a robotics factory powered by a fusion core (the nuclear kind) where Omnics are made (there are more of these around the world).
So not only was the enemy of humanity given their means of production back, but this act displaced all the residents in that area, which doesn’t seem like a great deal, even if it did lead to temporary peace.
Naturally, that pissed the displaced people off, and Mako Rutledge was among those who formed the Australian Liberation Front to fight back. The fighting continued without pause until the rebels sabotaged the fusion core. To their credit, they destroyed the facility, but they turned the area and its surroundings into an irradiated wasteland too. The “hogdrogen” mask Roadhog uses helps him with the radiation poisoning that resulted from this event.
Getting Together with Junkrat
They met in a bar in Junkertown. Junkrat was in a bit of trouble with some other Junkers while Roadhog minded his business, drinking some beer.
But, Junkrat, without knowing Roadhog, pointed at him and offered him a high percentage of his to-be-found treasures for some assistance in getting them. Roadhog came to his aid and agreed to be his bodyguard in exchange for the aforementioned profit.
And then the two promptly went on heists across the world (causing property damage on an immense scale), which got reported on the news (as you can see in their trailer below) and made themselves enemies of the Junker Queen. Regarding the latter, aside from Junkrat and Roadhog’s attempted heist in “Junkertown: The Plan,” the reason for that is mere speculation at this point.
Abilities and Some Tips
Alright, with some backstory out of the way, time to take a look at his abilities.
Roadhog’s Primary Fire is the regular shot from his Scrap Gun. It’s like a sawed-off double barrel shotgun, so as you can imagine, it does more damage the closer the range (just like Reaper’s Hellfire Shotguns). The Scrap Gun holds five shots.
Roadhog’s Secondary Fire still shoots from his Scrap Gun but provides him with a max range of 8 meters. It shoots shrapnel that explodes once reaching the end of its travel. Roadhog’s Secondary Fire shares ammo usage with his Primary Fire, so you’re still stuck with 5 shots overall before needing to reload.
- If none of your enemies are out of position, use Roadhog’s Secondary Fire to poke and help your team shred through your enemy’s shields. With their shields down, your Chain Hook becomes more of a threat.
Roadhog’s Chain Hook is his signature ability, and for justified reasons: it defines his entire style of play. You can toss it out like any other skill shot projectile, and the hook will travel a maximum length of 8 meters. If you catch someone, you’ll deal 30 damage and drag them back to you (in front of you, to be specific). It has an 8-second cooldown.
- First and foremost, as I mentioned in the introduction, don’t be pulling an enemy tank into your team unless you are absolutely sure they don’t have their ultimates and that your team will follow up immediately to kill them. That said, let me clarify something when it comes to pulling other tanks: it is a very situational thing. Picking off a tank can be invaluable for you and your team if the tank you pick is slain. If not, you just brought a heavy-hitting frontliner into your backline, in which case, that’s bad news. Very bad news.
- Keep an eye on your ammo before you use your Chain Hook. If you pull someone (even a backliner) and you’re without any ammo to shoot them, it’s an awkward situation. Granted, if you pull them into your team, you don’t need the ammo to kill them if your teammates do that for you, but regardless, you know how the saying goes…, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.”
- Pay attention to your line of sight when hooking.
- It’s alright to use your Chain Hook as a stun instead of a picking tool. Since the hook briefly stuns the target hit, you can get some wicked ultimate interrupts off. For example, if you’ve got insane reflexes (or luck), you can yoink a Reinhardt while he is in the middle of his Hammer Down! animation to interrupt his ultimate and make him waste it. Or, more realistically, hook him in the middle of his charge to save one of your teammates from getting squished.
- Always look to use your Chain Hook to pull someone off a ledge. And no, you don’t have to jump off the edge with them to kill them. Simply turn your body to face the edge as soon as your hook makes contact. That way, when you drag them back, they end up without any ground beneath their feet.
Take a Breather
In addition to his chunky health pool, Roadhog’s Take a Breather ability gets him 300 health back and provides him with 50% damage reduction for the duration of the cast, which lasts 2 seconds. It has an 8-second cooldown.
- Bear in mind that this is a channeled ability. That means it can be interrupted, and if that happens, you’ll lose some of the 300 health you would’ve otherwise been healed.
- So, if there’s a Brigette in your face slapping you around with her flail, and you haven’t seen her use her shield bash yet, then hold off on using your Take a Breather until she uses her stun (unless you can’t survive without popping it first, but Roadhog should be able to 1v1 a Brigette).
- You can’t do anything aside from move while channeling Take a Breather, so don’t try to hook or shoot someone while you’re inhaling those lovely fumes!
- This ability charges your ultimate bar very nicely, so try to use it every chance you get while not at full health.
Whole Hog (Ultimate)
Roadhog’s ultimate, Whole Hog, is fittingly explosive for his character and brings new meaning to the term “spray and pray.” This ultimate is a bit difficult to control properly, but once you get the hang of how heavy the recoil is during this 5.5-second-long spraying of shrapnel, you’re good to go.
It does a hefty amount of damage and, more importantly, knocks back enemies hit. Also, remember that it refills your Scrap Gun ammo upon activation and has a one-second recovery time. Consequently, with regards to the latter, after you’re done “Whole Hogging,” you can’t take any action for one second.
- As with your Chain Hook, keep an eye out for ledges so you can blast some people off with your Whole Hog and potentially even catch multiple people or a team wipe. I’ve seen a fair number of “Play of the Games” where Roadhog amusingly blasts 5 to 6 enemies so far off the map that not even Pharah has enough juice to fly back.
- If no ledges are in sight, using Whole Hog is just as effective in a small space. You can pin your enemies against a wall until they die.
- Since Whole Hog refills your Scrap Gun ammo, feel free to time your use of this ultimate for when you’ve shot all 5 of your bullets and save yourself some reload time. That said, the one-second recovery time post-ultimate acts like a reload time, so it’s just a question of how efficient you want to be.
- Don’t underestimate the recoil on this ultimate. Be sure to aim your weapon much lower than you normally would so that you can hit your desired target(s).
- Like Take a Breather, Whole Hog is a channeled ability, so it can be interrupted. With that in mind, be aware of what stuns your enemies have to cancel your ultimate.
What Counters Roadhog?
There are four primary counters to Roadhog that you should worry about: Reaper, Anna, shield tanks, and insta-stunners. Let’s take a look at why.
I’m going to start with the most prominent Roadhog counter (who also happens to be my main). Reaper is the staple tank shredder in Overwatch, using his Hellfire Shotguns to tear them apart. Not only that, but Roadhog is the only tank that doesn’t have some way to soak damage.
To be fair, Wrecking Ball isn’t a shield tank either, nor does he have tools like Zarya or D.va to completely mitigate incoming damage. But, his mobility is far superior to Roadhog’s, making it harder for Reaper to hit him.
Anyway, be extra careful when thinking about pulling a Reaper to you. If you don’t make him explode instantly, he can easily out-heal the damage you do, thanks to his inherent lifesteal. Roadhog is a very easy target to hit, making it even easier for him at close range.
Plus, even if you manage to kill the Reaper in an extended duel, he will get an absurd amount of percent charge into his ultimate ability just by fighting you for that time. Believe me, as a Reaper main, seeing a Roadhog on the enemy team is the best thing I can possibly see because I know how easy it’ll be to charge up my ultimate on them.
Anna is not as hard of a counter to Roadhog as Reaper is, but she is nonetheless pretty devastating due to her anti-heal grenade. If she catches you with this you can no longer heal yourself with your Take a Breather for as long as your health bar remains purple.
This takes away your only defensive tool and makes you more vulnerable to getting blown up by enemy DPS. With that in mind, you’ll still gain the damage reduction benefits when casting Take a Breather even while you’re under the effects of Anna’s anti-heal grenade, so at least you’ve got something going for you there.
It’s also super easy for Anna to hit her sleep dart on Roadhog due to how large his hitbox is, coupled with his lack of any type of shield. So, if the enemy team has an Anna, get ready to take a couple of nice naps.
Shield Tanks are the roughest thing to deal with as Roadhog only because they prevent him from doing what he does best: hook people.
- Reinhardt is the easiest of the bunch to work around because you can literally just walk around him or get a flank.
- Winston is tougher to deal with mainly because his shield is a dome; there are no alternate angles here as the dome is all-encompassing. You need to either walk into the shield and risk death (depending on who’s in there), wait for it to go down, or just look for another high-priority target that isn’t in Winston’s shield.
- Sigma and Orisa are tricky because their shields are movable, though I’d argue that Orisa’s gives you more trouble because of its curved shape. Either way, your safest bet is to wait for the shields to be destroyed so you know they can’t bring them out again to block your hook. Also, Orisa doubly counters Roadhog due to her Fortify ability which makes her immune to crowd control effects.
Pseudo Shield Tanks
There are three more heroes worth mentioning that aren’t necessarily shield tanks in the traditional sense but counter Roadhog in the same way by blocking his Chian Hook entirely.
- Zarya‘s energy shields reject Roadhog’s hook just as easily as a regular shield, so if you’re up against a Zarya with killer reflexes, beware. Also, it’s worth noting that you will still pull your target if Zarya puts a shield on her ally after your hook makes contact. If that were to occur, don’t go for the headshot while Zarya’s shield is still on your target because you’ll give her a massive damage boost (and waste ammo).
- Before you yell at me for including a hero that isn’t even a tank, let alone a shield tank, on this list, give me a second to explain. Symmetra might be a DPS hero, but her ultimate summons a giant wall, which functions the same exact way as all other shields in the game in terms of how they counter Roadhog. So if you want to hook an enemy on the other side of her wall, you best be sure you’ll have to walk across to do so.
- I know I’m putting another DPS hero here, but bear with me. Mei’s Iceblock can block Roadhog’s Chain Hook the same way any other shield can.
Let me be clear by saying that “insta-stunners” is not an established term, but I think it describes the kind of hero I’m talking about rather explicitly. Anyone that can instantly stun you is a soft counter to your Take a Breather and Whole Hog because, as I mentioned earlier, both are channeled abilities and have a cast time.
As such, I’m looking specifically at the likes of Brigette, Cassidy, and Doomfist, all of whom can instantly stun you at a moment’s notice in close range. Getting your 300-health-heal interrupted can mean the difference between life and death in more situations than you’d think.
Who to Pick Roadhog Into (A.K.A Who Does He Counter?)
It’s a given that Roadhog counters all vulnerable backliners, as he can brutally punish any support or DPS hero out of position by hooking them and pumping them full of shrapnel. However, there are a few particular heroes that Roadhog excels against and will more than likely cause your opponent to swap:
- Pharah: Roadhog makes Pharah’s life quite miserable because he can yank her out of the sky, which forces her to fly higher and expend more fuel. The best part is that there are no shield tanks up in the air with her to block your hook (except Symmetra’s ultimate, so keep that in mind). Next to a hitscan hero, Roadhog is a rough day for Pharah players.
- Bastion: Most Bastions you play against are stationary targets, making it incredibly easy for Roadhog to hook him over. Unfortunately, there’s usually a shield tank or two sitting on the enemy Bastion to protect him, but don’t let that dissuade you. Just wait for the right angle around the shield(s), or for the split second they drop, and bring that Bastion over for a well-deserved reckoning (because we all know what kind of people play Bastion, right?).
- Doomfist: When Doomfist charges his big punch, it’s super easy to telegraph, so hook him when you see him powering up. Granted, any hero with a stun can do this, so this counter is less specific to Roadhog than the others.
- D.va: Contrary to the way Roadhog counters Doomfist, the way he counters D.va is completely unique to him: you can hook her mech suit after she leaves it for a self-destruct. You’ll likely get yourself killed in most cases (unless you can find a ledge to toss the exploding mech suit off of), but at least you’ll be saving your teammates who couldn’t get out in time.
As of writing this article, the following list includes all of Roadhog’s available skins in the in-game shop:
- Kiwi (base rare)
- Mud (base rare)
- Sand (base rare)
- Thistle (base rare)
- Pigpen (base epic)
- Stitched (base epic)
- Frosty (epic ‒ Winter Wonderland 2020 event)
- Rudolph (epic ‒ Winter event)
- Mako (base legendary)
- Sharkbait (base legendary)
- Islander (base legendary)
- Toa (base legendary)
- Butcher (base legendary)
- Lacrosse (legendary ‒ Summer Games event)
- Junkenstein’s Monster (legendary ‒ Halloween event)
- Ice Fisherman (legendary ‒ Winter event)
- Bajie (legendary ‒ Lunar event)
- Militia (legendary ‒ Archives event)
- Toxic (legendary ‒ Anniversary event)
- Noxious (legendary ‒ Anniversary event)
Question: Can Roadhog be a main tank?
Answer: From a technical perspective, he can’t be a main tank. The sole reason for this is that he lacks a shield (or a defensive tool that functions equivalent to a shield).
Main tanks are heroes like Reinhardt and Sigma, as their chunky shields allow for high defensive capabilities for both themselves and their allies.
Roadhog can’t defend his teammates in the same capacity. Furthermore, he’s also quite vulnerable himself for the same reasons, so he’s best as an off-tank. However, if you have no tanks on your team, and you want to play Roadhog, then by all means, please do. One off-tank is better than no tank at all. Just prepare to die more than usual.
Question: Who does Roadhog synergize well with?
Answer: Roadhog synergizes well with pretty much any shield tank. As long as Roadhog has a main tank to complement him, he can more safely do what he does best: get picks.
In addition, Roadhog synergizes well with heroes that disrupt shields, since, without shields, his enemies don’t have reliable protection from his Chain Hook. So, someone like Doomfist who can punch a Reinhardt to make him drop his shield for a second, or someone who can shred through shields like Bastion or Junkrat are great synergistic picks with Roadhog.
Question: Can Genji reflect Roadhog’s Chain Hook?
Answer: Yes and no. Genji’s reflect will not actually reflect the Chain Hook (as funny as that would be), it will just block it.
Question: Is Roadhog getting changed in Overwatch 2?
Answer: Yes, and I am pleasantly surprised by the transparency of the developers in this regard. While his entire base ability kit remains the same, his ultimate is getting a bit of a rework. Here’s what the devs had to say:
“We saw Roadhog underperforming, so we are making his ultimate more interesting, effective, and fun. Roadhog was dying frequently while using Whole Hog, so we are trying to give him more options and flexibility in his ult.”(The May 12, 2022 patch notes that include this update are here). Therefore, they changed Whole Hog from a channeled ultimate to a transform ultimate (similar to Winston or Soldier 76).
As such, it can no longer be interrupted, you may use other abilities (Chain Hook, Take a Breather) during the ultimate, and you can choose when to shoot and when not to shoot. In addition to this and an appearance change (the latter being standard for all of the Overwatch heroes), he was given an additional 100 health, totaling him at 700 health.
I can understand why this was done: Overwatch 2 is a 5v5, not a 6v6 like its predecessor, which means each team only gets one tank. Thus, it’s harder for Overwatch 1’s traditional off-tanks like Roadhog to be main tanks in their current state, so the extra 100 health is an attempt to balance it out and make him a better main tank.
Sadly, he still lacks a shield, so I think he’ll be one of the weaker tanks in Overwatch 2 unless they give him some more defensive tools and/or mobility. But, even so, it goes both ways: with one less tank, there are fewer shields for Roadhog to work around, especially if the enemy team’s tank isn’t even a shield tank. Consequently, you’ll have an easier time landing your Chain Hook on people.
Overwatch Roadhog Guide: Conclusion
Roadhog has a unique playstyle thanks to his Chain Hook ability and is an extremely threatening presence for backliners, especially support heroes.
His ability to hook someone on a whim makes him one of the best heroes to punish people who are out of position. So, naturally, he does particularly well in lower elo games where mispositioning is a common occurrence.
Roadhog, who is often characterized as a “DPS disguised as a tank,” is a great pick as an off-tank. Having the largest health pool in the game with extremely high damage output with his Scrap Gun is nothing to scoff at, so if you’re looking to play a tank and still have incredible offensive capacity and damage, definitely give Roadhog a spin.