Reaper Screenshot
Photo via Blizzard.

Reaper: The Solution to the Tank Meta

Mar 27, 2018
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Photo via Blizzard.

It’s no secret that with Brigitte released into the wild and Moira being strong as ever, we’re going to see a rise of slower tank-based team compositions in the near future. With Brigitte’s armor and crowd control paired with Moira’s raw healing throughput, any team is going to be much more resistant to chip damage. In order to counter this, we’re going to dive into a hero made to give tanks a run for their money. Today, we’re going to talk all about Reaper. His kit, his pros and cons, and tips that will make you into a Reaper pro in no time.

The Abilities

Before we jump into what exactly makes Reaper so good in a tank meta, let’s talk about his abilities. (All damage values below taken from the Overwatch Wiki)

Hellfire Shotguns: His main weapon fires twice a second, with 20 pellets per hit. These pellets do 2-7 damage each, depending on the distance, meaning a maximum damage per shot of 140. Note that these shots CAN get headshots. If you’re close enough, it’s quite possible to land 100% headshots on many tanks, meaning a maximum of 280 damage per shot. (560 damage per second. This is ludicrous.)

Wraith Form: Reaper’s shift ability increases his baseline movement speed by 25% and makes him completely invulnerable for 3 seconds. This is Reaper’s primary form of escape. It can also be used as a limited form of engagement in a pinch (although this is almost always inadvisable.)

Shadow Step: Reaper’s ‘e’ ability allows him to teleport up to 35 meters away after a 2.5 second casting animation. It should be noted that for a few frames of the animation Reaper is invulnerable. This ability locks him in place and can actually be a liability if used incorrectly. Don’t use this around snipers!

Death Blossom: Reaper’s ultimate is a 3-second long channeled ability that causes 170 damage per second in an 8-meter radius around him. The maximum damage here is 510 damage. With this, Reaper can kill multiple squishy targets at once, particularly if you get the drop on them.

Passive: Reaper heals himself for 20% of the total damage he deals. This generally incentivizes prioritizing tanks, especially when you’re drawing fire, because they have the most potential health to steal in the least amount of time.

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Pros and Cons

There are no two ways about it: Reaper is a tank-slaying machine. While McCree and Soldier are great for doing damage in medium to long-distance engagements, Reaper specializes in getting close to the enemy team, killing them in just a shot or two before they even realize he’s there. If you factor in headshots, Reaper can one-shot more than half of Overwatch’s cast (in fact, only Brigitte and the tanks are safe from this.)

If he’s in ultra-close range, his damage is so incredibly high that even if you miss a shot he can burst heroes down faster than virtually anyone else. He’s especially good against tanks because of their size relative to the rest of the cast, but that doesn’t mean that he’s not great against just about anyone close up.

On the other hand, that’s exactly where Reaper’s weakness is – his effectiveness drops dramatically if you’re out of extremely close range. Although his damage falloff doesn’t actually begin until you’re 11 meters away, the bigger problem is the huge spread of his shotguns. At 10 meters away, it’s unlikely that you’ll hit even half of your bullets on any target.

The other difficulty with new Reaper players actually stems from his inherent flaws: In order to get to close range, many Reapers will spend the entire match trying to flank, which lowers their overall damage output. Although Reaper has a lot of power to his kit, he also has the potential to be very ineffective in the wrong hands.

Reaper screenshot
Image via Blizzard

Using Reaper to the fullest

The first thing you need in order to play Reaper well is game sense. With Reaper, your flanks and attacks into the back line will have by far the most effectiveness when your team is already engaging their team from another direction.

For example, think about the first point of Numbani on attack. If your team has decided to go up the main path behind a Reinhardt, just when they’re hitting the point and starting to engage is when you want to jump down from the top level and try to kill their key targets. This serves two purposes: First, people will be less likely to see you and kill you. Second, when they do realize what has happened, they might turn around, giving your team an opening to hit them in the back while they’re busy with you. Win-win!

The next thing to think about is that supports aren’t necessarily the best target to prioritize as Reaper. Although you do have the ability to kill them in just a few shots, you also have the ability to kill the enemy tanks almost as quickly which virtually no other character can do. If your team is being held up by an enemy Reinhardt’s shield, your best bet is often to push through his shield, kill the Rein, and then let your team walk in and clean up the rest.

Finally, make sure to pick your fights. If you realize that you’ve done a great flank but now you’re alone and you’re against three members of the enemy team, don’t fight! Wraith form out of there and live to fight another day. Reaper is all about timing and precision. If it isn’t perfect, wait before you jump in and start shooting!

With the Brigitte meta upon us and the tanks on the rise, there’s been no better time to become a Reaper aficionado. Pick him up and give him a try!

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Jordan Burrows
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Tech worker at a startup company by day, and fully addicted gamer by night, Jordan has spent a lot of time with a controller in his hands. Whether it's repeatedly getting legend in Hearthstone, healing needy Genji mains in competitive Overwatch, or spending too much time deciding whether it's going to be a Steam night or a Switch night, Jordan's never far away from the gaming scene.
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