Table of Contents

Note 1:

I use the term “hero” here primarly for brevity. Noted synonyms include “champion” or “character”.

Note 2:

The terms “environment” and “environment features” here most often refer to stationary forms of cover, but they also encompass hazards, hides, escapes, shortcuts, vantages, pickups, and sometimes, mobile forms of the above. For the purposes of discussing this design pattern, these terms do not refer to primary objective points, null/spawn zones, or non-player actors. Finally, this definition intentionally omits temporality, as any of these features may be built into the map, or be dynamically created by players; may last indefinitely, have a predetermined lifespan, or be destroyed, removed, or otherwise depleted by player activity; may be a permanent fixture, a movable object, spawn conditionally, have rules for regenerating/respawning… and so forth.

Note 3:

With this framework as a starting point, semi-significant differences emerge between the terms “hero”, “character class”, “role”, “loadout”/“spec”, and “playstyle”. I will not dive into these differences just yet (perhaps in another document), but I just wanted to make this much clear (to both you and future me).

🌪️ Air heroes (+A)

scouts, flankers, assassins, spies

🌪️ Core strengths

  • dodging, mobility, and uniquely utilizing the environment
  • dealing unsustained bursts of damage
  • circumventing defenses and mortal dangers alike

🌪️ Team strengths

  • can apply pressure to weakpoints untouchable by teammates
  • acquiring/applying intel or resources for the team
  • long-distance special ops (rescues, assassinations, ninjas)

🌪️ Weaknesses

  • weakest defense versus direct damage (assuming it hits)
  • frequently cut-off from the rest of the team and their support
  • vulnerable to anticipation, focus fire, slows, stuns, and navigational consequences

🌪️ Features of negative Air (-A)

  • infiltrator: stealth, sabotage, and subterfuge
  • straggler’s attrition: maintaining presence in inactive territories
  • aromatherapist: relinquishes some +Air features for [+/-]Water capabilities

💧 Water heroes (+W)

healers, supports, suppliers, medics

💧 Core strengths

  • healing abilities, buffs, personal protections, and base support
  • gradual yet powerful change
  • difficult to pursue

💧 Team strengths

  • healing, buffing, resupplying, or otherwise supporting allies
  • designating or embodying support zones for allies
  • unique team-centric abilities, ultimates, or combos

💧 Weaknesses

  • must manage more concurrent states than most heroes
  • often limited by charges, cooldowns, unique skill barriers, and enemy focus fire
  • incurs the steepest opportunity costs out of all elemental types

💧 Features of negative Water (-W)

  • witchcraft: debuffs, poisons / damage over time, crowd control
  • blood magic: powerful abilities that sacrifice health to use
  • swamplord: relinquishes some +Water features for [+/-]Earth capabilities

🧱 Earth heroes (+E)

frontliners, tanks, builders, heavies

🧱 Core strengths

  • highest defense and vitality
  • holding the attention of multiple enemies at once
  • creating impermanent environment features

🧱 Team strengths

  • absorbing / preventing harm to allies
  • taking point on the frontlines and point objectives
  • claiming / occupying territory

🧱 Weaknesses

  • lower damage output
  • lower mobility
  • vulnerable to crowd control / ultimates

🧱 Features of negative Earth (-E)

  • lone wolf syndrome: less reliant on healing/support from teammates and more capable of 1:1 combat
  • juggernaut: knockbacks and other abilities that can be combined with environment features to cause serious damage
  • burning bear: relinquishes some +Earth features for [+/-]Fire capabilities

🔥 Fire heroes (+F)

good ol’ fashioned damage-dealers

🔥 Core strengths

  • high damage / pressure
  • well-rounded base kit
  • destroying or negating environment features

🔥 Team strengths

  • dispersing enemy positions / attention
  • providing focus fire, cover fire, and rear support
  • responsiveness to the needs of the team

🔥 Weaknesses

  • requires adequate cover
  • vulnerable to ambush and cornering
  • predictable (if not slower) mobility

🔥 Features of negative Fire (-F)

  • wildfire: higher damage potential, but output is inaccurate, unpredictable, or has limited use cases
  • razzle-dazzle: crowd control (often AoE)
  • puff of smoke: relinquishes some +Fire features for [+/-]Air capabilities

🌌 Void heroes (V)

the captain, the strategist, the somewhat-confusing 5th elemental hero type

🌌 Core strengths

  • strategic abilities, such as summoning, teleporters, scrying, long-lived buffs, etcetera
  • maintaining a broad battlefield presence and awareness, often with more versatile mobility
  • typically fulfills the role of one or more of the other elements (depending on loadout), or else has an even mix of their abilities

🌌 Team strengths

  • are the ideal team leaders
  • provides targeted or untargeted aid to allies (seldom both)
  • provides the means for larger-scoped team strategies

🌌 Weaknesses

  • strategic choices are often limited by long cooldowns or charge limits, and have less of a safety net for mistakes
  • slower to respond to new information
  • vulnerable to being outnumbered, pincered, or sabotaged

🌌 Notice:

There is no “positive Void (+V)” because there is no “negative Void”.

By the lines of thought drawn up to this point, a “negative Void” character would simply be a troll character, which would strictly be destructive to the design of a team tactics game. Heroes either have Void features, or they do not. It’s probably best to classify heroes’ “Void-ness” on a spectrum from 0% to +100% (rather than -100% to +100%, as with the other four elements).


Game 🌪️ Air 💧 Water 🧱 Earth 🔥 Fire 🌌 Void
Team Fortress 2 Scout (+A)
Spy (-A)
Medic (+W) Heavy (+E) Pyro (+F)
Demo (-F)
Soldier (-F+A)
Engineer (V-W)
Paladins Maeve (+A)
Skye (-A)
Seris (+W)
Lillith (-W)
Inara (+E)
Raum (-E)
Viktor (+F)
Bomb King (-F)
Jenos (V+W)
Torvald (V+E)
Octavia (V+F)
Skye (V-A)
Deep Rock Galactic Scout (+A) (any dwarf) Engineer (+E) Driller (+F) Gunner (V+F)
Lloyd (V)

I’m not opposed to expanding this table, or discussing edits. Email me and let’s chat!