Wow. This ended up taking way more time and effort to create than I thought. 4,283 words, 24,506 characters, and about 10 hours of straight work on just the rough draft alone. Anyways, without further ado, here we go.
About a week back, a handful of players from the PC Battleborn competitive community held discussions on character viability in a competitive setting. Before diving into the tier list, we would like to begin with a few notes and disclaimers.
The following people were involved in these discussions: Atok, beta382, Cade, Copy Cat, Doctorhoho, Dwarfurious, ice, ItsRedDot, Llamadowns, MegaBeefBowl, nicotheawesome, Nub, RedX, Regenesis, TOGOT, and ZombiePizzaMan.
This tier list is specifically for Meltdown-Coldsnap on the PC platform. Many of the general concepts discussed are applicable to other modes, maps, and platforms, but there are bound to be differences that would alter the tier list. We make specific note of characters that would have significantly different placements on Paradise.
This tier list is not intended to tell you who you MUST play in order to play the game correctly. It is a source of information; it is up to you what to do with it.
Just because you or someone you know is exceptionally good with a character does not necessarily mean that character belongs in a high tier.
This tier list is created with 5v5 Captain’s Draft in mind; as such, many characters rise or fall in placement because of what effect they have on the draft, or what effect the draft has on them. A major criteria in forming this tier list were pick and ban rates in competitive scrims.
Characters within a tier are listed in order. For example, the first character listed in A tier is considered “top of A”, while the last character listed in A tier is considered “bottom of A”.
Special thanks to JMaster for creating this image.
These are characters you will ban in most drafts (and will first-pick if they are still up after the ban phase). They have an overwhelming presence in the meta, filling multiple roles better than any other character, and are generally considered overpowered.
1. Boldur: Boldur has a ridiculous kit that enables him to simultaneously be the hardest character in the game to kill while also putting out ridiculous amounts of damage. He has passive damage reduction and movement speed buffs that enable him to eat CC and chase down kills without any care. Once he hits five, his skill combo lets him delete any squishy in the game (it’s good for just over 1k damage without gear at level 5, but includes a stun that lets him get free crits; at level 10 he’s doing nearly 1.5k damage with the skill combo alone). The passive movement speed means he’s fantastic in rotations to boot. The presence of Boldur is a threat requiring chaining of multiple CCs to eliminate, so even if you do get Boldur off of you, have now have nothing to fend off his team.
2. Galilea: Yet another character with a ridiculous kit, Galilea thrives on Meltdown. Galilea is the only character in the game to have hard CC on both her primary skills, and she has it at level 1. Not only that, but the types of hard CC (AoE pull and ranged stun) are themselves very strong. She can destroy waves after hitting level 3, ruin any attempt you make to engage her team, and is strong offensively with the isolations Meltdown provides. While her damage is lackluster once her shield breaks, she imposes the same sort of threat and requires the same sort of attention as Boldur. Like Boldur, she has to have multiple CCs chained on her or she will escape in her ult, which opens up windows for the rest of your team to attack. She falls below Boldur primarily because of his superior survivability and mobility.
3. Kelvin: Kelvin follows the trend the rest of the S tier set by being a Tank possessing incredible CC, imposing a threat and requiring attention, and being able to escape danger fairly easily. Kelvin’s Sublimate is the best stun in the game, because it is easy to land, nearly impossible to avoid, and can hit an entire team at the same time. It’s an effortless setup and can secure a kill every single time if your team is in position. His ult, in addition to stunning a player, can serve as a ~7 second root if placed correctly, since enemies can get stuck inside of it. His scaling survivability lets him be a huge threat in the late game. Kelvin falls to the bottom of S tier because of the three characters present, he has the most counterplay (namely counterpicks such as Ghalt and Whiskey), and he also lacks a physical shield with which he can negate damage.
These are characters that will be seen in every draft. They have a strong presence in the meta, but aren’t quite as defining as the S tier characters. They will see occasional bans, otherwise being taken as early picks.
4. Thorn: Thorn’s thin hitbox, great mobility, and ranged kit give her a strong ability to stay in lane for extended periods of time. Despite nerfs to her waveclear, it’s still exceptionally potent now that piercing volley is a viable choice at level 1, and due to the fact that she can still crit shepherds with ease. Her scaling into the lategame rivals that of Boldur and Orendi, with her level 5 bleed being absolutely bonkers for harassment (it also makes piecing cursed volley absolutely annihilate waves), and the Curse->Volley->Ult combo deleting anyone who isn’t a tank (It deals the same damage as a double instant pillar + ult from Orendi at level 7). The only thing keeping her from being S tier is her complete lack of hard CC, and her only soft CC taking until level 6 to unlock.
5. Ghalt: Even with his stun gone, Ghalt is still a huge threat in coordinated play. He has some of the highest primary DPS in the game, and a pull from him nearly always guarantees a kill due to all the follow-up that is present in the meta. His ability to force players out of position for picks is unrivaled, and counters passive turtling strategies. His waveclear is solid with the raw damage he deals, and the constant threat of his hook keeps squishies pushed back. He also has a solid matchup versus Kelvin. His relative lack of mobility and large hitbox keep him in check, however, as does his relatively thin kit (his traps are really only good for waveclear).
6. Alani: Alani is undoubtedly the most versatile healer in the game, and the fact that she only has to worry about the one or two teammates in lane with her means that her burst healing is incredibly potent, especially on tankier melee characters that dive to harass the enemy team out of lane. Kinetic Diffusion gives her a strong ability to rotate lanes, and Riptide gives that same rotation strength to her teammates. Wave Shock and her Ult are very strong waveclear tools, with the latter having its cooldown perfectly synced with save spawn timers. Geyser is also very good follow-up CC to ensure a kill on a stunned target, as well as a good source of secondary healing. Alani isn’t exceptional in any specific regard, but is good in nearly all roles, making her worth a very early pick.
7. Beatrix: Beatrix has seen some nerfs since her incredibly broken release state, but still is incredibly strong. Her perma-wound is incredible at hindering enemy lane sustain, she has an absolutely busted ranged homing silence on a low cooldown (which technically lasts 4 seconds since each projectile re-applies the silence), she has great waveclear once she hits level 5 with her Ult and Double Dose, and her ult is the best zoning tool in the game. She synergizes incredible well with the ever-present melee characters, and has a good deal of self sustain with a handful of lifesteal options. However, her rotations are risky, since she can’t win close-range 1v1s like she used to. Also, if your draft is heavy on casters like Thorn and Orendi, her synergy with the team falls, although nearly every well-formed draft will have a melee character for her to work with.
8. Shayne & Aurox: Shayne & Aurox are in a weird spot where they aren’t exceptional enough to warrant being A+ tier, but get boosted up anyways, because the plethora of tanky Melee CC characters in S Tier that get banned make them the last notable pick for that meta-defining role. That said, they still perform admirably for a CC tank, with numerous options to strengthen their large, damage reducing shield. They can pretty easily score takedowns on out-of position players, and have escape options on every skill. Despite dealing good damage, being tanky, and possessing CC, their huge hitbox, Fetch being destructible, and underwhelming Ult hold them back.
9. Rath: Rath may seem like an odd choice for an A+ tier character, but it really comes down to the fact that Catalytic Smash is one of the best, safest, and most consistent initiation tools in the game. The ability to knock up and silence an entire lane means your team can go in unopposed. Rath also is one of the few strong CCs left after the S Tier gets banned away. His high base movespeed enables faster rotations, and short cooldowns on both his skills means he can harass from range very easily. Also, the recent discovery of canceling his primary combo into his secondary before the final spin gave him a significant DPS boost. However, his small health pool keeps him in check.
These characters bring a lot to the table and are seen in most drafts, but rarely are worth a ban and are more easily countered than characters in A+ Tier.
10. Orendi: While Orendi has an exceptionally strong late-game and some questionably balanced helix choices in Nihilism and Pillarstorm, she is extremely vulnerable to assassination (especially with the prevalence of CC) due to her tiny health pool, relatively large head, and relative lack of mobility thanks to the removal of Let’s Bounce. She struggles versus ever-present tanks, while Thorn, her direct counterpart, performs much better. Her overpowered helix choices and ridiculous late-game allow her to remain at a high tier, but her weaknesses and complete lack of hard CC prevent her from going any higher.
11. Phoebe: Phoebe puts out the highest base Melee DPS in the game and possesses helixes to make it go up to 42% higher. Her slow on initiation allows her to lock down escapes and guarantee kills on squishies, her free escape with Contingency Plan is amazing, her silence lets her easily deal with waves and Elite Bots, and she has a questionably high base health pool to boot coupled with 30% damage reduction at level 5. Her ult is great for blocking escapes and trapping teams, or just effortlessly clearing waves (it cools down faster than waves spawn). Her lack of hard CC prevents her from going up to a higher Tier.
12. Caldarius: Caldarius’ main strength lies in his ability to freeze an entire wave for nearly 6 seconds, which dramatically decreases the damage your wave is taking and basically guarantees that your wave wins. He also has extremely quick lane rotations, high burst damage on weakened characters, great chasing power, and three forms of escape. However, Gravitic Burst is incredibly finicky with terrain, he gets ruined by slows, has a surprisingly large head, and struggles to use his wound with all the CC that goes around. His burst damage isn’t as strong as Thorn or Orendi can put out, which prevents him from going to a higher tier.
13. Benedict: Benedict can put out some serious safe waveclear as well as cheap damage on enemies with Hawkeye, and has a very strong finisher ult. He also possesses great mobility that allows him to easily navigate the map. However, when compared to his counterparts Orendi and Thorn, he is much easier to counter. His rockets can be body blocked and even destroyed, his fat hitbox coupled with low health means he gets destroyed by common picks and counters such as Ghalt, Marquis, and Whiskey, and he struggles against tanks. This counterability keeps him at the bottom of A tier, and he sometimes will fail to make an appearance in drafts just because of the prevalence of Ghalt and stronger positional picks like Thorn and Orendi. It’s worth noting that Benedict gets ranked higher on Paradise, due to the map’s design favoring vertically mobile characters.
This tier is reserved for characters than can fill roles well in team comps and are frequent picks, but lack flexibility or are too easy to counter to be a higher tier. They can perform well situationally, but won’t flourish like higher tier characters.
14. Ambra: Ambra has three issues preventing her from being higher up: Her healing requires her constant attention and cannot save someone, she has a massive crit spot, and she is fairly squishy while simultaneously needing to be in melee range to effectively deal damage. However, of the healers after Alani, she has the most versatility. She has easy access to damage amplification, great waveclear once she hits 5 (her Ult can clear a wave without her being there, and is up every wave), and has strong rotations because she, for some reason, has a higher sprint speed multiplier than any other character. While not necessarily an early pick, whatever team fails to secure Alani is going to pick up Ambra at some point in the draft.
15. Whiskey Foxtrot: After Ghalt, Whiskey is probably the best tank killer in the game. He can put out very high ranged DPS, has one of the strongest slows in the game once he gets Triple Threat, and can reliably shred Shepherds. He counters numerous characters that would otherwise be incredibly strong, including Kelvin, Shayne & Aurox, Benedict, and Toby (so hard that it forces Toby down to C Tier). However, his strength outside of being a counterpick is quite lacking. He has no mobility, no hard CC, and is very vulnerable to being dove. He will usually only see play when the enemy team picks someone he counters well.
16. Marquis: Marquis shares many similarities with Whiskey Foxtrot, but tends to be less effective at the role. Marquis has a better escape with his time bubble, and silently has some of the best late-game waveclear of any character. However, he’s even squishier, and the design of Coldsnap makes rotations nearly impossible. Marquis sees much higher placement on Paradise, since he can clear both lanes with effortless rotations under the cover of the supply station and thumper turrets.
17. Kid Ultra: Kid Ultra’s biggest issue is that his healing kit does not favor Meltdown. His strongest healing option, Vigilance Protocol, loses a ton of effectiveness since it is hard to effectively set up in a position you can safely and quickly fall back to while also controlling the lane, and unlike Ambra’s sunspots, you are confined to standing still in order to receive the heals. If you don’t take this helix, his single-target drone healing frankly sucks since the cooldown is so long, and is really only good for the bonus health buffer and damage amplification later on. Kid Ultra also suffers from lacking the ability to crit with his primary attacks, which makes killing Shepherds a chore. His main strength is as a waveclear for the rest of the wave, with his strong ranged AoE damage and Bola Snare. He also is capable of extremely quick lane rotations with his ult. Keep in mind though that if you are taking Kid Ultra, you aren’t taking him for his healing ability, which keeps him down in the tier list.
18. Deande: Deande is a very capable assassin with a ton of burst damage potential, but gets ruined by hard CC and lacks the same escape options as someone like Phoebe. Her ult is incredibly easy to cancel. Burst Dash is inconsistent whereas Rath’s Cataclysmic Smash->Crossblade combo has roughly the same damage on a lower cooldown, isn’t dependant on your shield being up, and works at level 2. Her waveclear is relatively weak unless she uses Burst Dash on it. She can absolutely shine when fit into the right team comp, but other characters above her can serve the same role as her with more consistency.
This tier is reserved for character that don’t exactly have a good place in the meta. While they are capable of performing well in the right scenarios, those scenarios rarely occur. Occasionally, characters from this tier will see play, but with 18 characters ranked above them and 14 characters showing up in a draft, it doesn’t happen frequently.
19. Toby: Toby in his element is a force to be reckoned with. He can completely own a lane if allowed to, and puts out the highest ranged DPS in the game even without his shield up. His wave clear from the arc mine and his primary is ridiculous. However, all this comes to a point, and that is that he gets hard countered by a long list of characters, namely, anyone with a gun. Especially with the likes of Ghalt, Whiskey, and Marquis above him, Toby isn’t going to get the chance to have free reign over a lane. He can work as a last pick against a team with nothing to deal with him, but that rarely happens. Picking him early can force a counterpick to deal with him, which puts him at the top of C tier. It’s worth noting that he moves up to B tier on Paradise for the same reasons as Marquis, namely, the safety he enjoys from the design of the map while being able to clear both lanes.
20. El Dragon: While El Dragon got killed by nerfs a few months back, a steady string of buffs have seen him make a comeback from the dredges of D Tier. The right build can make him surprisingly tanky, he can put out the highest DPS in the game while in his ult, and his initiation with Flailing Fists is very strong. However, he gets completely ruined by CC, since even with a survivability build he still is relatively squishy. Engaging with him means you have to be fully committed to the fight since you won’t have an escape. Him relying on gear and levels 4-6 to perform well mean he has a painful early game, and puts him below characters like Rath and Phoebe, who have more consistent damage. Rath doesn’t have to engage to harass, and Phoebe can get the same damage reduction as El Dragon, and doesn’t have to fully commit to a fight since her initiation can double as an escape. El Dragon can carry games if the enemy team has a weak draft, but this rarely happens.
21. ISIC: Since the removal of ISIC’s AoE on his charge shot and permanent slow, ISIC has fallen quite far down the tier list. He still can deal good single-target damage since his charge shot scales with both attack and skill damage, but his waveclear isn’t very strong, his stun isn’t worth engaging with, and despite being labeled as a tank, he really isn’t that tanky for how large his frame is. He doesn’t really do anything particularly well on Meltdown. He has poor matchups against the high-tier melee characters that are always picked, and especially with how Coldsnap is designed, does’t really have anywhere to stay out of reach. On Paradise, he has a much more favorable placement, going up to B Tier and potentially low A Tier. He can abuse the map’s design to stay out of melee reach, and can effective snipe waves and players from the safety of his supply station.
22. Ernest: It may seem odd to have Ernest this low given how strong his waveclear is and the utility provided by his egg. However, his wide hitbox makes him an easy target for characters like Ghalt and Marquis, and other characters are just as capable of clearing waves with less danger. His rotations and 1v1 potential are weak, and he is a prime target for dives since he lacks CC and territory on Meltdown is much more fluid than on Incursion. Ernest shines when paired with someone to buff like Ghalt, but at that point, why not pick Beatrix? She’s safer and provides more consistent utility, and has waveclear options that work well enough.
23. Montana: Montana has a lot of potential in his kit with a multi-player stun, extremely long slow, great DPS, and damage reduction. However, he is extremely easy to bully with common picks like Ghalt and common counters like Whiskey, and requires almost constant healing just because he’s such a big target. Alani simply can’t keep up with his health pool, especially when a wave isn’t around, and Miko is too much of a liability to take. It’s too easy to counter Montana for him to unleash the potential in his kit.
24. Reyna: Reyna is too reliant on levels for her healing to come online, and has such weak waveclear that gaining levels is difficult. Ambra has the same degree of damage amplification available at level 1 on a shorter cooldown and with AoE application, which basically renders Priority Target obsolete outside of the slow it can provide. Reyna is incapable of winning 1v1s and cannot function as the only healer on a team, and if you’ve already picked one of Ambra or Alani, you probably want to cap off your draft with more damage, CC, or tanks, not another support. Reyna has her niche on being able to guide waves in with her ult, but that’s about it.
25. Oscar Mike: Oscar Mike used to be near the top of the tier list, but nerfs to AoE and buffs to minions have ruined his waveclear. He basically functions as an inferior Whiskey Foxtrot, dealing much less damage, having worse waveclear on his grenade as the game progresses, and completely lacking CC. Oscar Mike’s strength is in being able to ult every wave, but he can’t really do much outside that, and his ult’s area is large enough that it can be inconsistent for clearing waves given the lane design.
26. Pendles: Pendles doesn’t really have much going for him when compared with other assassins like Rath, Phoebe, and Deande. His survivability is worse, his damage is comparable, he lacks any canceling CC (hard CC + silence), and his escape can be negated by reveal. His strength lies in stealing shards and breaking buildables, but meanwhile, you’re down a man in lane.
27. Attikus: While Attikus is capable of putting out tons of damage, he’s a huge target that just gets destroyed in lane by the likes of Ghalt and Whiskey. He is the only tanky or large character to completely lack hard CC, and has trouble engaging since Pounce has to be saved as an escape unless you are certain you will win the fight. There is no reason to take Attikus over any other character that can dive, since they all have smaller frames, more reliable escapes, CC, and/or damage reduction options.
28. Miko: Miko may have the best single-target healing in the game, but you sacrifice the fantastic damage of Alani and Ambra in order to get it. Miko’s lack of a shield and massive crit spot means they get absolutely shredded by ranged damage an melee damage alike, making them an incredibly easy target to dive for and pick on. Their low health pool means they can get 2-shot by both Thorn and Orendi, and 1-shot by Deande if she lands a crit on Burst Dash. Characters like Ghalt, Whiskey, Beatrix, and Marquis can keep Miko hiding behind a corner for the entire game. In addition, such strong single-target heals aren’t really needed for Meltdown, since tanks are only going to be taking focus-fire from 2-3 people for most of the game. Miko just doesn’t have enough utility beyond their strong healing to justify picking them.
This tier is reserved for characters that really have no place in the current meta. They will never appear in well drafted games between teams of equal skill, and picking them is a liability to your team.
29. Mellka: The huge slew of nerfs to venom have removed the two main reasons to pick Mellka in Meltdown: fantastic waveclear and great late-game harassment. She now has neither of these things, with her waveclear being all but nonexistent now that venom does 17% of the damage it used to. All her sources of damage require her to get in close, but her low health pool prevents that from being viable. The only thing she really has going for her is her mobility, but being able to fly around the map doesn’t contribute to a victory.
30. Kleese: Kleese is, without a doubt, the worst character in the game to pick on Meltdown. Kleese suffers from Fat Immobile Target Syndrome^™, by which he simultaneously lacks mobility and has a massive hitbox. If he’s outside of his Energy Rifts, he is a free kill, meaning he is incapable of rotating or contributing to team fights. Even then, Ghalt can easily pull him out, or ranged characters can destroy his network. He has to play so far back to simply stay alive that he’s basically a non-factor in lane, basically giving the enemy team a man advantage. Given the perfect storm of circumstances, he can put out ridiculous damage, but he’s so easy to abuse that he never gets this chance.
Oh, and special thanks to @beta382 for helping me edit this document.