Blizzard’s Overwatch is finally out, making it the first brand-new property from Blizzard in nearly 20 years. And while it’s colorful appearance and smooth animation might make it look as if it were a first-person shooter designed by Disney Pixar and geared towards kids, there’s actually a lot of complexity hidden within this seemingly simple game.
If you don’t have much experience playing shooters or MOBA’s (multiplayer online battle arenas) getting started in Overwatch can be a little daunting because, unlike in many shooters, all the characters have distinct abilities and play very differently. In addition, there are all sorts of maps to learn, audio cues to listen for, and loot crates to open. So, if you’re looking for a one-stop-shop to help set you on the path to countless victories in Overwatch, here are some pointers you should keep in mind.
12. Pay Attention to Team Composition
Overwatch is a team game so your choice of character can have a significant effect on the outcome of a match. Thankfully, Blizzard included a handy team building tool to help let you know what factors your team is lacking. Even if you have favorite characters you like to play, you should always make an active effort to balance your class choice relative to your other teammate’s selections.
11. Start With a Character That’s Easier to Play
The tutorial has the right idea by starting players as Soldier 76. He’s the easiest character for new players to understand, as his basic abilities are very much in line with what you might experience in a standard first-person shooter. In addition to his sprint ability, Soldier 76 has good range with his accurate and powerful assault rifle which is also capable of launching rockets. Furthermore, he’s capable of healing himself and allies using his medkit.
Another solid beginner characters is Reinhardt. Using his near-impenetrable shield and massive health bar, Reinhardt sure makes surviving a fight a lot easier. Other good choices include Bastion, who can transform into a turret and shower enemies in a hail of bullets, and Lucio who can heal teammates just by being near them.
10. Know Your Role
The playable characters in Overwatch are divided into four categories — assault, defense, tank, and support.
Assault characters use powerful weapons to deal a lot of damage in a short amount of time. They belong on the vanguard and, if used correctly can clear a path through bottlenecks and choke points. Keep in mind they don’t have don’t have huge reservoir of hit points so they’re often best utilized by dashing in, dealing some heavy burst damage, and then disappearing behind your team.
Defense characters are good at halting the advance of an enemy team. Many of them, including snipers and characters that use stationary turrets, are most effective when used to secure specific locations on the map. There are also some characters who can completely block off pathways (by using a wall of ice or filling them with timed explosives), which can be a great asset when taking or holding objectives.
Tanks are the characters with the most health. They’re built to distract the enemy team and soak up lots of damage using powerful shields or self-healing abilities. It’s also their job to protect the big damage dealers on your team so they can operate without getting taken out of fight.
Support characters provide healing and other helpful abilities. They’re capable of doing things like replenishing an ally’s health bar or building teleporters to assist your team’s advance to the front lines. They generally the characters with the least amount of hit points so they’re best played behind the rest of your team, but many of them also have some surprisingly powerful weapons at their disposal as well.
9. Stay Close to Your Team
Unless you happen to be really really good, it’s always a better idea to wait for your team before confronting the enemy or launching an attack. Your team should never try to take an objective by moving in one at a time. Doing so only enables the enemy to easily pick you off one by one. Instead, try to present a unified front so your team can combine their abilities to be most effective.
Keep in mind that in the later stages of Assault or Escort mode, it will take a while for your character to respawn, so dying one at a time can create a situation where your team is constantly off balance and not fighting together. If you stick together and watch each other’s backs, you’re almost guaranteed to have more success than just rushing in alone with your guns blazing.
8. Learn The Maps
Though you’ll become more familiar with each map the more you play the game, there are a few things you should keep in mind that will help be a better player, even if you haven’t discovered all the nooks and crannies of each battlefield. First, know the routes your enemy can take to get to the objective. Second, know a few good hiding or sniping locations on each map. And third, know where the health packs are located on the map. This last point is especially important because a single health boost can completely turn the tables in an encounter. So if you’re just starting out, be sure to make a mental note of any health packs you come across.
7. Don’t be Afraid to Switch Characters Mid-Game
This might feel a bit strange for players who are used to MOBA type games where locking in a character and countering rival team compositions during the character select stage is a vital part of the experience. But Overwatch is a game where you should take advantage of the ability to switch characters mid-match. Always bear in mind the map you’re playing on, your opponents team composition, and the stage of the match. Then, switch characters depending on what the situation calls for.
Defensive bottlenecks loaded with mines and turrets are very troublesome for low hit point characters like McCree or Genji to attack head-on. But if you switch to Pharah, you’ll find that her rockets are great for clearing out static defenses since she can use her jetpack and fire them from hard-to-defend angles high in the sky. Or if your team has a lot of high-damage heroes, but you’re having problems pushing outside of your home base because you can’t take much damage, consider switching to a tank character like Reinhardt and protecting your allies with your shield.
Knowing who you should switch to and when, is a skill that will take a bit of time to develop, but don’t try to stick to a single character for an entire match if you know you could be more useful to your team by switching.
6. Objectives are More Important Than Kills
If you’re used to first-person shooters like Call of Duty and Halo where the most popular game modes usually revolve around which individual or team can score the most kills, you might have to adjust your play-style a bit for Overwatch.
Having a good kill/death ratio is certainly nice and perhaps a testament to your individual skill, but, in the end it probably won’t win you any matches. To win, you and your team need to active capture points, fend off attackers, or move the payload. This means resisting the urge to abandon your team in search of easy kills. It might often require you to stay in the same area for more than a few seconds. No matter what you’re doing, always keep the objective in mind.
5. Try to Target Enemy Healers and Support Characters First
If you’re confronting a unified enemy force, make an effort to take out their support characters first. Lucio, Mercy, Zenyatta, and Symmetra all have abilities that can heal and buff their team, so you’ll want them taken out of the fight as soon as possible to weaken the opposition. Don’t focus your attacks on a tanky character like Reinhardt if he’s constantly being healed by the Mercy hiding behind him. Kill the Mercy first!
Torbjorn is also a character you should try to kill on sight because his turrets have a long range and can tear your team apart if he uses them in combination with his ult.
4. Aim For The Head
They way damage is calculated in Overwatch is never explicitly laid out for you, and there are no little numbers that pop up above enemies as you shoot them to let you know how badly you’re hurting them. The most important thing to know is that, like in most shooters, headshots do deal significantly more damage, so aim for the head whenever possible.
It’s also important to note that, while there are headshots, there are no critical hits, so you’ll never kill anyone or get killed by a lucky shot that just happened to randomly spike in damage.
3. Listen to Audio Cues
The sound design in Overwatch is actually quite phenomenal and most of the things you hear during a match are actually quite useful. In edition to picking up audible enemy footsteps, your character will gasp when you are low on health and your teammates will notify you about other things to around the map you should divert your attention to.
Each character’s ultimate ability also comes with its own soundbite. After a while, you’ll begin to identify which audio clip goes with which ability, but, as a rule of thumb, the louder the shout, the more powerful the ability. Play with your speakers turned up, and if you hear something like “NERF THIS,” “JUSTICE RAINS FROM ABOVE.” or “DIE! DIE! DIE!” it probably means you should get the hell away from the general vicinity if you don’t want to wind up dead.
2. How to Deal With Bastion
Bastion’s turret mode can seem like an unstoppable force for players who haven’t come up against it before. But once you realize his weakness it’s actually quite easy to counter.
Assault characters like Tracer and Reaper can flank him and, while he’s distracted, snipers like Widowmaker and Hanzo can pick him off. Tanks like Reinhardt and Winston can also sometime absorb enough damage to get up close smash him. However, the best Bastion counter of all would have to be Genji. If you use Genji’s deflect ability on the stream of bullets, you’ll find you can turn Bastion into a pile of scrap before the player controlling him even has a chance to take their finger off the trigger. Sure, maybe all the Bastion players will eventually become a lot more weary of this tactic, but for now you should exploit it as much as possible.
1. Try to Use Your Ultimate Ability at the Right Time, but Don’t Hold onto it Forever
Your character’s ultimate ability becomes active whenever the circle in the center of your screen is filled. It automatically charges up over time, but will charge faster when you damage enemies or fulfill your role. Ultimate abilities can be an absolute game changer if used appropriately at the right time, but don’t hold onto a charged ultimate forever because it could hurt your ability to win in the end. Matches in Overwatch aren’t all that long and your ultimate is meant to be be used multiple times over the course of a match. Try to save it for the right moment, but err on the side of using more frequently than less frequently.