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Heroes and Tips for Overwatch beginners

With the impending release of Overwatch, new players might be overwhelmed at the multitude of heroes available off the bat. The tutorial starts you off with Soldier: 76 to get you acclimated with the UI and other aspects of the game. Once you’re done with shooting bots with rockets and learning about your ultimate abilities, you’re free to bounce into Quick Play or AI games to get additional practice. Ranked play won’t be available until your account reaches level 25.

Until then, what heroes should you start with in Overwatch? A better question to ask is what kind of role do you see yourself fulfilling in matches most of the time. Matches are often fluid with shifting objectives, and you’ll have to adjust your hero accordingly. Don’t get locked into this idea of “maining” a hero — because if you stick with just one, the opposing team can counteract you easily which will diminish your effectiveness. I suggest getting comfortable with the idea of being fluent in at least two roles of 1 or 2 heroes each.

In my case, with my background as a raiding Priest and playing supports in Heroes of the Storm, I chose to go more with Mercy, Lucio, and Symmetra as part of my support pool. If the pickup team I’m with miraculously has a pair of supports in game, it frees me up to draw upon my inner 13 year old self’s mastery of the Rocket Launcher from Unreal Tournament by playing Pharah, Reaper, or Soldier: 76 instead.

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Tank

Reinhardt

One of the few mostly melee heroes in the game, Reinhardt boasts a large health pool and powerful defensive abilities that can provide cover for your team. His Charge can pin opposing heroes to a wall causing them to take even more damage. Just make sure you’re aiming for a wall and not charging off a ledge. The primary weapon is Rocket Hammer which allows Reinhardt to swing his weapon at close range that can deal a substantial amount of damage.

His Barrier Field activates a large rectangular shield that allows it to soak up a large amount of damage. Try to position yourself near the front lines to protect your teammates with Barrier Field. It can even be used to protect them from certain ultimate abilities like McCree’s Deadeye.

Fire Strike is Reinhardt’s sole ranged attack and it can travel through other heroes or barriers until it hits something like a wall. Use it during melee engagements too, as it isn’t solely a ranged exclusive attack. Earthshatter immediately stuns anyone in a conical direction just in front of Reinhardt. If I can catch multiple players with an Earthshatter, I’ll try to follow up with a Charge into a wall for even more damage — but as long as someone on your team can followup the Earthshatter, that’s all that matters.

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Roadhog

Roadhog is a rather unique tank in that he doesn’t exactly have any barriers of any kind that can be used to protect the team. However, his ability to hook a player and bring them close to inflict lethal damage can help provide a steady numbers advantage for your team. His abilities are best used in isolating weaker opposing heroes and taking them out.

Take a Breather is a channeled ability that helps with added survival. Note that you can’t do anything else unless you’re stunned or until the channel is complete. Whole Hog, Roadhog’s ultimate, fires a broad number of shots in a cone. Like Take a Breather, it’s also channeled. Try to position yourself so that your enemies will get pushed into a corner or off a ledge due to its knock back capability.

Pro tip: Don’t Chain Hook a D.Va that just activated her ultimate.

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Offense

Soldier 76

Don’t forget about your Helix Rockets (Right click). I’ve witnessed many 76 players just unloading their pulse rifle on an opponent but neglecting to use their rockets. They do a decent amount of burst damage and have a slight knock back. The longer you hold down 76’s primary fire, the more inaccurate the shots. So when you’re engaging at mid range or longer, take a few burst shots or tap your mouse button to maintain accuracy. Your Biotic Field (E) provides you with added sustainability. 76 is a great pick for new and veteran players transitioning over from games like Counterstrike or Call of Duty.

Pharah

Now Pharah is my kind of gal. She can fly and blow stuff up. Your biggest advantage and disadvantage is the ability to attack from a different angle. In most cases, that angle is up. Unfortunately, experienced players will know to look up and pick you off if you’re all alone. She’s great at countering enemies with short ranged or slow projectile weapons (Lucio, Winston, Symmetra, Reaper, etc). You can also use her rockets to “zone” out enemies from an objective (more on this later).

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Defense

Bastion

Ah yes, Bastion can be the bane of beginners everywhere. With two modes, Bastion offers potent flexibility for players on defense. His biggest strength is when he’s in Sentry mode, as his Gatling gun can easily mow through most heroes. His weakness is his backside when he’s in Sentry mode, as he takes double damage — Reaper and Tracer players take note, if you can sneak behind him.

Smart Bastion players know to change position every so often between Recon mode and Sentry mode to be somewhat unpredictable and catch the other team off guard. Tank mode can easily demolish and crush weaker heroes. Despite this, Bastion all by himself can be defeated, so stick together with your team and make sure someone is nearby to watch your back — literally. Excellent map awareness will separate a good Bastion from a great Bastion, as they’ll know where strategic choke points are.

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Support

Mercy

I view Mercy as one of the more pure healers in the game. She can switch between a healing beam or a damage boost to buff nearby players. If you need to heal up, disengage — Mercy’s passive will kick in after 3 seconds and you’ll start automatically healing on your own. Try to heal from around corners or behind cover. Your opponents won’t be able to hit what they can’t see. Guardian Angel allows her to zip around the map regardless of where players are — or if they’re dead. So if you use it on Pharah in mid air, you’ll fly up with her and you can hold down your Jump key to slowly glide down to somewhere safe.

Your sidearm’s a little weak, but you may need to resort to if there’s no one nearby. I tend to use it to help chip away any active barriers, especially if my team is all relatively healthy and no one is nearby’s worth boosting with damage. Resurrect can easily provide a momentum swing in the map. You can activate Resurrect as you’re using Guardian Angel to fly to your dead allies. Just make sure you read the situation carefully and don’t resurrect them to their deaths.

Lucio

Ready to drop the beat? Lucio’s healing power hinges strongly on your positioning abilities. If you’re not near your team, they won’t benefit from your AoE and passive healing. Pressing E (Amp it Up) will amplify the current aura’s effectiveness for a short time (either a heal or speed).

Use his speeeeeeed-boost right out the gate to give your team a quick sprint to the objective areas. Lucio’s right click is a conical knock back which is especially useful on maps like Lijiang Tower and Nepal. He’s a little fragile though, and can get picked off easily. Don’t try to go one on one and duel other heroes, because it isn’t likely to go in your favor.

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Basic concepts

Peek and shoot

Near a corner or an object? Notice an enemy’s shooting at you from range? Is it a stationary target like Bastion or a Torbjorn turret? Don’t go out into the open and engage them. Strafe out from behind cover, take a quick shot or three, then duck back in. Repeat peeking out and taking shots until your opponent is either dead or has decided to relocate. You can tell if your shots were effective due to the crosshair indicators.

Keep moving

Do you know how frustrating it can be to hit a moving target? Exactly! So why are you standing still healing and being a delicious target for a McCree or a Widowmaker? Keep moving from side to side or jumping around. As Mercy, I try to spam that Guardian Angel ability as often as I can during combat so I’m constantly moving around the battlefield.

Zoning

To zone an area of the map is to deny it to an enemy by raking it with fire. If the opposing team tries to move into a certain area, they’ll take damage from your attacks. If they don’t, precious time is wasted preventing them from achieving their goals. For example, you can temporarily zone out certain choke points on a map as Pharah by firing rockets, as the splash damage can cause some damage to anyone near by.

You can also zone the payload on certain maps to prevent attackers from being able to push it as quickly. Zoning out a capture point might knock players off the point, or prevent them from getting in range to capture the objective. This is an especially useful tactic to consider during Overtime, since Overtime ends if there are no attackers near the objective. You don’t have to kill them, just prevent them from being close.

Communicate

Get in the habit of periodically pressing Z on your keyboard to announce your Ultimate status. It’s a great way to help coordinate pushes or defense. The team is more likely to take risks if they’re aware that Mercy’s Resurrect is available for use.

Use those Health Packs

There are health packs scattered throughout the maps. Use them only if you need them, but please don’t take them if you’re already being healed by a support.


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Good luck out there! Thankfully, there are plenty of modes you can use to practice the abilities and attacks of each hero. The training range is a great  feature where you can explore new heroes without the pressure of being in a live match.

For tips on maps for Overwatch beginners, check out our overviews on Assault maps, Escort maps, and Control maps.

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