With Overwatch, the charming hero shooter from Blizzard, launching this week, we want to make sure that you’re as prepared as possible to help your team dominate. Overwatch’s main focus is clearly on the interplay between its dynamic characters, so in order to become competent, you’ll need to understand how every character works. Throughout the week, we’ll be publishing guides on each of the twenty-one launch heroes, three at a time, with the hopes that you’ll be able to recognize certain patterns on the battlefield.
If there’s one constant in video games, it’s that rocket launchers are always cool, period. Pharah, Overwatch’s resident flying explosive expert, is no exception to this rule, as she has the potential to devastate an entire enemy squad when used properly. Her main weapon, the aforementioned Rocket Launcher, is not only incredibly powerful when it makes direct contact with an enemy, but it also possesses fairly large splash damage, so you don’t necessarily need to worry about hitting foes directly. This is a wonderful weapon for taking out enemies that thrive on camping, like Bastion, Hanzo and Widowmaker. In addition to the Rocket Launcher, Pharah also possesses a jet pack mapped to her jump button. Not only does this allow her to reach higher ground for sneaky firing tactics, but it also allows her to hover in mid-air for a limited time when used properly, making all of her abilities all the more surprising.
Pharah’s first core ability, known as Jump Jet, allows her to rapidly boost into the air. Aside from the fact that this is an awesome tactic for maneuvering around the map, it also presents Pharah players with a huge advantage, as most players are concentrated on ground-level encounters. Needless to say, any rockets that come from above will generally take the other team by surprise, so use this to your advantage. Her second ability, Concussive Blast, doesn’t do a great deal of damage, but it has the ability to push enemies a significant distance. If you’re looking to annoy the hell out of opposing snipers (or anyone during the second round of Capture on Nepal), try using this to push them off of the map. Finally, her ultimate, Barrage, causes her to remain stagnant while she unleashes an insane amount of rockets in the direction of her reticle. This is best utilized in combination with Jump Jet, but you should be aware that you’re going to be a relatively easy target for those behind you, so try to plan accordingly.
Arguably the toughest character to be proficient with in all of Overwatch, Symmetra can generate some heart-stopping victories for her team when used successfully. It’s important to note that she is the one Support character whose role does not focus on healing, so it’s totally okay to run dual Support heroes when she’s on your squad. Her main weapon, the Photon Projector, functions very similarly to a traditional flamethrower in that it fires a continuous beam of damaging energy. However, what makes the Photon Projector special is that it latches onto the nearest enemy when fired in their direction, with its damage increases the more that its beam is in contact with them. Its secondary fire, although extremely slow, has the ability to unleash massive damage. It’s essentially a charged shot that slowly projects a massive ball of energy in the direction of the reticle, and it’s a perfect way to hang back behind your team while still assisting them in pushing the enemy squad back.
Symmetra’s first ability, her Sentry Turrets, allow her to place up to six turrets around the map. Once an enemy steps within range, these turrets will fire a continuous beam of medium-damage energy until that foe either dies or steps out of range. While these turrets are exceptionally easy for enemies to kill, they can be hidden in creative locations and grouped together to maximize effectiveness. Her second ability, Photon Shield, allows her to grant extra hitpoints to teammates within range. While shields will not heal those who are critically injured, equipping an entire team with them before a big push can certainly give you an edge. Finally, her ultimate, Teleporter, is one of the biggest game-changing abilities in all of Overwatch. By placing the Teleporter somewhere on the map, a second portal is opened up at the spawn point, allowing teammates to bypass that potentially long journey back to the objective. Not only can this assist your team in reaching an capture point quicker, but it makes escorting a payload a relative breeze considering it’s possible to always have one person moving it forward.
Great Against: Tracer, Mei and Zenyatta
Weak Against: Bastion, Torbjorn, Widowmaker and Hanzo
If you’re looking to dig your teeth into a hero with an exceptionally high variance between high and low-level play, then look no farther than Mei. If you were to take a poll of everyone’s favorite and least favorite characters, assuming that you’re speaking to players who have sampled each of them, then it’s likely you’ll find equal amounts of Mei-haters and Mei-lovers. Her main weapon, the Endothermic Blaster, has two distinct firing modes that can take out even the strongest enemies when used in combination. By clicking the left-mouse button (or pulling the right trigger), she can continuously fire a stream of frost, which will both do damage to enemies and eventually freeze them in their tracks. Its secondary firing mode charges up a massive icicle, which does an insane amount of damage upon contact. Needless to say, the Endothermic Blaster has the potential to be ruthless against long-range foes while also making it relatively easy to deal with faster characters like Tracer and Genji.
Mei’s first core ability, Cryo-Freeze, encases her in a chunk of ice, both protecting her from further damage and healing any missing health over time. It’s imperative that any Mei players keep this ability ready to go for whenever she is close to death, as it can essentially become a ‘Get out of jail free’ card during particularly brutal battles. Her second ability, Ice Wall, is one of the most iconic hero abilities in Overwatch, and you’ve almost certainly come across it dozens of times during your time on the battlefield. This ability allows Mei to place a massive wall of ice (pretty self-explanatory) onto the battlefield, which impedes enemy progress and can save a great deal of lives. If you find yourself capturing an objective and want to give your team a bit of extra breathing room, this is a sensational battle-forcing ability. Finally, her ultimate, Blizzard, is a large area-of-effect ability that functions similarly to the primary firing method on the Endothermic Blaster, only in a much larger circular area. Not only does this do damage over time, but it can freeze enemies entirely, making it really simple for your teammates to come in and finish off the job.
Great Against: Genji, Tracer, Reaper and Junkrat