Overwatch Heroes Guide

Below is a complete guide to every Offensive character in Overwatch. Head to page two for Defence, page three for Tank and page four for Support.

Overwatch Heroes Guide: Offence

Overwatch Guide – Genji

Difficulty: Hard

Genji is Overwatch’s resident robo-ninja. Capable of throwing stars from distance and slicing with his katana up close, he’s a high-damage, hyper-mobile threat who’s technically demanding and one of the most frustrating heroes to face.

Competitive play status

Overwatch Genji
In the current patch Genji’s in a healthy state. He’s strong, but can still be shut down once his katana’s drawn. In the dominant tank and healer meta he struggled to inflict the kind of backline casualties necessary to make him a worthy pick, but his fortunes may just have changed. The latest patch leaves more room for 2 offensive heroes thanks to debuffs applied to Ana and D.Va. Tracer is making a comeback in pro-play; there’s no reason Genji can’t as well.

Abilities

Shuriken – Quickly shoots three deadly throwing stars. Alternatively can simultaneously throw three shuriken in a wider spread.
Deflect – Genji reflects oncoming projectiles and sends them rebounding towards his opponent.
Swift Strike – Genji darts forward, slashing his katana and passing through foes in his path. If Genji eliminates a target, he can instantly use this ability again.
Dragonblade – His katana receives a significant damage boost for a brief amount of time.

Play style

Genji is best when darting across the battlefield to assassinate lone targets and breach enemy lines. The priority should be taking down high-damage and strategically important foes, such as offensive heroes, supports, and Bastion. This will have the additional benefit of drawing enemy attention, allowing allies to push forward. “Hit and run” best describes effective strategy.

Unlike Soldier 76 and McCree, whose projectiles fire with much greater velocity, Genji’s throwing stars move at trackable speed, with large gaps between bursts. This makes him unsuitable for fighting fast-moving targets at range.  

Instead of sitting behind an allied shield, Genji is better suited skirting the edge of battle and occasionally darting into the fray from the flanks. But beware: without ally assistance, this is often risky.

Thankfully, he’s one of the most evasive heroes in the game. By carefully cycling through Deflect and Swift to escape, he can remain a persistent annoyance. This will slowly build his Ultimate – Dragonblade – which is great for clearing the enemy team.

Is strong with: Zarya, Zenyatta, Mei
Is strong against: Everyone

TIPS

  • Use abilities sparingly. It’s tempting to fire Swift Strike and then Deflect, but once they’re depleted you’re at risk. Hold back at least one to escape.
  • Double-jump. Tracking Genji when he’s double-jumping at close range is a nightmare, s jump, jump, and jump some more.
  • You can deflect certain Ultimates. Two Ultimates in the game count as projectiles: those of Mei and Zarya. If you’re quick you can reverse their effect, but this is extremely difficult to pull off.

Overwatch Guide – McCree

Difficulty: Medium

This gunslinger packs a revolver of immense power and is the only offensive hero packing hard crowd control. If you meet McCree in a corridor then one of you is going to end up dead, and it often isn’t the one from the Old West.

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Overwatch McCree

Current status

McCree’s balancing rests on a knife edge, since his basic combo is devastating when delivered successfully and useless when fluffed. After some fiddling with the strength of his abilities last year, Blizzard seems to have achieved an equilibrium with regards to his risk versus reward.

Unfortunately, in the current meta McCree isn’t as useful as Genji or Pharah because he’s harder to move around clustered enemies. Changes within the latest patch don’t seem to have improved things, in spite of the drift toward 2/2/2 (healer, tank, offensive) compositions. He also struggles against Roadhog, whose recent changes buffed his overall effectiveness.

Abilities

Peacekeeper – McCree’s six-shooter. He can fan the Peacekeeper’s hammer to swiftly unload the entire cylinder.
Combat Roll – McCree dives in the direction he’s moving, reloading Peacekeeper in the process.
Flashbang – Launch a blinding grenade to stun enemies in the nearby area.
Deadeye – McCree takes a moment to aim; when he’s ready to fire, shoots every enemy in his line of sight. The weaker his targets, the faster he’ll line up a killshot.

Play style

McCree’s revolver is effective at short and medium range, but it’s up close that he really shines. Punish any players out of position with a stun, followed by a killing shot. His accurate, high-damage revolver is also suitable for bringing down shields.

The standard McCree combo is thus: Flashbang to stun, Fan the Hammer for the kill, Combat Roll if they don’t die, Fan the Hammer a second time to finish them off.

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In most instances, if Fan the Hammer connects with its target twice, this is enough to kill both squishies and tanks alike. Of course, this relies upon McCree moving into close range to deploy Flashbang and ensuring that each bullet from Fan the Hammer hits – a difficult task: the kickback it suffers greatly reduces accuracy.

This duelling potential allows McCree to work his way into position for Deadeye, which deals enormous damage to heroes but suffers from significant build time before firing.

The mark of a great McCree player is knowing exactly when, and where, to use the Ultimate. As it channels, Deadeye is telegraphed with a global audio cue – “It’s high noon” – giving fast opponents time to duck for cover. McCree’s speed of movement is also reduced to a crawl, leaving him vulnerable.

Is strong with: Zarya, Sombra, Mei
Is strong against: Tracer, Genji, Reaper

TIPS

  • Flashbang can interrupt certain abilities. Including the Ultimates of Reaper, Pharah, Roadhog or another McCree. If you see one of them sidling into position, then consider waiting to deploy Flashbang.
  • Keep the gun loaded. The efficacy of Fan the Hammer is dependent on how many bullets remain in McCree’s chamber. With only two bullets left, there’s less chance of success. Diligent reloading is of utmost importance.
  • Learn maps. High platforms, narrow doorways, flanking routes – a good McCree should know them all to reach vantage points and deploy Deadeye.
  • McCree is dependent on team lineups. The following heroes can render a well-placed Deadeye useless: Zarya, Lúcio, Reinhardt, D.Va. If the enemy team contains two or more of these, you need to consider changing hero, or using Sombra to disable their abilities while you strike.

Overwatch Guide – Pharah

Difficulty rating: Hard

Pharah’s constant hail of missiles is hell to deal with. She can hop over choke points, jump above shields, and reach ledges inaccessible to most heroes.

Current status

Pharah is currently in a great position. Within the tank and healer meta, she’s a superb choice. She can keep safe in the skies, where few tanks can touch her, picking off supports one by one. She also forces the enemy team to pick Soldier 76 as counter. The recent patch even lent her a helping hand by making D.Va easier to kill.

Abilities

Rocket Launcher – Pharah’s primary weapon launches rockets that deal significant damage in a wide blast radius.
Jump Jet – Propelled by her suit’s thrusters, Pharah soars high into the air.
Concussive Blast – A wrist rocket that knocks back any enemies it strikes.
Barrage (Ultimate) – A continuous salvo of mini-rockets to destroy groups of enemies.

Play style

Pharah’s primary objective is decimating the enemy backline while providing sufficient distraction for her teammates to push forward. From up high she can deal splash damage behind Reinhardt’s shield, and divide teams using Concussive Blast. With allies pushing forward, and her striking from above, there are few chances for escape.

Rocket Launcher’s projectiles move slower than Soldier 76 and McCree’s firearms, which means Pharah must lead her targets.

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Overwatch Pharah

However, the fast rate of fire and high damage of rockets makes her a pain for static defences such as Torbjörn’s turret, or a deployed Bastion.

She’s a great siege-breaker, causing the backline to split up, and cutting through most heroes like butter. Her Ultimate, Barrage, is capable of wiping out entire teams, but like McCree and Solider 76, she has to wait for possible enemy barriers to be depleted in order to inflict maximum devastation.

It’s worth noting that Pharah is one of the more fiddy offensive heroes. Managing her fuel, watching the entire battleground from above, and planning where to fire rockets requires great coordination and practice.

Is strong with: Mercy, Zarya, Ana
Is strong against: Reinhardt, Symmetra, Mei

TIPS

  • Team with anybody. Combining Barrage with Zarya’s Graviton Surge is a team-kill in the making. Blizzard (Mei), EMP (Sombra), Earthshatter (Reinhardt), and Infra-Sight (Widowmaker) are also superb at maximising its effectiveness.
  • Fly forever. A change to Jump Jet last year allows Pharah to sustain her flight indefinitely. If the enemy is finding you hard to swat, then remaining up top is a great way of continuing the assault.
  • Concussive Blast can kill enemies. Nepal, Lijiang Tower, and Ilios are ripe with opportunities to knock opponents to their death. Use it.
  • Mercy is her best friend. Thanks to Mercy’s ability to glide, she can follow Pharah in the air, providing healing and a significant damage boost.
  • When airborne, Pharah is vulnerable. Watch out for Torbjörn’s turret, a deployed Bastion, Widowmaker, Soldier 76, and McCree when in the air. All can prove a significant threat.
  • Eject! When assailed in open areas, Jump Jet has two benefits. First, it creates distance, making you hard to track. Second, it puts you in the perfect position to counter an ambush with an ambush.

Overwatch Guide – Reaper

Difficulty rating: Easy

Reaper is all about eliminating enemies in large numbers. What he lacks in maneuverability he makes up for in extraordinary short-range damage. In a one-on-one fight, few heroes stand a chance against his dual shotguns.

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Current status

Reaper is in a difficult position right now. The strength of the dual-healer composition, especially a ranged Ana, along with Zarya’s current dominance, can make a team-kill Death Blossom a virtual impossibility. He’s still a solid pick if used correctly, but against the might of a clustered bunch of enemies with two types of shields, he’ll struggle to land a team kill.

Abilities

Hellfire Shotguns – Reaper’s twin shotguns.
Wraith Form – Reaper becomes a shadow for a short period of time. While in this form, he takes no damage and is able to pass through enemies; but cannot fire or use other abilities.
Shadow Step – Reaper marks a destination and teleports to it after a short delay.
Death Blossom (Ultimate) – In a blur of motion, Reaper empties both Hellfire Shotguns at breakneck speed, dealing huge damage to all nearby enemies.

Play style

Reaper can strike from any angle, but isn’t “mobile” in the way of Sombra, Tracer or Genji. His Shadow Step requires a safe transition from one location to the other, since he’s still vulnerable as it channels, and unable to use any other abilities.

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Overwatch Reaper

Traversing the sidelines of a fight unseen and erasing strays is the typical strategy. Using Shadow Step, he can move past the frontline unseen and linger in the outer reaches for assassinations. Most heroes will disintegrate after two or three well-placed shotgun shots. This method is particularly effective on Assault, Hybrid and Escort, where the frontline is more defined than on Control.

Once his Ultimate is charged, move in for the big bang. Death Blossom is Reaper’s chance to drastically turn the tide of any fight, and allow his team to push forward. It’s important that he stays alive; all too often, Reapers are overzealous and throw themselves into a throng of foes, only to quickly die.

Is strong with: Zarya, Sombra, Ana
Is strong against: Soldier 76, Bastion, Symmetra

TIPS

  • Zarya can help ensure a successful Death Blossom. A quick Projected Barrier can keep Reaper alive long enough to deliver maximum damage.
  • Large targets generally take more damage. The spread on Reaper’s shotguns is large at medium range, but Winston, Roadhog, D.Va and Reinhardt are large enough to still absorb most of each blast.
  • Engage death from above. Jumping from a high position and activating Death Blossom on the way down avoids giving away your location (Shadow Step is telegraphed with a sound). The first your enemy will hear of you is “DIE DIE DIE”.
  • You can still pick up health packs in Wraith form. When the invulnerability ends, you’ll be back up to strength and ready to engage.

Overwatch Guide – Soldier 76

Difficulty rating: Easy

His Heavy Pulse Rifle is the closest to the automatic weapons of traditional shooters, and his abilities are simple: he shoots, he heals, he shoots some more.

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This co-founder of Overwatch is a well-oiled mid-range marksman, able to dish damage and quickly move around the battlefield.

Current status

Soldier is currently a favoured pick as the counter to Pharah – the current strongest Offensive hero – as well as provide consistent damage without putting himself at risk. There are currently no changes planned to his abilities.

Abilities
    
Heavy Pulse Rifle – Soldier 76’s rifle remains particularly steady while firing, but accuracy decreases with constant fire.
Helix Rockets – Rockets spiral out of Soldier 76’s Pulse Rifle in a single burst, damaging enemies in a small radius.
Sprint – Rush ahead in a burst of speed. Sprint ends if he takes an action other than charging forward.
Biotic Field – Plant a biotic emitter on the ground, which restores health to 76 and any allies within its field.
Tactical Visor (Ultimate) – Soldier 76’s targeting visor “locks” on the threat closest to his crosshairs. If an enemy leaves his line of sight, Soldier 76 can quickly switch to another target.

Play style

Soldier is most effective at medium range. High damage output but lacking Reaper’s burst fire or Tracer and Genji’s mobility. If caught in a tight spot, he has little recourse but to run away.

Rather than rushing in, Soldier is best served cautiously hugging the allied front line, or attempting a distanced assault from the flanks. When utilising vantage points with plenty of cover, he can easily heal with Biotic Field and continue attacks. As long as he maintains significant distance from enemy tanks, then D.Va, Reinhardt, Zarya and Winston will struggle to maintain a presence without losing.

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A good soldier should punish any enemies straying from shields or push too far forward and slowly wear down Reinhardt’s Barrier Field or bait out Zarya’s Projected Barrier. When the hard work is done, use Tactical Visor to wipe entire teams.

Is strong with: Ana, Reinhardt, Mercy
Is strong against: Pharah, Mercy, Bastion

TIPS

  • Use short bursts at long range. Soldier’s Pulse Rifle becomes more inaccurate after a second or so of fire. Firing in small clusters negates this effect
  • Use short bursts at long range. Soldier’s Pulse Rifle becomes more inaccurate after a second or so of fire. Firing in small clusters negates this effect.
  • Heal your team, too. Biotic Field is an area of effect ability, help your allies.
  • Tactical Visor is best used reactively. Lúcio can easily drop the beat to negate all incoming damage, and Mercy can resurrect the gaggle of heroes you just sent packing. Wait for these kinds of Ultimates to dissipate before using your own.
  • Ana and Mercy make Tactical Visor extra terrifying. Coordinate with your team to add a Nano Boost or Mercy damage buff to your ultimate.
  • Heal your team, too. Biotic Field is an area of effect ability, help your allies.
  • Tactical Visor is best used reactively. Lúcio can easily drop the beat to negate all incoming damage, and Mercy can resurrect the gaggle of heroes you just sent packing. Wait for these kinds of Ultimates to dissipate before using your own.
  • Ana and Mercy make Tactical Visor extra terrifying. Coordinate with your team to add a Nano Boost or Mercy damage buff to your ultimate.

Overwatch Guide – Sombra

Difficulty rating: Hard

The latest addition to the roster with the power to be more disruptive than anyone else, Sombra can hack enemies, locking them out of their abilities, shutting down shields, and leaving an opening for her team to go on the offensive.

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Current status

Sombra’s win rate is exceedingly poor, and Blizzard is considering buffing her abilities. Precise planning is required to utilise her effectively, and players are finding her difficult to master.

She’s just received a small reduction to her Hack activation time (1 second to 0.8 seconds) and decrease on the ability’s cooldown, but Blizzard is waiting to see if she improves before applying further remedies. Ana experienced similar problems upon release, but these were slowly resolved over time.

Abilties

Machine Pistol – Sombra’s fully automatic machine pistol fires in short-range spread.
Hack – Sombra hacks enemies to temporarily disable their abilities, or hack first-aid kits to make them useless to opponents.
Thermoptic Camo – Sombra becomes invisible for a short period of time, during which speed is boosted. Attacking using offensive abilities or taking damage disables camouflage.
Translocator – Can instantly return to the beacon’s location while it’s active (including when it’s in mid-flight).
EMP – Sombra discharges electromagnetic energy in a wide radius, destroying enemy barriers and shields and hacking all opponents caught in the blast.

Play style

Sombra’s purpose is to disrupt the enemy team. The Machine Pistol’s mediocre damage and a utility-heavy toolkit make her more suited to hit-and-run tactics that could result in kills – but don’t expect to be mowing down opponents.

Before Sombra, the only true counters to Reinhardt and Lúcio’s Sound Barrier were timing and positioning. Her addition is designed to provide teams with tools that shut down defensive enemy compositions with the potential to turtle, shield, and heal their way to victory. EMP offers a short window during which allies can unleash hell.

But perhaps this is also Sombra’s biggest weakness. Individualistic play styles reduce her efficacy. Hacking leaves her vulnerable to attack, and an ill-timed EMP lacking backup achieves little.

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Regardless, when played effectively Sombra uses her stealth to move into position and hacks to shut down vital abilities. The key to making Sombra work is getting in, causing a little upset, dealing reasonable damage, and then getting out unharmed.

Yes, she’s stealthy, but Sombra can also be extremely effective on the front lines. If there are no Reinhardt shields present to block her hack, she can effectively disrupt while in full view,  and then simply peel back behind her allies. The considerable range on hack makes this strategy viable.

TIPS

  • EMP doesn’t stop transformational Ultimates. This means that Torbjörn, Bastion, Winston and Soldier 76 remain in their transformational state and are unaffected.
  • EMP shuts down all shields. This means the more enemies with shields on their team, the more effective Sombra is.
  • Hacking from stealth is relatively slow. Sombra must decloak and then hack – both of which take time. Decloaking also makes an audible sound to nearby enemies. Sometimes, it’s worth decloaking in nearby cover and then hacking.
  • Hack health packs. Be sure to hack all health packs nearest the enemy group. It’s also worth noting that multiple health packs can be hacked at any time.
  • Translocator has a time limit. After approximately 14 seconds, the translocator stops working. It’s best to use it right before a fight to give yourself plenty of wiggle room.
  • Coordinate, or go to waste. It bears repeating that a solo-Sombra isn’t useful. She should be talking to her team, or at the bare minimum watching their progress to deploy EMP at the perfect moment.
  • Hacking doesn’t stop all healing. Mercy and Ana can continue to use primary fire when hacked.

Overwatch Guide: Tracer

Difficulty rating: Intermediate

Tracer’s hyper-mobility makes her difficult to hit and almost impossible to chase. With Tracer around, no lone player is safe, no backline can’t be reached, and everyone must remain on high alert.

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Current status

The nature of the current meta, which favours two healers and at least two tanks pushing forward, doesn’t favour Tracer as she can’t single out clustered players. A well-placed Pulse Bomb isn’t a guaranteed kill on Roadhog or D.Va, leaving her feeling less impactful.

Blizzard isn’t currently testing any changes to her ability set. However, recent changes to Ana and D.Va may increase Tracer’s potency.

Abilities

Pulse Pistols – Dual pistols with rapid fire.
Blink – Tracer zips through space in the direction she’s moving. She stores up to three Blinks which recharge every few seconds.
Recall – Rewings time only for herself, returning health, ammo and position on the map to a few seconds before.
Pulse Bomb – Tracer lobs a large bomb that sticks to any surface or opponent, dealing high damage to enemies within its blast radius.

Play style

Tracer’s task is threefold: breach enemy defences; harass; kill vital targets. Blink affords greater mobility than any other hero. At lightning-speed she can zip past enemies and fire from the flank. When facing a particularly entrenched formation, her ability to zoom through a Reinhardt shield and attack from the rear is invaluable.

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Pulse Pistols deal considerable damage, making low-health targets easy kills, but Tracer’s value goes beyond assassination. She can effectively split up teams by forcing them to focus on her and an oncoming group at the same time.

TIPS

  • Keep two Blinks on standby. Depleting all charges of Blink limits your options for escape. Try to keep the meter at two.
  • Blink out of sight. By Blinking through another player, rather than around them, you remove yourself from their field of view, making avoiding damage easier.
  • Say bye-bye to Bastion. If an enemy Bastion is zoning out your entire team, move in and land a single Pulse Bomb on his robo-noggin. There’s virtually nothing he can do about it.
  • Beware Winston, Symmetra, Sombra. Winston and Symmetra possess aim-free primary fire. Dodging using Blink isn’t really an option, so stay away from them if possible. As for Sombra, a quick hack will leave you a sitting duck, so be sure to Blink away if you see it coming.
  • Destroy that teleporter. No hero is better placed to find and destroy the enemy teleporter than Tracer. If you hear the audio cue indicating one has been placed, go hunting.
  • Melee attacking is practical for Tracer. If you’re zooming around someone with your pistols and they’re low on health, it’s easy to finish them off with melee.
  • Pulse Bomb won’t finish off tanks. Roadhog can survive with minimal health left, as can D.Va. Zarya can simply shield herself.

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