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Overwatch: Essential tips and tricks for securing a victory

Since the beginning, Overwatch has caught the eyes of casual players and competitive players alike. The strategy for building the perfect team and capturing the point has kept players coming back for more since its initial release in 2016. However, the game has also changed quite a bit since its release. From new maps and characters to new ways to play, Overwatch has something awesome for everyone.

In order to succeed, you have to at least have an idea of what is expected from each fight, map, or game mode. To help out, we have some must-know strategies for each game mode, map shortcuts, and some general tips on how to secure a victory for your team.

Further reading

  • Overwatch: A beginner’s guide to mastering the many characters
  • The best Overwatch skins and how to get them
  • Rack up more kills with our Overwatch Deathmatch guide

General tips and tricks

Now that you know what your gaming options are, it’s time to delve a bit into how each level plays and what your best strategies are. There are quite a few approaches to each game, but a few of the tips are good to know and perform across the board.

Communication is key

It’s a simple rule, but worth saying: Overwatch is built around teamwork. Unlike some popular console shooters, you can’t just run around on your own getting kills and expect to win. Use the in-game voice chat — or third-party software like Discord — to communicate, plan attacks, and warn teammates about threats.

Also, as tempting as it may be, don’t trash talk your teammates. People tend to perform worse when morale is low. It’s also a quick way to get reported to Blizzard, and no one wants that. 

Kill the supports first

In the heat of battle, you may be tempted to focus on damage dealers like Reaper or a troublesome tank like Winston. In doing so, you might not pay attention to the Mercy or Lucio player standing behind them. Support characters are much more fragile than most characters, so taking out the enemy support should usually be the first priority. A good tank or attacker with support backing them up can survive even the most ferocious of battles. Denying them that extra health may be the difference between a win and a loss.

Take advantage of the verticality of maps

Often, the best way to break through a chokepoint is by going around. Use characters with movement abilities — e.g., Pharah, Hanzo, and Genji — to go over walls and take out defenders from the sides. Genji’s double-jump, when combined with wall-running, makes him especially good at finding impossible paths through maps. Also, there is always a hidden chokepoint hidden around the map. There are plenty of ways to get to an objective and bypass anyone you may want to avoid.

Fire at will

Unlike most shooters, Overwatch gives every character unlimited ammo. There is no need to pick up ammo packs, and the only real restriction on your ability to fire is that you sometimes need to reload. As such, don’t worry about conserving ammo. Shoot, reload, rinse, repeat!

Know when to fold ’em

If you lose a fight, don’t keep rushing in one at a time. Fall back and regroup. Don’t kill yourself trying to halt the payload every step of the way. You are much more likely to win a fight if you regroup and bring your whole team into the fray instead of trying to fight at half-strength. Throwing yourself at the enemy one or two at a time probably won’t stop them — it just wastes time.

Pick smart

Strategy is a big part of Overwatch, and that starts with building your team. Make sure your lineup has at least one hero for every role. If your teammates are being stubborn and refuse to pick a tank or support, do it yourself. Your team will likely have much more success if you have all your bases covered. Most of the time, two tanks or two supports may be better than one. Also, keep in mind that some characters are better suited for defense than attack. Reinhardt, for example, is a solid choice if your team is playing defense because his shield can block chokeholds across the board. On offense, it might make more sense to opt for a more mobile character.

Kill feed

Honestly, it’s kind of shocking that Blizzard hasn’t made the kill feed a feature that’s automatically on from the get-go. If you don’t have it on, do so. This live feed in the upper-right corner gives you a visual of who’s dying in the game. Knowing when all of your teammates have been eliminated can keep you from going in as a one-man army on the prowl for his/her own death. You don’t want to be that one player on the team that trickles in thinking they can save the match on their own. Overwatch is a team-based game, and with the kill feed on, you can keep tabs on your team at all times.

Melee — use it

It can be easy in the heat of the battle to forget to reload, especially when an enemy is on the last of their health and you need to think fast. This is why it’s a good habit to finish off enemies with melee when in close combat. Depending on your character, choosing to reload can lead to an enemy trapping you or an enemy teammate swooping in to get the kill for themselves. Fire off your rounds and finish with a punch, and, more often than not, you’ll find yourself with a kill.

Know when to switch

You might be confident before the game starts that a certain character is going to be perfect for a particular battle. You may then find that you’re getting slaughtered shortly after it begins. Know when to switch. With 32 different characters to choose from, building a team with members that complement each other is crucial. Building a team that offsets the enemy teams’s abilities is equally as important. You might want to wait to power up an ultimate ability or give it one more shot with a particular character, but oftentimes, another character can be more useful for your team. Again, know when to switch. Help your team by giving them the support they need. Help yourself, too, and adopt a new strategy to come out with a victory.

The only real hang-up to switching mid-game is that, if you haven’t used your ultimate, you’ll lose it. Before switching characters, remember to unleash your ultimate on the enemy.

Listen

While it can be particularly easy to take notice of Overwatch’s creative art style, it’s also important as a player looking to become better to take note of its many sounds. Enemy sounds throughout the game are generally louder. If you hear footsteps, that means it’s time to put your guard up. Each character will also sound their own chime when powering off their ultimate, so stay cautious if you hear, “It’s high noon!” This means get out of McCree’s sight to avoid a devastating shot to the head. Listening to the game will make you just as effective as what you’re seeing does and can ultimately be what saves you from many deaths.

Use your ultimates

Everybody wants to get play of the game, but not everybody wants to put in the work to come out with a victory. Use your ultimate ability when you feel you have a good window. Don’t use Roadhog’s Whole Hog ability if there’s only a Mercy left on the other team, and don’t feel rushed to use it. There are certain situations where your ultimate is all you have to survive. If the ultimate is the only thing keeping you alive, don’t feel bad for using it. However, don’t feel too much pressure to use it right away just because you have it. There’s always a good time to use it — just don’t feel pressured to use it right off the bat solely because you have it.

But definitely use it before the end of the match. Watching your character demolish others with a heavy blow is half of the fun of Overwatch.

Tips for maps and modes

Overwatch currently has 28 maps, and these fall into eight game modes: Escort, Assault, Hybrid, Control, Capture the Flag, Elimination, Deathmatch, and Team Deathmatch. Each of these modes requires players to complete certain objectives, and all of them but Control and Deathmatch divide the two teams into attack and defense.

Escort

Maps that use this mode:

  • Dorado
  • Havana
  • Junkertown
  • Rialto
  • Route 66
  • Watchpoint: Gibraltar

Escort maps task the attacking team with escorting a payload to various checkpoints. The payload only moves when at least one of the attackers is standing near it, and adding more people (up to three) will cause the payload to move faster. The defending team’s goal is to keep the payload from reaching the final checkpoint until time runs out. Each time the payload reaches a checkpoint, time is added to the clock. If even a single defender is standing near the payload, it will cease to move.

Assault

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Maps that use this mode:

  • Hanamura
  • Horizon Lunar Colony
  • Paris
  • Temple of Anubis
  • Volskaya Industries

Like Escort, Assault divides the teams into attack and defense, with the attacking team trying to capture specific points on the map. While an attacking player is standing on an objective, a progress bar will fill up until the point is captured. As long as at least one defender is on the point, however, the bar will not fill. The defenders’s task is to prevent the other team from capturing all the objectives until time runs out. When the attackers capture a point, more time is added to the clock.

On attack, characters who can push through enemy defenses or evade them entirely are useful and making sure the whole team moves at once is crucial. Defenders will want to close off chokepoints as best they can, using shields and turrets, among other things.

Hybrid

Maps that use this mode:

  • Blizzard World
  • Eichenwalde
  • Hollywood
  • King’s Row
  • Numbani

Hybrid maps combine Escort and Assault. These maps begin with attackers trying to secure an objective, as in Assault maps. Once they take the first point, a payload appears, and the attackers must guide it to checkpoints, as in Escort maps. Because of the sharp change from the first mode to the second, Hybrid maps, in particular, encourage players to switch characters and strategies.

Control

Maps that use this mode:

  • Buasan
  • Ilios
  • Lijiang Tower
  • Nepal
  • Oasis

The Control game type is essentially Overwatch’s version of king of the hill. Both teams start equidistant from an objective and must fight to take control of the objective. Taking the objective works similarly to Assault. If a member of your team is on the point, a progress bar will fill up until you capture it, unless an enemy is also on the point. Once a team has control of the point, a percentage meter will build up, with one team winning when they hit 100%. Control maps are split into three smaller maps, with one of these smaller maps being chosen for each round. Matches are decided by best of three (best of five in competitive play).

On control, speed and the ability to fight in groups are key. Characters who can quickly get to the point (or in the case of Lucio, get their whole team to the point) are important, as are characters like Winston and Roadhog, who can scatter teams.

Arcade games

Overwatch includes more than just the regular gameplay. There is an entire section of arcade games for you to explore as well. These games are shorter than normal but also give you a new way of viewing the characters and team builds. Although some of the maps may overlap with the main game, there are also quite a few maps that are strictly for the arcade.

Capture the Flag

PlayOverwatch.com

Maps that use this mode:

  • Ayutthaya
  • Ilios
  • Lijiang Tower
  • Nepal
  • Oasis

Capture the Flag in Overwatch works exactly the same as you would think. Each six-character team has its own flag to defend. While ensuring their flag isn’t stolen, the team also has to attempt to retrieve the flag of the opposing team. You want to be on the first team to grab their opponent team’s flag and bring it back to their home base. Additionally, there are particular moves that will get the opponents to drop your team’s flag, so keep that in mind as well! Each match is about five minutes long, which is perfect if you want a quick play before doing something else.

Elimination

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Maps that use this mode:

  • Black Forest
  • Castillo
  • Ecopoint: Antarctica
  • Necropolis

Instead of escorting a payload or claiming an objective, the point of Elimination is to literally destroy the enemy team. The game is played through until whichever team wins three rounds first. Once a team wins a round, the heroes you’ve used to win are removed from the pool. This makes it so one team can’t lock in the best team possible and steamroll opponents into the dust.

Deathmatch

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Maps that use this mode:

  • Chateau Guillard
  • Dorado
  • Eichenwalde
  • Hollywood
  • King’s Row
  • Petra

Deathmatch can be extremely frustrating, but it’s also the fastest way to get used to new characters without having to sit in training forever. The whole objective is to be the first player to get 20 kills (or points). There are no teams, so you’ll be playing alone with seven other players to get those sweet 20 points. It’s also worth noting that although some of the larger maps are available in this game style, there will be invisible barriers to keep the game contained into a smaller, manageable area.

Team Deathmatch

playoverwatch.com

Maps that use this mode:

  • Black Forest
  • Castillo
  • Chateau Guillard
  • Dorado
  • Ecopoint: Antarctica
  • Eichenwalde
  • Hollywood
  • King’s Row
  • Necropolis
  • Petra

Team Deathmatch works the same as Deathmatch, but you won’t be alone. Team Deathmatch involves two teams of four players working toward a kill score of 30 before the other team.

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