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Overwatch Beginner’s Guide

The launch of the e-sports OWL (Overwatch League) combined with Blizzard’s periodic free to play weekends means that Overwatch has a relatively consistent influx of new players. While there’s no dearth of information about the game, I wanted to provide a simple resource for players who are brand new to jump in more readily without being overwhelmed.

Overwatch is a teamwork oriented 6v6 First-Person Shooter. The gameplay is primarily objective based. You and your teammates will work together to escort payloads, capture points, and try to control king of the hill maps, all the while blasting away at the opposing team.

Here are some things that are great to know ahead of time:

StartEasy

Start with an easy character

Overwatch has an extensive character list. There are currently 26 heroes with more in development at any given moment. The heroes are broken down into four categories: Attack,  Defense, Tank, Support. While some unorthodox compositions occassionally work, a typical party will need at least one tank and one support. I recommend getting familiar with a few heroes from the category of your choosing, or at least one of each type. Which heroes should you try before you get your sea legs?

For attack, go with Soldier 76. He plays like your typical FPS. His kit is versatile enough that he is viable in almost any situation, his damage output is good, and he can heal himself, which means that if you’re stuck in a comp where no one wants to play healer you still have some survivability. He’s an easy character to pick up and even better once you’ve mastered his kit.

For defense, I recommend Junkrat. Junkrat is the explosives expert of the game. He drops steel traps to ensnare the enemy, lobs grenades at an annoying rate which can be debilatating to an enemy push, and uses mines to both propel himself around the battlefield and cause devastating damage. As long as you don’t have potato aim, you can be useful to your team with Junkrat right out the gate. And even if you do have potato aim, just spam the grenades and you’ll probably land some eliminations.

For tank, I’d say Orisa. Orisa has a bit more shield uptime than Reinhardt and while her barrier is up, she still has a gatling gun-style arm which she can use for suppresive fire or steady damage. Her fortify ability will get her out of trouble (like Junkrat’s traps or Zarya’s graviton surge) and her halt ability is great for crowd control. Just remember that you are there to provide protection to your team so keep those barriers up and find good choke points.

For healer, definitely Mercy. Mercy is a dedicated healer and easy to pick up. Her staff gives her consistent healing output and doubles as a damage buff for teammates when the situation is right. She has high mobility and health regen when not taking damage. Her ultimate is facing a lot of nerfs on the PTR at the moment, but as far as easy to learn heroes, Mercy is at the top of the list.

Otherwise, avoid Genji, Hanzo, and Widowmaker at first. These are high skill cap characters that tend to tilt your teammates if you don’t know what you’re doing. And it’ll take you awhile to figure out what you’re doing.

Communication

Communication is key

While there is a communication wheel which can vocalize a few things to your team (Thanks, Understood, I need healing, etc.) having a mic will improve your gameplay experience exponentially. Being harassed by a Tracer on the backline? Say so over team chat. Expecting that Reaper to drop down and use his ultimate? Let your party know. Have a great idea for the next push? Tell the team.

Bottom line is: communication wins games. Don’t be afraid to speak up in team chat. It goes a long way, especially if you’re friendly.

AuditoryInfo

The game is full of auditory information

With so much going on at any given point in a game of Overwatch it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Consistent play will eventually get you accustomed to all of the things the game is trying to tell you. The first thing you should know is that characters announce when they’re using their ultimate abilities and knowing the difference between a friendly Pharah “Rocket Barrage, incoming!” and an enemy Pharah manicially shouting “Justice rains from above!” is the difference between life and death. For many heroes, the distinction is clear because the enemy will always announce their ults in their native language but for heroes who’s primary language is English, this means there is just a different voice line. You’ll learn them all over time, but it wouldn’t hurt to look up which voice lines mean what.

Apart from that, the game does a great job of using sound as a way to locate what’s going on. The development team did a great job of making things sound as though they’re in a particular direction because when you turn away from something you can hear but not see, it gets quieter. Keep your ears alert and keep yourself alive.

GetonthePoint

Get on point

Unless you’re playing a character who’s far more useful away from the objective (like Widowmaker, and seriously don’t start with trying to play Widowmaker,) you need to fight on the objective. This is true most of the time. The exceptions being if you’re making a concentrated push towards the objective with your team, or if being on the objective will put you in an unwinnable situation. There’s a reason the game awards medals for objective time. Being on point when you need to be wins games.

DontCompetitive

Don’t jump straight into competive mode just because you hit level 25

The game, thankfully, prevents very new players from entering into competitive mode until they are level 25. It might be tempting to go into this as soon as you can, but refrain from that urge and play even more quick play. I’d give it at least another 5 levels just so your situational awareness and skill levels are improved. If it’s not your first account, by all means, dive right in as soon as possible, but otherwise just cool your jets and make sure you’ve mastered at least one character.

I hope all of this proves useful for anyone looking to play one of my all time favorite games, or as a good refresher for those that already do. Look for more Overwatch updates in the coming weeks as I will be posting tips, tricks, advice, and in general all things Overwatch for the foreseeable future. #OverWednesday. Justin out.

Justin Rhodes
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