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The idiot’s guide to not being garbage in Overwatch

Overwatch is a really, really good team-based shooter. It’s basically the new Team Fortress 2, since you have a bunch of classes with different roles and an absolute requirement that those roles work together so you don’t get completely destroyed by the opposing team. As we said before, Overwatch is not a MOBA, which means you won’t be instantly screamed at the moment you do something less than perfect in the game. That said, you should make an effort to play the game well. Go with whatever suits your play style, but try to help your team win, because that’s the entire purpose of the game.

Here are some tips on how to do that. You don’t even have to be good at shooters; if you make an effort and follow these tips, you can at least  be somewhat helpful.

Overwatch’s hero select screen has a really helpful feature: team analysis. Depending on whether you’re on offense or defense, notes will appear based on your team’s composition. Listen to those recommendations. Not enough offense? Take an offensive role. No builders? Take a builder. No snipers? Just kidding, that never happens, and your team never needs two Widowmakers, so stop.

You don’t need more than one offense and one tank heading for the point or pushing the payload in the most direct way. If you have any other damage dealers or sponges, take the long way around to flank the enemy team. Not only can you catch defenders off-guard, but you’ll ensure your whole team won’t wipe when one McCree pops his ultimate. Tracer, Genji, and Reaper are the best flankers because of their speed and maneuverability.

Every offensive role has an extremely useful power with a short to medium cooldown. If you’re playing the game properly, that power is almost always cooling down, because you’re constantly using it — when the enemy is in range, of course. Don’t blow your powers when you’re just running out of the spawn.

As soon as you hit the enemy, McCree should always be throwing his stun grenade. Phara should always be soaring and shooting from above. Genji should always be blocking shots or sword-dashing. Tracer should always be phasing. Reaper should always be (slower) phasing. If you’re not using your power whenever it’s available to either disable the enemy or make yourself harder to hit, you’re playing offense wrong.

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The Play of the Game is going to some lucky player who hits Q at the right time, or some turret that’s not paying attention. Maybe it’s McCree with everyone on-screen. Maybe it’s Phara or Junkrat when the enemy team is clustered together. Maybe Torbjörn’s player is getting a sandwich. You’re not going to set up Play of the Game, so don’t try. Just play and let the ultimates land where they may.

Get a height advantage whenever possible. This doesn’t just mean finding stairs and jumpable platforms. This means remembering to use all of your movement abilities. Hanzo can climb by scrambling up cliffs that are a bit too high for other heroes. Genji can double-jump (and sword-dash at the peak of his double jump). Lucio can do some ridiculous tricks with wall-running. Most importantly, Widowmaker’s grappling hook should always be used at lease once when you spawn before you even consider sniping.

Mercy is like the Medic from TF2, only worse. Not only can she heal, which makes tanks unstoppable, but she can boost damage on whoever she’s following. If that isn’t enough, her ultimate is an area-of-effect rez that brings every enemy waiting to respawn back to the position where you killed them, with full life. She destroys pushes with ease. If you see that glowing lifeline coming from a tank or hear a woman talking in German, keep your eyes out for wings and shoot anything that looks remotely like a valkyrie.

Players have been complaining about Bastion’s turret mode since the open beta. That’s because those players are bad at Overwatch. There are two easy ways to get rid of Bastion: Genji or Junkrat. Genji’s shot-reflecting power will get any Bastion firing to kill itself, and Junkrat’s bouncing grenades and sticky bomb let you splash Bastion without getting in his line of sight. And Reaper can just phase and either get behind Bastion, or make Bastion turn around long enough for everyone else to kill him.


The two builders, Torbjörn and Symmetra, make turrets in wildly different ways. Torbjörn has a single powerful turret he can drop and an ultimate that can overcharge it. Symmetra has small, weak beam turrets she can place in multiple locations at once. The obvious tip for both of them is turret placement: Don’t put your turret in direct line-of-sight of the enemy team’s main path. Put them just behind corners and doorways to keep them protected until the enemy is in range.

Now, Torbjörn’s turret can be upgraded. It’s simple and obvious, but in case you didn’t already know, you can upgrade his turret as if you were a TF2 Engineer. Switch to your hammer and hit the turret until the 1 next to its icon in your HUD becomes a 2. You can’t build his turret up to level 3; that’s reserved for his ultimate. Speaking of which, don’t bother using Molten Core if your turret is just level 1. It’s a one-step upgrade, and therefore useless (it just makes the turret temporarily level 2, which you can do in a few seconds anyway).

Symmetra’s individual turrets can be killed in one shot from most weapons and do little damage. But you can set a lot of them. You’ll only be able to set three when you spawn, but as the cooldown cycles you can eventually set a total of seven. Hide those seven in a cluster around a doorway or behind an object where the enemy team will go around, and you can wreck even tanks with them.

Mercy’s shift key power is one of the most powerful personal defensive powers ever. If a teammate is in sight and in range (and it’s a long range), pressing shift sends you flying right to them. This lets you get close to teammates who need healing, but it also lets you run away when the tank you’re healing dies anyway. It has a nearly instant cooldown, so get ready to use your power whenever things get too hot.

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