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A beginner’s guide to mastering the many classes of ‘Overwatch’

Blizzard’s new class-based shooter, Overwatch, has been a runaway hit, pulling in more than 7 million players and spawning its own subculture, complete with cosplay and even, bizarrely enough, a thriving erotica scene. What makes Overwatch so compelling? As expected from Blizzard, it’s a very well-made shooter, and the 21 unique characters give every type of player something to do, whether they like to rush headlong into enemies, snipe them from afar, or keep allies alive. Moreover, it’s surprisingly accessible, with mechanics that are easy to grasp but difficult to master, as the old saying goes.

Related: How to conquer the world of Blizzard’s Overwatch, even on a wimpy gaming PC

Although Overwatch is relatively simple compared to other popular team-based games like Dota, newcomers may still find there is a lot to take in. For those who want to jump in but would prefer not to sink before they swim, here is our introductory guide, with explanation for the various classes and characters and tips for improving your game.

Characters in this category excel at taking objectives, weaving through enemy defenses, and picking off opponents. Offensive characters tend to have movement abilities, allowing them to get to their targets quickly, and will usually be the primary damage-dealers on the team. However, these characters also have low health; players will need to maneuver properly, flanking enemies and avoiding fire, or they will quickly end up dead.


Quick to move and quick to kill, Genji is a nimble character suited for flanking and quickly taking out high-priority targets. Genji can double-jump, as well as run up walls, allowing players to navigate levels with ease. His ultimate, Dragonblade, replaces his shurikens with a sword that deals massive damage at close range. Although he has low health, Genji’s speed and ability to deflect incoming projectiles means that skilled players can dance through enemy teams without fear of dying.


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McCree is a sharpshooter who is great at quickly killing enemies from close or mid range. His flashbang lets him stun an opponent, after which he can quickly drop their health by emptying his revolver into them. McCree’s gun is very accurate, rewarding skilled shooters. He is a character best suited for quickly eliminating low-health targets.


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Armed with a jetpack and a rocket launcher, Pharah can rain havoc on opponents, hitting them from places they didn’t expect. Although she can kill most characters quickly, Pharah herself is quite vulnerable, particularly when flying. Her slow jets make her an easy target for snipers.


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As expected of a guy wielding two shotguns, Reaper is a lethal close range character. He has multiple ways to close in on opponents, such as teleporting, and is great for sneaking up on unwitting opponents. Reaper’s high damage at close range makes him good for taking out enemy tanks, especially if he can get behind them.

Soldier: 76

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A good pick for new players, Soldier: 76 is a well-rounded offensive hero, with a nice bag of tricks that includes a healing field and the ability to sprint. His assault rifle and ability to lock-on to enemies enables him to deal with threats easily. His versatility also means that he can fit into most lineups, but as a jack 0f all trades — pardon the cliche – -he really is a master of none.


tracer image overwatch

One of the most agile characters in the game, Tracer’s ability to move through space and time makes her incredibly difficult to pin down. She can blink (a short range teleport) up to three times in quick succession, and she can also jump backwards in time, returning to wherever she was a few seconds ago and restoring her health and ammo to whatever they were at the time. She is great at harassing opponents and distracting them long enough for teammates to do work, and players who time her abilities well can stay alive through all sorts of firefights.

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