So You're New To Overwatch? A Guide For Newbies (Pro-Tips)

written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)

So you heard about this little game Overwatch and found yourself wondering if you should pick it up or not (the answer is yes… read our review). But perhaps you aren’t as well versed in competitive multiplayer shooters, and a game like Overwatch can leave you feeling a bit cheated if it feels like you’re never improving. So! For the Overwatch newbie, I’ve crafted some tips for you to help you better acclimate yourself to the game… whether you are an experiences FPS player or new to the genre.

As a disclaimer, if you already play the game proficiently… you may not get much out of this article, but there may be one or two points that can apply to you.

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Remember… this is an objective based team shooter. The biggest headache I get when playing with random players via Quick Match is when other players are so obsessed with racking up kills or trying to earn the coveted “Play of the Game.” While applying pressure to the opposing team is important, you have to remember that each match has a specific objective for the team.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to yell “get on the point” while defending and one member of the opposing team somehow sneaks past to grab control of said point. While playing with randoms doesn’t create the best lines of communication (especially on console) being cognizant of your objectives can be the difference maker between victory or defeat. Push control of the point, stay by the payload, and for Mercy’s sake don’t push too far away from a point you have to defend.

On the notion of teamwork, unlike a Call of Duty, there aren’t many heroes who can 1v6 an entire team, sure a Reaper or D.Va with an ult can decimate an opposing team… if you are playing someone squishy like Mercy… you may want to hang back and wait for backup. Sure, running swiftly back into battle is important, but you also don’t want to create a “revolving door” of eliminations. Especially if practically the entire enemy team is just waiting for a single Mercy to peek her head around the corner.

Your KDR doesn’t freaking matter, it really doesn’t feel good to lose the match even if your KDR is high or your get play of the game. Teamwork is way more important than your individual performance.

Don’t be too stubborn to switch it up. Though Overwatch borrows some elements of popular MOBA games, unlike said MOBAs you are allowed to switch characters in the middle of battle. Is the opposing team’s Genji griefing the hell out of you? Switch to Winston! Is an enemy Bastion just digging his heels in with turret mode? Use Widowmaker and snipe that bird loving robot from a distance. Switching up your hero to adapt to the battle, but also if your Hanzo is just being shut down every spawn… you may want to change your hero. Even if you are trying to save an ult, you aren’t doing your team any favors getting sniped every time your boots hit the sand.

Speaking of ults, don’t be afraid to use them when you can. Ultimate Specials are built up during battle as well as when you inflict damage to an enemy hero. So while I can appreciate wanting to save a particularly powerful ult for the perfect opportunity, if you keep waiting you may find yourself never even using it come the end of a match.

Your ultimate powers up quicker than you expect; unless you are a Mercy or Zenyatta player, whose ults are incredibly situational, don’t be afraid to “Ryuu Ga Waga Teki" the shit out of the enemy team. Also, to reiterate the previous point, if a particular hero just isn’t working for you… being at 70% for your ult is a bad excuse for not switching.

Understand the difference between hit-scan weapons and projectiles. There are two types of standard weapons in the game, hit-scan weapons are your basic guns like Soldier 76’s pulse rifle or Widowmaker’s sniper rifle. Projectile weapons have visual rounds that require travel time, unlike guns. These are weapons like Hanzo’s arrows and Junkrat’s bombs. Aiming requires a bit more finesse than just lining up your sights and pulling a trigger. While some projectiles are more straight forward like Genji's shuriken, Hanzo and Junkrate (for example) have projectiles that arc rather than travel right into a target.

For beginner players, hit scan weapons are generally more accessible than projectile weapons. So at first, sticking with a hero like Soldier 76 or Widowmaker can be a better fit for the new Overwatch player. 

Team comps are everything when it comes to succeeding. Sure it’s annoying to deal with facing down six Torbjorns as they defend a point, but in most matches you’ll find that playing with people (especially with preformed teams) generally will come across as well balanced.

So this segment isn’t me trying to teach you about what team comps to use, rather I want to focus on diversifying your arsenal. It’s key to learn at least one hero for each role you intend to fill. Especially on a match composed of random players, you want to be able to switch your roles on the fly and fit the needs of the team… because remember, teamwork is everything in Overwatch

There are four main classes of heroes: offensive heroes specialize in being a jack of many trades type, defensive help keep an attacking force at bay, tanks are big brawlers that can decimate an opposing team’s squishy players, and support fills a wide range of roles that keep the team alive. Within these four main roles, there are two additional roles such as snipers (both of which are defense heroes) and builders (one is defense and the other is a support). My intention here is to share with you my suggestion of hero to use in each of the six main roles.

For offense, the best jack of all trades hero is Soldier 76. Though he may seem the most cookie-cutter of the bunch, he does carry with him a strong kit. Soldier 76 is armed with three main abilities; Helix Rockets shoot three rockets at your foe with a decent amount of spread damage, Biotic Field gives Soldier 76 the most utility among offense heroes and allows him to drop a healing field that replenishes lost health for anyone in it, and Sprint is pretty self explanatory… allowing you to spring back into action fairly quickly. His ultimate is also one of the easiest to use. Tactical Visor optimizes your aim and hits anything in your sight, excellent for when you flank an enemy team’s rear.

Defensive heroes focus on keeping an enemy at bay, Bastion has received a pretty bad reputation since the open beta… but this plucky robo still is one of the best defensive heroes to pick for new players. Bastion can Reconfigure between Recon and Sentry modes at the push of a button. In Recon mode, Bastion is fully mobile armed with a mid range machine gun… but his true power comes in his Sentry mode. Bastion transforms into an immobile turret capable of shredding anything that dare enter its reticle. His ult has the best of both worlds, transforming into a Tank armed with a long range cannon.

Builders focus on building turrets as a form of defense. Of the two currently part of the lineup, Torbjörn is the best fit for the newbie. Capable of building extremely strong turrets while still able to fight. To better supplement his utility, Torbjörn also also creates armor packs from scrap he finds on the battle field. His ultimate Molten Core increases his attack speed, armor, and upgrades his turrets massively for the duration of it.

Snipers defend points by picking off unsuspecting foes from a safe distance. Like builders there are currently only two at the moment. Widowmaker is the best sniper for newbies, and unlike Hanzo, her rifle is a hit-scan type weapon which makes lining up shots dramatically easier. her kit is optimized around verticality and battlefield awareness. Her grappling hook allows her to reach ledges and perches that would otherwise be impossible for other heroes. Venom Mine sets a proximity activated mine that releases a poison gas to any who dare come within range, keeping flanking points protected when sniping oncoming foes. Her ult, Infra-Sight, gives the entire team the ability to see enemy heat signatures through the walls.

Support heroes keep your party alive, my personal favorite for new players is Lúcio. I’m not much of a support player myself, but when the team comp calls for it… he’s my go-to guy to keep my team alive. A swift support that can easily grief slower moving heroes. He affects his team simply by being around them. His Crossfade ability allows him to speed up or heal his team, and Amp it Up further amps up the effect. Lúcio’s ult is versatile when trying to capture an objective. Sound Barrier protects his team by briefly providing those within range with personal shields. Super useful when making a push right? His very hands off approach to support make Lúcio ideal for those who want to support and still get a few pop-shots off to the enemy team. His Sonic Amplifier shoots either concentrated blasts of “sound” or can knock them back with a short range/wide area blast.

Tanks are big, slow, but have some serious firepower. My personal favorite tank for the Overwatch newbie is D.Va in all her glory! She basically has two health bars, her mech (aptly named Meka) acts as like an armor. When her armor drops, D.Va ejects from her mech and goes from tank to squishy gunner. Her abilities are all linked to her mech; her boosters rocket her straight towards the enemy allowing you to knock enemies back or escape from a firefight. Defense Matrix is basically a shield that blocks oncoming damage. Her Ultimate, Self-Destruct, can decimate an entire team but ejecting and setting Meka to blow. Quick tip: use Boost+Defense Matrix before activating your ult, Meka’s explosion can kill you if you aren’t at a safe distance.

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While this guide isn’t a comprehensive peek into Overwatch, hopefully for the newbie it will be useful for anyone who wants to get into this amazing game! Learn and have fun! Don’t let a team of six Torbjörns get you down.