Overwatch guide: 9 tricks and tips you need to know
Ready to earn that Play of the Game? Once you’ve mastered the basics of Overwatch (such as “work as a team” and “you can’t all be Genji”) it’s time to step it up with some advanced tips, tricks and tactics that will soon have you feeding your opponents their own faces. Sautéed, with a nice cream sauce.
If you’re reading this, we assume you don’t need to be told to balance your team composition, play your role and work towards each mode’s objectives. If you’re only just starting, check out our beginner’s guide to Overwatch.
Use the kill feed
It doesn’t mean too much in casual play, but if you’re wanting to play seriously, it’s essential to know what’s happening out of your sight – especially if your teammates aren’t using their mics to let you know.
Knowing that a tank or support character is down makes all the difference to the timing of a rush, and seeing a flanker wink out of the picture means you’re safe to break out of formation – at least for a little while. Don’t under-estimate this handy tool. Make sure it’s switched on, and keep flicking your eyes over it.
Switch on friendly health bars
Why do you need to know how much health your teammates have if you’re not a healer? Uhh, I don’t know, maybe so you can identify threats before you’re getting shot. Overwatch really favours communication and teamwork, but if you’re matching with strangers who don’t feel like chatting, situational awareness is your very best friend.
Seeing a health bar take a dip could mean a split second warning on an upcoming attack, and that in turn can make all the difference. You could save your buddies life – and your own – and put an enemy out of action.
Adjust settings for individual characters
All the characters in Overwatch play differently, and sometimes what works for one doesn’t work for another. Maybe you want the jump button somewhere more easily accessible while aiming for a highly mobile character. Maybe you want an ability in a different slot, because it just makes more sense.
The good news is, you can adjust most control and gameplay settings universally or for individual heroes, on both PC and console. Just look for the drop down menu in the upper right corner of the settings screen; it’s highlighted by default when you first enter this tab on consoles. Click to browse the full roster. Handy, yeah?
Try auto climb walls
Keen on mobility? By toggling this option the Genji, Hanzo and Junkrat fans among you will have access to an alternate control method for traversal across walls. Forget holding in the jump key; free up that finger for something else once you’re on the wall, and tap it again to exit when you’re ready.
Opinions will always be divided on whether toggle or hold is better for this kind of move, and it’s really worthwhile practicing with both before you make up your mind, as it can be tricky to nail your wall jumps.
Customise your reticles
Don’t like the default aiming graphic? Good news: there’s a wide variety of options to choose from if you dig into the menus.
While being able to customise the reticle to your liking is always nice, Overwatch is especially generous in that it allows you pick a custom graphic for every single character. For characters with really precise projectiles you’ll want something small and sharp, where something larger will give you a better idea of where exactly more spread attacks will land.
Or, you know: just the one that makes you feel coolest.
Abilities: hold or toggle?
There are several characters with twin abilities you’ll want to switch between on the fly – Mercy and Lucio are the most obvious examples. By rummaging around in the settings menu, you can choose between the default toggle system, or a hold-to-fire-alternate mode.
What this means is that you can be merrily firing away with your ability and then switch seamlessly over to the alternate-fire mode simply by pressing in another key simultaneously. Let go again to return to normal. This is an especially smooth way to play Mercy, buffing your chosen partner until they start to take a hit or two.
Fiddle with your scope settings
If you’re a Widowmaker fan, you’ll want to dig into this one: up your sniping game by customising your scoping experience.
Adjusting zoom sensitivity can make a huge difference depending on whether you like more precise control or the flexibility to rapidly switch between extremes of depth of field. You can also switch between a toggle or hold for zoom.
Pick off lightweight foes first
Shoot anybody who gets in your crosshairs, of course, but if you run around a corner smack bang into a tank and second class of character, you’re very unlikely to get the tank down unless you have an ultimate ready or someone else has already had a go. It’s better never to let this happen, but if you must go for the kill in this uncomfortable situation, shoot the weakest character first so that you at least knock someone down.
Pick your targets. The tank is there specifically to soak up damage and protect the others; if you can safely ignore it for a moment, taking down the harder-hitting assault characters or nearby support will make dropping the tank much easier and possibly leave you with dominance of the map.
This PSA brought to you by the three twits offed by Mercy in between bursts of her healing ray while they attempted to smash Roadhog. That’s just embarrassing.
Learn every character
Okay, yes, you’ll eventually want to have just a couple of heroes and practice with them until you’re really good – but you really need to know what every hero is capable of to succeed, and that means playing as everyone a few times until you can recognise their ultimate triggers and other audio and visual cues.
Next-level play anticipates the opposing team’s movements. Which paths will they use? What abilities are they likely to fling at you? Are they likely to have a nasty ultimate cued up at this stage in the match? You can’t make these kinds of judgment calls without a solid knowledge of each hero. Put the time in. Study up.