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A Guide to Offense

Michael Bitton Posted:
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Overwatch is set to launch in just a couple of weeks, so we thought it might be a good idea to get you all prepared for the game’s chaotic battles by putting together a rundown of all the game’s heroes, broken down by archetype. In our first of four guides, we’ll be looking at the game’s offense characters.

TRACER: In the right hands, Tracer can be the most frustrating offense character in the game to play against. She excels at hit-and-run tactics, darting in and out of combat, nailing her opponents with short bursts of heavy damage from her dual pistols. She can use her Blink ability to dash in any direction and can store up to a maximum of three charges of Blink at any given time. If Tracer finds herself in a bind or wants to confuse the absolute heck out of her opponents, she can use Recall to wind back time and go back to whatever position she was at only moments ago. This also restores Tracer’s health and ammo to whatever it was at when she was originally at the recalled position.

If you thought Tracer sounded annoying enough, it gets worse (or better, depending on your POV). Tracer’s ultimate, Pulse Bomb, can be affixed to any surface or even to an enemy player, and the fuse on the bomb is incredibly short, so you’ve only got a short window to duck away or you’re toast. With how quickly Tracer can be in and out of combat, you can have a bomb strapped to your back and die before you even see her coming.

Keep in mind that while Tracer is incredibly mobile and capable of dishing out high damage, she’s also super squishy. Tracer players will live or die primarily on their ability to be tricky and hard to nail down in combat.  Both Blink and Recall need to be employed in creative ways to keep opponents confused.

MCCREE: This BAMF gunslinger is great in one-on-one fights at close-to-medium range. His single-fire shot allows him to pick off targets a bit farther out, but it’s his ability to fan the hammer on his revolver in close range that makes him incredibly lethal. Combining his Flashbang (stun) and Fan the Hammer allows him to instantly take out a number of targets. McCree excels at catching out some of the more nimble and hard to lock down characters, such as Genji and Tracer. He’s also a great counter to Mei who has to get into close range to be most effective. McCree is the killjoy you want around you when an excited Reaper, Genji, or Tracer think they’ve found a great flank on your team. One Flash and Fan combo later and the situation’s defused. If you do hit a higher health target with the combo and it doesn’t take them out, you can use your Combat Roll to instantly reload your gun and hammer out another salvo at your target.

Using McCree’s ultimate, Deadeye, requires some decent foresight. Triggering Deadeye slows McCree down to a crawl, but allows him to lock onto all targets in sight. You can immediately fire off a bullet at all targets at any point during the channel, but you’ll deal more damage the longer you wait. If you allow Deadeye to fully lock onto your target(s), it will instantly kill them once executed. You can right click to cancel Deadeye at any time during the channel to get some of your charge back, so it’s actually possible to feign it as a threat and get enemies to scatter out of a location, though it’s probably best to just save Deadeye until you’ve got a great opportunity to take out a number of targets.

GENJI: One of several flanking focused heroes in Overwatch, Genji is a cybernetic ninja with the ability to scale up walls and double jump.  Genji doesn’t have a whole lot of escapes once he’s actually committed to combat, so it’s important to pick your fights wisely. He does a great job of being disruptive by harassing his enemies at range with his shurikens and scrambling away to come around for another run at a different angle.

Despite being a ninja, Genji is primarily a ranged character, but he has the potential for some huge moments once his ultimate meter is full. Executing his ultimate will allow him the use of his katana and go on a massive killing spree if timed correctly. Swift Strike, Genji’s dash move, poisons enemies it hits and resets on every kill. Combined with Genji’s ultimate, Dragonblade, you can chain some crazy kills and ace the enemy team.

Given what we discussed above, it should come as no surprise that Genji is a high skill cap character. This character is for those of you who are extremely confident in your twitch skills and your ability to think a couple of steps ahead in often very chaotic situations. What really sets a good Genji apart from a great one, however, is proper use of Deflect. Genji can activate Deflect to, well, deflect most attacks (channeled attacks are excluded) away from himself. The projectiles will go to wherever your cursor is aiming at, which means you can reflect attacks back at your attacker, or even use your enemy’s attacks to kill one of his allies. You can even deflect some ultimates if you’re quick enough. Try reflecting McCree’s Deadeye back at him for some laughs.

PHARAH: Pharah is sort of like your Team Fortress 2 soldier – only equipped with a jetpack. Her Concussive Blast will knock enemies away and do massive damage to shields. And her ultimate, Barrage, can take out an entire enemy team if used at the right time.  Pharah rules the skies on open air maps and can easily take out snipers perched in hard to reach places.  Barrage, while incredibly potent, does leave Pharah vulnerable as she is must remain stationary while firing it.

Enemy Widowmakers and Roadhogs can easily take Pharah out mid ultimate, so it’s best to look for opportunities set up by teammates. Wait for the enemy to be distracted in a close range fight or for teammates to use CC-focused ultimates to ensure your targets remain in position and aren’t a threat while you fire your Barrage off.

Also, just because Pharah can fly it doesn’t mean she should always be flying around. The trade-off for being able to have a shot on everyone below is that they also have a shot on her. Sometimes it’s better to use her flight to find a hard to get to perch and fire rockets off while planted on the ground like most of us mere mortals.

SOLDIER: 76: 76 is probably one of the most straightforward characters in the game. He’s great for players who are new to the game or who just want to keep things simple and dish out a ton of damage with a gun.  This guy has the full package to be self-sufficient.  76 can sprint, heal himself and his allies with Biotic Field, and can even fire rockets from his assault rifle for some quick burst damage. His bullets are also hitscan, which means they hit where you aim without any travel time. Great for taking out Pharah players floating about in short order.

You’re mostly going to be running around with your team laying down fire from range. 76 isn’t as potent in close quarters as some of the other offense characters we’ve talked about so far, so it’s best to hunker down with your Biotic Field and lay down the pain from afar.  Tactical Visor, 76’s ultimate, basically gives him a quasi-aimbot. You’ll still need to sort of aim in the general vicinity of your target, but it will pretty much guarantee you hit whatever you’re aiming at. There isn’t a whole lot to talk about when it comes to 76, but don’t mistake him as simply a character to use just to get acclimated with the game, he’s a solid offense pick on any team and at any skill level.

REAPER: Another flanking offense character, Reaper is incredibly powerful at short ranges, but he must fully commit to most engagements. For Reaper players, timing is even more important than it is for, say Genji. Genji may not have the best in-combat mobility, but he can still double jump and scale up a wall if he things get too hairy.

Basically, you’re an opportunist as a Reaper player. While Wraith Form allows Reaper to become intangible and move quickly, it’s also his only reliable form of escape. If Wraith Form is down, you’re looking for guaranteed opportunities to kill targets, but if it’s up you, can press your luck a bit and make some more aggressive plays. Ideally, you want to pick off as many targets as you can while charging up your ultimate so you can set up for a devastating team crushing Death Blossom.

To set up your attacks, you’re going to make heavy use of Shadow Step, Reaper’s teleport ability. Yes, Reaper has a teleport. The catch is he’s got to channel it for a moment before he can appear at his targeted destination, making it pretty useless as an in combat escape tool. However, it’s excellent at allowing you to find great flanking routes to your enemy, so be sure to lean on it often to set up your kills.

Death Blossom, Reaper’s ultimate, is an extremely damaging channeled AoE in close range. Think of Katarina’s Death Lotus from League of Legends. The best time to use Death Blossom is when you can surprise a grouped enemy team, particularly if you know that their crowd control abilities are on cooldown. It’s best for cleaning up a chaotic team fight and securing the win for your team after a lot of the crazy stuff has already been unleashed, but it can also be used to rack up a bunch of kills if you catch your opponents off-guard.  Just be mindful of crowd control heavy characters, such as McCree, Mei, and Roadhog.

Which offense character are you looking forward to playing most at launch? Share your thoughts (and tips!) with us in the comments below!


Michael Bitton

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB