Overwatch is set to launch in just a couple of days, 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 third of four guides, we’ll be looking at the game’s support characters.
Symmetra is a character I’d consider more defensive than support, but she does provide a number of useful utilities to her team. Before we get into that though, let’s go over her damage options. Symmetra’s weapon, the Photon Projector, is primarily a short ranged homing beam that will deal increasing levels of damage the longer it is locked onto an opponent (up to a cap). If you hold down her alt fire you can charge up slow moving energy balls that can be used to deal pressure at longer ranges. Photon Projector’s primary fire is pretty risky to use. The damage is great if you have time to let it charge up on a target, but considering how close you need to be to your target it’s probably best to stick to firing orbs at a distance unless you’re in a pinch. Also keep in mind that Symmetra’s weapon penetrates shields (both primary and alt fire).
Symmetra can also place up to six sentry turrets just about anywhere on the map. Symmetra’s sentries are a versatile tool that can be used to defend key areas (such as your Teleporter), guard against flanks, or even as a scouting information tool since the game notifies you when one of your turrets is attacking someone. Sentries also slow enemies in addition to damaging them, so they provide some debuff utility as well. Proper use of Symmetra’s sentries relies heavily on map knowledge, however. Generally speaking though, you’ll want to place them in the right area at the right point of each match and you want to make sure they’re tucked out of place and spread apart so they don’t get taken out easily.
Symmetra’s main form of support is through her use of Photon Shield. This ability allows you to place a 25HP shield on each member of your team. This may not sound like much, but many heroes don’t have a whole lot of HP in Overwatch, so a 25HP shield can often be the difference between life and death. Shield duration is infinite (unless the target dies), so be sure to keep your allies shielded throughout the match.
Finally, Symmetra’s most significant contribution to any team is through her Teleporter ultimate ability. Symmetra can place her teleporter down anywhere on the map and allies can then use it as a shortcut to the frontlines when they respawn. Keep in mind that your teleporter only has six charges, so you’ll want to try to generate ultimate charge as much as you can throughout the match so that you can keep your teleporter up as often as possible. Teleporters are a powerful tool that any team will appreciate and every enemy team will seek to destroy, so be sure to place your teleporter in a defensible area that your sentries can guard well.
Lucio is the reason no team should ever be without a support in Overwatch. Lucio’s combination of passive support abilities and decent damage potential make him an appealing pick to both support and offense minded players.
Lucio’s passive is one of the most unique abilities in the game. Wall Ride allows Lucio to skate along walls and some of the best Lucio players out there have put in significant effort to master this ability. If you’re a Lucio fan, you’ll want to consider practicing this as it can, at the very least, save you in certain situations. Lucio is one of the few characters in the game where knocking him off a ledge won’t necessarily take him out. If there’s a wall nearby, there’s a chance he may just figure out a way to skate his way back up.
As far as Lucio’s damage goes, you’ll want to use his Sonic Amplifier to spam out sonic projectiles pretty much all the time. Since Lucio heals passively, you can just continue to pump out shots to put pressure on enemies as you keep your allies healed up. Sonic Amplifier’s alt fire is a simple knockback, but it can be used to devastating effect by knocking an enemy (or enemies) off of a ledge to their death(s).
Lucio’s primary means of supporting his team is through his ability Crossfade. Lucio’s always playing some tunes that will either heal allies near him or speed them up. Using Crossfade allows Lucio to switch between the different songs depending on whatever is needed at the time. For example, on capture point maps it’s a great idea to lead the charge out of spawn with Lucio’s speed boost. Establishing a foothold on the point before it opens up for capture can be critical in deciding who ends up capturing it.
Tying into Crossfade is Lucio’s Amp It Up ability. When activated this boosts the effects of the song currently playing. Great for boosting your speed song out of spawn to rush the point or pumping out some extra healing in a dicey situation.
Finally, you have Lucio’s ultimate, Sound Barrier. This area of effect ultimate will grant all allies within its radius a massive (but quickly degrading) shield. Used at the right moment, this ultimate can save your allies from fatal damage (think pre-empting a devastating ult) or simply help turn the odds in your favor in a nasty teamfight.
Mercy is your straightforward healer, very similar to Team Fortress 2’s Medic, but with some significant quality of life improvements.
Mercy comes equipped with a blaster she can use to defend herself, but if you’re supporting an ally who is working on killing a target, it’s best to just keep them healed or buffed and let them do the damage over switching to your pistol since it’s pretty terrible.
As far as supporting goes, Mercy can target an ally with her staff and switch between healing and damaging modes. All you need to do is keep your staff locked onto your target by either holding down the button or enabling the toggle in Mercy’s specific character options and you’re in business. Some great dedicated targets for Mercy’s staff are Bastion, Pharah, and Soldier: 76. A damage buffed Bastion or Soldier: 76 can lay down a disgusting amount of shredding sustained fire. And Pharah is incredibly easy to follow around due to her Guardian Angel ability (more on that later) and Angelic Descent (slow fall) passive. Generally, try to hang back as much as possible when healing allies. Getting caught in a massive spike of AoE damage that wipes your team makes it kind of hard for you to resurrect them!
Guardian Angel allows Mercy to quickly fly to her target, so you’ll be spending quite a bit of your time darting around the battlefield helping out your allies. Proper use of Guardian Angel to support your allies is another area that sets good Mercy’s apart from great ones. But it’s also important to learn to use Guardian Angel to juke those who aim to kill you. As we noted earlier, Mercy doesn’t deal a whole lot of damage, but your enemies will hunt you with extreme prejudice due to your potent supportive options, so learning to watch out for allies to use as escape opportunities is almost as important as keeping an eye on them to help them out. I highly recommend turning off the Guardian Angel prefer mode in Mercy's options.
Like Lucio, Mercy can make clutch plays using her ultimate that can completely turn the tide of battle. Mercy’s ultimate, Resurrect, allows her to revive all allies within its limited radius. While Mercy’s ultimate isn’t too slow to charge, I will often wait until I can revive at least two players before deciding to use my ultimate. Exceptions can obviously be made here if you think the revive could secure a win for the team or prevent a loss.
The trick to playing a great Mercy is spatial awareness and judicious use of her ultimate. You need to prioritize who you are healing (or buffing) and when and make proper use of her ability Guardian Angel to quickly respond to situations.
Zenyatta is a hybrid support and attacker. He can place an Orb of Harmony on ally to provide continuous healing as long as the orb remains attached. Zenyatta can also toss out an Orb of Discord onto an enemy which increases their damage taken significantly while it’s on them. Both types of orbs will drop off their targets if you lose sight of them for a couple of seconds or if the target dies.
Personally, I recommend Genji as an Orb of Harmony target if you can keep him in line of sight. The constant healing from Orb of Harmony is incredibly potent on a character like Genji. For Orb of Discord, tanks are great targets as the orb essentially nullifies their primary strength in their capability to soak up damage for the team.
Other than that, Zenyatta spends most of his time attacking. His primary fire actually deals significant damage (especially if you’ve got an Orb of Discord on your target) and his alt fire allows you to charge up multiple orbs for one massive packet of damage, but it can be tricky to land. Another issue Zenyatta has is his low health pool. Zenyatta is easily the squishiest character in the game, so while he can deal significant damage, he’s very easy to take out.
Zenyatta’s ultimate, Transcendence, is a massive AoE heal-over-time. Zenyatta is invulnerable while using his ultimate and he can also use Transcendence to block a number of enemy ultimates by getting between the enemy and his teammates.
Which support are you looking to play at launch? Share your thoughts (and tips!) with us in the comments below!