18 Essential Tips And Tricks For Playing Overwatch

by Goran Damnjanovic, Gaming Columnist

Published in Gaming on 24th April, 2019

Need some help playing Overwatch? We've got you covered with our extensive list of tips and tricks.

Overwatch still is one of the most popular multiplayer shooters around even though the game is soon to turn three years old.


Its magic formula for huge popularity over the years is engaging gameplay, constant tweaks and changes that shift the game's meta round and round, regular content drops that introduce new heroes as well as new maps, excellent roster of characters each with their own unique abilities and play styles, as well as the huge popularity of Overwatch in the world of E-sports.

Because of the plethora of reasons that make Overwatch an incredible game the game receives a constant influx of new players.

If you're one of them learning the game, its characters, and strategies might seem like an impossible task, especially because of the fact there are literally millions of players who honed their skills regularly for more than 1000 days. But it really isn't.

Since it is a global phenomenon there are literally thousands of sources online that can transform a newbie into a capable role player, but today we will focus on giving newcomers a source of helpful tips that should make them good enough to reach the stage where they really want to improve their game and become even better.

And once they reach that stage well, there are lots of sources out there that should make you even better. It only takes time and patience.

But, before that happens to read our guide and learn essential tips that should make you good enough to enjoy the game while at the same time pick some frags and play a major role in securing objectives.

Read on and find out 18 essential tips for playing Overwatch.

The full-on attack isn't the best course of action for newcomers

If you played multiplayer shooters before you probably think that, like so many other FPS games, Overwatch also embraces the "all-out attack" philosophy. But the truth is exactly the opposite.

This is a game about strategy and about securing objectives first and foremost.

Because of this all-out attack strategy simply doesn't work.

If you try playing that way well, expect lots of negativity from teammates and lots of laughs from opponents. Instead, try playing with hero types that aren't all about DPS, at least until you get the hang of the game and its mechanics.

Because, believe it or not, support characters are the best class for newcomers to choose. As we already said, this isn't a game of full-frontal attacks and playing with DPS characters will only get you killed. So, swallow your pride and try playing with support characters or tanks.

In the first case, you will help other players without dying every five seconds and in the second case, you will have a huge amount of HP, allowing you to be alive longer and to actually be on the front line without getting killed every other second.

Only after you learn about the game a bit and discover useful strategies for attacking and defending you can play with a DPS character. Because they are important but easy to die thus much more suitable for experienced players.

Try out every hero before finding your favorites

Overwatch is a hero shooter. This means each hero is unique and even if two heroes fall into same category their abilities, weapons, and play styles can differ in a huge way. This means that if one tank character doesn't suit you maybe some other will become your favorite. And that stays true for other classes.

overwatch hero

Different abilities, weapons, and ultimates are wildly different for each character so you won't know which are best for you until you try them all. Maybe you want your tank to be able to drop shields and not turrets.

Or perhaps the speed of a DPS character is more important to you than their damage output. You won't know until you try them all.

And yes, this might seem like a chore since there are so many characters to pick from but believe us, it is better to spend one weekend searching for that perfect sugarman than to play the game for years without realizing that you could be much better with some character you never played with.

Stick to your strengths

Of course, not all of us are suited for every single playstyle Overwatch offers. Some are great at wielding big guns and spraying the entire enemy team with cover fire. Others are great at landing super accurate sniper shots.

There are people who adore playing with fast-paced characters who can flank enemies and deal damage before being discovered. And some of us just want to help others and are great at it.

Stick to your strengths and don't try playing with characters that don't feel right to you. There's nothing wrong in being lousy when aiming, or being less than stellar in landing headshots one after another. Others are awful when it comes to placing turrets at most effective spots on the map, or deciding which teammate to heal next.

But, fortunately, most of us know their strengths and weaknesses so make sure to embrace them and to play with characters that are right in your alley. DPS, tank, support, defense, it doesn't matter. The only thing you should avoid is picking one hero and sticking to them no matter what. That is bad and will result in all kinds of disappointments.

But, make sure to learn at least a couple of characters from each class

Yes, you should definitely stick to your strengths. But that doesn't mean you should focus on one or a handful of similar heroes. If you're a regular gamer who like multiplayer shooters but isn't hardcore enough to spend five hours each day honing their skills and learning to play with everyu hero that's okay.

That also means that you can play with multiple classes with similar skill and success. So, pick a couple of favorite heroes and make sure they are from different classes and make that handful of characters your primary choices.

And since Overwatch is a team-based shooter that requires teams to have multiple classes in each match, try learning a couple of characters from each class, no matter how much you despise playing with particular classes.

overwatch characters

Because in case your teammates go nuts for DPS and support, you should pick a tank if you want to keep those attackers and healers alive.

And in case everyone wants to kill everyone else, someone will have to pick support hero in order to prevent the enemy team to decimate your teammates. It's all about flexibility and the game is filled with players who always pick the same heroes no matter what. Don't be that person; it's much better to help your team than to always run your own agenda because Overwatch isn't Call of Duty.

Quickplay is the perfect way to discover which heroes suit your play style

The journey of finding the best group of heroes to play with could turn into a disaster in case you embark on that journey in ranked mode. Instead of playing ranked (and being shouted at constantly because you play with new heroes) it's much better to simply go for Quickplay. Sure, the mode isn't as hardcore and is usually much less competitive but is great for learning new heroes.

Mistakes are forgiven, chat is much (much) less toxic and the general rule is that if you're good with a particular hero in Quickplay you will be solid with them in Ranked mode. Just be serious while playing Quickplay and really try to give your best with each new hero you play with.

If you're new to the game check out some YouTube videos and Twitch streams

Since Overwatch is one of the most popular multiplayer shooters in the world, it is expected for the game to have thousands of videos on YouTube. Everything from hero guides, to strategy guides, to map layouts can be found there.

Further, the game is fairly popular on Twitch, which could also be a solid source to learn the game and different heroes. Now, YouTube should be your primary source of knowledge, especially character and map guides. Watch those in case you want to try new heroes, new strategies, and if you want to see what real team play looks like.

Twitch, on the other hand, is better for players who already have a couple of dozens (or hundreds) of hours of Ranked play under their belts. Watch streamers in order to learn about advanced strategies and ways pros play the game.

You won't learn as much when compared to those numerous YouTube guides but you will be able to watch how some of the best Overwatch players play. And incrporating a couple of their tricks into your style could lead you to become even better with your favorite heroes.

Play with friends, if possible

Overwatch puts emphasis on team play. And it's not one of those games that say "you're" more efficient when playing as a team but you can be effective solo. No, in Overwatch going solo will only get you killed relatively quickly and will only hurt your team.

Sure, some heroes are to be played solo from time to time (when sniping or going on flanking runs) but even they are best when combined with teammates 90 percent of the time.

overwatch play with friends

And the best and most efficient way to learn how to play as a team is playing with friends. They won't scold you and launch a barrage of slurs every time you make a mistake, won't laugh at you if you're playing bad, and will give you constant advice on how to get better.

Play Overwatch with friends if possible, especially if you're a newbie once you start that long journey of trying every character available in the game, especially when discovering new heroes.

Sure, guides are great but what's even better, friends will give you advice regarding heroes you picked. That's the best way of learning how to play with new heroes, by far.

Remember, this is a game relying heavily on team play

CoD is all about solo skill. Battlefield pushes teamplay to the front but you can be pretty good at it without even following your squad. CS: GO is a game famous for moments when one player removes the entire enemy team in seconds.

Even Rainbow Six: Siege can feel pretty good when playing solo. But in Overwatch, playing solo will only get you killed and make your team fail at securing the objective.

So, if you're one of those gamers who simply cannot cooperate with other people or simply cannot defy the urge to rush into enemy team trying to do some heroic feat of killing them all, maybe it's better to skip this one because Overwatch is all about team play and cooperation.

There are no matches where the winner is the team with most kills, each match requires the entire team to cooperate and either complete objectives or try preventing the other team from completing them.

So, you can either feel right at home when playing Overwatch or you can learn to play cooperatively with other players. The third option, playing solo and being successful while at the same time winning games simply doesn't work here.

Stick to your teammates, most of the time

As you already noticed, lone wanderers won't have a good time in Overwatch. Since the game is based around completing objectives or trying to prevent the other team from completing the same objectives that means that the best way to win (or prevent the other team from winning) is sticking together.

Most characters' special abilities can be buffed and improved when combined with other heroes' abilities, and there are also weapon combos, healing combos, and other ways the game tells players to stick together and attack as a group, not as individuals.

overwatch teammates

So, stick to your teammates and try helping them as much as you can.

On the other hand, going solo at certain moments can be a smart way to turn the tide of the battle in your favor. For instance, snipers are great for knocking down enemies who just respawned, denying them and preventing them to help their team.

Others can flank the enemy team and mess them up allowing teammates to do critical actions that can help them win the match. These scenarios are rare but over time you should learn when to abandon your mates and wander on your own.

Just remember, the bulk of the game is based around objectives and that requires team play and cooperation.

Don't rush, just don't

This is pretty straightforward advice. Just don't rush alone. You'll get killed denying your team an extra member and allowing the enemy team to make the push.

You will be ridiculed by both teammates and enemies because rushing is probably the worst thing you can do in Overwatch.

And finally, always rushing means quick death that leads to less time playing the actual game and more time waiting to respawn while watching your team being shredded by enemies. So, do not rush, ever.

Overtime is a different beast though

Except in one particular case, during Overtime. This sudden death scenario is the only time when rushing at the enemy position could actually help your team.

overwatch overtime

Stealing a couple of seconds while the enemy team is trying to kill you can make them vulnerable to joint strike that can deny their objective.

Solo rush can contest a capture point long enough for your team to arrive and capture it, or help drive the payload just a little further.

Be ready to rush and die during Overtime because this is the only time when reckless heroes can snag their share of fame and when a play that would be considered as a madman move could lead to unexpected comeback and victory.

Overwatch isn't about chaining frags, it's about completing objectives

Overwatch is a team-based shooter where completing objectives is all that matters. Frags and multikills worth close to nothing except in rare cases when a heroic feat actually helped your team to secure a control point, or to move the payload to its destination.

Yes, you can chain frags with DPS heroes but even they are much more worthy when used in the right way, not just for killing other players. They can mess with enemies who decided to flank your position, are able to provide cover fire and to switch the focus of enemies away from vulnerable support heroes.

They are capable of protecting those support heroes while they do their magic, or can simply stay near the objective and deny enemies without killing them.

But most of the time every hero is there to help their team complete the current objective and killing other players is fine as long as it helps in completing the current objective.

If you go chasing for an enemy you leave your team without one player, which can be devastating in case enemies embark on a massive, Hail Mary attack in last seconds of a match that could completely turn the tide of the game.

Also, do not fall for traps in the form of flanking enemies or those who behave like they want for you to chase them.

In most cases, those are ruses and even if you kill the impostor chances are they did their part just by making you wander away from your pack. So, frags are in third place in Overwatch. Objectives are on the first and teamwork is a close second. Remember that.

Voice communication is extremely important in Overwatch

Since teamwork and cooperation are so important in Overwatch it is of no surprise that constant communication between teammates plays a major role in the game.

overwatch voice communication

And, to the disappointment of many of us who don't like talking to strangers, voice communication is a must in case you want to play Ranked mode.

Be ready to commit and turn on that microphone you kept off during Rocket League, CS: GO, Apex Legends, Battlefield, and other multiplayer titles that require communication and coordination.

Because here, the need to constantly talk with other team members is of the utmost importance.

Ultimates shouldn't be saved for the end of the match

Overwatch is hero shooter and that means each hero has access to unique abilities and weapons. And the most important and most powerful thing each hero has at their disposal is the ultimate ability that can change the course of any battle.

They aren't to be saved for the end of the match or kept for special occasions. Instead, use them freely and over time you will learn when to activate them for them to have the greatest impact.

For instance, many ultimates are designed to work best when combined with other heroes' ultimates so when you see a teammate or a couple of them are activating their ultimates maybe it's okay if you do that as well.

Also, when you're in trouble with ultimate being the solution for the current problem, use it without worry because, if not used you will get killed and that's worse than one wasted ultimate.

Just remember that hoarding them is bad, as it is using them as soon as they recharge. Balance using them and over time (as you learn that character and the general strategy during matches) you will discover the best moments to use ultimate abilities.

Movement is the key, as well as taking alternate routes and flanking

Overwatch doesn't rely on camping. Really, if you don't like campers this is the game to play. There are moments when a strategically placed sniper can wreak havoc at enemies, killing the whole team but even then it's better for them to move right after getting those kills because they will be killed soon after.

It's simple - maps are designed in a way to discourage camping and to give players many ways to quickly deal with players who like lying down and killing unaware enemies from afar. There aren't many clear lines of sight, the game relies on teamwork meaning that if one player is out camping their team will suffer greatly because of that, and maps are simply made in order to promote team play and not soloing, which is a common way of play for campers.

Two other strategies that are desired in Overwatch is flanking and taking alternate routes in order to surprise enemies. Flanking is a great way to provide distraction and lure enemies from the objective, or to steal a couple of seconds from the counter while the enemy team is trying to kill the impostor.

And taking alternate routes meaning that enemies have a higher chance of making a mistake with their prediction where your team will advance, also giving you an advantage in the battle, if just a short one.

Because here, any sort of advantage can have a huge impact later on. So remember, do not camp, try flanking and think about alternate routes of advance.

Use headphones because this game is filled with subtle but helpful audio cues

Most multiplayer games prefer headphones because they are unmatched when it comes to spatial audio and in many cases, those games use some sort of binaural audio setup in order to offer players means to defend themselves even when they don't know the exact location of enemies. And this also works in Overwatch.

The game even has different sounds of steps for each hero meaning that, if you are careful enough and if you played the game for long enough you can actually know which hero is coming your way.

overwatch headphones

This also works when you're surrounded by teammates because the game makes enemy sounds louder than of teammates in order to provide players with these subtle but extremely helpful audio cues.

And remember that every character shouts specific phrase before activating their ultimate ability. This is great because you can know that something bad is going to happen every time you hear someone shouting their lungs out.

So use headphones even in case you have a quality surround system installed because, while surround is better for spatial audio, headphones are better when it comes to subtle audio cues of someone approaching.

Don't be afraid to shoot at everything that moves

Unlike most other shooters in Overwatch players have an endless influx of ammo so don't be afraid to shoot at everything that moves.

That's the safest way of playing the game; just empty your clip as soon as you see movement on the screen. Just don't use abilities; they are reserved for when you're certain enemies are near.

Remember, no matter which character you play with every one of them is vulnerable to certain counters

And finally, every single hero in Overwatch has one or more hard counters meaning no one is undefeatable.

That's why it is important to master multiple heroes; sooner or later your favorite hero will be destroyed by hard counters and that's the time when you should swap them.

And if you play with just one or two heroes well, that means you will often be destroyed by counters. So, make sure to learn at least half a dozen heroes (more even, if you have the time) and also make sure to know to play with heroes from all classes.

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