11 ‘Overwatch’ Tips to Counter Common and Annoying Strategies

A high-quality screenshot of Tracer from Overwatch

Overwatch screenshot on NVIDIA GTX 960 | Mark Knapp/Entertainment Cheat Sheet

Blizzard’s Overwatch has proven to be a pretty fun game, with a lot that can get gamers hooked. There could stand to be more maps and game modes, but for now it’s still a blast, and the weekly brawls add a little twist. One of the best things about the game is the large roster of characters that all have unique play styles, keeping the game interesting, as players can switch up if they’re getting tired of using the same character all the time (something they shouldn’t be doing anyway). But, as Blizzard has aimed to make this game very accessible, some of the characters have very easy to learn techniques that will quickly become a headache whenever you encounter them on the battlefield.

In many ways, Overwatch is a shooter mixed with rock, paper, scissors. Now, that’s not to say that one character will always beat another because one is the scissors to the other’s paper. But the game does make for situations where getting into the wrong one-on-one spells certain death for all but the most skilled and slipperiest players. This is especially true when facing an opponent using any of the common and annoying techniques we’ll cover here. Fortunately, once you know the strategy an enemy is using to frustrate you, it can be as simple as a quick and easy combo to spoil their day.

Read on to see the troublesome enemy tricks you’ll encounter in Overwatch and how to turn the tides.

1. McCree flashbang combo

McCree is a solid attack character, with high-damage and highly accurate shots. At a distance he can be lethal, especially if the enemy player has good aim. Up close, though, he is a true menace. A quick player can stun you with a flashbang and unload one or two full magazines into your character before you can react. In most cases, as in the video above, this tends to spell sudden death, especially if McCree comes out of nowhere (Update 7/14/16: McCree’s Fan-the-hammer has been nerfed, so that it doesn’t kill tank characters as easily). Countering McCree is rather simple though and doesn’t require any specific character. The first thing to note is that McCree’s flashbang doesn’t go very far, so keep your distance (may be hard if you’re Reaper). If you can stay away, McCree won’t be able to stun you. At a distance, you just have to shoot away.

Recommendation: Soldier 76 can make short work of McCree. Keep some distance, stay moving, shooting, and try to land a shot with your rockets.

2. Junkrat being a pest

Junkrat may lure you into a trap that will lock you in place, leaving you vulnerable to his bouncing grenades or remote explosive, but once you get used to that, all you have to do is watch your feet. Still, Junkrat can get to be a nuisance when he’s popping grenades all over the place. Larger characters are particularly vulnerable to him, since they’re a bigger, slower target for him. If you pick a fast character who can avoid his grenades and fight at a slight distance to avoid his other weapons, you should have no trouble.

Recommendation: Soldier 76 can easily avoid Junkrat’s attacks while keeping the damage coming. Don’t forget to drop your healing gadget in case he hits you.

3. Symmetra setting up a trap

You might not expect it, but Symmetra isn’t just good at helping her teammates. As a support hero, her first job is to support with shields and a teleporter, but a skilled player can set up a bunch of turrets in a room or around a corner that catch players off guard, deal substantial damage over time, and make that player vulnerable to further attack by Symmetra herself. Just see the video above in which I have a hell of a time clearing the room even with a shield and no other enemies attacking me. If you’re facing an unskilled Symmetra, you might get lucky and be able to hit a lot of the turrets with one attack, but if they’re spread out, you’re going to have to line up every shot and take damage all the while. If the room is left alone, it will likely mean the enemy team getting to teleport quickly back into battle. It can also mean your team getting bottlenecked. Against a skilled Symmetra there is still one character incredibly well suited to the task. (In case you’re thinking it’s Hanzo and his ultimate attack, it’s not. His ultimate won’t damage Symmetra’s sentries.

Recommendation: Winston can clean a room with almost no effort because his weapon automatically targets enemies, including the sentries and Symmetra herself. Hop in there with a fully charged weapon, full health, and shock away.

4. Widowmaker picking you off all day

This is true in almost any shooter: Snipers are a total pain. They invariably deal high damage, and you can almost never see it coming. There are a lot of characters in Overwatch that will die in a single, well-placed hit from Widowmaker, and plenty that won’t survive a second shot if the first didn’t do the job. If you can get in close, Widowmaker is pretty easy to beat, but a good player won’t let that happen. At a distance, you might have success reflecting her shot back at her as Hanzo — but again, a good player won’t let that happen. So, how do you beat her?

Recommendation: One of the simplest counters to a Widowmaker is just another Widowmaker, as the video above clearly shows. (Sadly, it goes both ways.)

5. Reaper ghosting in and using his Ultimate

Reaper is lethal up close with his twin shotguns. A sneaky reaper can come up behind your team, lay a hurtin’ on you, and simply ghost away before taking any damage. Where things get really bad is when Reaper decides to ghost into the middle of your team, immune to damage, and activate his ultimate attack. If your team is bunched up, he has the potential of killing everyone. He is vulnerable while doing his ultimate, so if you see it coming, you might be able to eliminate him before he’s finished it, but there are better ways of handling him when he goes for it.

Recommendation: Roadhog can snag Reaper at a distance, ending his ultimate, and then quickly finish him off. This saves your team, and gets rid of an enemy. Another viable option is Genji reflecting Reaper’s ultimate right back at him, but this won’t spare your nearby teammates.

6. Pharah blasting you from the sky

Pharah can be real trouble on the battlefield, particularly because she’s not always on the battlefield. Instead, she’s flying up above, out of sight, sending in high-damage rockets that can ruin even the bigger tank characters. Matters get even worse when she unleashes the swarm of missiles that is her ultimate. For some characters, like the short-ranged Reaper or Winston, she might be completely out of reach when she’s up in the air. But, she’s actually a fairly mushy character, and a high damage character with long-range accuracy, like McCree, generally can pick her out of the sky or at least scare her away. One nifty way of taking care of Pharah is to use Roadhog’s hook to bring her in close, especially as it can cancel her ultimate as in the video above. However, if she plays at enough distance, this won’t work.

Recommendation: Widowmaker can’t easily snipe Pharah out of the sky. If she’s attacking you, it may be tougher, but with the element of surprise, she doesn’t stand a chance.

7. Roadhog hooking and shooting you dead

A few of the solutions to annoying enemy strategies so far have been Roadhog’s hook combo. And, as it happens, Roadhog’s hook combo happens to be an annoying strategy itself. If you’re low on health, a mushy character, or up against a Roadhog with particularly good aim, you can find yourself dead pretty quickly. His hook is basically a worse flashbang, as it has surprisingly long range, and brings you up close to an enemy you don’t want to be anywhere near. If you’re Reinhardt, your shield can block the hook, but you won’t be able to eliminate Roadhog by standing there with your shield up. In terms of just surviving, D.Va has enough health to survive the combo, can pull up her shield for additional shots, and maybe kill Roadhog if he needs to reload, but it’s not a sure thing. If Tracer doesn’t die from the first shot, she can rewind away. If the first shot doesn’t kill him, McCree might also be able to survive by using his flashbang combo and not getting shot a second time. Reaper at full health can survive the combo, and then ghost away, but will have to be careful that Roadhog doesn’t follow. These aren’t sure bets though.

Recommendation: Pharah can handle Roadhog from a distance. He’s a big and slow target, so as long as she’s out of hook-range, she should be able to eliminate him safely.

8. Mei freezing and headshotting you

There’s a reason people say “Mei is bae.” She may seem friendly, but in Overwatch, she’s a cold-hearted killer. There may be no other elimination as sinister as the way Mei first freezes an enemy in place so that she can methodically aim and launch an ice spike into their head. It’s brutal, and if you’re not carefully, it’s very easy to fall prey to. Mei has a fair amount of health, and she’s not super slow, so if you let her get close, you may not be able to flee or kill her before she has you frozen and subsequently dead. Because Mei can freeze herself to heal and be temporarily impervious to damage, we won’t be looking at a way to kill her so much as a way to not get killed by her. If you’re quick with Tracer and time it right, you may be able to use rewind to escape before freezing fully, but her low health does makes it pretty dangerous.

Recommendation: Reaper can escape Mei if he ghosts away before freezing fully. If she follows him though, that might not be good enough, so make sure to do enough damage in the first encounter to discourage Mei from coming after you.

9. Reinhardt pushing with a shield all day

So maybe Rienhardt holding up his massive energy shield and walking around isn’t going to kill you in Overwatch, but it’s going to make it hard to kill him or any of his teammates hiding behind him. Since your enemies can also fire from behind the shield, it’s going to put you into a bind if you let Reinhardt keep it up. The first thing you need to do, no matter what character you are, is start firing at the shield. It’s not invincible, but it’s never going to come down if your team is never shooting at it. Bastion’s extremely high damage-per-second is great for taking out his shield, but Bastion is highly vulnerable to return fire from behind the shield. Pharah can fly up above Reinhardt and potentially get him, but the rest of his team may not make it easy, and he can just aim his shield up if it’s a one-on-one.

Recommendation: Symmetra’s energy balls can go right through Reinhardt’s shield, as seen in the above video. He may be safe from most damage when his shield is up, but he’s extra slow, making him a good target for Symmetra.

10. Zarya getting buff and murderous

Make no mistake, Zarya is dangerous. At long range, you can probably avoid her attacks, as her secondary attack is slow and her primary attack isn’t long-range. But up close she can quickly take you out. An unskilled player using Zarya may not be a threat, as it can be tricky to master her skills, but a good Zarya player will be trouble. Because Zarya’s shields absorb damage and use it to amplify the damage her own weapon deals, she can go from weak to deadly very quickly. Thankfully, as long as your teammates are on the same page, she can be kept from becoming a true monster.

Recommendation: No matter what character you are, don’t shoot Zarya or any of her teammates that have her energy shield on. Zarya’s shield disappears quickly, and won’t be broken if you shoot it enough. Instead, bide your time, and then attack. As long as you don’t attack the shield, she will be much less dangerous.

11. Bastion ruining everyone’s day in turret-mode

Few characters are as annoying and lethal as Bastion. Though the wicked robot is completely immobile when in turret-mode, it’s also incredibly effective at mowing down whole teams, as you can see in the video above. If a team doesn’t adapt their strategy to counter a camping Bastion, they can find themselves in an endless standstill. There are a lot of counters to Bastion that seem safe, but can quickly go wrong. You can try to put your shield up and fly at Bastion using D.Va, but if you’re spotted before you start shooting, you’re toast. Approaching with Reinhardt’s shield and then going for a pinch using his charge usually won’t work, as Reinhardt goes down quick without his shield up. You can try to use Zenyatta’s discord orb and throw a few attacks at Bastion by peeking out, but that can be dangerous. A very satisfying — but risky — way of countering less talented Bastion players is to use Genji’s reflect ability to make them destroy themselves.

Recommendation: No technique has proven as safe as simply sniping Bastion as Widowmaker. Peeking out and firing from a distance will minimize your chance of dying, but if you’re methodical, you can likely get an angle that lets you see Bastion without exposing yourself at all, as you can see in the video in the link.

With all of these tips, you should have no trouble adapting to the many enemies that will begin to frustrate you by incessantly repeating the same effective strategies in Overwatch. Just be careful you don’t become the annoying player and let someone else who’s read this guide use these same counters on you.

(Big thanks to MrStealy for helping me get almost all footage used in this guide and letting me shoot him a lot.)

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