Finding the best Overwatch characters that play to your strengths in Blizzard's hit FPS can be the difference that keeps your team winning time and again. With so many diverse heroes to choose from, each with their own unique variations on a role, it might take a while before you find the character that really clicks. To that end, we'd like to help you get started on your way to becoming an Overwatch expert, whether that means the flexibility to play any roles competently or figuring out which hero you're determined to main. With Blizzard constantly adding new heroes and making substantial balance changes, the meta is always shifting, and you'll have to adjust accordingly. But there’s a character for every playstyle, and there’s always someone else you can strive to master.
If you're just diving in, then consider this your primer on the wonders that await. Maybe you're an Overwatch veteran, looking for something new to master, or maybe you just need some pointers on the newest addition. Here's the critical information you need to know about all the Overwatch characters.
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- Role: Support
- Play style: Precision healer
Ana was the first new hero Blizzard added after launch. Her combination of sniper and healer is totally unique and can take some getting used to. Ana doesn’t usually fare well in close quarters combat, but she also doesn’t have the movement options of the other snipers, so it’s critical that she hang back from the group or stick very close to a tank for protection. Her main focus is keeping allies healed from afar, but her Biotic Rifle can also turn the tide in a fight by picking off the enemies' backline with some well-placed shots. Ana is also armed with a Sleep Dart that knocks enemies unconscious. It’s a potent tool for crowd control, but it has a delay in firing, so use it on large, hard-to-miss targets. Her other weapon is a Biotic Grenade, which has the same impact as the ammo in her rifle, but splashed over a larger area.
- Role: Offense
- Play style: Utility sharpshooter
The roguish leader of the Deadlock Gang takes quite a bit of finesse to play to her full potential - but once you've mastered her diverse toolkit, you'll be picking off enemies like nobody's business. Ashe excels when she can pick off targets from long range using her semi-automatic Viper rifle, but if opponents get in her face, she can blast them away (or launch herself to safety) with her clutch coach shotgun. You can keep enemies at bay and zone them out with her dynamite (which can be very tricky to hit when you want to, so watch out), and calling in B.O.B. as your ultimate can cause a huge amount of chaos when teamfights break out. If you've got crackshot aim and adore playing as Widowmaker or McCree, Ashe could very well become your new main.
- Role: Defense
- Play style: Dig in and mow down enemies
Played correctly, Bastion can keep the entire enemy team at bay all by his lonesome. It doesn't make sense to pick him when your team is on the attack, as you'll rarely find a good chokepoint to dig into before everyone else starts pushing up. But on defense, Bastion's capacity to wipe out rows of enemies - then repair himself during the downtime - can make your opponents feeling like they're throwing themselves at an impenetrable stone wall. In the Sentry position, Bastion becomes a stationary turret. The latest patch adds more bullet spread and takes away the headshot multiplier, but it’s still a great option for players who want to focus on guarding an objective. The Recon mode lets him wander around like a more offense style character, so you can still have an impact while you’re on the move.
- Role: Offense
- Play style: Combo king
Doomfist was inspired by the action you’d find in fighting games, and that comes across in his play style. Combos and spacing are critical for making him work. The most important tool to master is the Rocket Punch, which is often how he’ll enter a fight. Here’s where that FGC sense comes in handy: the punch deals extra damage if you can hit an enemy into a wall, but the ability requires precision targeting. His main weapon, the Hand Cannon, is actually not one you’ll use as your first attack, or even your primary attack. Given the big spread, short range, and low damage, it’s best as a finisher. Instead, focus on using the Seismic Slam to bring enemies into range and the Rising Uppercut, which can knock up and stun targets or just get you some air for extra mobility around the maps’ many hidden pathways. Dealing damage with your abilities other than the Hand Cannon creates stacking shield health thanks to a passive skill. This is where the combos are really key: if you keep a chain going, you can build up to 150 points of extra health. That gives Doomfist better survivability in the middle of the fray than other offense heroes. He’s one of the more challenging heroes to learn, but once you’re confident in managing his cooldowns and combos, you’ll start to see results.
- Role: Tank
- Play style: Front-line pest
D. Va is one of the most unique tanks in gaming, oscillating between extreme durability and short bursts of being fragile as glass. It's all based on whether you're in your bright pink mech, which can soak up oodles of damage before short-circuiting and forcing you to run around on foot. D.Va's usual approach is to use the Boosters to wade onto the frontlines, activate her projectile-nullifying Defense Matrix to protect yourself and anyone behind you, then lay waste to your enemies with her twin, infinite ammo Fusion Cannons. Her mobility with the Boosters is the real standout, since she can evade many crowd control tools, knock enemies off ledges, or fly behind the group to attack squishy healers. The Boosters also mean that she can hurl the mech into a more advantageous position to activate Self-Destruct, which is instant death for just about any enemy in the explosion’s line of sight.
- Role: Offense
- Play style: Glass cannon a la ninja
If you stop moving as Genji, you’ll probably die. If you go in with a full-frontal assault, you’ll also probably die. Genji has an incredibly high skill ceiling, requiring you to figure out the optimal range for combating the other heroes. If you're squaring off against a long-range defender, you need to know when to Deflect their abilities so you can get in close and shred them up with a Swift Strike. But if a tank comes your way, Genji's such a glass cannon that you'll want to get out of there ASAP with an evasive Swift Strike and pepper them with Shurikens from afar. Fortunately, Genji's high mobility from his double-jump and wall-running lends itself to this nimble playstyle nicely.
- Role: Defense
- Play style: Fast-paced action sniping
In contrast to Widowmaker's defense-oriented sniping, Hanzo is just as adept at pushing the line as he is at holding down the fort. His firing mechanics are the key to his power: instead of reloading a clip, Hanzo takes a split second to nock another arrow between shots from his Storm Bow. And because he has infinite ammo, this essentially means that you can fire off arrows nonstop for the entirety of the match, which is incredibly powerful on both offense and defense. Also, because his arrows have a slightly delayed impact, you're practically incentivized to fire without looking just to keep up your steady pace of shots. As long as you aim in the general direction of where the enemy will be, there's a good chance you'll hit your mark without even looking (and appear to be some kind of precognitive sniping prodigy in the process). Hanzo's ultimate is also perfect for dismantling a stationary Bastion or Torbjorn turret.
- Role: Defense
- Play style: Back-line chaos generator
As befits an Aussie anarchist, Junkrat is all about the chaos. When played to his full potential, he can wreak havoc on your opponents' best-laid plans. But it takes the right mindset to understand when to use his Concussion Mine as a damaging explosive for others or a mobility-enhancing jump pad for yourself. If you're partial to TF2's Demoman, Junkrat's Frag Launcher works in much the same way - the key difference being that you'll never run out of ammo, so you can launch long-range grenade volleys all day if you stay at a safe distance. But he can also be one of the most aggressive defense characters, ruining the other team’s day if he finds a good flanking spot or a high vantage point. Plus, his Rip-Tire ultimate will scatter even the best-coordinated enemy assault. Or just wipe them all out.
- Role: Support
- Play style: Perpetual musical motion
Good god, is Lucio fun to play. He's one of the most active healers around, able to dash towards danger then replenish everyone's health bars when he gets there. His ability rotation is pretty straightforward: the moment you spawn in, switch your Crossfade to the movement buff (green), then use Amp It Up to increase its effectiveness and zip you and your allies towards the fight. Once there, Crossfade again to the healing aura (yellow), then Amp It Up again, as the cooldown will have likely elapsed. All the while, you can dole out damage as if you were an Offense hero, making sure to use your Sound Barrier ultimate whenever it's up, and knocking back attackers with the secondary fire of your Sonic Amplifier. Between his wall-running, his roller blades, and his sunny attitude, what’s not to love?
- Role: Offense
- Play style: Single-target pistol action
The secret to McCree is mastering the instant-reload properties of his Combat Roll ability. That's the lynchpin of his go-to combo: stun your target with a quick Flashbang, unload your Peacekeeper ammo with the secondary fire, Combat Roll towards them with a melee hit, then fire off your new clip to finish 'em off. This should be more than enough to kill any enemy one-on-one, with the possible exception of Tank heroes - but when a Tank and their healer roll up on you, you can simply Combat Roll to safety. And even at long range, the Peacekeeper is incredibly accurate (and damaging to boot). Nailing his Deadeye ultimate ability is also a case of practice making perfect. He becomes a sitting duck for several seconds, so you need to be hidden from enemies while maintaining sight lines on them. No easy feat, but with a little map knowledge, it’s a massively powerful tool.