Overwatch tips: 8 things you need to know to conquer Blizzard's hero FPS

We've taken the liberty to curate a selection of timeless Overwatch tips, because hitting that heroic streak isn't as easy as the pro players would have you believe. The continuously increasing selection of playable heroes to choose from, all with widely varying classes and abilities, begets an intimidating amount of choice, which can pigeon-hole players into eschewing versatility for the familiarity provided by having a main. Although being an ace Genji in Overwatch has its benefits, it's important to be able to flex between classes, especially considering the recent launch of role queue. 

All of the Overwatch tips you need to know before charging headlong into battle are listed here, as well as some more advanced tips to consider once you've mastered the basics and your confidence has grown.

1. Be flexible and learn at least one hero from each class

Until you've reached the upper echelons of Overwatch's competitive circuit, it's best to prioritize balance when building your team's hero composition. The in-game prompts do a decent job of nudging you in the right direction, providing a clear indication of when your team could benefit from including a Support hero or an extra tank. But, as is the case in most multiplayer games, you'll inevitably get matched with players who insist on playing their favorite hero, with no consideration for what the team actually needs. You, on the other hand, are substantially less selfish, so you should endeavor to master at least one hero from the Damage, Tank, and Support classes, and flex between roles depending on what your team needs most. If you're unsure which playstyle might suit you, look to Soldier 76, Reinhardt, and Lucio - they're powerful and beginner-friendly heroes in their respective roles.

2. Stay focused on the win condition

Team Fortress 2 veterans will surely remember the Medic's classic line, "Get on the point, dummkopf!" Translation: If you're chasing kills instead of focusing on the objective, you're not playing properly. Eliminations will only go so far in Overwatch, because the win conditions are always objective-based, whether you're capturing a point or pushing a payload. It's most important to remember this when your team wipes out the opposition and starts gaining momentum - that's when it's easiest to get cocky and overextend way too far into enemy territory, rather than using the downtime to lock down the objective. Ideally, you should always be standing on a point, escorting a payload, or focusing on the next opportunity to do so.

3. Don't fight alone

This is a tragic mistake that plagues the majority of multiplayer shooters: amidst the chaos of battle, your stubborn teammates blindly charge the enemy one by one, and predictably get picked off in quick succession by the grouped-up opposing force. It sounds obvious, but always remind yourself that Overwatch is a team-oriented game, and your team needs to stick together. Your abilities are designed to excel when used in tandem with those of your allies, so grouping up makes you (and, by extension, your team) far more effective. Even if you're playing a hero who is incentivized to go rogue and flank the enemy - consider aggressors like Reaper and Tracer, or snipers Hanzo and Widowmaker - you should still aim to only engage when your opponents are actively distracted by your frontline.

4. It's worth it to die in Overtime

D.Va's Black Cat skin from Overwatch.

Overtime is the only instance where diving into the fray solo makes sense. If you're able to contest a capture point or merely touch your team's payload, the overtime wick will reset, affording you and your allies a brief but crucial time extension. And while your team won't always be able to clutch victory from the jaws of defeat in those final precious seconds, it's always worth it to try. Don't be the player who backs away in some strange sense of self-preservation at the end of a match - seize the moment and bravely leap onto the objective, madly dancing around the point in an attempt to stay alive for as long as possible. The better you are at stalling the conclusion of the match-ending objective, the better chance your team has to take home the win with a miraculous finish.

5. Master the art of constant movement

Snipers are just as deadly in Overwatch as they are in any other FPS, if not even more so. Both Hanzo and Widowmaker have abilities that enable them to see through walls, affording them the ability to line up a perfect shot well in advance. So, to make life difficult for these snipers while prolonging your own as a result, you need to be constantly on the move. Get used to the idea that you should constantly be bounding around mid-fight, especially if you're playing a highly targeted Support hero. Even traditionally stationary heroes like Bastion should always be mindful of how fatal standing still can be, and should be looking to switch up their defensive posts to keep the enemy on their toes.

6. Use that Skirmish time to learn new characters

The average player likely won't create a Custom Game just to explore every nook and cranny of every map. But what you are guaranteed to encounter, at least if you're playing in a group and haven't actively disabled the setting, is Overwatch's Skirmish mode: a welcome way to pass the time while Blizzard's servers try to appropriately match you with a suitable game. Here, you're able to wander around a randomly selected map in a lighthearted  sparring match, where objectives aren't present and the outcome at large doesn't matter. Instead of tussling with opponents as you would in a conventional game, use this brief respite to poke around the map and see if you can find any health packs, hiding spots, or alternate paths you might have overlooked before. Map knowledge is an invaluable asset in Overwatch. 

7. Pursue alternate routes when you get stuck 

As the attacking team, there will inevitably be times when your momentum slows to a standstill at choke points that heavily favor the opposition. Maybe it's downwind of the perfect sniper perch, or small enough that you just can't seem to break through the enemy Reinhardt's shield. Chances are, if your team keeps stopping dead at this junction, repeatedly blitzing the problem area isn't going to fix things. Overwatch's maps don't do the best job of telling you this, but there are usually multiple routes you can take to reach your objectives - it's just that they're sometimes tucked away in the shadows, or are connected to an out-of-the-way opening in your spawn point. Keep an eye out for these esoteric avenues of attack whenever your team is stuck in a rut, because odds are, the opposing team either isn't expecting an offensive push from that side, or they too had no idea it was there in the first place.

8. Blow off some steam with Arcade modes

Like all competitive games, Overwatch can sometimes make you tilt pretty hard. If you've lost a few games in a row, failed to seal the deal on a dominating early lead, or got saddled with uncooperative teammates, it's easy to get frustrated - and that frustration will inevitably impact your play for the worse. Instead of falling further into despair, take a break from the regular action of Quick Play and Competitive and hop into one of the Arcade modes instead. Overwatch Mystery Heroes assigns you a random hero on respawn, whereas No Limits lets you select any hero without restrictions, and these for-funsies modes drastically alter the flow of matches. The unbalanced chaos of these brawls can be just the break you need from the ostensibly serious stakes of conventional matches. Win or lose, the sheer variety of these modes should alleviate your stress and make you excited, rather than furious or anxious, to play more.

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Cian is a freelance journalist based in Ireland. He's written for numerous publications including USA Today, TheGamer, The Guardian, Washington Post, Verge, Vice, Polygon, Eurogamer, and GameSpot. He's a huge fan of The Witcher and other RPGs like Dragon Age.