Overwatch Newbie Tips: Common Misconceptions

Overwatch is here, and if the success of the open beta is any indicator, it is indeed a very highly anticipated game. The amount of hype is certainly in no small part due to the identity of it’s creator, namely Blizzard. As such, there is a high chance that if you pick Overwatch up, it’s the first shooter you’ve played in a long while as you’re here because of Blizzards frequent cross-game promotions as well as a general trust in the company’s ability to churn out compelling titles. If that’s the case, don’t be caught with your pants down as you enter the melee. This article will clear out some wrong ideas that people swapping from other games, especially other Blizzard titles, might carry with them.

Overwatch: Know Your Role

Roles in Overwatch are different from their (perceived) counterparts in, say, World of Warcraft and even Heroes of the Storm. Take the tank: In WoW; a tank’s duty is to get the boss’s attention and move him into a proper position, pick up any stray adds and taunt at 3 stacks. In Heroes of the Storm, the role of the Warrior-hero comes closer as they’re the sturdiest characters who go into a team-fight first and disrupt the enemy positioning, while their damage output is low. In Overwatch, the tank combines those roles: Disrupting the enemy team and absorbing their damage output.

But one thing everyone should get out of their heads before picking a class: Tanks are NOT defensive characters. They are the sturdiest. They don’t have the highest damage output. But they are not defensive just because they are “tanks.” Indeed, whenever you assault a fortified position or escort a Payload across the map, you want a tank to be the first one to go in and press the attack. Consider that when picking your character the next time you’re attacking on a map.

Newbies in Overwatch may use snipers for attack.

Dashing at people with a bow looks cool. Period.

In a similar vein, “Offense” heroes are not to be confused with the DPS or Assassin role from other Blizzard titles. They’re not by default the ones dealing the most damage. Sure, Pharah hurts a bunch and Reaper will tear most things apart in seconds at point blank range, but it’s hard to argue with a straight face that defense heroes like Bastion and Junkrat don’t deal a high amount of damage. Offense heroes in Overwatch are best suited for swift, decisive strikes and surprise attacks rather than prolonged combat. Most of them have excellent mobility, and they are the ones best suited for harassment. Broadly speaking, they’re best at damage application in a wide range of scenarios.

Defense heroes need specific setups and often require the enemy to literally walk into them to get the most out of their abilities. Offense heroes, on the other hand, have ways to turn most situations into one where they can put on the hurt. But they’re not the “Damage dealers.” That line of thinking severely underestimates the devastating firepower of defense characters and even some tanks. On that note, “Tanks” are not defensive in nature just because they have a lot of durability and damage mitigation. They’re vital to a good offense just as much as a defensive scenario. They can even do decent damage – though they do so at short range only, or with other drawbacks.

Role-ing with the flow

While discussing roles, let’s look at the tips you get when building a team in the beginning, aka “that thing that tells you how you need a support and less Defense heroes.” While it’s certainly well intended, it’s not the be-all, end-all of team making, so use your own judgment when picking a character. No, that doesn’t mean “Pick your favorite each time.” But just because the game doesn’t tell you that nothing’s wrong with your comp, picking Mei when pushing a payload across an open area might not be the optimal choice.

When you’ve found your favorite hero, take note of where he or she performs best, and make sure to use all their tricks in that situation. But at the very least, try to “git gud” with one hero from each role so that you can fill in gaps more readily. The playstyles within a role can vary drastically, and Overwatch encourages the frequent swapping of classes like few other shooters. Staying on the same hero throughout the entirety of a losing match is a strong indicator for an Overwatch newbie, a label you’ll want to shed.

Overwatch Newbie might not pick the right class.

Try to balance personal preference with team composition and the mission at hand. No team needs 3 Widowmakers.

Also, and this is something particularly dear to me: None of the game modes currently available reward kill count and especially not K/D ratios. So while, on occasion, picking a sniper to deal with a particularly well set up Bastion is a good idea, in the grand scheme of things your task when attacking is to get into the objective square and stay there while clearing it of the enemy team. You might get more kills to fewer deaths hanging back and cranking out headshots. But if you headshot a bad guy and nobody can push the objective, did he really make a sound? …you get the idea.

“Hit points equal hit points”

Not the case. Or, more dramatically, not all hit points are created equally. Some things stretch the imagination, e.g. Health packs healing a beat up Mech. Others take a bit more reading up to fully understand. The bottom line is that normal health acts as the baseline, shields recharge after 3 seconds of not taking damage, and armor grants a damage reduction. Hit points are always lost in order of: “Temporary shields (Lucio Ultimate) > Shields > Armor > HP”

“Wait, a damage reduction?” Yessir. Specifically, each time you take damage while having armor (“Yellow Health”), any incoming damage is lowered by 5 points per shot, or halved, whichever is less of a reduction. Even if you have shields “above” your armor, the incoming damage will be reduced. Thus, armor is best suited against low damage, high rate of fire weapons like Tracers pulse pistols. “But what about shotguns?” Well, armor works here quite well. In the beta, one used to get the damage reduction applied only once per volley/shot. After launch, it got changed to reducing the damage per pellet, meaning you’ll take significantly less damage from enemies like Reaper and Roadhog when having armor up. Finally, armor is restored 50% faster by healing effects like Mercy’s magic healing stick, meaning that a D.Va or Reinhardt coupled with a healer is going to be a tough nut to crack for anyone using small, low damage attacks.

Overwatch newbies may want to learn about armor

Hitpoints and Armor and a Shield. Oh my!

With all that said, the most important lesson is probably to enjoy and explore the game, and know that for every player calling you an Overwatch newbie, there is another looking up to you once you’ve mastered a few heroes and have learned to contribute substantially to the team lucky enough to have you on its side.

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