Overwatch’s game modes, aside from the incoming (at the time of publishing) deathmatch modes, are objective oriented, skill based and highly reliant on communication, teamwork, good sportsmanship and strategic thinking. Basically, it’s incredibly easy to be bad at Overwatch.
This isn’t your regular multiplayer FPS where just getting kills is a good indicator that you’re doing well. There are several common pitfalls that can hamper your performance, and that of your team, which any long-time fan of FPS games can walk into just as easily as a complete newcomer.
Many of the things other games have taught you need to be forgotten when playing Overwatch, and most techniques don’t translate well. Methods that are generally frowned upon in other titles by being cheap yet effective are entirely useless in most situations in this game (like camping).
At other times, you may actually be doing quite well personally without realizing that you’re negatively affecting the progress of your team. Of course, you need a certain capacity of empathy to care, but even if you’re the selfish kind of gamer, you’ll be racking up losses if you don’t play along with the team.
Table of Contents
Don’t Play For Kills
Play Of The Game Doesn’t Matter
Playing Like A Lone Wolf
Group Up – Don’t Drip-Feed The Enemy
Don’t Be A One-Hero Player
Don’t Waste Your Ultimate
Don’t Hoard Your Ultimate
Don’t Throw All Your Ults At Once
Don’t Stay Mum And Mute Mics
Don’t Leave Support Alone
Kills, or “eliminations” as they are termed in Overwatch, are the very basic element of FPS gameplay formula. It’s the main effect anyone can have on the game and in most shooters – at least in deathmatch – this is the only thing you really need to worry about. Naturally, strategies in Overwatch are centered around killing enemy players as well, but it isn’t the sole aspect of gameplay.
Sometimes it isn’t worth pursuing a wounded opponent and leaving an objective unguarded. Sometimes instead of getting more kills, you need to focus on getting the right kills and taking out key opponent heroes who are the crux of the enemy team’s strategy, even if it means losing some other kills or dying in the process. Objectives are a priority above kills, and you should always consider whether a particular kill would benefit the team. Is it a hero with a critical role? Are you located at a strategic choke point?
Obviously, we’re not saying you should avoid kills, just pick your battles and keep the objectives in mind as you play.
Play of the Game is a little playback at the end of the match which highlights the flashiest, most reckless, lucky or visually impressive maneuver of any given player. Getting it is viewed by most players to be high praise and many actively seek to achieve Play of the Game instead of focusing on actually playing well.
The issue here is that going for Play of the Game encourages people to play in a manner that is risky and focus on grandeur instead of teamwork. More experienced players in the Overwatch community have a saying: “If you got Play of the Game, you’re doing it wrong”. Of course, this is a generalization and there can be situations where someone achieves this without specifically gunning for it with reckless behavior, but the point is, this shouldn’t be something you strive for.
The teamwork aspect of Overwatch is baked into the core functionality of the heroes, who work off each other’s strengths and weaknesses. DPS heroes protect tanks, tanks bash enemies, and support heroes make sure everyone else stays alive while raining debuffs on opponents. In many cases, a lone hero is easy pickings for a duo of opponents. Additionally, the characters in Overwatch fall into a sort of rock-paper-scissors structure if looked at on their own, with each individual hero having a set of other characters which they easily kill and are easily killed by (you can learn more about these counters in our heroes guides).
When working together as a team and coordinating ability usage, the structure is broken and the game becomes one of skill instead of stats. Reaper is the game’s only hero designed to be used solo, sticking out alone to pick off unsuspecting enemies. However, even Reaper is well suited to a united push where his shotguns and Ultimate ability can do a lot of damage to a bunched enemy team.
Often in Overwatch there will be massive battles where every member of both teams is rolling forward as one unit, and the two armies clash. Sometimes, you’ll die in these massive battles, and it can be tempting to jump right back into the fray the moment you respawn. However, if the opponents gained the upper hand, that means most of them are still alive, and since presumably not all of your teammates died simultaneously, you’ll all respawn with a delay.
If you rush back into the fight, you’ll just meet several enemies working together who easily pick you off, placing your team in a numerical disadvantage. You’ll all throw yourselves at them one by one, and they’ll kill you one by one. Instead wait for everyone to regroup and push forward as a united team, learn from your mistakes, and crush the enemy as one.
Everyone has their main hero, the one character who they enjoy playing above all others, with whom they’re most skilled and who they feel most comfortable with. However, this doesn’t mean that you can only play your main. Sometimes, in order to get a good team composition, you’ll need to play someone other than your main, or you’ll realize mid-match that you’re main just isn’t ideal for this situation. At times like this, you shouldn’t be afraid to switch heroes.
Naturally the best way to be accustomed to switching heroes is practicing with other heroes, meaning you won’t be out of your element. Master a handful of characters, make sure you have at least one from each role you’re comfortable with and that when needed, you can jump in to save the day.
Generally, teams don’t need more than one of any hero, and they definitely don’t need three (though sometimes it can be fun and entertaining to try and win with 6 identical heroes). If others are picking your main and are unwilling to switch, be the team player, be the mature one, and take one for the team.
As you play a match, you’ll gradually fill up your Ultimate gauge. You may be filled with anticipation, waiting to unleash it on your enemies, but just make sure you don’t trigger it too soon and end up wasting you Ult.
Ultimates are valuable and outright essential to victory, but they only help when used correctly. Don’t waste a devastating attack just to eliminate one or two enemies when it can potentially be game changing.
“But you just said…”
Yes, well, it’s no use going overboard with hoarding the ultimate either. You know that familiar gaming situation where you find various rare weapons and consumables, fill up an ability gauge and stock up on health packs just so you can use them “when they are needed”, and you end up finishing the game without touching them? Ultimates can be like that.
You spend time and effort cultivating it, so naturally you’ll not want to waste it. Just keep in mind to actually use it when the time comes, lest the match will end without you ever firing your Ultimate. These abilities are useful, but only when used.
It might be tempting to wait for a situation when all enemies are bunched up, but maybe that situation won’t arise, or maybe another will call for the use of the Ultimate in order to protect or capture an objective. Assess the situation, and make the call.
We might be focusing quite a bit on the Ultimate abilities, but these really can be a game changer when used correctly.
When two entire teams clash, it may be tempting for everyone to activate their Ultimates all at once for one devastating massive attack, however this will often be overkill and simply leave everyone on cooldown while the enemy still has theirs when coming back.
Usually, one well-timed Utlimate coupled with the regular abilities of your other team mates is enough to fell an oncoming strike or clear out a well protected objective, but two will definitely do the trick. If you co-ordinate well, you can synchronize your cooldowns so that at least one Ultimate is always ready to be cast.
Overwatch is a team oriented game where communication is vital. If one team communicates while the other doesn’t, the one which does will always win. Get headphones, get a mic, and help your allies with battlefield intel. No-one is asking you to make friends or maintain a conversation (these things can be hard – trust me, I know), just notify your mates where enemies are, where they are headed, or if a bunched up rush is rolling towards an objective.
Also, make sure you listen. When your allies call out important info, it’s because that info is important. Don’t just ignore it and keep doing whatever you were doing, but be ready to respond to situations as they arise.
You know that Mercy who just saved your ass by healing you up in the middle of a 2 v 3 battle you would have lost otherwise? How about you exercise common courtesy and not rush off, leaving them and their minimal offensive capabilities to fend for themselves in case other enemies turn up?
Every role plays a crucial part in a match, and support is no different. However, their roles usually involve them helping DPS and tank characters, meaning they have fewer and weaker offensive abilities, so a lone support player is often no match for a roaming DPS. Protect your support heroes, or you’re going down.
Overwatch has been getting a ton of patches and its balance is constantly in flux, so we won’t include minute details like ‘don’t do X with character Y against character Z’, because it might be entirely invalidated next week. For tips of this depth, you’d best look at our detailed hero guides which dig deep into the mechanics of each individual character in the game.
If there are any other cardinal sins in Overwatch that we missed, feel free to call out in the comments!