For all the flashy abilities the various heroes of Overwatch bring to the battlefield, it is still above all else a first-person shooter, and aiming at things is something you’ll be doing a lot of. Improving your aim is the first thing you should be focusing on if you want to become a better player, and there is more to achieving this than simple raw practice.
Many players started Overwatch with little FPS experience but have become top players over time simply by putting in the hours, sort of like grinding levels, but in real life. Thing is, practice will always be the single best method to improve your aim, but you can go about that practice in a smart way to maximise efficiency.
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One of the first things you should adjust before even beginning training is your mouse sensitivity. It’s a common misconception that higher sensitivity is better simply because many pro players favor higher sensitivities. Thing is, if you need to improve your aim, chances are you’re not on the skill level of a pro player, so it’s time to turn that DPi down and grab the biggest mouse pad you have. Once you’re as low as you’re comfortable with, turn it a tad lower. After a few hours of gameplay you’ll get used to it, and y0u’ll be on your way to improved aim.
Console players can only tweak in-game sensitivity levels unless they are using a high-end third-party controller with onboard software. However, before you go fiddling with sensitivity levels, the first thing you should do is turn off aim-assist. Firstly, aim-assist will mess up your perception of distance and hand-eye-coordination, and secondly you’re not actually going to benefit from practice while it’s turned on.
How To Train
With that squared away comes your exercise regimen. Keep in mind that many heroes in Overwatch play very differently from one another, and you’ll need to follow different techniques when playing them. For example, aiming with Genji’s shurikens is a whole other deal than aiming with Ana’s sniper rifle.
Some heroes don’t much rely on precise aiming, such as Mercy or Reinhardt. While you might think it’s a good idea playing with these heroes if you’re not a highly skilled sharpshooter, keep in mind you won’t be getting in any practice either.
In Overwatch, you can always fire up the practice range, which is a solo shooting galley sort of mode allowing you to hone your aim on dummies. However, the bots here won’t behave the same way as actual heroes, so a better bet is to create an invite-only custom game and fill up the enemy side with bots. You could just go random to simulate a live match, however we’re trying to focus on aiming here, not tactics.
Optimal Training Setup
The optimal setup for a private training course is as follows: set up your invite-only game with Ana bots on the opposing team set to hard. Turn off all game modes except skirmish, disable all of the opposing bots’ abilities, set the game to count headshots only and jack up damage output to 200%. Now, pick a hero who can land headshots – we suggest starting with McCree – and get in some target practice. This way all shots that land will kill the targets, so you’ll have an easy way to track performance.
Track Your Progress
Keep track of your score, which is easy due to every match lasting 30 minutes. Just mark up your kills on a per 30 minute basis, since every headshot will equal a kill. This will give you a clear sense of progress as your score goes up with practice. After some time, once you feel you’ve gained as much benefit from this method as you can, it’s time to reduce the damage percentage. One-shot kills are rare in actual matches, meaning landing the first shot isn’t all that matters, but your ability to track shots and hit fleeing or moving targets consistently.
I’m sure you’re all familiar with the following situation: you see an enemy and they see you. You both start shooting at one another at the same time, and yet you’re always the one who drops dead. Sometimes this comes down to raw damage numbers, but more often it is a question of how many of your shots actually connect. If you both fire 10 shots, but 5 of yours miss their mark while only 2 of the opponent’s shots go astray, it’s highly likely you’ll be the loser of the exchange.
Aim Where The Target Will Be
Consistency is key to improving your aim. You need to learn, ideally on the bot characters, how to lead shots and pre-aim. You’ve likely heard this a million times, which is because it’s true, but you need to aim at where the target will be, not where it is.
Few of the primary fire attacks in Overwatch work on a hitscan basis. Aiming through the scope of either Widowmaker’s or Ana’s sniper rifles fall into this category, meaning that if you pull the trigger while aiming at an enemy, it counts as a hit immediately. Most shots, however, are physical projectiles which travel through the game world and only do damage if they actually hit the target. Since most players will try to stay mobile, this means that by the time the bullet reaches the place you’re aiming at, the target will have moved away.
If the enemy you want to drop is moving across your screen, try and judge their speed, and aim a tad in front of them instead of directly at them, and this way their trajectory and that of the bullet will collide. You’ll need to factor in the speed of your projectiles, for example Genji’s shurikens don’t travel as quickly as most bullets do. Range is also important, so don’t try scoring long range shots with Reaper.
Change Your Training Up
When picking maps, you can always try practicing on them all for variety, but in terms of sheer utilitarian value, Oasis will be the best pick. It has a good combination of large, open areas, smaller close-quarters zones and a decent helping of verticality to boot.
As you get better and better, it’s time to reduce damage and enable the Ana bots’ healing abilities. In a real match, one headshot is rarely enough to actually kill an enemy, and it’s the followup shots which usually miss with practicing players. As Ana will self-heal after you land the first headshot, it is crucial to land the second one as quickly as possible.
Once you’re performing well with McCree, it’s time to take on other heroes with their own quirks. Soldier: 76 is another good base hero, being the archetypal FPS character, but things will get interesting when you pick sniper heroes like Widowmaker, close range heroes like Reaper and so on.
Another interesting hero whose abilities make aiming more challenging is Pharah. In the mayhem of a live match, you won’t be in control over the situations that arise, but in this practice environment, you can follow a structure. Separately practice high-altitude aiming and low-altitude aiming, where you go as high as you can versus slight hops just a tad higher than regular jumping, respectively.
With Pharah, leading your targets is essential. Since you’re in the air, an additional dimension of motion is added and the rockets are projectiles in the gameplay sense as well, meaning no hitscan. As you get better with aiming, try adding a third, mid-altitude category as well, with the final stage being mixing all altitudes and trying to practice aiming while ascending or descending rapidly.
As you train yourself in any of these practice scenarios, always stay on the move. Since the settings will see you taking no damage (at least when you’re in the starting phases), it’s easy to hunker down and aim while standing completely still. Thing is, in a real game, you won’t be doing this, and movement adds difficulty to aiming, so you should practice while jumping, turning and strafing.
Improve Your Reflexes
While this next tip might seem to conflict with the previous one, you can apply the two separately then combine them when you feel ready. We are here to practice, after all. Overwatch, like many other multiplayer FPS games, relies heavily on twitch reflexes. One way to hone these is to find a good spot, camp down, and pick a concrete and static object somewhere nearby to aim at. Consider this the “center” of your frame, or an anchor. Each time you aim at an enemy and take a shot, you need to aim back at the anchor, and only then at a target again. Basically, after each shot, look at the anchor, even if there are no enemies near it. This will force you to aim and shoot in quick succession, which over time will improve your reflexes.
All of these tips serve only to streamline your practice, but at the end of the day, grinding hours in Overwatch or other FPS games is what will truly improve your aim. There are other ‘methods’, such as using a marker to draw a dot in the center of your screen or buying peripherals which do the same, but glow, however most players frown on this, not to mention you’ll suck at aiming whenever you play on a screen without the dot, making the whole thing pointless. To an extent, this is cheating.
There is no be-all, end-all one day method to suddenly become a pro Overwatch player, and this would require more than good aiming anyway, so when we get down to it, the best way to get better at anything in Overwatch is playing more Overwatch.