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15 tips to get you started in Overwatch

Pharah more enjoyable experience.

I'm smitten by Overwatch and played feverishly through closed beta, and I learned a few things along the way. I thought I'd share them here - a few tips, if you like, to help with the open beta, which begins today (and runs until Monday 9th).

I'm not going into character specifics but more general advice. Metabomb has plenty of character guides if that's what you're after.

Overwatch is a team game about capturing objectives. If you ignore your team and the objectives you will probably lose. I've seen teams far more concerned with killing other players than with stopping the approaching payload, which, if it reaches its destination, will end the game. Similarly I've sneaked entirely around the back of teams onto checkpoints and taken them before they've noticed.

Play as different characters - that's what they're there for, and you've only a few days of open beta anyway. The ability to switch characters when you respawn is what makes Overwatch special. Sometimes a strategy isn't working and you need to adjust for a breakthrough. Maybe you need better flanking, maybe you need a sniper to take out their entrenched defense, or maybe you need more support or a different tank. Similarly, the character you start a match with may not be the one you want to end it with. They all have their strengths and weaknesses.

Team composition is important but not sacrosanct. I've seen duplicates work really well. I've been one of two Meis being a royal pain, blocking choke-points with ice walls; I've been on the receiving end of multiple merciless Bastions; and I've seen multiple Tracers not give a team a moment's rest. My favourite set-up, though, was a whole team of D. Vas who nipped around the side of the Volskaya Industries map, using their boost ability, and surprised the other team right on their objective. Trying to kill six D. Vas takes a while!

Behold, the D. Va rush!

Cheeky tactics are worth a punt when you're on Attack and at the beginning of a game. You'll be so close to spawn it won't matter much if you wipe. And if you come back with a different set-up it may confuse the enemy team even more. But this requires communication.

Conversely, a death at the beginning of a Defend match means a long run back, handing the Attack team a significant advantage. Don't die cheaply. Better to hold a choke-point strongly than stand outside the Attack team's spawn doors and fight them there.

Work together. Some characters are designed to go it alone, to harry a back line, but even they will work better in numbers. Cohesion becomes a particular problem when people start dying and running from spawn, back to the battle, in dribs and drabs. You're fodder for the opposing team like this, whereas if you wait a moment for others to respawn you stand a far better chance.

Wait for your Ultimate moment. When Ultimates charge it's tempting to use them ASAP but don't - wait. Wait for the opposing team to huddle, or until you've flanked and caught them with their pants down. Or, even better, wait for an ally to pop their Ultimate and use yours then. The goal is a Team Kill, which means you'll have a few moments to press an unimpeded advantage while your enemies run back from spawn.

There are specific audio lines that accompany opposing characters' Ultimates. They're warning signs so learn them. Particularly devastating Ultimates come from D. Va - "Nerf this!" - whose mech suit swells and explodes and kills all around (including her if she hasn't found cover), and Junkrat - "Fire in the hole!" - whose controllable exploding spiked tyre does the same (but you can kill it before it gets to you if you're quick). You can find all the lines here.

"It's high noon" is McCree marking people for insta-death; "Justice rains from above" is Pharah spewing tons of rockets; and "Ryu ga waga teki wo kurau!" is Hanzo summoning spirit dragons that pass through walls and drain the health of anyone in their path. "I've got you in my sights" is Soldier 76 temporarily in buffed-damage mode; "Molten Core!" is Torbjorn in super-powered turret mode; and "dur dur dur duh dur durrr" is Bastion in mini-tank mode. All of these Ultimates are, at a basic level, best avoided - or countered with a support character's Ultimate if you can.

Other Ultimates happen at closer range and harder to do anything about. But if you hear Reaper spouting "Die, die, die!" and you're standing next to him, kill him quick!

This is a perfect example of combined ultimates.

Use the Practice Range. You can try out all the characters there. Even if you don't intend using them it's good to know what they can do. F1 brings up your abilities on PC, and d-pad left does it on console. You can also tweak and test all your controller sensitivity options and user interface preferences there. You can set different controls for each character using a dropdown box in the Options > Controls area. This is particularly important for sniper Widowmaker whose zoomed-in sensitivity can be set separately.

There's a command wheel for communicating with your team. Hit C on PC, or d-pad down on console. "Group up on me!" and "My Ultimate is ready" are particularly useful.

Watch your health and ammo. Simple, I know, but getting the drop on someone when you have an empty clip and half-health is seriously annoying. Reload is R on PC and square, or X, on console. Some characters regenerate health but plenty do not. Head into rooms for health packs and try to remember where you found them.

You can kill enemies by pushing them off sides or down holes. This is really effective. Lucio's alternate fire works well here, as does D. Va's boost and Pharah's wrist-fired knockback. Roadhog's Ultimate continually pushes people back as does each swipe from Winston in Ultimate form. If there's a map with particularly perilous edges and holes, consider these characters.

Don't forget to melee - a close-range enemy with a slither of health can be taken out quickly this way.

Payloads need three people around them to move at their maximum speed. More people won't make a difference. Payloads can also be pushed back by the opposing team, but more slowly, and only if no opposing members are around it.

There are always multiple routes to an objective; if one isn't working, try another. Keep the other team on their toes.

Oh, and... you can spray-paint walls and floors with logos by pressing T on PC and d-pad up on console. And objects in spawn rooms can be interacted with - bells, arcade machines, basketballs…

That's it from me - I hope this helps. Don't forget to learn from others as you play, particularly those who kill you, and to keep an eye on the Play of the Game clips at the end of matches for ideas about how to use Ultimates effectively.

Most of all: good luck, have fun.

For all the latest Overwatch hero, map and gameplay guides, visit our sister site MetaBomb

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