Overwatch guide: heroes, maps, mechanics and more!
Our comprehensive collection of all the hero guides, map guides and gameplay advice you need to dominate in Blizzard's new shooter, Overwatch.
Whether you're trying out the free-to-play weekend on consoles or have been playing since launch and want to finally master the game's many maps and characters, we've teamed up with all-things-Blizzard sister site Metabomb in order to bring you all of the Overwatch guides that you might need.
We will be continually updating all of our guide content on MetaBomb in order to make sure it remains relevant to whatever the latest twists and turns of Overwatch's evolving metagame happen to be. We'll make sure that the links in this guide always lead you directly to the most recent version of each article, but we hope you'll come and say hello over on Metabomb as well, and let us know how you're getting on with the game. Have fun!
Overwatch Hero guides
Right now there are 23 heroes to play with in total, although Blizzard has strongly hinted that there'll be more to come in the months ahead. They're split into four distinct categories of Offense, Defense, Tank and Support.
We're in the process of updating all of these guides continuously over time, but we think should give you a distinct edge over the competition straight away. If you'd like to get a feel for each of these Hero's backstory, make sure you check out our round-up of Overwatch character biographies.
- Genji is possessed of exceptional mobility and damage output, but he requires ninja-like reflexes on the part of the player if he's to be played to a high standard. One for more experienced gamers we think - Genji guide
- McCree is Overwatch's rootin', tootin' cowboy character who packs a stun grenade and a pretty powerful pistol. As strong a duelist as you'd probably expect of this Hero - McCree guide
- Pharah prefers to do her thing from a position of height, using a jetpack to take to the skies, before unleashing unholy hell onto the enemy team via a barrage of rocketfire - Pharah guide
- Reaper is one of the strongest offense heroes in Overwatch right now, and favours flanking the enemy team in order to reap the souls of his victims - Reaper guide
- Soldier: 76 is the most traditional FPS hero that Overwatch has to offer, but he also packs a handy healing ability to help his team out - Soldier: 76 guide
- Sombra is the latest hero to be added to the game, and she's a character who specialises in opportunistic takedowns, as well as hero and health pack hacking - Sombra guide
- Tracer is Overwatch's postergirl and is capable of warping time and space in order to enhance her role as a burst-damage assassin. Twitchy but terrifying - Tracer guide
- Bastion is a terrifying turret on two legs, one that's capable of tearing through an advancing team when he's positioned well - Bastion guide
- Hanzo possesses some of the same sniping flair that Widowmaker enjoys (see below) but is equally capable at closer range combat too - Hanzo guide
- Junkrat favours throwing bombs, traps and mechanical contraptions around every map in order to frustrate the enemy's advance - Junkrat guide
- Mei takes a frosty approach to combat, slowing or stopping her enemies altogether so that her teammates have a much easier time of finishing the job off - Mei guide
- Torbjorn's defensive speciality lies in artfully positioning and then upgrading his defensive turret in such a manner that it picks off enemies before it's barely even been spotted - Torbjorn guide
- Widowmaker is the purest sniper hero in Overwatch and - left to her own devices - can single-handedly rip an approaching team to pieces - Widowmaker guide
- D.Va's mech suit provides a tremendous amount of mobility, and can also project a protective barrier that nullifies incoming projectiles - D.Va guide
- Reinhardt is an extremely traditional tank who projects an energy barrier to help his team advance safely. A superb choice for beginners - Reinhardt guide
- Roadhog might be a little lacking in the mobility department, but his incredible health pool and hook-shot ability make him a pretty tasty tank - Roadhog guide
- Winston combines protective barrier shields with strong mobility to assist his team while hassling the enemy back-lines - Winston guide
- Zarya converts incoming damage into raw energy that in turn increases the power of her weapon as she protects her team with shields - Zarya guide
- Ana is Overwatch's first post-launch Hero and provides long-range healing support to her team via a rejuvenating sniper rifle - Ana guide
- Lucio blends speed and healing buffs in order to ferry his team around the battlefield or bring them back from the brink of death - Lucio guide
- Mercy can provide one of two distinct buffs to a single teammate: a heal over-time-effect, or an offensive boost that increases their damage output - Mercy guide
- Symmetra specialises in using various gadgets to empower her team's defensive capabilities. A Teleporter can be placed to bring allies back into battle quickly after death, while her turrets do a good job of chipping away at careless attackers - Symmetra guide
- Zenyatta flings magical orbs around the battlefield to either increase the damage a single enemy target takes, or restore the health of an ally over time - Zenyatta guide
Metabomb also maintains an Overwatch Tier List feature which ranks the heroes against one another on an ongoing basis. There's all kinds of imaginative alchemy driving that list, including the general early skill level of the playerbase and whatever balancing acts Blizzard has seen fit to make in recent weeks.
The ranking list will be updated on a monthly basis as the metagame evolves, and we look forward to reading your violent disagreement in the comments section whenever we do so...
Overwatch Map guides
There are currently a dozen or so maps available for Overwatch, spread across four different and distinct categories. Here's a quick look at how the different objective systems work across the entire pool of maps, along with a brief overview of each individual battleground
Assault maps tasks one team with attacking an objective in order to bring it under their control within a time limit. The other team attempts to stop them doing so. Pretty simple stuff really - Assault guide
- Hanamura is the colourful home of heroes Hanzo and Genji, and is jam-packed with clever corridors - Hanamura guide
- Temple of Anubis has loads of winding overpasses, tunnels and stairs - expect frantic firefights here - Temple of Anubis guide
- Volskaya Industries is a Russian industrial zone that's packed with plenty of wide open spaces - Volskaya Industries guide
Control maps are best-of-three affairs where the two teams compete to take charge of control points which slowly become captured over time - Control guide
- Ilios provides a beautiful Mediterranean destination for plenty of sand, sea and...shooting - Ilios guide
- Lijiang Tower is located in China and has a handful of both interior and exterior points to fight over - Lijiang Tower guide
- Nepal is the very spiritual home of hero Zenyatta, and features three strategically very different - and challenging - objectives - Nepal guide
In Escort maps, the challenge is for one team to "push" - using their proximity - a Payload through each map's assorted checkpoints.
- Dorado's Spanish flavours are plain as day on Dorado, and this map provides plenty of fun for those brave enough to scout ahead - Dorado guide
- Route 66 is one of the most recent additions to Overwatch, and adds some Americana flavour to the game - Route 66 guide
- Watchpoint: Gibraltar is one of Overwatch's most iconic maps and is sure to satisfy your sniping itch - Watchpoint: Gibraltar guide
As the name suggests, Hybrid maps are a combination of two of the above objective types: Assault and Escort. First you must take a control point, then escort a Payload to its destination.
- Eichenwalde is a castle-themed battleground set within sprawling forests and appears to have a distinctly Bavarian flavour - Eichenwalde guide
- Hollywood is a sprawling film set that contains plenty of opportunities for ambushing your opponents - Hollywood guide
- King's Row will be a very familiar slice of London for those who enjoyed Blizzard's recent cinematic shorts - King's Row guide
- Numbani features plenty of ramps, sniping spots and shortcuts for those brave enough to scout ahead - Numbani guide
Miscellaneous Overwatch guides
If you want to get a better understanding of the levelling systems and Achievement requirements in Overwatch, we've got a few miscellaneous guides that you might find useful when you're starting out.
We've also got a rough guide to fleshing out a team properly when you're queuing up with random players, and an overview of the best hero for beginners in each category. Want to increase your odds of getting Play of the Game? We've got a primer for how that works as well.
- Overwatch: Levelling and Progression guide
- Overwatch: Achievements guide
- Overwatch: How to get Play of the Game
- Overwatch: Which Hero to pick in random groups
- Overwatch: Best Heroes for beginners
- Overwatch: Hero counters guide
- Overwatch: Hero / Character stats guide
- Overwatch Competitive Play: What you need to know
The following team comp guides will help you build a solid starting team for any map you find yourself on. Don't forget, however, that flexibility is key in Overwatch and you must be willing to switch Heroes to counter a specific threat!
- Overwatch: Best Assault map team comps and builds
- Overwatch: Best Control map team comps and builds
- Overwatch: Best Escort map team comps and builds
- Overwatch: Best Hybrid map team comps and builds
One more thing! Right now there's no in-game system for creating clans in Overwatch, which means you're limited to playing with either random players or people on your friends list. As we reported a little earlier on this month, Metabomb has teamed up with the creators of The100 to create a Overwatch group-finding tool.
Think of it as a sort of instant clan service where you'll be permanently grouped up with a pool of 100 likeminded players who share similar play philosophies and - most importantly - schedules. This way you should always have a team of friends ready to jump into a match when it suits you. If the classic triple-Bastion assault favoured by so many random players is starting to wear a little thin, you should probably sign up.
Overwatch tips for new players
Here a few handy tips we'll leave you with. Some will be obvious to FPS diehards, but we reckon Overwatch is going to grab the attention of an unusually wide audience.
- It's worth taking the time to develop a little discipline when it comes to your ammo. In a one-on-one fight it's very easy to panic and unload your weapon into an opponent. Concentrated bursts of fire - combined with clever mobility - can often give you a significant edge. Never stop moving in combat either.
- Talk to your team! If you're not on a headset then you can use the tab key on PC to cycle between battle and team chats. It gets a bit frustrating watching people fail to coordinate and charge into the same deadly defenses in the same way, over and over, but if you know better than them then make sure you speak up (nicely, of course)!
- Commit to playing a handful of games with every member of the hero roster. Not only will this make you a more rounded player overall, it'll also help you find your niche in the game. Even if you have a pretty shocking aim there may well be a Support or Tank hero that's just right for you.
- Play around with the control sensitivity settings, but don't do anything too extreme unless you were born to play first-person shooters. There's a definite sweet-spot that you need to find, and by default things are pretty sluggish. Keep pushing that sensitivity higher over time to gain an increasingly powerful advantage.
- One final tip. Resist the urge to be a one-man/woman wrecking machine. It's too easy to think that you should be doing something - anything - all of the time, when often it's more sensible to wait for a teammate or two to catch up with you from the spawn room. You are never going to win a 6 v 1 encounter in this game, but it's astonishing how many people give it a go regardless!