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Overwatch isn’t your typical first-person shooter. It’s all about the teamplay – there’s no single-player or deathmatch mode – and it’s big and brash and brightly-colored, with a cast of outlandish, over-the-top heroes distributed across four roles: offense, defense, tanks and support.
It doesn’t take a monster PC to run it, either; a mid-range system equipped with an entry-level NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950 should be more than capable of playing it at 1080p 60fps with medium detail settings, while a GTX 970 will enable you to turn all the settings right up to ensure you don’t miss a thing in the heat of battle with 2560×1440 gaming. If you want to crank up its visual performance even more, a GTX 980 Ti is recommended for 3840×2160 gaming.
And if you really want to let Overwatch’s luscious next-gen fantasy visuals shine, NVIDIA’s new GPU juggernaut GTX 1080 delivers up to 3x the performance of previous generation graphics cards.
Each Overwatch hero has their own distinct set of abilities and weapons; rather than pick your guns, you get what you’re given, which can add to the pressure of choosing a character while the timer’s ticking down for the start of a match. And while the characters are excellently balanced so you’ll never feel at a loose end whoever you pick, it’s nice to at least start out with a set of weapons that suit your style.
Here, then, is a quick guide to who has what weapons, and how effective they are. Whether you’re a gung-ho blaster, a sneaky sniper or a melee fighter (or something else entirely), there’s an Overwatch character for you; find out who it is.
If you’re confident of your aim and value a quiet kill, Genji’s shuriken can be a lot of fun. In their primary mode he flings three of them in quick succession. You’ll need to ensure that your target stays in your crosshairs so that all three hit home. They do a tasty chunk of damage and work well even at long range. The alternate mode – three thrown simultaneously and fanning out – is more hit and miss, but handy if you’re suddenly facing an onslaught.
McCree’s Peacekeeper is a solid, reliable revolver. It’s great for inflicting damage over a short to medium range, as long as your aim is up to the job. Don’t waste your time trying to pick off anyone at a distance, though; its effectiveness falls off quickly at longer range. For a quick kill, try the alternate fire mode; it’ll unload the entire barrel in short order, but beware of the recoil.
Pharah: Rocket launcher
Pharah’s the perfect choice for old-school FPS players who love grabbing a rocket launcher for some explosive mayhem. Her rocket launcher spits out projectiles at an impressive rate, and they’ll do a splendid amount of damage as well as splash damage to any enemies too close. The downside is that it can be tricky to effectively target enemies at a distance. Practice makes perfect.
Reaper: Hellfire shotguns
A popular choice in Overwatch, Reaper’s twin shotguns are perfect for everyone who likes their combat up close and personal. Fired at short range they’re utterly deadly, but the damage they do tails off sharply with distance; try to blast someone a long way off and you won’t inflict much damage.
Soldier: 76: Heavy pulse rifle
Soldier: 76’s heavy pulse rifle is a solid weapon at all levels of play, and there aren’t any glaring disadvantages to taking it into combat. It’s an efficient all-round weapon that’ll certainly do the job at short and medium range, but you’ll find it’s less accurate at hitting long-range targets. If you’re finding your feet in Overwatch then it’s a perfect beginner’s gun, but you’ll soon want to graduate to something more sophisticated.
Tracer: Pulse pistols
Tracer’s all about the speed and her pulse pistols reflect this. They’re perfect for nipping in near to an enemy, scoring a quick kill and then getting the hell out again. They’ll do a lot of damage at close range very quickly, but they’ll eat through ammo at quite a rate and they’re hopeless for longer-range shots. Very much an acquired taste, but if you enjoy playing at top speed then you’ll learn to love them.
Bastion: Recon, Sentry and Tank configurations
Nature-loving battle robot Bastion is another great beginner’s choice. In Recon configuration its submachine gun is a decent short to medium range weapon, but if you really want to deal the damage then switch to its immobile Sentry and spew out a devastating hail of bullets. Add to that its short-term Tank mode ultimate ability, which equips you with a mighty long-range cannon, and you have an impressive selection of destruction.
Hanzo: Storm bow
It’ll take a while to get the hang of Hanzo’s Storm bow, but once you get a feel for its capabilities you’ll find it hard to put down. The secret is not to tap the fire button – which will just ping out a weedy shot that’ll annoy people more than anyone else – but hold it down to draw the arrow back fully, then release to fire. It’s slow and demands concentration, but a well-aimed arrow can do a lot of damage, and its scatter arrows can hurt a lot of enemies in one go.
Junkrat: Frag launcher
If you like things that go boom and you’re not too fussy about who or what you hit, then Junkrat’s frag launcher should bring you a lot of joy. It’ll fire grenades just as far as you want, and they’ll bounce merrily along and explode when they hit an opponent. You can spam them out at an impressive rate, which makes up for the fact that they’re difficult to aim accurately; as always, practice pays off.
Mei: Endothermic blaster
For Overwatch players who aren’t really all that keen on wanton death and destruction, Mei and her endothermic blaster are an ideal combination. In its primary mode, you’ll have a hard time actually killing anyone with its icy stream, but you’ll at least slow them down and make them an easy target for teammates. Its secondary fire mode is more powerful, shooting out deadly icicles, but it takes a second to charge, forcing you to be steady with your aim.
Torbjörn: Rivet gun and forge hammer
Torbjörn is more about construction, but with his rivet gun he can be handy in a fight. It blasts out painful red-hot rivets over a long range and at a fairly decent rate, and for a quick close-range kill hit the secondary fire, which ejects a burst of molten metal. His forge hammer, useful for creating turrets and armour packs, can also be used as a melee weapon in a pinch but it’s best left to building stuff.
Widowmaker: Widows’s Kiss
There’s nothing quite like sniping a distant enemy with a well-aimed headshot, and Widowmaker’s Widow’s Kiss is made for that job. Find a nice high vantage point with her grappling hook and you can sit picking off the opposition all day. Even better, if things get a little too hectic on the ground you can jump in and use it in fully automatic mode; nowhere near as deadly but still a great weapon for medium-range combat.
D.Va: Fusion cannons
D.Va’s pink mech comes equipped with a pair of short-range rotating cannons that’ll keep on spewing out the bullets without the need to reload. They’re deadly up close but next to useless on distant enemies, and they’ll slow her down significantly when they’re firing. Out of her mech she packs a light blaster, but you wouldn’t want to take it into battle; it’s more for surviving until she can call in a replacement mech.
Reinhardt: Rocket hammer
For melee fighters there’s nothing better than Reinhardt’s rocket hammer. It’ll batter anyone in range with a single swing, and if you get the timing right you can swing it back and forth in a mighty arc of destruction. You can also use it to unleash a deadly fireball and, as Reinhardt’s ultimate ability, smash it into the ground to stagger and damage any enemies within range. It’s quite a versatile piece of hardware!
Roadhog: Scrap gun
Roadhog’s scrap gun is a joy to use up close; loose it in the general direction of a nearby enemy and it’ll shred them with a wide-spread blast of shrapnel. For medium-range enemies it’ll fire an exploding ball of shrapnel that’s pretty tasty too, but you’ll get more joy combining the scrap gun with Roadhog’s chain hook, using it to pull an enemy in close and then unload the scrap gun right in their face.
Winston: Tesla cannon
A Tesla cannon sounds like an impressive weapon to wield, and Winston’s main weapon is certainly a lovely-looking piece of kit. Iit has a very short range but it’s good for taking out non-armored targets including snipers. While it’s fine for fending attackers off, if you’re playing as Winston you’ll want to concentrate on his tank skills – creating energy barriers, his jump pack melee attack and of course his Primal Rage ultimate ability.
Zarya: Particle cannon
It’s easy to dismiss Zarya’s enormous particle cannon when you first try her out; both its short-range beam and medium-range explosive charge fell more than a little underwhelming. However, it has a clever trick in that it can absorb energy from both her personal and projected barriers, which seriously ramps up its firepower, and so by protecting both herself and her teammates she ends up with a serious piece of weaponry.
Lúcio: Sonic amplifier
You don’t really expect a support character to pack much in the way of firepower, but Overwatch’s supports mostly do pretty well. Lúcio’s sonic amplifier makes a good fist of beating back the opposition while he’s skating around, energising himself and teammates with music, and while you’re unlikely to figure in the top kills you can do quite a bit of damage with it.
Mercy: Caduceus blaster
Mercy on the other hand is someone who’s much more suited to a pure support role and staying out of trouble. Her Caduceus staff is great for boosting teammates’ health or damage dealing abilities, but her Caduceus blaster – described as being best reserved for emergency personal defence – is a lot less effective.
Symmetra: Photon projector
A really versatile support character, Symmetra can provide shields, place turrets and even drop a teleporter pad to help teammates get around, and she’s not lacking in firepower either. Her Photon projector’s short range beam is weedy in quick bursts, but increases in power the longer it’s focused on an enemy, while its charged energy ball can do a lot of damage, although it takes a while to power up and moves pretty slowly.
Zenyatta: Orb of destruction
You can’t help but love Zenyatta, the levitating robot monk, and in the right hands his orbs of destruction can make for plenty of kills. They’re decent enough in primary mode; you can fling out about three per second and they’ll do creditable damage at all ranges, but by combining them in secondary mode you can unleash a lot of pain in one go, as long as you’re prepared to hold on for a couple of seconds to charge up your shot.