Overwatch is an ever-evolving thing, with its own metagame, patch structure, test phases and massive, massive community. 27 men, women, robots, heroes and every combination therein are available to play and if you're just jumping in it can be a bit confusing. In Blizzard style, most of them are viable, but who are the best Overwatch characters? A few pointers will help you on your way to better scores, more kills and wins, wins, wins.
As for what's coming next, here's everything we know about upcoming Overwatch characters.
The roster won't be changing again until later in 2018 so now's the perfect time to start picking favourites. Below you'll find descriptions and videos for each hero, broken up by their role as offense, defense, support or tank, as well as recommendations for who to start as, an alternate choice just in case, and one to put your skills to the test and make flashy plays with.
Best Overwatch Offense heroes
Best Overwatch Defence heroes
Best Overwatch Tank heroes
Best Overwatch Support heroes
Best offense hero to start with: Soldier: 76
Primary: Heavy Pulse Rifle - A rapid-fire machine gun, accurate and damaging. Have you played an FPS? If so, you know what this is.
Secondary: Helix Rockets - An underslung rocket-launcher that fires three spiraling projectiles at once. Deals heavy damage.
Shift: Sprint - 76 can eschew his other abilities and shooting to move faster until cancelled.
E Ability: Biotic Field - Drops a device on the ground that produces a healing field for a short period. Effects allies.
Ultimate: Tactical Visor - 76 gains perfect auto-aim for a short time for anything in his vision. Effects both the primary and secondary fire modes.
76 is clearly aimed at the more standard FPS player, and that makes him a really good starting point whether you've got 1,000 hours in Call of Duty or are jumping in from a life of World of Warcraft and Diablo. His two fire modes operate similarly to popular CoD weapons, his sprint functions in the same way and he can self-heal whenever he likes, with the added bonus it helps out team-mates as well. The auto-aiming ultimate is a nice touch, and has massive potential while requiring good timing to use effectively. His ability to headshot with every bullet means obscene damage is accessible with decent aim, but so long as you can point 'n' shoot you'll be helping out your team. His sprint lets you explore more easily and his heals mean you'll persist through spotty bits of damage. A great all-rounder.
- Pharah - Consistent medium-to-long range fire quicker and more accurate than her rockets.
- Bastion - Self-heal let's S76 hide round corners and infinite range on rockets means he can fire from out of Bastion's kill-zone.
- Zenyatta - High burst damage good against his small health-pool, good at similar ranges with more damage output.
- Reinhardt - Not enough damage to burst at close range or through the shield, which stops auto-aim dead.
- D.Va - Her point-defence zone cancels everything S76 does and she can out-damage him in close
- Widowmaker - Outranges S76 easily, should never be caught at optimum range and can dodge his fire
Primary: Rocket Launcher - It's a rocket launcher, you do not need it explained. In Overwatch's world of hit-scan, it's not at its strongest, but good aim and leading the target will mean great damage.
Shift: Jump Jet - Launches Pharah high into the air, letting her reposition or get a tactical advantage.
E Ability: Concussive Blast - A wrist-mounted weapon that pushes enemies away from the impact point.
Ultimate: Barrage - Immobilises Pharah wherever she is and fires a stream of rockets. Very good AoE damage and can be used in the air.
Passive: Hover - Pharah can stay airborne for a short period using fuel which recharges when she's grounded.
Pharah's just rad as hell, with a combo of high-explosive weaponry and the ability to actually fly. She's good for a beginner because her rockets put out decent damage and she's able to escape most basic situations with a quick blast off. She's also harder to play than it looks, not least because her rockets are not easy to hit outside of close-range, but put a bit of time in and you'll nail them. Learning likely routes of enemies, exploiting choke-points and finding positions where you're harder to dodge but unlikely to be killed is the challenge. A well-timed ultimate is doom for an entire enemy team, but don't be afraid to pop it out for a quick double-kill from a disadvantaged situation - it builds quickly with all this AoE damage.
- Zarya - Easy to out-range and she can't do anything once you're away from AoE-able surfaces.
- Torbjörn - Infinite range on rockets and his need to stay stationary make Torb easy pickings.
- Mei - Her ice-beam will never touch you, and your rockets do more damage than her icicle.
- Roadhog - Can hook Pharah out of the air easily and cancel her ult to boot
- Widowmaker - Will pick Pharah out of the skies with ease
- Bastion - While Pharah can outrange him, he's one of the best for taking out aerial threats.
Get really good with: Genji
Primary: Shuriken - Three shurikens fired with perfect accuracy one after the other in a burst.
Secondary: Shuriken Fan - Throws all three in a spread, meaning big damage on a single target up close or spread across medium range.
Shift: Swift Strike - A dashing attack that passes through enemies, dealing damage. Refreshes its cooldown when you get a kill.
E Ability: Deflect - Genji reflects all projectiles fired at him for a short duration, aiming them with the crosshair.
Ultimate: Dragonblade - Draws a katana that deals serious damage in a wide arc in front of him, but only at melee range. Deflect and Swift Strike are still usable.
Passive: Cyber-Agility - Genji can scale walls and double-jump, giving him serious movement tools.
Genji is real fun to play. He's fast, he can climb walls in the same way as his brother Hanzo and does good damage with his shurikens at any range. However, at that key distance where he can connect with Swift Strike for killing blows but still escape on the other side is where he thrives. Deflect is effectively invulnerability except against key heroes, and timing it well is vital. Dragonblade completely changes his playstyle, but he doesn't need it to be effective and scary. However, with a non-hitscan weapon that does incredible burst damage and the most movement tools in the game, don't expect to dominate in your first match, or even your first ten. Genji's one to experiment with in every situation, on every map, until you know exactly what his capabilities are - oh, and practice, practice, practice for those sweet triple-tap headshots.
- Soldier: 76 - Can deflect everything, and able to combo through the low-HP quite easily
- Bastion - A well-timed deflect will see Bastion's firepower deposited ignobly on the opposing team
- Zenyatta - Easy pickings for Genji's high burst damage with lack of self-heal - though most supports are.
- Winston - Too much HP to kill quickly and an un-deflectable attack, as well as chasing tools
- Zarya - Able to absorb combos and otherwise team-killing ultimates, then fire an un-deflectable beam
- Symmetra - Turrets will mess up your flanks and her attacks can't be deflected
Primary: Pulse Pistols - Two rapid-fire, short range pistols that do heavy damage.
Shift: Blink - Tracer teleports a short distance in the direction she's moving. Cannot gain height.
E Ability: Recall - Tracer time travels a few seconds backwards, returning to her position and health at that time.
Ultimate: Pulse Bomb - A high-power sticky bomb that detonates after a short moment. Will stick to enemies as well as floors or walls.
Overwatch's poster child and fan favourite, the only thing not to love about Tracer is her horrifying accent. Unless you do, of course, you monster. She's super fast and can dash about the terrain very easily. Canny use of her rewind means easy escapes and she's got all the damage on single or multiple targets she needs when her abilities are up. There's a high skill ceiling just in maximising the damage from her pistols, which only allow for a second or so of fire before they need to be reloaded. She's at her best against unaware foes she can pick off, but she's got use operating as a scout and harasser rather than actual killer. Definitely lands a close second to Genji in skill-testing, and getting into a zone with her will make you feel invulnerable and like the best player on the planet.
- Mercy - Can flank and kill her quickly before she can get off a mass-resurrect
- Bastion - Can quickly exit his cone of fire in a batch of ways, and get behind him for easy pickings at his crit core
- Widowmaker - Tracer is hard to hit and can no-longer be one-shot in the body, plus can blink to never be in her sight.
- Soldier: 76 - Can do enough burst damage to kill Tracer quickly and can heal through harassment damage.
- Torbjörn - While her bomb combo will wreck an emplacement, he can molten-core to counter easily and his turret takes her out quickly.
- McCree - A stun gets you dead with ease and you'll never catch him out of ammo.
Primary: Peacekeeper - Standard six-shooter revolver that packs a decent punch but has damage drop off at long range.
Secondary: Peacekeeper Rapid-Fire - Less accurate but faster firing version, where McCree unloads an entire clip in quick succession.
Shift: Combat Roll - A quick dodge that also reloads ammunition on the Peacekeeper.
E Ability: Flashbang - A short-range contact grenade that stuns everyone around its explosion for a short time.
Ultimate: Deadeye - McCree's movement speed drops significantly as he draws a bead on each enemy in sight. Once he has one or more lined up, he can shoot to kill all of them. Higher health targets take longer to focus on, but can be shot early to just do a bit of damage.
McCree's had a difficult life, as far as Overwatch characters go. Initially one of the most broken characters in the game due to his infinite range, semi-rapid-fire, high-damage pistol, he's been brought back more into a close-to-mid skirmishing role via the magic of damage fall-off. Don't get me wrong, he's as strong as anyone with the right person behind the controls, but he's got an identity problem when it comes to what exactly he's for. His kit is the most inter-dependent, McCrees that keep all their abilities up being far more deadly than those that use them willy-nilly. Flashbang into right click into roll into right click is your combo, but there's a humongous rift of difference between a McCree that can hit consistant headshots with left-clicks and ones that rely on the rest of him.
- Genji - Can't deflect when he's stunned, and burst damage stops him running away.
- Tracer - Again, stun stops her being anywhere near as effective, and he'll take her down quickly at close range.
- Lucio - Can easily stop him getting away, and high burst damage prevents the heal giving him way higher EHP.
- Roadhog - Hook beats stun, and he's effective at the same ranges thanks to his right click.
- Widowmaker - Easily out-ranges McCree and takes him out quickly through his low HP
- Bastion - McCree can't get close enough to stun and can never out-damage the bot.
Primary: Hellfire Shotguns - A pair of shotguns that do obscene damage at close range.
Shift: Wraith Form - Turns Reaper into a shadow for a short period, making him immune to damage and able to pass through enemies. He is not invisible and cannot use other abilities, however.
E Ability: Shadow Step - A long range teleport that allows Reaper to reappear at any location he can see after a short wind-up.
Ultimate: Death Blossom - Moves to a third-person camera as Reaper rapidly unloads his shotguns in every direction, dealing massive damage to anyone around him. Allows for movement but not use of other moves.
Passive: The Reaping - Reaper steals health from enemies as he damages them.
Reaper's got no interest in this concept of "long range" he's heard people mentioning and every part of his kit is about getting in close and getting out of scrapes after the damage is dealt. Hell to deal with in a tight corridor, playing Reaper well is about maximising the time spent in these advantaged situations and using Shadow Step smartly to get around. Wraith Form is good for setting up the ultimate, but its main use should be for a quick exit and repositioning when outgunned. The absolute best counter to most tanks, he can rumble with basically anyone once he gets up close - the key is to keep yourself as healthy as possible, and try to take a series of one vs. ones rather than packs. If you do get caught, focus squishier enemies with a couple of headshots to leech their health first, especially as they usually do the most damage. Definitely another good pick for the beginner.
- Winston - Reaper easily smashes through his massive crit box and is far more effective at the same range.
- Roadhog - A similar story, but with the added benefit that you can dodge a hook with wraith form.
- Widowmaker - Can teleport to her hiding spot and wraith form through her killzones.
- Pharah - He just can't damage her if she decides to jump away.
- Torbjörn - His turret will out-damage your healing from killing people and generally take too much effort to take down, while he does similar damage with his own shotgun.
- McCree - Can interrupt Reaper's ult with stun and generally make a mess of his life, despite a low-HP pool.
Primary: Machine Pistol - A rapid-fire, high-ammo weapon that cuts through health quickly.
Secondary: Hack - Locks onto an enemy and, after a short time, disables their abilities for a small period.
E Ability: Translocator - Throws a teleport beacon that can be returned to for a fixed period from anywhere on the map
Shift: Thermoptic Camo - Turns Sombra invisible, boosters her movement speed. Any offensive action decloaks, as well as damage taken.
Ultimate: EMP - Hacks and destroys the shields, barriers of all nearby heroes.
Overwatch's 23rd hero is arguably its most confusing and complex. Exactly where Sombra's combination of disruption, offense, high damage, low health and map presence fits in may never become an exact science. Her ultimate is undeniably extremely powerful, and a direct counter to Lucio, Reinhardt, Zarya and various other massively popular heroes. However she can be awkward to use, her stealth is designed to cause as little frustration as possible for opponents making it difficult to use effectively, and she just doesn't have the impact of more popular "meta" heroes. For more details on all her abilities, lore and the rest, check our dedicated Sombra post.
- Reinhardt - Disabling his shield from behind will not only likely lead to Reinhardt's death, but remove his extremely powerful utility from his team as well.
- Lucio - This is mostly an ult battle - Sombra hard-counters Lucio's ult, and if well-timed will completely stop one of the game's strongest abilities.
- Torbjörn - The only character that can deal with Torb's turret without destroying it, and has decent damage output to do so.
- Reaper - There's very little Sombra can do to stop a Reaper once he's up-close, beyond teleporting away.
- Winston - Sombra just isn't effective at combating basically anything Winston does, other than trying to shoot him in the head.
- D.Va - For similar reasons, with the added bonus that D.Va's charge is an easy way to catch up to a fleeing Sombra.
Primary: Hand Cannon - a short-range burst from the knuckles of Doomfist’s fist. Ammunition is automatically regenerated over a short time.
Secondary: Rocket Punch - a charge-up attack that lunges Doomfirst forward and knocks enemies back, dealing additional damage if they hit a wall.
Shift: Rising Uppercut - an uppercut that hurls enemies into the air.
E ability: Seismic Slam - a ground-pounding leap forward that pulls in nearby enemies.
Ultimate: Meteor Strike - Doomfist leaps into the sky and then crashes down, dealing huge damage in a large circular area of effect.
Passive: The Best Defense… - generates temporary shields when dealing ability damage.
Doomfist is perhaps Overwatch’s most challenging hero. Taking more cues from Street Fighter than any FPS, effective use of Doomfist is rooted in unleashing close-range combinations. Close the gap with Rocket Punch, bring enemies to you with Seismic Slam, and finish them off with a Rising Uppercut, with all three moves being punctuated by uses of the Hand Cannon. He’s squisher than he looks, but if you can weave you way past danger then you can cause some serious damage. Just be wary of your cooldowns; Doomfist’s power lies almost entirely in his abilities, so be sure to have something ready to fire.
- Bastion - His need to remain stationary opens him up to your entire combo chain.
- Mercy - Her low health should make her a priority target for your Rocket Punch.
- Roadhog - He is a huge target, perfect for your punches, and his slow speed means you can keep him in combo range.
- Sombra - Her hack pretty much disables every trick Doomfist has, leaving him with just his weak primary fire. Avoid entirely, or flank with Rocket Punch for a quick victory.
- Orisa - Her Halt orbs can drag you out of melee range, making you all but useless.
- Pharah - Her rocket boosters keep her well out of range of your fists.
Best defense hero to start with: Junkrat
Primary: Frag Launcher - Fires explosive, bouncing grenades that detonate on impact with an enemy or after a short time.
Shift: Concussion Mine - Places a remote detonated mine that flings whoever's hit by the explosion high into the air. Useful for reaching out of the way places as well as killing or moving enemies.
Secondary: Detonate Concussion Mine
E Ability: Steel Trap - Throws out a bear trap that will briefly immobilise and deal small damage to the first enemy to run over it.
Ultimate: RIP-Tire - After a short wind-up, gives control over to a 10-second fuse remote explosive that rolls along the ground. Can be detonated but has a relatively small health pool that causes it to disintegrate without effect.
Passive: Total Mayhem - On death, Junkrat drops a batch of timed grenades on the ground, capable of killing any lower-health characters who run over them.
Overwatch's answer to the Demoman, Junkrat has a suite of AoE abilities for reducing opponents to wreckage, rubble and ruin. Damage is easy to come by with so many ways to deal it in an area, and even dying can be a quick way to put out some punishment - we've all had plays of the game where we died in just the right spot, dropped our grenades and watched the enemy team run over them. His ultimate is wonderful, clambering up and over walls to attack from odd directions. For noobies, he represents good area denial and aiming can be mostly secondary, at least to begin with. Plenty of tricks to learn with his self-propelling det charge, as well as exact grenade arcs to hit sweet shots.
- Torbjörn - Static defenses are bad against indirect fire explosives.
- Symmetra - Similar turret problems, with the added effect of easily clearing a teleporter out.
- Tracer - Trap stops her flanking, blinking or recalling and her low HP pool means death.
- Widowmaker - No effective tools at long range whatsoever, or ability to get out of the way, and she'll pick Junkrat out of the air
- Hanzo - Also out-ranges Junkrat, as well as scatter-shotting into any rooms he's hiding in.
- Pharah - Can escape into the sky, evading even Junkrat's ult.
Primary: Configuration: Recon - Bastion's normal mode, where he is equipped with a sub-machine gun.
Secondary: Configuration: Sentry - A stationary mode that increases Bastion's firepower dramatically and gives him some armour, as well as a weak-spot on his back.
Shift: Reconfigure - Switches between the primary and secondary mode.
E Ability: Self-Repair - A channelled heal that lasts as long as you like. Bastion cannot move or fire during it.
Ultimate: Configuration: Tank - A timed mode that turns you into a tank. Gives a long range explosive cannon. Obscene damage.
The cutest robot this side of late 80s children's sci-fi, Bastion's all about positioning and has none of the tools his friends do to help him. A controllable, high-powered, well-defended sentry in a good spot is invaluable, but getting caught changing isn't any better for Bastion than it was for you that one time in the toilets. The self-repair is the strongest of its type in the game, but can't be used while taking damage. Redesigned from a version that was more focused on camping single areas, Bastion does now have more options for interesting play by constantly reconfiguring, picking flanks and reacting well to oncoming threats. The pure damage output makes Bastion good for starting out, and in the early days before people understand just how strong it is with the gun pointed the right way you'll get some free kills.
- Reinhardt - Bastion is one of the few characters that can actually power through his shield.
- Zarya - In a similar manner, Bastion can also burst down her barriers, taking away a lot of her synergy.
- Winston - You may be spotting a theme here, but Bastion can tear through HP and shields so quickly.
- Widowmaker - Outranged, and can step around corners for just a brief second to nail the shot, even without a crit target.
- Junkrat - Will destroy an entrenched position with ease, and indirectly or from long range.
- Roadhog - Nearly has enough HP to survive a full burst and can hook Bastion out of turret form.
Get really good with: Widowmaker
Primary: Widow's Kiss - A fast-firing machine gun that's deadly up to medium range.
Secondary: Widow's Sniper - Widowmaker aims down the site of her rifle, transforming it into a high-powered sniper weapon.
Shift: Grappling Hook - Latches onto ledges and pulls Widowmaker up to them, allowing quick vertical traversal.
E Ability: Venom Mine - Fires a mine that sticks to any surface and explodes on proximity to an enemy, poisoning them and anyone else nearby for a time.
Ultimate: Infra-Sight - Gives Widowmaker, and her allies, the ability to see enemy heat-signatures through walls and other obstructions.
The quintessential sniper, Widowmaker's other abilities rather let her do it all. She can protect her sniping spot - that she gets to more easily with Grappling Hook - via the Venom Mines, doesn't suffer up close thanks to the power of an easily accessible sub-machine gun and her headshots charge quickly and kill off most characters in one. Just in case you were worried there wouldn't be a team element in there, she's got the global wall-hack. She's countered by higher health and damage characters getting close, but still incredibly useful - if you can aim. Those who spend enough time with her and hone those skills really will be able to lock down entire areas, and don't underestimate her power on the attacking side of a map, particularly for taking out enemy snipers and making things easier for your team.
- Hanzo - Outranged with ease, though Hanzo can have the advantage when moving in and out of corners.
- Bastion - Again outranged, and always static, plus no headshot hitbox to miss.
- Mercy - Can easily pick her out of a crowd and get rid of her before the resurrect comes into play.
- Widowmaker - It seems slightly odd to say, but one of the easiest counters to a Widowmaker is another one that the first hasn't seen coming.
- D.Va - Despite a massive crit hit-box, D.Va can both block all Widowmaker's shots and jet up to her.
- Reinhardt - Reinhardt's shield will protect everyone from Widowmaker's sight, and her gun will never penetrate it solo.
Primary: Storm Bow - Fires fast-moving arrows that are affected by gravity. Can be charged for more power.
Shift: Sonic Arrow - An alternate fire mode that lodges the arrow in a wall and emits a pulse that marks nearby enemies, even those not in line of sight.
E Ability: Scatter Arrow - This arrow fractures when it hits, ricocheting off surfaces and creating a death zone inside any small room.
Ultimate: Dragonstrike - a charged shot that comes out as two massive dragon heads, passing through walls and enemies on its way. Deals heavy damage across its area of effect.
Passive: Wall-Climb - Can climb walls to reach good sniping spots.
A very viable alternate to Widowmaker when it comes to maximising your impact once you've learned the ropes. Wall-climbing let's you move about the map freely, and if you can hit heads you'll do more damage faster than almost anyone else. Learning when to use your other abilities, particularly the room-clearing Scatter Arrow, will be vital, plus you can gather great intel with well-placed Sonics. While Hanzo can't control an area quite as well as Widowmaker, he's deadly be it spamming into a crowd or taking well-timed pot-shots. His ultimate will also combo as well as any in the game.
- Tracer - Able to ignore how fast she's running through scatter arrow, spot her flanks with sonic and kill her quickly with any headshot.
- Zenyatta - Zenyatta likes to hide in rooms and pop out for pot-shots - scatter arrow stops that.
- Winston - You may be spotting a theme here, but Bastion can tear through HP and shields so quickly.
- Widowmaker - Outranged, and can step around corners for just a brief second to nail the shot, even without a crit target.
- Junkrat - Will destroy an entrenched position with ease, and indirectly or from long range.
- Roadhog - Nearly has enough HP to survive a full burst and can hook Bastion out of turret form.
Primary: Endothermic Blaster - A freeze beam that slows and eventually stuns a target if it can be continuously hit.
Secondary: Endothermic Icicle - Heavy damage, slow firing projectile that has damage drop-off at long range.
Shift: Cryo-Freeze - Stuns Mei and makes her immune to all damage inside an ice crystal that regenerates her to full health over 4 seconds. Can be cancelled early.
E Ability: Ice Wall - Raises a large wall of ice at a target location, blocking vision, shots and movement for everyone.
Ultimate: Blizzard - Throws Mei's small robot ball friend to a location, who then constantly emits a freezing field with the same properties as her blaster.
Probably the most frustrating character in the game to go up against, Mei restricts movement and creates problems at every turn. Her Ice Wall is unique in its effect on the map, both letting you block off enemies and raise allies to positions they wouldn't normally be able to reach. Particularly deadly for putting Bastion in unexpected positions. Blizzard, meanwhile, is one of few AoE ultimates where good reactions aren't enough to stop it killing you, as the slow stops you leaving the field quickly and makes you an easy target for Mei and her buddies. Definitely another one with a lot of time required to master, but on a more strategic bent than purely to do with aim. Probably the oddest character in the game, it will likely be post-launch before her exact power level is determined - so get in early and start surprising people.
- Tracer - The fastest character doesn't like going slow, and if she stops to shoot Mei she'll end up frozen and dead.
- Genji - Simply can't win a 1v1 fight, and will get wrecked by the slow if he sticks about too long.
- Lucio - Again the slow is deadly, but for everyone, and her right-click burst damage goes through his healing easily.
- Roadhog - Unbothered by the slow and able to stop Mei retreating, plus burst her down very quickly.
- Widowmaker - Far out of range and does enough burst damage to take Mei out.
- Reaper - While Mei is the queen of close-range fights, Reaper does enough damage and can come from odd angles to mess her up.
Primary: Rivet Gun - Long range bolts of fire that travel slowly and are effected by gravity.
Secondary: Rivet Blast - A shot-gun varient on the above, spraying molten death in front of Torbjörn.
Shift: Build Turret - Places an upgradable turret that puts out a high amount of damage and can be repaired.
E Ability: Armor Pack - Throws out a collectable armor shard that can be picked up by team-mates, giving them some additional protection.
Ultimate: Molten Core - A significant self-buff that gives Torbjörn faster attack and build speed, as well as making his turret more deadly.
Passive: Scrap Collector - Collects scrap from fallen foes, powering his other abilities.
There's a lot of options in playing Torb, but the easiest way to do it is to embrace his Engineer stylings and camp one spot. However, you can go a support route too, creating safe zones with your turret and spending as much time as possible throwing out armour packs. Alternatively you can get aggressive, throwing up turrets regularly and using his decently-powered shotgun to hunt down enemies. His ultimate upgrades his turret into an OP killing machine, along with making him tanky as hell, and is custom made to receive a push and destroy it easily. Those of you who wants to play Torb likely already know it, but don't pass him over out of hatred for that campy playstyle - you might find something you love in the little guy.
- Reaper - Most flankers can't deal with turrets very well, and Reaper's the worst of the lot.
- Tracer - Too little HP to deal with a turret much of the time.
- Lucio - The turret will out-damage his healing, though his ult is more useful.
- Zarya - Can't prevent his turret from firing at Zarya or her barriers, giving her free power - and she does decent damage too.
- Reinhardt - Rein can protect an entire team worth of people blasting away at a turret.
- Widowmaker - Widow can either kill Torb to stop him repairing or just blow the turret up from outside its range.
Best tank hero to start with: Roadhog
Primary: Scrap Gun - A short-range, wide-spread shotgun blast.
Secondary: Scrap Gun Ball - Fires a ball that travels a short distance before releasing a shotgun blast in the direction it was fired.
Shift: Chain Hook - Throws out a hook that latches onto opponents, dragging them towards Roadhog and dealing a bit of damage.
E Ability: Take A Breather - Roadhog sucks on some gas for a short time, self-healing for half HP.
Ultimate: Whole Hog - A stream of shrapnel fires constantly for a few seconds, knocking enemies back and doing damage.
A tank in all but fleshy hide, Roadhog is about getting up close and personal with opponents whether they like it or not. A massive HP pool and the ability to regenerate help him get there, but slow run speed and no tools for maneuverability mean careful positioning is required. His easy regen makes him a great starter as you'll never die until you get into the thick of things. Planning routes between cover for a healing top-up or knowing back-routes to where poor snipers find their flanks exposed to hot shrapnel action is great, but he's more than capable of going straight down the middle with good support. Probably has the most effective close-range weapon in the game, though doesn't fire anywhere near as fast as Reaper. Plenty of room for growth with good hooks and ultimate timings too, and every so often you'll knock a whole team off a point (or a ledge) for the big victory.
- Soldier: 76 - Easily hookable at S:76's perfect range, and dies in a single shot most of the time.
- Tracer - Not enough HP to survive a hook-shot combo, and can't blink out before Roadhog hits it.
- Winston - Roadhog is more effective at close range, and can hook Winston away from friends.
- Widowmaker - No tools for battle at Widow's effective range and one of the few enemies who can burst through Roadhog's heal.
- Torbjörn - Unlike most tanks, Roadhog can't do anything about his turret, and hooking the Torb himself is asking for shrapnel to the face.
- Hanzo - Similar to Widowmaker, but Hanzo also has the benefit of taking Roadhog out when he tries to retreat.
Primary: Rocket Hammer - A wide-swinging melee attack that does heavy damage and knocks enemies back.
Secondary: Shield - Projects a large barrier in front of Reinhardt that moves with him and takes a lot of damage to break. Allies can hide behind it for cover.
Shift: Charge - Reinhardt powers forward in a straight line, grabbing enemies he hits. If he hits a wall, they take extra damage and are usually killed.
E Ability: Fire Strike - His only ranged attack, Reinhardt swings his hammer letting out a jet of fire that can hit multiple enemies in a row.
Ultimate: Earthshatter - Hitting the ground with the hammer, a wave of force is let out that knocks down and damages all enemies in a cone.
The tankiest of all the tanks, Reinhardt's massive shield is certainly powerful and his movement options are surprisingly good. He's got less range than his friends and a lower pure damage output rate, but Charge's capacity to one-shot and the shield's pure invulnerability shouldn't be underestimated. He'll fall quickly if he's picked out, but once he's in close there's not a lot opponents can do about multiple hammer shots to the head. While you won't be having as much obvious impact or be as independant while playing Reinhardt versus Roadhog or others, he's one of the absolute best for teamplay, and completely changes the structure of a match as soon as he enters the field for either side.
- Torbjörn - The slow push against turrets is incredible effective, and Torb has no tools to get behind.
- Zarya - Zarya simply doesn't have the damage against Reinhardt's shield, and he can counter-act her ult easily.
- Soldier: 76 - Again, no damage to get through Rein's shield, and S76's close-range damage doesn't beat out the hammer.
- Tracer - While Rein will kill Tracer quick if he can catch her, her ability to get behind quickly and easily will leave his team vulnerable.
- Reaper - Can slip past the shield and put out serious DPS before Rein can react effectively.
- Symmetra - Her right-click goes right through his shield, nullifying it almost completely.
Get really good with: Zarya
Primary: Particle Cannon - A constant beam of energy with medium range, law damage but a good option.
Secondary: Particle Grenade - A long-range, arcing ball of energy that explodes on impact.
Shift: Particle Barrier - Places a shield around Zarya that absorbs a decent amount of damage before dissipating, each bit of absorbed damage powering up her main weapon.
E Ability: Projected Barrier - Puts the barrier on a targeted ally.
Ultimate: Graviton Surge - A powerful grenade that drags in all enemies around it for a few seconds upon detonation.
Passive: Energy - Powers up her particle cannon and grenade whenever damage is absorbed. Drains over time and maxes out at 100.
Zarya can do it all: she supports her team-mates, soaks up damage with half her HP being regenerating shields and deals out serious punishment once she's charged up. Her particle beam will never be an all-star, but the grenade right-clicks are seriously punishing. Her ultimate is one of the most powerful in the game when timed right, and the perfect example of something that can be played around or countered, but still effective in the hands of an expert. Her barriers only last for a short time, so it's key to make sure they're put on targets that are already under fire. You need to have constant knowledge of your surroundings, likely attack routes and enemy status to use her properly, and timing her ult right is the difference between an easy team-wipe and stragglers getting away.
- Soldier: 76 - Zarya's bubbles counteract his ult completely and gain her power, while he doesn't have the burst to blast past her HP.
- Genji - So long as Zarya is careful not to get her ult reflected, there's little a Genji can do to stop her countering him.
- Winston - Winston's attacks are easy to absorb and Zarya does more damage than him at every range.
- Pharah - Zarya genuiely can't do anything against Pharah unless she magically appears on the ground. While shielding her rockets is easy, there's no offensive option.
- Bastion - Can power through Zarya's shields with ease, and will kill her quick up close.
- Reinhardt - Rein's shield stops basically everything Zarya does, and totally counteracts her ult.
Primary: Fusion Cannons - Close-range rotary cannons that never need to be reloaded.
Primary (Human Form): Light Gun - Fast firing and reasonably damaging pistol with long-range.
Shift: Boosters - Allows D.Va's mech to move at increased speed and fly for a couple of seconds.
E Ability: Defense Matrix - A cancellable projected cone that destroys all projectiles that enter it, including ultimates.
R Ability: Micro Missiles - a volley of explosive rockets.
Ultimate: Self-Destruct - Detonates D.Va's mech, putting her into human form. Explodes after a long, obvious wind-up but does incredible damage.
Ultimate (Human Form): Call Mech - Drops a mech in front of D.Va which she climbs inside. The calldown does light damage and push back.
The best character design is this whole silly game. A future e-sports professional and small Korean girl riding a large bubblegum-pink mech, she's very difficult to take down as she ejects for a bonus life whenever the mech is destroyed, giving her a powerful long-range weapon to help charge her quick-building ultimate and get back to full power. While in mech-form, the jets let her reposition and kill snipers or camping turrets easily, especially since D.Va can shoot while mid-flight. An incredible amount of fun and a massive nuisance for enemies, the only thing lacking is slightly lower damage than average, solved by good aim for critical hits and targeted use of Micro Missiles. Good at taking a punch, she's less impressive for supporting her team, usually operating as a slower, harder-hitting Tracer who can jet through shortcuts and behind defensive lines and prove a massive nuisance as a skirmisher. Do remember to tap her defense matrix on to any ult that uses projectiles or bullets - it's a team-saver.
- Torbjörn - D.Va can get up in the turret's business and get it out of the way pretty quickly with her guns. His turret will also continue to target a dead mech for a moment after it starts to explode.
- Widowmaker - D.Va has so much HP and can get up in Widow's grill fairly easily, as well as having a second life if necessary.
- Winston - Winston can't out-damage her shotguns at close-range and she can out-maneuvre him.
- Junkrat - While Junkrat's bombs can be stopped with point-defence, he out-ranges D.Va fairly easily and can use his explosive to deal serious damage to an ejecting D.Va.
- Zenyatta - As well as out-ranging her and proving a difficult target to dash in on, Zenyatta's discord orb renders D.Va's massive amount of armour useless
- Zarya - There's very little D.Va can do to stop Zarya, though point defense will stop her ult when shot.
Primary: Tesla Cannon - A short-range, conal attack in front of Winston.
Shift: Jump Pack - Leaping into the air, Winston can reposition to higher surfaces. Also damages and staggers all enemies near the impact point.
E Ability: Shield Projector - Throws out a device that extends a large protective bubble around an area. Team mates can shoot through it.
Ultimate: Primal Rage - Increases Winston's melee attack speed and damage, as well as buffing his damage resistance and health. Even gives Jump Pack a shorter cooldown while active.
A very tanky hyper intelligent gorilla, Winston's good at getting into the fight. He's focused on close-range combat though, so making sure he's got support is important. The ult does make him very hard to take down, but also paints a big, red, angry target on him. If someone isn't following up on your assault, you'll take a couple with you but likely be mostly ineffectual. The Shield Projector is an all-star and very good against snipers and anyone unwilling to get in there with you, though doesn't have the capacity to block ultimates for long. A good alternate to Reinhardt if you prefer to be more active, but the bubble shield is harder to use properly and provides protection for less time.
- Genji - There are almost no tools at Genji's disposal to deal with Winston beyond running away.
- Symmetra - The lightning gun will quickly clear out a room of turrets.
- Soldier: 76 - S76 has few tools to get him through a bubble shield or deal with Winston at close range.
- Reaper - Absolutely shreds Winston's HP and can escape with ease if need be.
- Zenyatta - Winston is weak to the Discord Orb, especially in ult form, and can't do much damage through a healing orb.
- Mei - Mei easily wins the 1v1, can disrupt Winston's ult and turn invulnerable if needed.
Primary: Fusion Driver - A long-range, projectile energy weapon with slow-moving bolts.
Secondary: Halt! - Fires a triggerable orb that sucks all enemies towards it upon activation.
Shift: Fortify - Makes Orisa immune to crowd control and reduces all damage she takes for a short period.
E Ability: Projective Barrier - Fires a projectile that expands into a small shield where it lands, with 900 HP.
Ultimate: Supercharger - Deploys a damagable device that increases the damage of all nearby allied heroes.
The youngest Overwatch hero at just a few weeks in the storyline, Orisa is at least designed as a second anchor tank, to help with Reinhardt's duties in that area. With more damage output at greater range, she's less focused than the german, making her less useful. That said, she'll shred targets, protect her team and has unique abilities to keep herself upright - or awake - in every situation.
- Ana - Unaffected by her sleep dart with Fortify up, good damage, and shields are all the older sniper's nemesis.
- Widowmaker - Similarly, the french one can't get much done past an Orisa barrier, and all her HP make her hard to headshot to death.
- McCree - Much like Ana, his CC is useless with quick reactions, he can't get through the shield and Orisa has enough health to resist his combos.
- Reinhardt - More of a match-up problem here, where a good Rein is just more useful in a similar role than Orisa. Could be fixed with balance changes.
- Reaper - As he is for many tanks, Reaper proves an enemy. Unlike Rein, Orisa can't even shield against his attacks, though her deadly output helps a bit.
- Genji - Going to bounce around too fast for Orisa to properly defend against.
Best support hero to start with: Mercy
Primary: Caduceus Staff - A healing weapon that fires a constant beam of regeneration at an ally.
Secondary: Caduceus Damage - Utilising the same staff, this boosts the damage of an ally rather than healing them.
Weapon: Caduceus Blaster - swap the Caduceus Blaster for a basic pistol.
Shift: Guardian Angel - Flies towards a targeted ally at great speed.
E ability: Resurrect - Brings a dead ally back to life at full health.
Ultimate: Valkyrie - Enhances all abilities and grants Mercy flight.
Passive: Angelic Descent - Mercy can slow her falling speed, allowing her to glide through the air.
Passive: Regeneration - Mercy automatically heals over time.
Medic was a ludicrously underplayed class in TF2, despite having power, fun and tactics behind it. Mercy has all that but with more options on what to do, more movement capabilities and a great ultimate. The staff can be quickly swapped out for the blaster for some solo-damage, although it's very underused by the majority of players. Her ultimate requires popping at the perfect moment in a team push to get the most out of, but it's absolutely game-changing when used right. If you want to be useful to your team, provide both pushing power and defensive buffs, you can't go wrong with Mercy. Also benefits from not requiring any aim, or really much shooting at all, to be effective, instead being about keeping as many of your allies healed as possible, switching to damage output at key moments and positioning yourself for effective ults. Plenty to master, but simple enough that she makes a great first hero for learning maps and abilities.
- Reaper - Mercy can easily escape Reaper's blasts and so long as she was out of the kill zone, nullify his ult with her own.
- Pharah - Again, Pharah will find it difficult to chase Mercy down when she's flying everywhere and her ult is nullified if it doesn't catch Mercy.
- Soldier: 76 - Mercy can quite easily outheal S76's damage on single-targets, even with helix rockets thrown in.
- Tracer - A decent Tracer will easily cut through Mercy's HP before she can react properly, and can keep up with her with blink.
- Widowmaker - Most low-health characters find Widowmaker difficult to deal with, but Widowmaker's burst damage also stops Mercy being effective.
- Junkrat - Massively spread damage on a number of targets is difficult for Mercy to deal with, and Junkrat can also pick her off.
Primary: Sonic Amplifier - A three round burst of energy shots.
Secondary: Soundwave - A conal blast that knocks all enemies in front of Lúcio back.
Shift: Crossfade - Toggles between two buff auras around Lúcio, one granting movement speed and the other for healing.
E Ability: Amp It Up - Increases the power of the currently active aura for a short time.
Ultimate: Sound Barrier - Gives Lúcio and everyone around him a powerful shield that dissipates quickly.
Passive: Wall Ride - Lúcio can run along walls, letting him traverse the map more easily.
Playing the support role in every way possible, Lúcio keeps his team up and active as long as he's around. With friends around him he gives them an extraordinarily large amount of effective HP and can help to reposition quickly or chase down enemies. This also means you can't chip away at a Lúcio-empowered team, as he'll be constantly keeping them alive and he himself is challenging to kill despite a small health pool. He's able to move around the map a lot easier with a Titanfall-style wall run, and that's where your mastery comes into play. This helps him catch up with team-mates, get in position for big plays, sneak behind enemy lines to knock stragglers off the map with Soundwave or do surprising damage with headshots. Many a highlight reel features the Overwatch 'boop' - sending most or all of a team flying off a ledge - or Lúcio surviving a similar fate with clever, repeated wall-runs.
- Reaper - Lucio can knock an ulting reaper away from his team, and speed boost helps him escape if he gets caught.
- D.Va - D.Va can do very little about being knocked back repeatedly, and her damage is difficult to sustain through Lucio's healing.
- Tracer - Lucio is difficult to lock down for a quick burst of damage, and he can keep allies up through harrassment attacks easily.
- Widowmaker - Much like Mercy, Lucio's healing is ineffective versus Widowmaker's burst damage and he has low HP she can exploit.
- Hanzo - Burst damage once again makes Hanzo a good counter, plus scatter arrow makes Lucio's speed irrelevant.
- Roadhog - Can hook Lucio out of a crowd, making both his speed and healing useless.
Get really good with: Ana
Primary: Biotic Rifle - A long range sniper rifle that applies a short damage over time effect. It heals allies it hits.
Secondary: Scope - Scopes Ana's rifle, making it a hitscan weapon rather than a fast projectile, and altering her stance.
Shift: Sleep Dart - A five second stun that forces a character to sleep - until they're damaged.
E Ability: Biotic Grenade - An explosive that damages enemies and heals allies (including Ana herself if she's in the radius). It also increases how much healing allies receive from all sources, while preventing enemies from receiving any at all for a short period.
Ultimate: Nano Boost - Puts a massive buff on a single ally, increasing their damage, resistance and speed significantly for a short time.
Pharah's mother arrives in-game as Overwatch's first new hero since launch. Her healing style is completely new, and early buffs are as much an indication that nobody has any idea how to play her as they are of her power level. Her abilities are exceedingly powerful in the right circumstances, almost useless in others. A support that requires aiming to be effective at their job makes her different enough just on its own, nevermind the other complexities. She is definitely at her best when paired with another support, be that a hard healer like Mercy that lets Ana get offensive or a semi-support Symmetra that makes Ana's light healing much more effective.
- Mercy - A healing block is deadly against Mercy's dedicated role, and the sniper rifle means she can be picked off easier.
- Pharah - Her daughter proves one of Ana's strengths, as she can pick her out of the air easily with her suite.
- Roadhog - Her Biotic Grenade can shut off his self-heal - a massive part of his survivability and ult gain - and she heals from a range far beyond his hook's capabilities.
- Widowmaker - In a straight 1v1, Widow's sniper rifle rather outpowers Ana's, as seen in her lore trailer.
- Lúcio - His constant healing over time makes her weapon near-useless.
- Soldier 76 - Ana's healing is neither good in groups, nor focusing single targets, so sustained or spread damage of any sort can be a real issue for her. S:76 has both.
Primary: Photon Projector - A beam of energy that will latch onto a target, damaging them until they leave its range.
Secondary: Photon Ball - A charged ball that deals big damage as it travels and passes through enemies plus projected barriers.
Shift: Sentry Turret - Places an immobile turret that lasers any enemies that come within range. Can place multiples.
E Ability: Photon Barrier - Fires a shield that travels straight forward, stopping any enemy fire.
Ultimate: Teleporter - Symmetra places a teleporter exit connected to an auto-built entrance at her team's spawnpoint.
Ultimate 2: Shield Generator - Provides 75 shields to any character in range of the building, which can be destroyed.
Overwatch's first big character rework, Symmetra is a whole new beast. She can no longer provide any sort of passive protection to her team, and will be completely useless as a sole support. However, she does more damage than before, more reliably, and has more powerful protective tools. Put that photon barrier down a corridor and you're safer than behind a Reinhardt shield, at least for a limited time. Get someone trapped in the microwave and you're putting out more DPS than almost any other character, assuming you pre-planned with sentries. She's still situational, there are just a lot more of those situations - we won't know what that means in the long-run for a little while yet.
- Genji - The turret slows, plus the fact Genji has poor spread damage and is a low-HP flanker, make Symmetra a good defensive pick against him.
- Reinhardt - One of the few counters to a Reinhardt shield is the Photon Ball. Now that she's usable in more situations, that's more relevant.
- Bastion - Her orb will happily deal full damage to a stationary Bastion and pass through almost anything protecting him, plus she can shut him down with Photon Barrier.
- Reaper - Particularly adept at getting behind enemy lines to destroy a teleporter or shield generator, can also clear a room of turrets easily and has the HP to avoid dying to them.
- Winston - Mobile, high-health and able to clear multiple turrets immediately, he's pretty much a Symmetra hard counter.
- Widowmaker - Can kill Symmetra fairly easily due to her health pool, kill turrets and ultimates from range and generally stay out of Symmetra's effective zones.
Primary: Orb of Destruction - Rapid firing projectiles from Zenyatta's necklace.
Secondary: Charged Orbs - Gathering all his orbs around him, Zenyatta projects five of them out at once for big damage.
Shift: Orb of Harmony - An orb attachs to a nearby ally and continues to heal them for as long as Zenyatta is alive and they are within line-of-sight.
E Ability: Orb of Discord - Attaches to an enemy, increasing the amount of damage they take from all sources so long as they remain within line-of-sight.
Ultimate: Transcendence - Transforms Zenyatta into a healing beacon, making him immune to damage but unable to use other abilities until it finishes. He also constantly heals himself and those around him.
Floating Robot Death Monk wasn't something I'd considered as a possible playable character in a video game before, but here we are. Zenyatta has a good mix of support and offensive abilities, and his ultimate is up there with Mercy for pure staying power of a team. His basic attacks have great range, perfect accuracy and do very good damage, making him a threat on his own, particularly with Orb of Discord. Orb of Harmony on a tank will make them nearly unkillable and he's a great attacking support thanks to high move speed, but having to keep allies and enemies within line of sight can be a challenge on his small health pool. Occupying an offense/support middle-ground, if your team needs a healer but you can't drag yourself away from those elimination numbers, he might be the robo-boy for you.
- D.Va - Discord Orb chews through her stacked HP with ease and Harmony will stop most of her damage.
- Roadhog - Similar to D.Va, Roadhog is very vulnerable to a discord orb. Zenyatta also has one of the few ults a hook doesn't cancel.
- Pharah - Zenyatta can sniper Pharah out of the sky fairly easily, and Discord Orb helps a lot.
- Hanzo - Hanzo beats Zenyatta at almost any range, and scatter arrow wrecks havoc on Zen's tiny health pool.
- Mercy - Mercy is like Zenyatta only with better movement tools, a damage buff that always helps your best team member and an ult that doesn't require prediction.
- Tracer - A tiny health pool and ineffective close-range tools make Tracer a nightmare for Zenyatta to deal with.
Primary: Biotic Grasp, left hand - expend biotic energy to heal allies with a spray of mist.
Secondary: Biotic Grasp, right hand - a long-range beam weapon that latches on and saps enemies’ health. Heals Moira and replenishes biotic energy.
Shift: Fade - quickly teleport a short distance.
E ability: Biotic Orb - launch a rebounding sphere. Moira can choose between a regenerative orb that heals allies it passes through, or a decay effect that damages enemies.
Ultimate: Coalescence - a long-range beam that heals enemies and bypasses barriers to damage enemies.
A monster of an off-healer, Moira strikes a perfect balance between squad medic and DPS. While not quite powerful enough to be the team’s only healer, her Biotic Grasp is a potent buffer, and and even more fearsome attack: the damaging beam is both long-range and auto-targets in a similar way to Symmetra’s Photon Projector. Biotic Orbs appear insignificant at first, but are fantastic enemy irritants; they do more damage than you think. Coalescence is Moira’s trick shot, although it should be thought of first and foremost as a healing beam that deals a happy side of damage, rather than an offensive battering ram.
- Genji - His low health means he’s easily knocked out, and is unable to deflect orbs or Biotic Grasp.
- Reinhardt - Your damage abilities penetrate through shields, making Rein an easy target.
- Orisa - Just like Reinhardt, Orisa’s shield can’t protect her from your biotic abilities.
- Bastion - His turret configuration completely outranges you.
- Zarya - Her barriers will prevent your Biotic Grasp from refueling your heal energy.
- Roadhog - His huge health pools mean it’s difficult for your trickle damage to make a dent.
Primary: Rocket Flail - an extended-range melee weapon that strikes multiple enemies with each swing.
Secondary: Barrier Shield - a tall energy barrier than protects Brigitte from a limited amount of damage.
Secondary: Shield Bash - when shield is deployed, Brigitte can dash forward and stun an enemy.
Shift: Whip Shot - a long-distance flail attack that deals damage and knocks enemies back.
E ability: Repair Pack - a single-target heal that also provides armour when healing over an ally’s maximum health.
Ultimate: Rally - increases Brigitte’s movement speed and provides all nearby allies with armour that lasts until removed by incoming damage.
Passive: Inspire - striking enemies with the flail heals Brigitte and nearby allies.
While officially a support hero, Brigitte is a hybrid Overwatch character. Half healer, half tank, she’s capable of soaking up more damage than her squishy medic allies, but her primary role within the team staying alive in the thick of it and providing a steady flow of health and armour to her allies. Rally is an incredibly powerful ultimate ability, and when stacked with shields provided by other characters, can produce a team that’s near unstoppable.
- Tracer - Barrier Shield allows you to stun and easily knock out a low HP character like Tracer, and also counters Pulse Bomb.
- D.Va - Your Inspire passive will allow you to stay alive and tackle her high HP, while Barrier Shield can absorb Self-Destruct’s massive damage.
- Winston - Your Whip Shot can knock Winston out of the sky as he leaps in, preventing him from initiating a dive tactic.
- Pharah - She will often be far out of reach of your Rocket Flail, and her Barrage ultimate is capable of countering the effects of Rally.
- Sombra - Her hack renders almost all your abilities usless, including your shield.
- Junkrat - His grenades are capable of huge damage and can be fired over your shield.
That's our recommendations. Who do you like and why? Tell us in the comments, and leave tips for your fellow players to help them be effective allies (and worthy enemies). We'll keep this guide updated through the game's lifespan, with new heroes, new tactics and any patches that shake things up.