How to Play Overwatch

Learn the basics of Blizzard's multiplayer game, Overwatch

Overwatch, the popular game from Blizzard, is a little bit different than anything they’ve ever produced in the past. With its casual and competitive scene on the rise since the game’s release, players have taken to new heights in terms of strategy, level, skill, and much more.

Due to the game’s consistently growing fanbase and community, however, many players are still left in the dark on knowing how to properly play. This article breaks down many of the core components and teaches you how to play Overwatch so you can enjoy everybody’s favorite team based shooter.

The General Feel of the Overwatch Game

Overwatch's Sombra!

Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

Overwatch is played with either a keyboard and mouse or a standard controller and the game plays like a typical first-person shooter.

Each character has their own specific abilities, which call for very precise moments in which certain abilities should be used. When playing the various characters, you will find that they all feel different.

As each Overwatch character is their own, learning their timing is essential. While certain characters have very short cooldowns on specific abilities, other characters have cooldowns that feel quite longer. These cooldowns shape the way a character is played from start to finish. Getting used to the controls for the various characters is essential if you are wanting to get into Overwatch.

23 Heroes Means Endless Possibilities

D.Va defending the point on the Volskaya Industries map!
D.Va defending the point on the Volskaya Industries map!.

With 23 heroes, the ways to play are seemingly endless. With plenty of Offensive, Defensive, Tank, and Support characters, you will almost definitely find your perfect match. However, in many cases when playing Overwatch, your favorite character may not be at your disposal. Before getting into our explanation of the types of heroes and characters, a keynote with Overwatch is that you will definitely want to get comfortable with a few (if not all) of the characters at one point or another. In most game modes, once a player has selected a specific character, the character is not usable until that player has switched heroes. With that information in mind, let’s talk about choosing your perfect class and maybe help find you a character.

Use Your Offensive Characters to Stay Alive

If you enjoy living life in the fast lane while on the edge of your seat, offensive characters may be your slice of cake. With seven offensive characters at your disposal, there are many immediate options. Genji, McCree, Pharah, Reaper, Soldier: 76, Sombra, and Tracer make up these heroes. For what they lack in health, they make up in speed, strength, and very useful abilities.

Offensive characters are made to be more agile and strategically played than their Defense, Tank, and Support counterparts. Offense characters like Tracer, Sombra, Genji, and Soldier: 76 require quick thinking and a ‘run-it-and-gun-it’ attitude to be successful. Pharah specializes in flight and rockets, while McCree is the slower sharpshooter with a six-shooter.


Defensive characters are arguably some of the most important characters on your team. Each defensive character has their own special abilities and areas of expertise. These characters (Bastion, Hanzo, Junkrat, Mei, Torbjörn, and Widowmaker) are meant to be able to disable enemies and in quick fashion through either brute force or a well-executed attack on your enemies.

Characters like Hanzo, Widowmaker, and Mei are important for very specific hits with their ability to charge shots and fire them one at a time. Torbörn, and Bastion are needed for spraying bullets and dealing direct damage in quick increments, while Junkrat is important for lobbing, shooting, and ricocheting explosives for calculated, immense amounts of power.


Tanks are arguably the strongest characters in the entire group of 23. These characters are designed bulkier and all have their own form of movement and mobility. While at first glance they may look restricted to the ground, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find out that some of them are surprisingly agile. D.Va, Reinhardt, Roadhog, Winston, and Zarya are the five characters who make up this group of fighters.

Dealing damage in many forms including bullets, the swing of a hammer, or lasers, these characters make up the largest and most terrifying bunch in the entirety of Overwatch. While Zarya, Roadhog, and Reinhardt are confined to the ground, Winston and D.Va can traverse through the air in their own ways. D.Va has an ability that allows her to fly for a brief moment, allowing her to either survive by escaping her enemies or jumping right in between them. Winston’s “wings” come in the form of a Jump Pack which allows him to leap through the air, harming surrounding enemies when he lands. 


Support characters are the backbone of a good team. Protecting their fellow fighters through healing or shields, these characters are extremely crucial. Ana, Lúcio, Mercy, Symmetra, and Zenyatta are the five that will make sure you’re safely doing your job.

While these characters tend to deal the least damage, they can be useful in a fight. Ana is a sniper, using her gun to shoot both friends and foes. When Ana shoots an ally, they are healed, when she shoots an enemy, they lose health. Lúcio passively heals or gives his fellow players a speed boost when near. Mercy uses her Caduceus Staff to either heal an ally or boost the amount of damage they can deal against enemies. Symmetra can shield teammates, place teleporters, and place turrets that attack the enemy team. Zenyatta can heal his team and harm enemies while shooting various orbs.

Objectives When Playing Overwatch

Hanzo running in Hanamura!
Hanzo running in Hanamura!.

Blizzard’s Overwatch features many game styles. Usually, however, these games all pertain to attacking, defending, claiming, moving, or holding an objective or capture point. Each game has specific rules and is typically grasped quickly by the player.

Currently, fifteen maps are featured in Overwatch. There are five game types. The game styles are Assault, Escort, Hybrid, Control, and Arena.

In Assault, players attacking must capture two points against the defending enemy team. When the attacking team captures both points, they win. If the defending team can stop the attacking team from progressing and claiming both points, they are declared the victor.

In Escort, attacking players must move a payload from start to finish. The defenders must stop the attacking team from progressing the payload to the various checkpoints. When a payload has reached the end of the map, the attacking team is victorious.

On Hybrid maps, the attacking team must capture an objective and push a payload from said point to the end of the map. The defending team, as usual, is supposed to stop the team from capturing the objective and gaining access to the payload. If the point is captured, the defending team must stop the attacking team from moving the payload to its destination.

Control maps are designed for players to face off and fight for a point. When a team has captured, claimed, and held the control point for an allotted time, they are found victorious. Both teams are attacking, fighting for control of the point. Enemy team players can contest, stopping the time counter from progressing past various points. Once either team’s counter has reached 100%, they win.

Arena maps are primarily used for elimination style matches. Once a player is dead, they are dead until resurrected or until a new match begins. New matches begin after a team has completely died. Typically, first to three wins is how Arena games are decided.

The Real Key to Overwatch is Practice

Tracer showing off her guns!
Tracer showing off her guns!.

If any casual, professional, or avid player was asked on how to get good, their response would more than likely be to “practice”. With Overwatch, there is zero excuse not to. Players can go against AI, head into a mode full of literal dummies/punching bags, or can play against others in the various modes available to them. These modes also give players the ability to get used to either controller or keyboard.

Most would argue that playing against actual players best teaches a person a character, skill, and more as robots and AI are entirely predictable (after a certain point) and do not accurately represent a real situation and interaction between players.

Play the characters that you enjoy most. Remember that no matter how competitive the game gets, it’s still a game. First and foremost, your objective should be to have fun. As Overwatch is nearly entirely multiplayer, grab a few friends, team up, and take down those enemies!

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