Overwatch Beginner Tips and Tricks

Check this guide for everything you need to know about getting started in Overwatch!

Overwatch is Blizzard's team-based, 6 vs. 6, first-person shooter. It is designed to be accessible to everyone, including those that don't normally play shooters. There are several characters to choose from, each with their own roles, abilities, weapons, and personalities.

Even though the game is meant for all types of players, it still takes a little time to get the mechanics down. I'll prepare you by explaining the basics of the game and some tips when starting.

This guide will go over the basics of Overwatch including:

  • Gameplay and Controls - The basics of the game and controls.
  • Game Modes - How to play each game mode.
  • Roles - The different combat roles in Overwatch and how to play them.
  • Tips - Extra tips to keep in mind when starting.

Gameplay and Controls

Overwatch allows you to switch characters at any time as long as you are in the safe room. This place heals you as long as you stay inside.

Every character has a primary weapon, 2 normal abilities, and an ultimate ability. Some characters have more than one weapon and can switch between them while some have two different firing modes using the same weapon. Each character is unique, so you have to look at them individually to see how they play.

When you die, you'll respawn in the safe room and must make your way back to the battle. As you deal and take damage, you charge up your ultimate ability. You can see how much is charged by the % meter in the middle of your screen. At 100%, your ultimate ability is available until you use it, and then you must charge it again.


Below is a picture of the combat controls. All controls can be customized.

Overwatch controls

You can also press H or Up on a controller's d-pad to bring up the hero select screen and change characters. 

Game Modes

There are 3 games modes, Payload, King of the Hill, and Zone Capture.


When attacking, players must stand in the area until the meter fills up to take the point, or start the payload. If it is a payload, attackers must stay near it to keep it moving until it reaches the final destination.

There are checkpoints during payload that add to the match time if the attackers reach them.

Defenders only need to stop the attackers from standing in the point, or moving the payload to each checkpoint. When the match timer runs out, the defenders win.

King of the Hill

In this game mode there is one area to capture. One team has to stay in the zone long enough to capture it, then they gain points for as along as they hold the zone.

The other team can take the zone back at any time by standing it. If both teams are in the zone, it is contested and nobody gains points. 

This game mode has multiple rounds. The team that wins 2 rounds wins the overall game.

Zone Capture

In this game mode, 1 team defends a zone, while the other tries to capture. The zone capture is similar to king of the hill, except it takes much longer and the defending team cannot recapture the zone.

When capturing, there are tick marks on the zone icon at the top of the screen. Once the meter passes 1 of these marks, it will not go below it even if the defending team stops the capture.

The Attackers win by capturing all zones and defenders win by preventing it until time runs out.


There are 4 roles in Overwatch: Offense, Defense, Tank, and Support. Each one should be played differently and each character is different than the next, even within the same role.

I won't go over every character in this guide, but I will give you a general idea of what you should do when playing each role.

Offense, Tank, and Support are like damage dealers, tanks, and healers if you play MMOs or any other games with roles like that. 

Overwatch roles


These are the main damage dealers. Their only goal is to eliminate enemies so the team can hold the objective. Some characters, like Reaper, have skills to do heavy damage and sneak around enemies.

He can teleport far distances to sneak up on enemies, turn into a wraith to ignore damage for a short time, and shoot people with dual shotguns. His ultimate does massive damage all around him, but he will usually be focused during this time.


Tanks soak up a lot of damage with their high health pools and defensive abilities. Their job is to stop the enemy from killing allies, as well as deal damage.

D.Va, for example, rides a mech and shoots plasma cannons that work similar to shotguns. She has infinite ammo, but must be close to deal full damage.

Her Defense Matrix absorbs enemy projectiles for a short time. When her mech is destroyed, she automatically ejects and can run and shoot on her own. She has low health and no abilities, but her ultimate charges quickly to call in another mech.

While in the mech, she can also fly for a short time, which also knocks enemies back. Her ultimate causes her mech to self-destruct, which deals devastating damage in a very wide radius.


Support heroes can heal and buff allies, or debuff enemies. Having at least 1 can mean the difference between victory or defeat.

Zenyatta can heal allies with an Orb of Harmony, or increase the amount of damage an enemy takes with an Orb of Discord. His main weapon is Orb of Destruction where he throws damaging orbs at enemies, and can be charged for a powerful attack.

His ultimate makes him invulnerable and heals nearby allies. Playing support correctly can keep your team alive and save precious running back time.


Defense is special because they are not like tanks and don't have high defense or health. Their main goal is to defend an objective.

Widowmaker is a good example at what the Defense role should do. She is a sniper that can get to sniping spots or cross distances using her Grappling Hook. She can place Venom mines that poison enemies that trigger them.

Her main weapon is a gun that shoots like an assault rifle when hip-firing and is a sniper when aiming through the scope. Her ultimate ability, Infra-Sight, displays all enemies to you and your teammates for a short time.

She is meant to defend points by sniping anyone that gets near it. That's what Defense is for, denying the enemy team.


When you select a character, the game lets you know what roles you don't currently have on your team. There is no requirement to play these roles, but it is a good idea to follow the suggestions.

Attackers have more freedom in what they pick, but I suggest trying to get certain roles filled while defending:

  • At least 1 Offense hero
  • 1 Defense, usually a sniper
  • 1 Tank
  • At least 1 Support hero

The rest is up to you. I generally wouldn't have more than 1 tank, but sometimes it is okay, or even helpful. Two supports can help as well, depending on your group makeup. Offense is always a good choice, especially if played well.

You also don't always need a sniper, it depends on the map, game mode, etc.

  • Stay near the objective

Overwatch payload

I have seen many people just ignore the payload and try to kill everyone. You have to stay near the payload for it to move. You also don't want to get distracted by an enemy or two away from it while defending.

  • Watch your surroundings

There are multiple characters, Tracer, Reaper, etc. that can get behind your team without you even knowing. Good players will try to flank you and sneak up on your team to eliminate them. Be ready.

  • Know your role

One of the most important things is just to know your character's role and how to play them. Practice often and try out different characters to get a better feel for the game.

These are all the tips I have for starting Overwatch. Let me know if you have any questions or tips of your own. 

Guide Editor

After gaming for 25 years, Synzer leveraged his vast knowledge of RPGs and MMOs into a job as a games journalist, covering the games he loves. Five years later, he's still writing about Kingdom Hearts, Pokemon, and Knights of the Old Republic. Synzer has a bachelor's degree in English and creative writing. You can see him in action on his YouTube channel (https://bit.ly/2F97BrR) and Twitch (https://www.twitch.tv/synzergaming).

Published May. 24th 2016

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