Heroes of the Storm beginner's guide to Tracer: The Agent of Overwatch
A former pilot for the organization Overwatch's experimental flight program, Lena Oxton (a.k.a. "Tracer") was caught up in an accident when the prototype fighter she was meant to fly malfunctioned. She now suffers from "chronal disassociation", essentially removing her from the flow of time. With the help of one of Overwatch's top scientist, Tracer now has control over her condition, turning it from a weakness into a strength. The chronal accelerator seen in her chest allows her to control her own flow of time, so she can speed it up or slow it down as she sees fit.
Tracer's role in Heroes of the Storm is that of a ranged assassin, dodging quickly in and out of fights while setting opponents up for a final decisive blow. Her strength lies in her ability to confuse her opponents by moving erratically around them at high speeds, while consistently dealing damage. However, she is not very tough physically, and if caught off guard can be taken down quicker than the average ranged damage dealer.
- Tracer is very fast -- so fast you don't need a mount.
- She can move while attacking, which is invaluable to her play style.
- Tracer starts with her ult, which can make a huge difference at low level.
- Her cooldowns are fairly short and easy to keep track of.
- If you are proactive, you can live through almost anything.
- Tracer's threat makes her a high-value target. Expect to be focused on.
- Tracer's high speed comes at the cost of very low health.
- Teams with high crowd control pose a large threat to you.
- You'll need the help of allies if the enemies stick together.
Tracer's trait draws inspiration from Overwatch being a first-person shooter. She can move while shooting, but has to reload her ammo after attacking 10 times. Her attack speed is very fast, but is kept in check by the fact she needs to reload. It's a good idea to use manual reload when you're out of combat, since some of Tracer's traits benefit from firing an entire clip into your enemies.
Tracer's signature fighting style involves quickly dashing around her opponents. These charges recover fairly quickly, so don't be afraid to use them frequently. Be careful to not completely expend them and leave yourself in a bad situation though, since this is her main means of maneuvering. Say that three times fast. Being able to use this ability well is what will separate the good Tracer players and the ones who get left in the dust.
Melee deals a pretty hefty burst of damage, and is really Tracer's only means of surprising the enemy since the output from her basics will be fairly easy to read. You don't have to aim Melee, so just get in there and punch their face in before you Recall or Blink out to a safe range. This move has no cost, and should be used whenever it is safe to do so. The cooldown is also fairly low.
Recall acts as a "get out of jail free" card, just be sure to remember where you were 3 seconds ago. You wouldn't want to use this ability only to end up underneath an enemy tower or behind enemy lines. There are a lot of situations where Recall can confuse your opponents, such as dashing in and placing your Pulse Bomb on a low health foe, before Recall pulls you away to safety. This is her highest cooldown ability, and as such should only be used in case of emergency, or you're absolutely positive you won't need it again anytime soon.
Tracer's unique in that she starts with her ultimate, Pulse Bomb. Similar to how it works in Overwatch, you charge the ultimate by dealing damage, and charge it significantly faster whenever you successfully use Melee on a target. The bomb itself is a short range toss that deals damage after a few seconds in an area, and the above abilities are all upgrades that unlock at level 6 that allow for further customization. We'll discuss the advantages and disadvantages to them next in our talents section.
This is my go-to build for Tracer, but in Heroes of the Storm nothing is meant to be static. I'll explain why these are my default choices, and what situations you may find the other talents to be useful. What's most important is you find something that works best for your play style.
Level 1 Talents
It's not often that I feel this is the case, but Slipstream really is a must-have in this tier. It lowers the cooldown on Recall, her ability with the highest wait time in between casts, as well as making the ability bring her four seconds back in time, as opposed to three, giving you more freedom to be dangerous before having to Recall. Pulse Strike increases how quickly her melee ability charges her ultimate, and Tracer Rounds (get it?) allows her to act as a scout, marking enemies for a period of time after she shoots them. While these abilities both have merits, it's just too difficult to pass up on Slipstream's advantages.
Level 4 Talents
My personal choice here is Untouchable. You can't purchase weapon upgrades in Heroes of the Storm like you can games like League of Legends, so your talents dictate how much of a threat you represent to the enemy team. Untouchable allows for Tracer to become more dangerous the longer she is left alive, and with her kit making her so dexterous you should be able to stay in the fight long enough to take advantage of its benefits.
Parting Gift is an honorable mention, as it allows you to drop bombs behind yourself whenever you Blink. Since Tracer can Blink often, you can dash around the fight leaving these "presents" for your enemies to walk into. It also provides safe cover for your hasty retreats. Is That A Health Pack?! is near useless, since Tracer's low health pool doesn't really benefit from an increase in healing done by consumables.
Level 7 Talents
Another situation where I feel one talent shines above the others, Jumper really just makes you that much better at what Tracer is already good at. You can get around the battlefield so much faster with four charges of Blink, and the cooldown on it is so short that oftentimes you'll find that if you use them wisely you'll always keep one or two in stock without needing to recharge them. Bullet Time and Spatial Echo do allow you to use them more frequently in combat, however. These are good choices for a player who enjoys confusing their enemies with fast and unpredictable movements.
Level 10 Talents : The Ultimate Upgrade
As I mentioned earlier, Tracer starts with her default bomb ability. Once you hit level 10, you can start diversifying into how you want to play Tracer to better suit your team's needs. My personal choice among the three is Sticky Bomb, which increases the radius of the bomb by 50% and also slows all enemies hit by 60%. This can really swing the tide of a team fight if you're able to catch the enemy team clustered together. Quantum Spike deals an additional 10% of the primary target's maximum health as damage, which makes it better suited for assassinations, and Pule Rounds increases how far you can throw the bomb, as well as increasing how often you can use it. Combined with the Pulse Strike talent in level 1, you could be the ultimate bomb tossing maniac.
Level 13 Talents
My recommendation here is Leeching Rounds. Tracer really has no way of healing outside of running back to the fountain or being dependent on her allies, so this keeps you in the fight longer. Due to her being able to buzz around the enemy and pick at them, it should be fairly simple to heal yourself for little bits at a time to make up for any unavoidable damage you may take. Ricochet has the benefit of punishing enemy teams that stick together even further, but I personally feel it is too situational. Bullet Spray suffers from a similar issue, while also potentially putting you in harm's way, for little reward.
Level 16 Talents
This tree revolves around how you use Tracer's reload ability. Tracer will reload automatically, and as such Sleight of Hand takes pressure off of the player by reducing that reload time by 50%, equaling a 20% higher damage per second output. Locked and Loaded encourages the manual use of Reload, and probably takes the most skill to pull off. If you reload within the last 50% of Tracer's autofire, it increases the damage of her next barrage by 35%.
Finally, my personal choice falls right in the middle, with Focus Fire. With this talent, if you unload your entire magazine into an enemy, the final bullet deals 30% of the total magazine's damage in a burst. I like this choice because of Tracer's lack of burst damage, and paired with a well-timed Melee she can pack a fairly nasty punch (Pardon the pun).
Level 20 Talents: The Final Tier
There is no wrong choice in this tier, and each one brings something fairly valuable to the table, so i'll explain each one.
Get Stuffed! reduces Melee's cooldown by 3 seconds and causes your Pulse Bomb to instantly explode when you Melee someone it is stuck to, as well as knocking them away from you. This has some pretty insane burst potential, and is essentially a must-have if you took Quantum Spike earlier. It could also benefit if you've taken all the abilities to lower the cooldown on Pulse Bomb, allowing you to stuff people left and right. That sounds wrong.
Total Recall causes your Recall to heal you to an amount equal to the health you lost during the 3/4 seconds Recall recovers for you. This causes the ability to work just like it does in Overwatch -- and oh boy, is it annoying to play against. This keeps you in the game and out of the graveyard.
Composition B is another fine choice in that it causes your Pulse Bomb to drop a second Pulse Bomb at the feet of your opponent that deals an additional 50% damage and explode slightly before the first one. I often choose this one due to Tracer's lack of area of effect options, and since I normally take Sticky Bomb it matches up well with the slow effect. Just doing my part to contribute to the team!
Tracer will have a lot of appeal to players who enjoy the challenge of a glass cannon style of playing. She can get away with some pretty amazing plays, and looks good doing it too! Hopefully this guide will help you get out there and make the most of this exciting character. After all, the Nexus always could use more heroes.