Overwatch is one of the biggest first person shooters in recent memory and this is largely thanks to the style of the game. At its core, Overwatch embraces the easy to play, hard to master concept that is showcased best in the wildly popular Competitive mode. In this game mode, players are required to play ten placement matches that factor in everything from your individual performance, to whether you actually won or lost the game. Once these are completed you’re given a number that showcases your rank, with the mid-60s to high 80s being some of the best you can earn and the lower numbers being from the 40s downward. The competitive mode comes in seasons, so each time a new one starts your rank will be reset.
This game mode has had a number of balancing issues, including the outright reconstruction of the Sudden Death mechanic, which is being removed for the second season. However, this game mode is incredibly challenging as everyone is usually trying to play at their absolute best to improve their standing. As someone whose put a ton of hours into Overwatch‘s Competitive Mode, there are a few things I wish I knew before going into the game itself. Here are 5 tips that will help you improve your game and help you climb the competitive ladder.
1. Learning More Than One Hero is a Must
Now I know there are a lot of players out there who prefer to only use a single character—and that’s fine for Quick Play—but sometimes that’s just not enough. There are a few characters that are better than others if you want to only focus on just a single hero, but we cannot recommend that. If you are going into competitive mode you’ll want to, at least, be familiar with one hero in each category. It does help to be familiar with more than four, but this will drastically increase your odds at having a better team composition.
Speaking of team composition, with there now being allowed only one hero per team rule implemented, the idea of playing more than one hero is incredibly important. You may be the best Hanzo in the world, but if you join a game and someone else has picked that character you will have no other choice but to play as someone different. For those looking to pick other characters for Competitive Mode, heroes like Lucio, Zenyatta, Zayra, Reinhardt, Junkrat, McCree, and Reaper are all strong choices and most aren’t terribly difficult to learn.
2. Know When to Switch Characters During a Match
Overwatch is very much a game about balance as many different characters counter each other and their abilities. It’s important to not only understand which heroes counter who but when to switch out your character in order to counter them. It’s not always in your favor to constantly switch heroes over and over again, as this not only resets your ultimate charge but can seriously imbalance your team composition. This especially true if you are late into a match as you typically want to swap to a counter character early on.
This is due to the fact that the longer an enemy player is going unanswered, the more damage it can do to your team over time. If your group has no range and an enemy Pharah is raining rockets down on you, then being able to identify and neutralize the threat early is far better. The last thing you want is to swap mid game when that enemy player has their ultimate already charged up and the opposing team has gained a foothold. You always want to try to counter early on as the matches are about which group can take control of the map first.
3. Make Sure to Understand the Maps and Chokepoints
Map knowledge is key to any victory, but this is an often overlooked idea that many new players seem to either dismiss or not even consider. The Overwatch maps are designed with chokepoints in mind, meaning there are areas where both teams have to filter through in order to reach an objective. This is specifically true for any Payload or Attack/Defend maps such as Route 66, Hanamura, and Hollywood.
When setting your team up, try to break the nasty habit of camping right outside of the enemy spawn. You have to remember that if they are killed their distance to return for a fight is minuscule, while yours could take upwards of 30 seconds. Try to have your team back off to pre-determined chokepoints such as the big arch in Hollywood. Doing this will even out the distance both teams have to run and is far easier for map control.
Also knowing when a point is lost is vitally important to winning on defense. If your team dies and they have five people on the point don’t bother running back, instead set up for the next push that the enemy team will make. Nine times out of ten the enemy team is going to rush your second point to try and catch you off guard.
4. Don’t Get Flustered and Angry if You’re Losing
It’s easy to get overwhelmed in the middle of a competitive match, as some teams may just break your defenses back in a matter of seconds. This can shatter a team’s moral and pretty much guarantee a victory for the enemy players since they have already won the mental game. Don’t let this happen, even if the odds seem incredibly stacked against you.
It’s important to always have a cool head when playing because if you get into the mindset that you are already going to lose, the chances of that happening are far higher. Even if you lose a full game, try to take a minute and analyze what went wrong and what you could do to improve it.
5. Communication is the Key to Victory, so Always be Vocal
This is the single most important aspect of competitive play and if you want to reach the higher ranks you will need to communicate. Being able to call out enemy movements, positions, and when to push on an objective is key to victory and can allow for more coordinated attacks. If you don’t use or own a mic, even the simple act of quickly typing in the chat box you are ready to push can do wonders.
A team that can combine their ultimate abilities effectively will have a better chance and communication is key to doing this. If you’re on console, try to bring up the chat wheel and constantly update people on the progress of your ultimate. Unlike Quick Play, teams will be highly organized so it’s in your best interests to use a microphone when playing. Even if you are the only one talking, which, trust me, it happens, still call out targets and locations. People can hear you even if they don’t use voice chat, so think of yourself as a conductor for an orchestra.
Overwatch‘s Competitive Mode is an intense, yet largely satisfying affair that should be tried by everyone whose a fan of the game. If you follow these five tips there is no doubt that you’ll not only have a higher chance of winning but gain more enjoyment out of playing. Now get out there hero and push that payload.