Overwatch hero guide: A breakdown of every character and their abilities

Blizzard’s classic shooter Overwatch has pulled millions of fans together to work as a team. The game has become so popular that numerous spinoffs of the game have found their way into the light. From comics to a new game, Overwatch has been one of the most compelling team-building games to date. And with over 32 characters to choose from, it’s no wonder everyone is giving it a shot.

If you’re new to the game or want to explore more characters, it can be a little uncomfortable to try it out. The players mean business, and any shortcoming is looked at by the team extremely carefully. From Meis who block off players in dangerous situations to Moiras who don’t heal, it’s important to understand each character’s ability to ensure victory.

Luckily, we have a rundown of every playable character in Overwatch, so you can safely peruse or select your next main without having to fight on a team to figure it out. We also have explanations for the various characters and tips for improving your game on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, or Nintendo Switch.

Further reading

Character Class: Damage

Damage characters are essential and extremely fun to play. Unfortunately, they’re also the most popular, so you’ll often find yourself on a team with few to no tanks or support players. The Damage Per Second (DPS) class has the most characters and seems to be the most desirable. Who wouldn’t want to be DPS? You run into the fray, do as much damage as possible, and just generally wreak havoc on enemy teams. It’s a fun class to play, and each character brings something different to the table to help round out your team.

Ashe

Overwatch Ashe

Ashe is a sharp shooter whose skill can only be compared to that of Widowmaker. She’s proficient with bolt-action rifles and dynamite, making her a strong DPS to select. However, she’s not the easiest character to master. She has limited mobility and complex mechanics, which makes her a tricky character to play. However, mastering her skills can help you really lay on the damage to oncoming enemy teams. Her ultimate sends B.O.B. running in the direction of your choice until he hits either an enemy, built object, part of an environment, or travels 70 meters — then, he lays into any nearby enemies with a machine gun. Hitting enemies with B.O.B. will send them flying and deal a whopping 120 damage.

Bastion

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The robot Bastion can switch between a mobile soldier form and a devastating turret form, allowing him to hold choke points against entire teams. In turret form, Bastion can fire a constant stream of bullets that will shred anyone in sight. However, he is also immobile in this form, meaning snipers and characters that can get behind him are effective counters. Bastion’s ultimate changes Bastion into tank form and he fires explosives that can quickly tear teams apart. While using his ultimate, Bastion can actually move around in his tank form but each shot has increased damage.

Doomfist

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Doomfist is — surprisingly — the game’s villain. An agile attacker, Doomfist has numerous abilities at his disposal to deal significant damage. His primary weapon, Hand Cannon, basically works as a short-range shotgun, firing in bursts. When fully loaded, Doomfist fires quickly, and just a few well-placed rounds can kill an opponent. The hand cannon ammunition replenishes over time, but firing while it refills slows down its rate of fire. His second ability, Seismic Slam, is a ground-pounding leap that deals damage around the radius that he crashes into and drags his opponents closer for follow-up attacks. His ultimate ability, Meteor Strike, sends him to the air, where you have five seconds to position a strike. The massive explosion doles out enough damage to kill an opponent at the center of the blast while dispersing damage to other enemies caught outside the center of the blast, knocking them backward in the process.

Echo

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Echo is programmed with a rapidly-adapting artificial intelligence system, which can make her versatile yet difficult to master. Unlike other characters, she can be tough to catch because she can fly freely. Her primary gun is the Tri-Shot, which fires three shots in the form of a triangle. She also comes equipped with Sticky Bombs, which detonate after a slight delay. What’s more, you can glide down while falling. Echo’s Focusing Beam allows Echo to deal very high damage to targets with less than half-health. Her ultimate ability, Duplicate, allows Echo to target an enemy hero and replicate their abilities and looks. This also gives Echo essentially two lives — you’ll have to defeat the duplicate and then Echo to take her out.

Genji

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Quick to move and quick to kill, Genji is a nimble character suited for flanking and quickly taking out high-priority targets. Genji can double-jump, as well as run up walls, allowing you to navigate levels with ease. Genji’s ultimate ability, Dragonblade, replaces his shurikens with a sword that deals massive damage at close range. Although he has low health, Genji’s speed and ability to deflect incoming projectiles means skilled players can dance through enemy teams without fear of dying. If you choose Genji ought to focus on tearing up the enemy supports, or else creating a distraction so their team can advance.

Hanzo

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Hanzo is a crafty archer with a quiver full of unique arrows that can disrupt opponents. Scatter arrows will wreck enemies in tight corridors, and sonic arrows will reveal any nearby enemies. His normal arrows are quiet and deal high damage, allowing him to snipe enemies without giving away his location. He can also climb walls, allowing him to quickly reach good sniping spots. His ultimate ability, Dragonstrike, does huge damage, and its wide area-of-effect can force teams to move off of objectives.

Junkrat

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Armed with grenades, mines, and bear traps, Junkrat can turn any map into the house from Home Alone. His bear trap immobilizes any enemy who steps on it, rendering them easy prey for any character who needs to line up their shot. It also alerts Junkrat when they step on it, so it can function as a security device of sorts. Junkrat is an excellent character for halting enemy advances and closing off flanking routes. His RIP-tire is a remote controlled explosive that can climb walls and deal incredible damage, although it can be hard to control and leaves you unable to see or control Junkrat until the tire has exploded.

McCree

mccree image Overwatch

McCree is a sharpshooter who is great at quickly killing enemies from close or mid range. His flashbang lets him stun an opponent, after which he can quickly drop their health by emptying his revolver into them. McCree’s gun is a very accurate, rewarding skilled shooters. Although not built to survive much damage, McCree’s combat roll lets him dodge incoming attacks; even better, rolling automatically reloads his weapon. His ultimate, Deadeye, will shoot every enemy in his line of sight and does a crazy amount of damage, even killing weaker enemies. He is a character best suited for quickly eliminating low-health targets.

Mei

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Mei is a unique character capable of freezing enemies and blocking objectives with her endothermic blaster. (That’s a fancy way of saying “ice beam.”) Her primary weapon slowly freezes opponents, eventually rendering them immobile. Mei can also create an impenetrable wall of ice, which is good for closing doorways or splitting enemy teams apart. When in danger, she can freeze herself in a block of ice that blocks all attacks and replenishes her health. Her ultimate is a massive area-of-effect that slows and quickly freezes enemies who stay in it, which can be devastating against teams trying to take an objective.

Pharah

pharah image Overwatch

Armed with a jetpack and a rocket launcher, Pharah can rain havoc on opponents, hitting them from places they didn’t expect. Although she can kill most characters quickly, Pharah herself is quite vulnerable, particularly when flying. Her slow flight speed make her an easy target for snipers. Her ultimate, Rocket Barrage, causes her to hover in place while firing hundreds of rockets forward, dealing enormous damage but leaving her open. Best paired with characters like Zarya or Mei who can immobilize enemy teams, or Mercy who can fly up with Pharah and keep her alive as you rain justice from above.

Reaper

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Wielding two shotguns, Reaper is a lethal close range character. His abilities, which include short-range teleportation and Wraith Form, give him multiple ways to close in on enemies and sneak up on unwitting opponents. Reaper’s high damage at close range makes him good for taking out enemy tanks, especially if he can get behind them. His ultimate, Death Blossom, can be difficult to pull off as smart teams will kill or stun Reaper the moment he jumps into the fray. By using stealth and high vantage points, however, Reaper players can potentially wipe out entire teams.

Soldier: 76

soldier 76 image Overwatch

A good pick for new players, Soldier: 76 is a well-rounded offensive hero with a nice bag of tricks, including a healing field and the ability to sprint. His assault rifle and ability to lock-on to enemies enables him to deal with threats easily. His ultimate ability causes his bullets to hone in on enemies, which is useful for eliminating quick targets like Tracer. His versatility also means that he can fit into most lineups, but as a jack-of-all trades — pardon the cliche — he really is a master of none.

Sombra

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As one of Overwatch’s sneakiest characters, the hacker Sombra has a set of skills built around evading enemies and neutering their abilities. Her first ability, Hack, renders the target unable to use their abilities for a brief time. She can also hack health packs to make them useless to enemies and turrets to disable them. Her second ability, Thermoptic Camo, makes her invisible and faster for a short period of time, but taking damage or attacking will end the effect. Her ultimate ability, EMP, activates a massive explosion around her that destroys all barriers and hacks any enemies within range. Although her damage is not outstanding, she can leave enemies nearly helpless by disabling their abilities.

Symmetra

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Symmetra is a great character for setting up some defense, but she’s best at attacks. She can help teammates get past enemy defenses or travel faster with the use of her teleporter. She also can set up Sentry Turrets that hide around the point or on the objective to keep enemies at bay. Her Photon Projector emits a ranged beam that deals continuous damage, which increases the longer it is connected. She also can use the Photon Projector to shoot explosive energy balls, giving her a little bit of a ranged weapon as well. Symmetra’s ultimate ability, Photon Barrier, creates a large shield across the map, allowing her team to be protected from oncoming fights.

Torbjörn

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Torbjörn’s rivet gun fires rivets at long range or ejects molten metal in a short, close-range burst. He also has the ability to deploy turrets that track and attacks enemies automatically. As enemies attack the turret, Torbjörn is also able to fix it which keeps you from having to rebuild the turret from scratch when under attack. What’s best, though, is his ultimate ability, Molten Core. This attack creates pools of molten slag that deal massive, sustained damage and can prevent enemies from moving through locations or taking a point.

Tracer

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One of the most agile characters in the game, Tracer’s ability to move through space and time makes her incredibly difficult to pin down. She can Blink (a short-range teleport) up to three times in quick succession. She can also jump backwards in time, returning to wherever she was a few seconds ago and restoring her health and ammo to whatever they were at the time. She is great at harassing and distracting opponents, allowing slower teammates to move get things done, and those who time her abilities well can stay alive through all sorts of firefights. Pulse Bomb, adheres to any surface or opponent it lands on. After a second or two, the bomb goes off and deals high damage to all enemies within range.

Widowmaker

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No FPS would be complete without a sniper. Widowmaker’s rifle can be charged to increase its damage, and a fully-powered shot can easily kill an opponent in a single hit. Of course, she is also frail, so you will need to keep far from opponents, using long range to safely pick them off. Widowmaker also has a grappling hook, allowing her to reach secluded perches, and a mine to protect her from sneak attacks. Her ultimate reveals all enemies to her teammates regardless of where they are, allowing teammates to get the jump on them.

Character Class: Tank

The front line of any team, a tank’s job is twofold: Soak up damage for your softer teammates, and charge into the enemy, breaking their ranks. Tanks may not get as many kills as their teammates, but by shattering enemy defenses, they can decide the course of a battle.

D.Va

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With her twin cannons that deal greater damage as she gets closer to her opponent, D.Va is an aggressive tank, one that’s also good at jumping on fragile targets and demolishing them. D.Va is also essentially two characters. In her mech suit, she has thrusters to move quickly and knock over enemies, two cannons that fire spreads of pellets, and a shield to block incoming projectiles. While her barrier is short-lived, it can completely neutralize even the most powerful projectiles, including Zarya’s Graviton Sphere. If her suit is destroyed, she hops out and fights on foot, using a laser pistol as defense. While it’s a risky maneuver, D.Va’s ultimate ability causes her mech to launch a few feet towards enemies, then self-destruct. Enemies near the blast don’t stand a chance unless they have their own defensive ability.

Orisa

Orisa image Overwatch

Orisa is a true defensive powerhouse. The centaur-style robot is large, but she’s still rather spry on her feet. Her main role is serving as a portable barricade for allies, as she can create a physical barrier to guard teammates. To protect herself even more, her Fortify ability decreases damage taken and negates action-impairing effects. She can also corral enemies using a remote-detonated ability called Halt!, which creates an explosion and pulls nearby opponents into its wake. Her ultimate ability, Supercharger, gives Orisa’s whole team some offense support, provide a temporary damage boost to anyone within range. Her weapon, the Fusion Driver, fires a beam capable of connecting from afar, but slows her movement speed when fired.

Reinhardt

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The only cover better than a wall is a wall that moves, and this is what makes Reinhardt a great tank. This bulky German knight can create a massive shield to stop projectiles, allowing him to function as a mobile fortress for his team. Reinhardt is no slouch when it comes to fighting, either. His hammer does massive damage to anyone he catches with it, and he can charge at enemies, pinning them to walls. Fire Strike allows him to hit distant foes, but the long cooldown means Reinhardt should use it sparingly. His ultimate Earth Shatter can stun an entire team if aimed properly, leaving them vulnerable, but this ultimate does not pass through shields or obstacles.

Roadhog

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Roadhog is an odd bird among the tanks, as he lacks any sort of shield to protect his allies or himself. Instead, he focuses on pulling enemies out of position using his hook. With his ability to heal himself, this means Roadhog is suited to splitting off from the group, sneaking up on enemies, and pulling them into his grasp. His ultimate ability fires a constant stream of bullets in a cone in front of him, dealing high damage and knocking enemies back, which is useful for getting them off objectives.

Sigma

Sigma image Overwatch

Sigma is an astrophysicist who uses his power to control gravity to keep his teammates safe. His hyperspheres launch two gravitic charges, which bounce off of walls and implode after a short period of time. He also manages to deflect enemy attacks with his Experimental Barrier, which lets you control how far ahead of you and your team the barrier is placed. With Kinetic Grasp, Sigma is able to freeze incoming projectiles in midair and convert them to shields as well. His ultimate, Gravitic Flux, unleashes his full power. Sigma takes flight and lifts enemies in a targeted area into the sky, then slams then back down to reality with devastating damage.

Winston

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As a tank aimed at blitzing the enemy ranks, Winston is fast, acrobatic, and does heavy damage at close range. His jump jets allow him to quickly close the gap between enemies, and his weapon, the Tesla Cannon, does constant damage to everything in front of him. Winston can also drop a massive bubble shield that blocks projectiles. His ultimate turns him into a massive, brawling beast whose punches can send you flying; great for getting enemies off control points and even knocking them off the map.

Wrecking Ball

Wrecking Ball image Overwatch

Wrecking Ball is a bit of an odd tank, as he’s a hamster with an extremely powerful suit. His Quad Cannons tear through any medium-ranged threats, and his ability to roll makes him fast. He also has a Grappling Claw, which helps him swing around and strike enemies with great force. With his ultimate, Minefield, Wrecking Ball drops long-lasting proximity mines that explode on impact. They’re almost impossible to navigate around and can trap and devastate enemy teams.

Zarya

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Zarya is a unique tank who can absorb damage for herself and teammates. As she does, her own weapon becomes more powerful. Skilled Zarya players can keep their teammates alive early in a fight, then use that energy to become a killing machine later on. Zarya can be more difficult to use properly than other tanks. Her barriers last but a brief time, so using them precisely is crucial. Her ultimate ability, Graviton Surge, pulls in nearby enemies and holds them still for a few seconds. It’s a great set up to use in tandem with high-damage ultimate skills, such as Hanzo’s Dragonstrike.

Character Class: Support

Death comes swiftly in Overwatch, unless you have a good support player backing you up. These characters have abilities that keep teammates in the fray, whether by healing them or making their attacks more powerful. Supports are the backbone of any team, which means they are also obvious targets; you’ll need to protect their supports from attackers, or else the whole team falls apart.

Ana

overwatch ana guide screenshot

Many characters in Overwatch give you the ability to shoot your enemies, but wouldn’t it be nice to shoot your friends as well? Ana, a support whose sniper rifle hurts foes and heals allies, does just that. Ana is a tricky support to use properly, requiring you to keep track of their allies and hit them when they need healing. Ana’s other abilities include her sleep dart (which puts an enemy to sleep for a period of time or until they take damage), biotic grenade (which boosts the healing allies receive while reducing that of enemies), and nano dart, which dramatically increases an ally’s stats.

The downside? Ana doesn’t have any special mobility options. If an enemy gets close, a quick sleep dart may be her only means of escape. However, those who find themselves bored with traditional support characters ought to give Ana a shot.

Baptiste

Baptiste image Overwatch
Overwatch

Baptiste is a battle-hardened combat medic who is a little tricky to navigate if you’re a new player. His Biotic Launcher rewards accuracy and recoil control. It’s convenient that this weapon also doubles as a healing device by letting you throw projectiles that heal allies near the point of impact. He also has an Immortality Field which, once launched, will keep any allies within the field’s range from dying, although the field’s generator can be destroyed. His ultimate, Amplification Matrix, doubles damage and healing effects of friendly projectiles that pass through it.

Small tip: Baptiste also has Exo Boots which, by first crouching, can allow Baptiste to jump higher than before.

Brigitte

Brigitte image Overwatch

Brigitte is the youngest daughter of Torbjörn, so it’s no secret that her specialty is armor. She can heal teammates by tossing them a Repair Pack, which can heal an ally. Any extra healing that teammates may get also gets a boost of armor. Her Rocket Flail is a melee weapon that has an extended range, allowing her to strike multiple enemies with a single swing. Whip Shot allows her to throw her flail a long distance, dealing damage and knocking enemies away to create some space to run. She also has a Shield Bash, which stuns enemies. Rally, Brigitte’s ultimate ability, helps her move faster and gives nearby allies armor that lasts until damage destroys it.

Lúcio

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Lúcio is a nimble support who can switch between healing allies and boosting their speed using his Crossfade ability. His sonic attacks can also knock enemies back, which makes for some interesting environmental tricks, such as knocking enemies off ledges. Additionally, Lúcio can run on walls, an ability that, when combined with his speed boost, makes him difficult to hit. His Sound Barrier provides a temporary shield to allies around him, and timing it properly can nullify normally terrifying abilities like Rocket Barrage.

Mercy

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A graceful flying medic, Mercy’s primary job is keeping heroes on the field by healing them with her staff or reviving dead allies. Mercy can leap to allies using her Guardian Angel ability, and smart players will recognize when a teammate is in danger. She can also increase an ally’s damage using her staff, and her pistol is surprisingly powerful when fired accurately. Her ultimate ability lets her fly into the air and heal or power up multiple allies at once. Although being in the air can make Mercy an easy target, her ultimate can also help allies deal massive damage to the enemy team.

Moira

Moira Overwatch blizzcon

Moira is one of the easiest support characters to use, and, man, can she deal damage. With her Biotic Grasp, each of her hands can deal damage or healing with a long-range beam. She can also throw Biotic Orbs, both healing and damage, to either help allies or hurt enemies from a distance. Moira’s Fade ability lets her teleport a short distance, which helps her sneak past or around enemies. Finally, with her ultimate ability, Coalesence, Moira can channel a long-range beam that both heals allies and bypasses barriers to damage enemies who are in its wake.

Zenyatta

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Perhaps the most difficult support to play, Zenyatta can be rewarding for those willing to learn how to use him. Zenyatta’s two primary abilities, Orb of Harmony and Orb of Discord, give his team an edge by targeting individual characters. The Orb of Harmony attaches to an ally, healing them as long as they are in Zenyatta’s line of sight. The Orb of Destruction attaches to an enemy, increasing the damage done to them, as long as they are in his line of sight. Zenyatta is also one of the most fragile characters, so keeping him alive and in the fight is a team effort, but it can be rewarding. His ultimate ability, Transcendence, allows Zneyatta to enter a state of heightened existance for a short period of time. Although Zenyatta cannot attack while in this state, it does make him immune to damage and automatically restores his health and the health of nearby enemies.

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