A few lesser-known Overwatch tips

21 July 2019

Overwatch. Also known as the game your doctor advises you against playing because of its high sodium content. Whether you are someone who plays (and probably also streams) daily, or one who leaves random "dead game" comments on Facebook posts, or one who for some reason does both, you probably still like playing the game to a certain extent. And whether you're playing for fun or to rank up, it is probably in your best interests to try to win, purely for the benefit of your mental health, if not anything else. Weirdly enough, sometimes knowledge about obscure game facts can give you just that edge over the enemy team to help you secure the big W. So, without further ado, here is a collection of some interesting Overwatch facts that you may or may not have known before. This list is by no means exhaustive, so please add anything you feel is relevant in the comments below.

  1. Knockback

  2. Knockback is a game mechanic that, as the name suggests, knocks people back. The most common sources of knockback are a sound wave ("boop") from Lucio, Pharah's concussive blast, Wrecking Ball's swing and Ashe's coach gun. However, there are other actions that generate knockback in the game, to varying degrees. D.Va's booster offers some knockback (if she barges into you while using her jets), as do Junkrat's mines and practically all of Doomdude's abilities. Soldier 76's helix rocket too results in a slight displacement of the target it hits. Helix rockets also offer self-knockback, which allows him to get to seemingly impossible locations using the "rocket jump" technique. Zarya's secondary fire also has the same effect. However, one interesting action that generates knockback that you might not have known about is melee. Any kind of melee attack will cause movement of its target, however tiny. This is particularly useful with Reinhardt's hammer swing, because the enemy is knocked in the direction of the swinging motion, which you can use to toss them into one of the many death pits in the game. One important thing about melee (and displacement/crowd-control abilities in general) — they count as part of damage dealt and subsequent eliminations, if any. As such, they can help you gain a ton of ultimate charge by landing environmental kills, which generate ult charge proportional to the amount of health the enemy(ies) had. So, using melee to tickle a Roadhog who was jumping off the cliff for a tactical reset can help you land a fast pulse bomb, or give you a grav advantage over the enemy Zarya. KarQ talks about this in detail in the video below.

  3. Flashbang

  4. Flashbang is McCree's stun ability. Some people might use it is as a soft dive counter, while there are others who like to go absolutely YoloMcFlankCree with it; but it can do things other than just rendering an enemy frozen for a second. For example, it can be used to stop any kind of charging hero, like Reinhardt and B.O.B., in their tracks, and can thus save a teammate from getting pinned/booped. With Reinhardt in particular, if you flash him he'll drop his shields, which could give your friendly German counterpart just enough time to get off that 5K shatter. Flashbang will also interrupt some channeled abilities and ultimates, like hack and Earthshatter. Fun trivia by the way, if you're intending to double-headshot someone after stunning them, keep in mind that different characters have different stunned animations. For some heroes like Lucio and Mercy, the head sort of nods in a weird manner after they’re stunned, making it difficult to land a headshot on them. In such cases, it might just be better to empty your chambers into their torso like a budget Clint Eastwood, or at least face them from the front so the head-bob isn't as annoying. Another interesting property of flashbang is that it can also stop the movement of a charging Meka that's set to self-detonate. This doesn't just apply to flashbang - any kind of stun like Brigitte's shield bash will halt an exploding mech. While the bomb will still go off, this gives you time and space to hide, and could potentially save your team from a massive wipe.

    "Channeled" ultimates are those for which the hero has to "channel" this ability, thereby losing access to other abilities. In some cases like that of rip-tire, the hero cannot even move until the ability has been executed completely. Check out this link for a full list of channeled abilities - https://overwatch.gamepedia.com/Channeled

  5. Roadhog

  6. Even though we have now outlived the nightmare that was hook 1.0, Roadhog is still considered somewhat overpowered by multiple players, especially down the ladder, for his insta-kill combo. The hook is a powerful tool no doubt, but you should be careful about what you pull in towards your team/yourself. Turns out, you can hook both rip-tire and an exploding Meka. This, generally speaking, is a bad idea because your team certainly won't thank you if you aid and abet their destruction. If, however, you see the tire about to explode all over your friendly neighborhood Mercy, it might be a good idea to sacrifice yourself by pulling it; she can always bring you back to life soon after. That way, you trade an ultimate for a rez, which shouldn’t hurt you too much. If you’re deft, you can also take a breather at the exact time the tire or the mech is about to explode and survive its full blast. Speaking of taking a breather, it has another niche use - you can use it to animation cancel his reload, thus reducing the reload time by half a second. Lastly, let's talk about Whole Hog, his ultimate. Many people think that damage from this ultimate has distance falloff, but actually it doesn't. The only reason it appears to be doing less damage to a distant target is because of the spread, which occurs in a horizontal plane emanating radially outward from the scrap gun (refer to KarQ's video above for more on this). While hooking a rip-tire might not be a particularly brilliant idea as said earlier, Whole Hog can in fact be used to push that nasty rip-tire away from you and your team. Also, Whole Hog can headshot!

  7. Hanzo

  8. Hanzo is one of those heroes in the game that can earn you anything ranging from massive praise to widespread flaming from your teammates. Which might have something to do with the fact that you actually need to have decent aim to make this hero count. But mechanical skills aside, Hanzo also has a good set of abilities, one of them being the Sonic arrow which reveals the location of the enemies near its location. One thing you might not have known is that the Sonic arrow behaves like a regular arrow for all intents and purposes, which means it still causes 125 damage (250 when headshot) to whatever it hits. It will also stick to barriers, which can lead to some (though extremely rare) scenarios where you can get a headshot off of it when the barrier expires or is otherwise deactivated. The dragon strike arrow is capable of getting a headshot too, before it transforms into a dragon. Speaking of, those dragons will only hurt sentient characters in the game (humans and omnics) so don't send it at a Torb turret or through a minefield, you will have wasted it.

  9. Winston's jump

  10. Most people know that Winston's jump has landing damage. The part that's less known (something I learned myself on a Jayne VOD) is that the damage has radial falloff, meaning the farther your target is from the epicenter of your landing, the less damage they will take. The exact falloff equation is not known (at least not to me), but you could probably set up a workshop and do some experiments to figure that out. Another useful thing to know is that how far Winston will jump is affected by a "late input," i.e., directional input after our favorite gorilla has been launched into the air. Pressing the back button shortly after pressing jump, for example, will result in a jump shorter than a regular one, while pressing forward will add to the jump distance. Additionally, the longest jump distance is achieved when the camera angle is at 45° with the ground, so this can be useful when you desperately need to disengage.

    The 45° rule isn't just Winston-specific, it applies to all projectiles, in the game and in real life. It can be shown mathematically that if θ is the launch angle, and v is the launch velocity, then the distance (also called range) the projectile will cover is given by the equation v2 sin2θ / g (g being the acceleration due to gravity), which has a maximum value when sin2θ = 1, or when θ = 45°.

  11. Body blocking

  12. In Overwatch, you can move through ally character models but not through those of your enemies. This gives rise to some interesting techniques, whereby you can block the enemies’ path by just having your body in the way. Normally, this would mean you're just opening yourself up to melee and all other kinds of attack, but there are some cases where body-blocking can be really useful. Firstly, when you are invulnerable — generally speaking, this would mean you're either Zenyatta in Transcendence, or anybody under Baptiste's immortality field. As a transcedental Zen, for example, you can body-block an ulting McCree's High Noon. If he can't see past you, he cannot shoot , nor can he kill you (because of your invulnerability).You can also put yourself in the path of a charging Reinhardt to save a teammate from being pinned. On the contrary, you can body-block an ulting Zenyatta so he can't get to his teammates to heal them. Funnyastro, who is a well-known streamer/pro player in support roles, once did this effectively in a Contenders game during his stint with the British Hurricane. When his opponent McCree and Zenyatta were trying to escape a D.Va bomb, he body-blocked them from behind to ensure their eliminations (video below).

    On the flip side, this means you can shoot through allies while being blocked by their models. This can be useful, for example, in a bunker setup, where you have a Bastion guarded by an Orisa. If you're the Orisa and your shield goes down quickly, you can turn on fortify and use that to protect your Bastion from incoming damage. Keep in mind though, that you'll be obstructing their vision, so this works best if there is some kind of (legal) wall hack enabled, like a sonic arrow or infrasight.

  13. Line of sight

  14. The phrase "line of sight" in Overwatch is used in a variety of ways. It is typically used to refer to scenarios that require that at least one clear line can be drawn between a point A and a point B, without being obstructed by architecture. For example, you might hear your Ana screaming in voice chat for you to peek, because she has lost line of sight of you and can't heal you as such. Line of sight (LoS) is important for hitscan weapons, because behind the scenes, the game engine employs a technique called “line-tracing,” which makes use of this fact. LoS becomes especially important in case of certain ultimates that need it, like Transcendence and Sound Barrier. If you're hidden behind a wall, for example, you won't receive the healing or HP boost from these ultimates. However, it's not just buildings that affects line of sight - anything that is considered impenetrable will do the same. From a player perspective, this means that enemy shields, albeit see-through, will obstruct line of sight just like a wall would. This is why you’ll sometimes see a Reinhardt walk into a grav with his shield up, trying to cut off the effect of Transcendence from some of the enemies trapped inside it. A monkey bubble, Orisa shield, or Symmetra ult will pretty much work the same way. A game object that also affects line of sight, but in an interesting manner, is Mei's wall. The wall will block effects of Transcendence and beat, but will not block her own ultimate, Blizzard (this applies to both friendly and hostile walls).

  15. Sleep Animation

  16. I'm sure this has been mentioned in many tutorials/VODs before, but I wanted to include it here nonetheless. When Ana sleeps someone, there is a full cycle of sleep they have to go through unless their slumber is interrupted. If slept enemies are woken up, they will regain input control immediately, so characters like Tracer or Sombra will potentially be able to relocate. On the other hand however, if they go through the period of sleep fully, they have to undergo the wake-up animation with player input disabled, while still being affected by damage and debuffs. During that small period of time, they are the most vulnerable, and can be killed easily. How do you know when they are about to wake up? Listen to the audio cues.

  17. EMP

  18. Sombra's ultimate, the Electromagnetic pulse or EMP, is one of the most powerful ultimates in the game because it strips enemies of all their abilities, thus rendering ability-dependent heroes like Doomfist and Wrecking Ball practically useless. Another great use of EMP is that it not only destroys physical shields (think Reinhardt or Orisa), but will also obliterate any personal shield an enemy might have (the part that is denoted in blue on your health bar, like Zenyatta or Zarya has). This is why you will often see pro Sombra players blasting off the EMP close to the enemy Zen, because three-quarters of his total hitpoints are shields, which will get melted instantly by the EMP. For the same reason, an EMP basically nullifies the effects of a Sound Barrier that has just dropped. EMP also disrupts some channeled ultimates like Earthshatter and Deadeye. Lastly, one interesting aspect of EMP that often gets overlooked is that it hacks (like Sombra says on her voice line) everything and everyone in line of sight. Which means, it not only hacks people, but also every hackable object around, including health packs. That can be useful to offer a clutch save to a friendly when they’re down to critical health.

    Per patch notes of 19 July, 2019, the cast time for EMP has been increased from 0.5 seconds to 0.65 seconds. This could potentially affect how much (and how fast) she interrupts channeled ultimates. I guess we’ll find out more when the patch goes live.

  19. Miscellaneous

  20. Alright, this isn't one point, but a collection of several points that I couldn't fit into other categories. In no particular order of usefulness, here are a few other random and interesting Overwatch facts.

    • If you're playing Zenyatta and an ally isn't peeking from the top of a ledge, you can often jump a little to make enough LoS to be able to put a harmony orb on them.
    • Transcendence heals, sound barrier does not. This means that Transcendence will rapidly heal you through a considerable amount of damge, while Sound barrier only adds temporary shields on top of the existing hitpoints of the allies hit by it. Once the barrier depletes, the players will be back to their original HP. This is why Transcendence can counter any ultimate which causes less than max health damage in a single burst (like Dragonblade, Dragonstrike, Death Blossom or Rocket Barrage). A Sound Barrier can counter most of these ults as well, and can help against self-destruct and rip-tire too, if the timing is right.
    • Tactical visor animation will cancel out the animation for placing a healing station, so it might be advisable to place one immediately before ulting. And remember, healing stations work on the basis of LoS too.
    • Crouch-walking softens your movement sounds. This is especially useful when you want to land a sneaky pulse bomb on someone. Speaking of Tracer, crouching disrupts her head hitbox by a lot, so crouching can be very useful to dodge imminent death by headshot if you cannot hide from an enemy Widow.
    • Both exploding Mekas and B.O.B. can be deployed on a ledge and then slowly nudged off of it, catching enemies off-guard below.
    • Brigitte can trigger Inspire by attacking Hammond's minefield, so you can take advantage of a minefield to heal yourself and your teammates that way.
    • Genji's deflect ability will reflect back any incoming projectile. However, it can also be used to shield himself from melee damage. This can be particularly useful against Reinhardt hammer swings or Primal Rage.
    • Zarya’s regular particle grenade has the same projectile arc as that of her Graviton Surge orb. If you are unsure where the grav will land, try tossing out a regular nade first to see what it hits.
    • Ashe's Coach Gun will knock her back even if it's fired mid-air, with no surface to hit below it. You can use this to achieve long jumps, where you jump off a ledge, then use the Coach Gun to propel yourself forward a little more, and then land on another shelf.

Okay, I think that'll do it for now. Let me know what you think in the comments below, and please also mention if you have more interesting points to add. And as always, don't forget to !

(Cover image from Imgur)

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