This is a guide for beginners to help them win more games in Quick Play and Competitive.  This can be a confusing game for players at first because it does not play like a conventional first-person shooter and the game itself doesn’t give much guidance to the player.

Graphics Settings

First and foremost, frame rate is extremely important for making effective split-second decisions and seeing what is going on.  Try to get to 60 frames per second if you can (or at least 30) before cranking any settings up.  Turn up the settings as much as you want as long as you have a solid 60 frames.  As far as which settings to tone down first, if you need to,turning Shadow and Reflections to Medium or Low is a good place to start.

Teamwork

First of all, teamwork is crucial.  Your goal is to complete the objective – not to score the most kills.  Overwatch is not a PVP (player vs. player) game.  It’s a team vs. team games meaning that you should not be too far away from your team mates.  

Having a good kill-death ratio does not make you a good player.  Oftentimes, players get Gold Medal in damage and wonder why their team lost, blaming their team.  However, the team could have lost because they were veering out on their own while their team needed more support capturing the point or pushing the payload.

Team Composition

One of the biggest mistakes beginners make is to pick which ever character they feel like instead of a character that helps the team.  Every team should have at least 1 healer and at least 1 tank.  It’s not just enough to have characters that can deal a lot of damage, but you also need characters that can protect the team.  A generally balanced team comp consists of 2 Tank, 2 Support and 2 Offense/Defense.

Beginner Friendly Characters

Soldier, Mercy, Lucio, D.Va, Winston and Orisa are all examples of characters which are easy to pick up and play (and nobody would criticize you for using them).  It’s important to be able to use characters of different categories.  You should at least learn how to play 1 Support and 1 Tank so that you can play those roles when your team needs it.

Characters like Mei, Zenyatta, Ana and Sombra are by no means bad, but you should probably read/watch a detailed guide online first because they require some skill.

Keep Greedy Picks to a Minimum

Greedy picks tend to be characters which deal a lot of damage but don’t provide much support to the team.  Examples include Genji, Tracer, Reaper, Hanzo and Widowmaker.  You want to make sure that your team has 1-2 Tanks and 1-2 Supports before picking unsupportive characters.

Hanzo and Widowmaker can be deadly in the right hands, are not recommended for players without superb aim.  Also, a team should not be using both of them.

Genji, Tracer and Reaper are great for flanking, but you don’t want too many characters which stray away from the objective.

Situational Picks

Every character is useful in certain situations, but there are several characters which are only useful for specific tasks a majority of the time.  Bastion, Torbjorn and Symmetra are much better suited for Defense than Offense.  Does this mean that they should never be used on Offense?  No.  There are certain times which they can be.  The issue with Defense characters on offense is that they often lack the mobility and require time to setup.  At certain times on offense, you will need to hold a certain area to prevent the team from advancing.  However, for the majority of the time, you want to be able to move the payload (or advance to the enemy’s control points).

Not All Damage Is Equal

Getting a gold medal for damage is no indication of skillful or effective play.  The 200 damage that kills a lower HP class (McCree, Pharah, Zenyatta, Ana, etc.) is way more important than the 1000 damage you dish out to barrier (or a Tank which is getting healing).  

Tanks are the easiest targets to hit, but they should not necessarily be the targets you attack first.  Yes, you could probably kill a DVa with ease if you focus on her, but that same 600 damage could’ve been applied to killing two characters.  It’s usually best to attack the Supports first or characters capable of dealing a lot of damage but have low HP (like Hanzo or McCree).

Characters which deal a lot of damage (like Reaper, Soldier or Bastion, McCree) can defeat Tanks in an acceptable amount of time.  However, characters which deal less damage should usually be going after weaker enemy characters instead of spending a whole 30 seconds trying to kill a Winston.  The exception, of course, is if the Tank’s health has been whittled down and it does not take too long to kill them.

Practicing

It is recommended that you learn the ins and outs of the game before going into competitive mode.  Some players reach LV 25 (eligible for Competitive) with help of damage medals and sheer attrition, although Quick Play may have never taught them how to support a team.

For practicing out new characters, your options are target practice in training mode, playing against hard bots (you can make a custom server for them) or playing with a group of your friends who are also trying to test out new characters/strategies.   Quick Play is also an option, but you shouldn’t be testing out a damage character if your team has no Tanks or no Support.

Ultimates

The game doesn’t have grindy aspects to it such as income, weapon upgrades and skill upgrades where players can build up capital of some kind for doing well.  Ultimates are the closest thing to this.  Ultimates are used to help push game-winning plays or to protect against the opponent’s ultimates.  Ideally, you want 2-3 Ultimates going off at the same time.  Hence, communication is important.  Let your team mates know when your ultimate is almost fully charged (90%).

Most Ultimates can be put in two categories: starters and finishers.  Mei’s Blizzard, Zarya’s Gravity Orb and Sombra’s EMP are examples of Ultimates which weaken the enemy team to set them up for an offensive push.  Genji’s Dragonblade, Reaper’s Deathblossom and Soldier’s Tactical Visor are examples of high-damage Ultimates which finish off the team.  

Keeping Your Composure

In working as a team, controlling your emotions is important.  It’s not uncommon to see team mates arguing with each other and refusing to cooperate, resulting in a loss because of clashing egos.  No matter how uncooperative your team is, insulting them isn’t going to help at all.  The best way to handle this is to give advice where needed, try to communicate and cooperate on your end and have faith in your team.  There are at least 50 occasions where I doubted my team’s capabilities but we won anyway because we just persisted.

Tilts are also an issue.  It’s very common for players to make rash decisions and overlook a lot of information just because they are very frustrated and angry at the moment.  You don’t want to turn a loss into a losing streak.  For that reason, I generally recommend taking a 10-15+ minute break from Overwatch after you’ve lost two matches in a row.

Positioning

This is important, and many players neglect it.  You want to be nearby your team.  Don’t run off too far chasing an enemy trying to get a kill.  At worst, the enemy lures you into an ambush of some kind and you die.  But even at best, you abandon your time by spending too much time pinning down an enemy.  In the case of some Offense characters, flanking is viable, but never stay too far away from your team.

Most of team should be staying within Lucio’s radius, staying behind Reinhardt/Orisa’s shield and grouped together so that healers don’t have to move too far.

Also, remember to look up every few seconds or so.  Oftentimes enemies will shoot team mates from high distances (and not just Snipers or Pharah).  There will be Junkrats lobbing grenades from above, Soldiers firing away and even DVa using his upward mobility to reach high places.  

Don’t Be Outnumbered

Overwatch is a numbers game.  There are 6 players on each team.  Assuming similarly skilled players, you want to have equal or more amount of players than the enemy team while in a team battle.  If you are by yourself, don’t try to fight 2-3 enemies at once.  Escape if you can.  

On defense, a common situation is that the enemy team captures Point A (or is about to finish capturing it).  Many players try to keep defending that point to prevent the enemy from advancing further.  The problem with this is that the enemy kills you and then, while you are respawning, you can’t assist your team in defending Point B.

Don’t Overextend

A second example of playing the numbers game incorrectly is when team mates try to overextend.  On defense, this can include trying to fight the enemy directly at their spawn rather than giving the enemy some distance for your own safety.  Most common, perhaps, is when players are trying to capture Point B on a map. 

Many times players will rush into capturing the point without observing where their team mates are.  You don’t want to be the person who rushes into the enemy base (without checking to see if their team mates are nearby to help them), dies and then blames the team for not helping them.  You want to make sure most of your team mates are alive before conducting an offensive push.

Do the math on how many team mates you have versus how many the enemy has.  (You can see it on your HUD).  If 3 of your team mates are dead and only 1 of the enemies are dead, you definitely don’t want to go in for a push.  Instead, be patient and wait for your dead team mates to respawn and catch up with you.  Should you completely fall back and not engage with the enemy in the mean time?  No.  But you should try to hold your position and avoid playing too aggressively until you do have advantage in numbers.

Communication

A microphone or headset of some kind is strongly recommended.  Yes, text chat is possible, but it takes too much time and it takes peoples’ eyes off the combat.  You should test your microphone to make sure that your voice is not too quiet or too loud (and that there’s no background noise).  Especially, if you are too loud, team mates will mute you.  If you are buying a microphone, Dynamic microphones are a good choice for reducing background noise.  Remember that you may need to press a button to enter team chat (so all team mates can hear you and not just ones in your party).

Callouts

If you see a weakened enemy and you are not able to finish them off all by yourself, notify team mates with a message like “Focus on Zenyatta” (or whichever hero is vulnerable).

You also want to communicate with your team mates about what the enemy is doing.  If they have a Bastion in turret mode, a Torbjorn turret or a Symmetra turret, let your team mates know before they walk right into it.  If you see an enemy fighting from high ground, let your team mates know (i.e. “enemy has a Pharah.  Watch out.” or “enemy Hanzo sniping from tower”).  If you have a flanker on your team that can sneak through enemy lines, it’s sort of expected that they communicate to their team about what the enemy is trying to do.