Overwatch Beginner Guide

Overwatch Beginner's Guide

Is Overwatch Noob Friendly?

Overwatch is an easy game to get into and learn how to play, there is a slight learning curve when it comes to breaching the upper ranks but that's for another guide. When we are first jumping into the game, however, there are a few things we need to remember and work on while we play more and more. Some things are a little harder to grasp than others and that is just part of what comes with competitive gaming, some things click, and some don't.

We will be talking about a few different things as this is an entry to mid level guide, so try to take half of it and learn and then come back and take a look at the other half. Welcome to Overwatch!

What is communication like in Overwatch?

One thing that everyone should be aware of is that there are multiple channels of communication for people to utilize, there are private channels for the player and their queued teammates like friends or people they teamed up with before playing the next match, and there are team channels that allow players to talk with everyone on their team. There is a voice and text chat channel for each to allow anyone to communicate to the best of their ability. It should be noted that communicating with your team verbally or through text both have pros and cons, and different ways to deal with each.

When utilizing your microphone and using the team chat channel for microphones, you can talk and hear your teammates talk in real time. The drawback here is that, there are some people out there that are going to get on our nerves, or we can get on others nerves, and eventually when tensions are high enough the strategizing and tactical communication can break down into nonsensical negative flaming of one another. This can be a big reason why sometimes you get into a lobby and none of your teammates talk, nobody wants to be a part of the negative conversation, but eventually something could set any of them off which will set off someone else. This won’t always happen and shouldn’t be the biggest fear going into competitive matches.

Not everyone wants to see the world burn and not everyone is super excited to get everyone else upset and fighting. On top of that there are tools in place that allow for you to mute and block all communications from players that may just take it a step too far, so that you can more easily enjoy your experience when your team isn’t helping matters all that much.

Don’t be too quick to mute everyone out the gate either, some people are clear cool and calm communicators that may help you and your team, especially if things are going well. The pros to verbal communication usually pertain to when your team is doing well unfortunately. At the same time however, even when things are looking grim being able to call out to your team and listen to your teammates situations, correct communication will assist in making the comeback or even making the right decisions to win the game. Awareness is a factor but being able to communicate with each other ensures the best response time and action made by your teammates as well as yourself.

Again, being able to block those that are a little too much for the atmosphere is a huge advantage when the rest of your team wants to communicate properly and look for teamwork to win. This is a huge pro when considering some games leave that option out, not usually though.

It’s hard to point out any real advantages to text for communication, so let’s group in the quick pings into this. There are a few hotkeys that quickly and effectively communicate to your team what’s happening, what you’re looking at, and what you need. Cutting out the ability to bad mouth each other almost entirely can do wonders for our cohesion with our team and make it better for our mentale when playing for extended periods of time.

The only real pros are for the quick efficient communication and the ability to improve our overall anger management ability. For the most part, not being in the voice channel or only opting to use the text channel and pings for our communication can hinder our overall ability to communicate with our team, and even sometimes bring the wrath of the rich kids down on us.

The cons come down to less effective communication and if you aren’t using a headset or are in a private chat channel then you can’t hear your own teammates giving you callouts and even further hindering team cohesion.

How should I use communication in game?

Communication can mean a lot of things but let's talk about actual, teamwork based communication. The kind that will help your team react and play more effectively and together as a unit, making decisions and coordinating ultimates and pushes for objectives at the correct moment. Communicating with your team comes down to telling them where you are, what you’re doing, what you need, and what all is happening.

When we need healing we need to tell our healers, once or twice and nicely. If we need a better tank then we should ask for our tank to play a tank that better fits our current composition. The trick here is to be an air of positivity which will convince people that your shot calling ability is stronger than their own, and in order to accomplish that we need to be knowledgeable without being condescending. Be kind in your communication and that will help get your team to rally around you more often than not.

A huge part of Overwatch is coordinating your ultimates so that you can get the best bang for buck combinations that can clear objectives or the pathways to them. If people don’t use their ultimates proactively and productively then a fight can turn sour quickly. For the most part the order in which you use ultimates doesn’t really matter but it can matter when the enemies try to counter out your ult. For instance, if a Reaper ults your team and your Zenyatta counters it with his ult, if the enemy team then proceeds to use their hanzo ult and Soldier 76 ult, your team that is inside the Zenyatta ultimate doesn’t take any damage. Trading 3 ultimates for 1 is great for the 1 team and can open up a lot of better counter plays and opportunities. If the enemy team had communicated better and only traded ults 1 for 1 or timed the Soldier ult for after the Zen ultimate was over they would have been able to take the fight in theory.

When it comes down to it, communicating effectively with our teammates is the strongest path to victory. It is a little too difficult to solo carry no matter who you’re playing, even if you’re smurfing there is only so much you can do against six players if your teammates aren’t able to keep up with your decision making and ability to play. Clear communication and flexibility are going to improve your odds of winning regardless of personal ability to play.

What Hero should I play?

One of the things that people sort of ignore or forget exists in Overwatch is team compositions and Meta. We all have our favorites, whether we play them well or if they fit our team composition or if there is any use case for them or not, we want to play that Hero. This is a common factor in any game that offers multiple characters to play, but we have to remember that with great power, comes optimal compositions.

Games often patch weekly or bi weekly or after a set period of time to ensure that things are as fresh and feel more fun to the majority of players. With this in mind, sometimes our Hanzo mains are just too good to be true, and sometimes they fall flat before they can be of any real use. When the Meta changes we should try to adapt more often than not and try to use everything we can to improve on other Heros in order to fit the Meta and play the most optimal compositions we can.

When we play to the Meta and practice what works the best at that time we are effectively playing at a higher level than most of our peers at the lower ranks. The reason for this is that we are playing the strongest possible Heroes and in the best possible composition, there are very few occasions that allow an enemy team to get the one up on you if you’re playing optimally.

Of course there is optimal to a fault and sometimes we make mistakes that lead to a loss that technically should not have come, but that is part of individual error more often than not. Sometimes we just lose a game because of a small mistake, and that’s what drives people to be better in the first place.

When it comes down to it though, us here at this guide are not ready to break into the best possible Meta and play around patch notes and nerfs and buffs. We are here to learn how to improve at a specific playstyle or Hero. We need to start with what type of Hero we enjoy playing. Overwatch offers three unique sets of Heroes and while some threaten to cross the border of Support or Tank, they all utilize a set of abilities meant to accentuate their relevant roles within the team.

Play someone you’re interested in, try out a bunch of different Heroes in different roles to help discover not just what you like the most but also what you achieve the best results with. There is a practice tool that you can use before playing a few casual matches so that you can get to know each Hero as best you can. When you play one enough to know if you like them and/or are good with them, then you’ll know which role you should que with and then which Hero within that role you best perform with. 

There is a chance that the Hero or Heroes that you want to play is Meta or has a viable position within multiple team compositions, but at the same time there is a chance that it isn’t. Again at the lower ranks this shouldn’t be the biggest issue but sometimes it may come back to haunt you if the enemy team is playing something that is  just a little closer to Meta or more viable than your Hero and composition.

When it’s all said and done none of us should be looking at being the best at this level, play what you like to play and how you like to play, just know that in order to take it to the next level you may have to buckle down and get a little more serious about climbing the ladder.

How should I monitor Tilt when playing Overwatch?

In FPS games the number one reason people find it difficult to climb stems from their mentale when playing for extended periods of time. Tilt creeps in from all directions every time we get hit with an Orissa/Road hog Pulled Pork Combo, or a Zarya ult with Ana grenade. When we get curb stomped by the enemy team we tend to lose hope for our chances of winning. The best way to avoid tilt is to learn how to stop these things from happening. Of course there are many other things that can cause us to tilt and make our experience worse than subpar, and all of these suggestions will help with those tiltable instances as well.

Try to make the best of a worst case situation, these things happen and sometimes we do the bashing but sometimes we get the bashing. Hopefully the experience eventually adds up to being able to foresee the bashing and help put a stop to it.

Experience is the key to success, the more you know and the better you implement that knowledge, then the more success you’re likely to see in your ranked matches. Being able to take a step back is a strength many find difficult to build up. Queing up over and over again or setting the controller or keyboard down and not coming back to it may seem like the best idea but realistically just taking a break from the competitive side is the best option. 

Take some time to get away from the pressure of a competitive match and remember that the game is supposed to be fun, it was never truly meant to be an Esport. Though this is the hardest thing to do, we only have so much time in a day and if you’re anything like me you just want to play games and have fun while you make your way up the rankings. Taking some time to refresh your mindset is just plain better than forcing yourself to go next while the worst game of your life just happened.

There are also some health concerns that come into the video game scene when all we do is spend hours on hours of eating and gaming. While it is not exactly reflective of tilt, a healthier lifestyle routine can help aid our mentality coming into and out of a tough match.

This is going to be varyingly difficult depending on the person, as well as reach different results, this is more a general tip than an in game tip but, for the most part, ranking up is always going to be easier when you’re feeling cool and confident. 

In the end, as important as it is to control your tilt, it is one of the hardest things for anyone that ever has played a competitive video game. Remember to try your best and within a reasonable amount to keep it cool. Flaming your teammates is only going to spread your tilt, while allowing people to get under your skin is going to feed your own anger. There’s nothing wrong with being angry, but taking it out on someone else is never justified. Don’t bottle it up, try to disperse it with some time away from the keyboard or by playing a fun game in between a tense match and your next ranked one.

Can I play Overwatch with my friends?

The best recommendation one can give when it comes to games like Overwatch, is to play with your friends, or try to make some friends in the community that you get along with. There are quite a few reasons to play with your friends, the main one being it tends to be easier to avoid tilting when your friends and yourself are the ones getting bashed together. It tends to be easier to take and give criticism when the people you’re talking to are people you know.

Communication often tends to be easier to comprehend when playing with people that think the same way you do, or that you already know what they mean when they try to give you callouts. This means there’s less bickering about what something is called or what people should be saying and more reactions that lead to the game winning plays. Sometimes this isn’t always the case, but if you play with someone long enough you tend to learn their habits and understand their thought process when they start shotcalling or just make call outs.

New people we play with, which tends to be every game we play without a six man premade, we kind of have to learn on the fly what our teammates are trying to say. This is especially true at the lower ranks where everyone should really just conclude that they have no idea what they’re talking about.

It also tends to be a lot easier to learn and get better at the game when you play with friends. The environment is usually a lot less stressful even when you play the competitive mode. The two most important things to have when playing competitive matches are confidence and comfort. When these two things are present then the overall gaming experience tends to be a lot smoother for us. Yes sometimes tensions can run high and it’s a little different in the sense that you are able to be more aggressive with people you know whether it be verbally or passive aggressively, these events are easier to overcome when all is said and done. 

We fight with our friends all the time, but they are our friends and our overall performance won’t necessarily be diminished when it’s our friends telling us we suck, cause they know they suck too. Half the game is learning it and the other half is playing it, we can easily do both with a full squad queuing up for a ranked match. Even just having one or two friends to play with can increase our level of performance quite substantially. Of course this doesn’t and shouldn’t mean that we need to have friends playing with us, but it of course tends to be more helpful than harmful.

The last reason we should play with our friends or those that we click with in solo ques, is that we can overall just have a better time, it’s easier to face a loss when your team consists of pals you’ve made knowing you all gave it your best. Going next has never felt so good when you’re one game away from hotstreaking and everyone is playing at their best level. Games have always been more fun to play when they’re played with people that we know, it’s just science. We can find the extra time to goof off while trying to win a tense fight, and still win it because the team chemistry was formed outside of the game. The tilt doesn’t hit as hard when we have the support of those we wanted to play with in the first place.

That being said, try to make friends with those you meet in the game, they can sometimes be jerks, or end up not being the greatest people you ever met, but some of them are definitely worth the time and effort to play with.

How else can I improve?

It isn’t always the most fun, especially for those of us with shorter attention spans or people who just want to dive headfirst into everything we do, but there are plenty of people we can learn from anytime we want to. Between Twitch and Youtube and the countless other streaming services and places where there are uploaded videos to watch. We can learn a lot from these content creators and even aspire to be like them. The most prominent ones tend to play at a pro level or even are pros themselves, who better to learn from than the best?

When it comes to FPS games it can be quite difficult to really learn from the players that already play at the highest level. Sometimes it isn’t even the best idea to try and emulate what they're able to do. Some things however, are easily picked up and transitioned into our Competitive matches even at the lowest ranks.

When it comes to decision making and shot calling/communication, there is a lot that we can take away from watching the Pros do it. This will usually pertain to live streams but some VODs will contain useful information as well. When it comes to actually trying to emulate the pros try to remember that right now as it stands, they are leagues above you and their teammates are leagues above you, even if it seems hard to believe sometimes. They can rely on their healers a little more because their healers are better than yours.

They can run Tracer into some sketchy team compositions because their situational awareness and reflexes are faster and more reliable than yours. Give it some time and you will eventually be able to copy them without even realizing you’re doing it. When we perfect other aspects of our game, we tend to be honing other parts of it without even realizing it. 

There are many different personalities and players that stick to usually one role and a handful of Heroes, we can best learn from those that play similarly to us whether it be role specific or not. Or if we want to be entertained more than instructed, there are a wide variety of very different people and any one of them may be our go to guy or gal to watch when we have the time. The only downside is that you aren’t usually actively playing when you’re watching, but that isn’t always a bad thing. Especially when we may need to cool off from a loss, watching someone else can keep our head in the game without making us want to tear it off.

What should I do when I’m ready for the next step?

Overwatch is a six versus six game, which means there are twelve people playing and everyone is playing the game differently. Some people are trying to lead their team to victory while some give up and just want their team to give up with them and lose already. Some days we play better than others and some days we might have had a better day if we had never booted up Overwatch in the first place. The only thing that matters in the end is that we wanted to play, and found a way to improve our game while having fun at the same time. Regardless, we are getting a little tired of one tricking Bastion and wondering why our team doesn’t have three shield Heroes and a Mercy to damage boost us every game, even though that Genji keeps getting behind us and killing us with a quick combo. There’s always room to improve, and if you want to get to that next level of playing, make sure to check out our other guides and dedicate a little extra time to learning rather than playing.

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Cameron Carr

11 November 2019

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