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Overwatch

Overwatch: Maps, Modes, Hints and Tips

We've covered the heroes, now it's time to check out the maps and modes that host the action in Blizzard's brilliant team shooter.

  • Text: Sammy Cooper
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Overwatch launched last week, and we've already given you an extensive guide for each of the 21 unique and detailed heroes. On top of this, the game also features 12 equally unique maps, spread across four different game modes. That can be a little daunting for a first time player, especially in combination with the many different heroes and learning who is suited for their individual play-styles.

Luckily, here at GameReactor we've been playing Blizzard's excellent team-based shooter extensively (you can read our review here), and have compiled together a guide that encompasses each map and mode, so you can hop into the game and be effective in no time at all.

In every mode, all of the heroes can be used to varying degrees of effect, with some outliers in performance depending on the rest of the team's choices of hero. In a similar vein, there are no 'best' characters to play, as each performs at its best depending on the situation.

Overwatch

Escort

This game mode features one team placed on offence, and the other (yep, you guessed it) on defence, with the main objective of those on offence to push a payload along a track towards the objective. Standing next to or on top of the payload pushes it, and it is at its fastest when 3 people are nearby. Despite this, one person on defence is enough to stop the payload from moving, and if nobody on the attacking team is able to move it after a certain time, the payload will begin to slowly move backwards. There are a number of checkpoints that the payload must pass through, which increases the game timer and moves the spawn points for both teams. Naturally, a good team balance is required from both sides if they're after maximum effectiveness.

Offensively, a standard setup would be to have two offensive heroes coupled with two tanks, a support, and one defensive hero who would be effective from a distance, like Widowmaker or Hanzo. Heroes like Torbjörn or Bastion are limited in their attack effectiveness in this game mode, as the objective is constantly moving forward. However, coupled with a tank who can block damage, like Reinhardt, and a healer like Mercy, it is possible to set up on the payload itself, and move through the map wreaking havoc on the enemy's defence.

Switching over to defence, a much more common setup would be to have one offence hero with two defensive, as characters like Bastion or Torbjörn are much easier to use to that affect, as you will have many opportunities to set up and mow the enemy down. Heroes like Mei are also effective here, as she has the ability to slow down and stop heroes in their tracks, and shut off pathways that would've been of benefit to the enemy. You can also make better use other supports, such as Symmetra or Zenyatta, though Mercy will, as always, be extremely effective.

The maps that use the Escort mode are Watchpoint: Gibraltar, Dorado, and Route 66.

Assault

This game mode is based around a series of control points, and once more teams are split into both offence and defence. The task of those on attack is to push onto and capture a set area before time runs out. In the event that the first point is taken, the game timer will be increased, and a second point that must be taken will open up. Having more players in the point makes it capture much faster. Taking both points wins the game. Defenders must try and prevent the enemy from taking the point, and if one person on defence stands in the area while it is being captured, the process is halted. Defenders win if time runs out.

On offence, the story is similar to that of in the Escort mode. Heroes like Torbjörn and Bastion are of limited use, so teams will tend to end up playing with two offence and one defence hero. Tanks with more of an offensive stance, like D.va or Roadhog, are good here as they can push the enemy back from their initial setup, and take out a few of the weaker heroes whilst they are at it. D.Va is good on some of these maps, as she can shut down a Bastion's stream of bullets using Defence Matrix on the initial push, allowing your team to get a foothold and take down the key members of the team. She can also use her boosters to knock snipers off of their platforms and into the chaos below.

On defence, turret-based heroes can be used amazingly well here, as you have plenty of time to get a good vantage point over the enemy before they come out of their base. Couple this with a damage boost from Mercy, and Bastions have been known to tear through the enemy team as they come out of their initial spawn, wasting them a fair bit of time in the process.

Because of the nature of these maps, it allows for some pretty strange team compositions. At the start of Volskaya Industries, the enemy team must pass through a wide archway, and you don't have much of an option other than to go through. A good way to start a match is to play as two or more Symmetras, and set up lots of turrets on the archway. This'll shred unsuspecting teams, who at first get thrown off and will likely die. It's been known for teams to win the game on Volskaya Industries with simply two or three Symmetras, with others to cover flanks.

In Temple of Anubis, much like Volskaya Industries, the attacking team must make their way through an archway at the start. This means the Symmetra setup can work, but this map allows for a few more flanking moves from the attackers. An interesting setup for defence is to play with four Torbjörns, along with a tank and a support. The Torbjörns can setup on the first point, and the turrets deal heavy damage when stacked up against one person. It gets more chaotic when the Torbjörns get their ultimates, and an enemy team can be held up for quite some time depending on what they've picked.

The maps that use Assault are Hanamura, Temple of Anubis, and Volskaya Industries.

Hybrid

Not much to say here about the mode itself; hybrid mode is, as the name would suggest, a mixture between the Escort and Assault modes. Attackers must capture a single objective and after that escort a payload from there to the end of the map. The way the game mode works is pretty much the same as their individual capture points, but the Escort section tends to have less checkpoints than the maps that are Escort-only. The first part of each map is the same as Assault, meaning teams on defence are given ample time to set up shop.

An interesting wildcard team setup that could work in this mode is to play with two Lúcios. Unfortunately, the healing and speed effects of Lúcio doesn't stack up well, but having one of each works fine, and your team can be constantly healed and will move faster. This works on both attack and defence, but will only work against certain team setups. It's definitely worth a shot, though.

The maps that use the hybrid game type are King's Row, Numbani, and Hollywood.

Control

This game mode is the only one where both teams are actually on offence. Two teams fight over a number of objectives in a best-of-three format. Both sides are placed on a map and must take control of the objective for the longest amount of time. The team that reaches 100% first after controlling the point for long enough wins the round. After taking the point, the map changes, and the first to two points taken claims victory.

The design of the maps for this mode is somewhat different to that of the other modes. The individual areas are comparatively smaller than the other maps, but there are still areas for defensive heroes to set up, despite the map being offensively-focused. These areas are just outside of the map, meaning you won't be contributing to the capture of the point, but they are good areas for helping clear the enemy away. A sensible setup would likely be to have two offensive heroes, two tanks, one defensive and one support. As always, this is open for interpretation, and a lot of it depends on what heroes do best depending on their role, but this would likely be the standard setup.

The maps that are control themed are Lijang Tower, Nepal, and Ilios.

Hints and Tips

Headshots - In Overwatch, headshots are a critical part of the game, and knowing headshot spots is one of the fastest ways to give you the edge over the enemy. Landing a hit on the head will do twice the damage of a normal shot, so no matter the situation you will want to be aiming for that sweet spot as much as possible. Most of the heroes have headshot spots where you'd expect - on their head. There are two heroes that differ, though. D.va, whilst in her mech, has a huge headshot radius of the entirety of the glass panel covering the cabin, which paints a bit of a target on her, and is important to keep in mind. Bastion in turret mode's weak spot becomes a glowing block that sits on the back of the turret. Unfortunately, with Bastion it isn't that easy to get behind him long enough to score a 'headshot,' so it's probably just better aiming for the front, unless you are playing a flanker like Reaper.

Focus - Keep an eye on the most dangerous members of the enemy team, and keep your focus on them where possible. Much of the time you will probably want to try taking out the support first, who is the backbone of the team. After that, the one who poses the biggest threat to your team is usually up next - if you're struggling on who you should focus on, take a look at the scoreboard and you'll see some enemy portraits engulfed in flame. This means that they are 'on fire' and are doing particularly well for their team, so it might be a good idea to take them out next.

Supports - As with any team-based game, support heroes are essential; but at the same time, they aren't as sought-after as the offensive heroes, which tend to be seen as more fun. The problem is, a team without one will lose much more quickly than one with a support, and losing is even less fun than healing. If you ever find your team lacking a support, give one a go; you will likely end up enjoying yourself more than you first thought. A good support to start off with is Mercy, but those who want to be more effective on the damage or crowd-control front are probably better off trying out Lúcio, who passively heals the team. More on support can be found in our character guides.

Experiment - Yeah you might be handy with Hanzo or brilliant with Bastion, but don't narrow your options by not trying out new heroes. Get proficient with a number of characters, and from across a range of different classes, because you never know who you might need to call upon. Trying out different roles is especially important if you're going to be teaming up with randoms, because unlike working with your friends, strangers might not be so eager to change things up. Equally, if you've got a range of characters that you can play as, swapping characters mid-match might give you the edge, or change the dynamic of a match that previously wasn't going your way.

Stay Safe - The slower pace of Overwatch might mean you want to rush into the action, but hold back for a second and take a breather, maybe even wait for your team to regroup before getting stuck in again. Running out into the open will make you fodder for Widowmaker's long range sniper or a sharp-eyed Hanzo, or even a well positioned turret. On the other side of the coin, controlling the high ground might be tempting if you plan on keeping the bulk of the enemy team at bay from range, but it's never a good idea to stick to one location for too long, lest a squishy sniper gets stomped on by a clever flanking manoeuvre. There's multiple routes around and through every map, and knowing your entrances and exits is just as important being familiar with the pros and cons of each hero.

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