Overwatch Communication Guide – How to Win More Games

Good Comms are Key

There are plenty of ways to get better in video games. In Overwatch, a big part of it comes down to choosing the right team comp.

A less talked about aspect is how the team communicates during the game. Good “comms” increases the average knowledge level of the squad and lead to better decision making as a whole.

I know it can be a bit intimidating to interact with random strangers online, but I can assure you that joining team chat and adding some constructive comms to the mix will improve your chances of winning. These comms tips and tricks will bring more cohesion to your team while reducing your overall frustration levels.

Overwatch team comp

Start off on the Right Foot

This is critical! When you get into team chat, all you need to do is say hello and in upbeat manner. That’s it.

I can’t even describe how many games have been lost by toxic teammates starting out with one of the following:

  • Expletives for no reason
  • Racial slurs
  • Yelling at their dog/baby/little brother in the background
  • Complaining about how bad their last team was

Don’t be any of these people! Use whatever variation of hi that you feel comfortable with and put a little excitement in your voice.

You’ve heard that a smile is contagious, right? Well, the same principle applies here. It’s easy to hear someone’s excitement through their headset, so be the one to get everyone jazzed for the upcoming match!

Disclaimer: About 3% of your teammates will respond poorly to your positivity. Don’t let this get to you! Focus on the other 97% of the people out there who are fans of positivity!

Give Legitimate Reasons for Asking People to Switch Heroes

Every season has a meta; a group of heroes who are especially strong based on the most recent developer updates. At the same time, there will always be those heroes that you just really enjoy playing.

Every so often, you’ll get a teammate who really enjoys playing a hero who isn’t very strong in the current meta. Sometimes, this will be ok, especially if your teammate plays this hero at an elite level.

Other times, that specific hero may not mesh well with the other 5 characters on the team. This is especially true for supports and tanks. You’re going to want at least one shield tank and at least one primary healer.

If you end up in a scenario where it would be beneficial for a teammate to switch heroes, make sure to explain why it’s better for the team to have that person switch. Don’t yell at them to “get off Brig” or tell them that “D. Va is a stupid pick”.

These are the types of phrases that trigger people and begin the cycle of toxicity that no one wants.

Instead, ask them if they know how to play XYZ hero because that character pairs better with Lucio/Rein/any other hero in the current meta. If they do, great! Team comp gets a boost!

If not, no sweat. Start the game and see how the first couple of engagements go. If your team loses these first two fights and there’s an obvious need for a change, calmly make the recommendation again.

By now, other people in team chat would have joined in on the conversation. Feel out the vibe of the team and try to ease away any toxicity by being the calm one in the group. I know this is easier said than done, but this is another critical point in the game where I’ve seen the match lost.

After two attempts to right the ship, you may need to just accept that your team comp won’t change. Try to identify another win condition in the game – prioritize eliminating the opposing primary healer at the start of the fight, take out the enemy flanker before pushing to the choke, etc. – to help get the victory.

No one likes losing in this game. Heck, no one likes losing, period! More importantly, though, no one likes feeling personally attacked by strangers on the internet. 

Explain why you’d like someone to change heroes to increase your team’s receptiveness to feedback.

Overwatch character select screen

Have a Clear Strategy Prior to Exiting Spawn

In Overwatch, there are numerous routes to get to the objective. Typically, you’ll have a straight-line opportunity that gets you there fastest and several flanking routes along the sides of the map.

Tanks (except for maybe Roadhog) and healers will at least want to stick together. Many DPS are better suited for flanks but you, being the strategic leader, should prioritize getting as much of the team to commit to one direction as possible.

Many times, you’ll see a Reinhardt charge straight to the choke, a D. Va fly overhead to the objective, a Junkrat sitting in spawn, a Sombra hacking health packs on the side, and the two support characters trying to frantically keep everyone alive. This won’t be successful against an opposing team with any type of coordination.

Instead, suggest a sensible, grouped route that puts your team comp in the best position to win a fight. 

On defense, there are a bunch of well-known initiation points on each map. When attacking, your route is usually governed by the composition of your team. Check out Skyline’s Map Mastery series for some advanced tips on how to navigate Overwatch maps.

Call Out What You Can See From Spawn

This applies to teams who are attacking.

How many times have you seen a Solider 76 sprint out of the spawn, only to be melted down by surrounding Symettra turrets? Or worse, a Mercy steps onto a trap and is immediately blown up by a couple of Junkrat’s mines!

These are avoidable scenarios.

The spawn doors in Overwatch have windows on them for a reason. While it can be tempting to spend half a minute trying to melee a basketball into a hoop, your time is better spent scouting out your exit paths.

“If you see something, say something,” doesn’t just apply to Homeland Security. Doing so will also keep you safer in Overwatch! Also, use audio cues to pick up on what’s going on outside.

Let your team know what types of traps or flanking enemies are potentially waiting for them on the other side of the doors. You should also call out if you see an enemy sniper who has a direct line of sight to your exit.

These simple call outs save lives, prevent early triggering and minimize feeding the opposing team ult charge.

Communicate Cooldowns That Impact Your Team

If you have the only shield in your comp, it’s vital to let your team know when you are about to put it down or when it’s going to break. When you’re a healer, it’s critical that your teammates know when you can’t heal them (out of LOS, reloading, no heal powder, etc.).

In a perfect world, every character does their job exactly the way they are supposed to, all the time. In reality, people are often unpredictable in their cooldown usage and you shouldn’t assume that a teammate is holding on to an ability to save you at a given moment.

There are also cooldowns which pair really well together. For example, as Orisa, let your Roadhog know when you are going to Halt so he can time his Hook. 

Understand your role on the team and make sure to let people know when your relevant abilities are on cooldown.

Coordinate Your Ultimates

Good comms aside, people tend to hold onto their ults way longer than they need to. This is particularly true for ultimates that take a long time to build up. 

Do yourself a favor and pop that ult to get a key pick, instead of holding onto it for the “perfect opportunity” for a team wipe.

On the communication side, there are many ultimates that, when combined with another ult, are absolutely devastating. Know whether your hero can combo with anyone on the team and try to coordinate your usage to maximize the impact.

Here are a few common combos to consider:

  • Ana Nanoboost + Bastion Tank / Genji Blade / Pharah Barrage / Reaper Death Blossom 
  • Hanzo Dragonstrike + any immobilizing ult (think Rein Earthshatter or Mei Blizzard)
  • Tracer Pulse Bomb + Zarya Graviton Surge

There are also ults that should be communicated prior to using to ensure that the team is ready to be aggressive. The ones that come to mind are Sombra’s EMP, Lucio’s Sound Barrier, and Sigma’s Gravitic Flux.

Be vocal about your ultimate use and you will win more team fights!

Overwatch hanzo plus zarya combo

Keep Track of the Opposing Team’s Ults

Matches are often won by maintaining the advantage in the “ult economy“. Put simply, building charge for your team’s ultimates and using them to secure a fight while understanding where the enemy team stands with their ultimates.

Each hero builds ult at a certain rate passively. Additional ult charge is gained by performing positive actions for your team (healing, doing damage, etc.).

Get in the habit of tracking which ults the opposing team has used and what ults are likely being held for the upcoming fight. With this knowledge, you can communicate to your team whether to use their own ults, save ultimates for subsequent fight or position themselves to defend against an opposing ultimate.

Here’s a handy guide that shows what builds each ult. Take a look to understand how quickly your enemies can gain ult charge.

Also, make sure to check the enemy ult charge in the kill feed. You can easily if the person who killed you has ult, or is close to ult, then relay that info to your team.

Know When to Retreat

When one side has the numbers advantage, it can be difficult for the weakened team to win the fight. This is especially true when support characters go down because the overall sustain of the group is reduced.

Since support characters are often in the back lines, it can be helpful to call out when one is eliminated. In this situation, the rest of your team should acknowledge that they are more vulnerable and may even consider retreating if your primary healer goes down.

It’s ok to back out of a fight.

Your team will be in a much better position having retreated vs trying to fight in a handicapped position while feeding the other team’s ult charge. Be vocal about expressing when it makes sense to pull back.

Use the Communication Wheel as Needed

You and/or your teammates won’t always be in team chat. Luckily, Blizzard has a handy communication wheel to supplement voice comms.

Some of the options are best reserved for the spawn room (emotes, ‘Hello’, voice lines). The rest of these can provide valuable information to your team:

  • Need Healing: in a perfect world, your healers can see every friend who needs healing at all points in the match. In reality, they are often scanning the team to see who needs heals and applying their focus there. Use this wheel option to draw attention to yourself when your HP is getting low.
  • Group Up: After a scattered fight where teammates slowly trickly into the enemy, hit them with a “group up with me” to try rally the troops. This is best used after a respawn or retreating from a fight. Choose a safe area on the map and wait for the rest of your team to join you before pushing towards the next engagement.
  • Ultimate Status: This is a good way to let your team know that you will be ulting soon. It’s especially useful for ultimates that can be combined with another member on your squad. Remember that you can check your team’s ult status on the scoreboard to see what percentage everyone is at.
  • Acknowledge: Great way to respond to a team that has used the “group up” option or communicated their ultimate status to let them know you’re on the same page.
  • Thanks: Just a wholesome show of appreciation! Use this after a healer has topped you off, someone switches characters to counter an enemy hero or when you see a teammate pull off a big play.

Voice communication is ideal, but you can still have an impact by using the communication wheel.

Things Not to Communicate

With all the action going on in an Overwatch match, it can be easy to over-communicate as you call out what’s happening around you. Try to consider “what action do I want my teammates to take from the additional knowledge I’ve provided?”.

Here are some of the common themes that I’ve heard teammates share which aren’t necessarily actionable:

  • An enemy is directly in front of the team → for teams who move together (which should be all of them, san flankers), everyone will already have this information. Instead, call out difficult to see enemies like snipers at weird angles or high positions.
  • Calling out a flanking enemy who your teammate has a favorable matchup against → make sure to learn your counters and understand who your hero is strong against. When faced against a weaker opponent, it’s your job to win that fight outright. If the opponent has the upper hand, it’s ok to ask your team for help.
  • All the negative thoughts that creep into your head when you’re triggered → this doesn’t help anyone. It’s better to just mute yourself here.
  • Announcing every time you kill someone → there is a kill feed designed to visually notify teammates of the current battle’s action.

We, of course, prefer people to communicate instead of being silent, but too much information can be a distraction, especially when your team can’t take any actions based on your comms.

Practice Comms to Get Better

You won’t become an Overwatch comms expert overnight, but if you practice these tips then you’ll be well on your way towards improved team communication and a higher win percentage.

If you have friends that play Overwatch, try to practice with them first to get feedback in a low-stress environment. When you begin to feel more confident with your comms, jump into team chat to coordinate with randos!

Don’t get frustrated if your team doesn’t always respond to your call-outs. Many people process the information but have trouble communicating during the fast-paced action. Others may not respond if the call-out doesn’t apply directly to them. 

Hopefully, we can grow the Overwatch community to be a more vocal environment where comms are the rule vs being the exception!

What are your Overwatch comms tips? Leave a message in the comments section below!

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