Winston’s one of the least mechanically intensive champions in Overwatch, yet despite this he’s notoriously hard to play well. When we first started playing Winston ourselves, we misunderstood his role in the hero roster, thinking he was a burly damage-dealing gorilla who could take on anyone. After our fair share of diving in and instantly dying afterwards, it quickly became apparent that this wasn’t the case.
As one of the most mobile tanks in the hero roster, Winston is best played as a disruptive menace that thrives on upsetting the balance of the enemy team. He’s able to fly into the enemy backlines and harass the healers and damage dealers, selflessly drawing attention away from his team, before leaping out of the fray and to safety. His aggressive kit requires a huge deal of game knowledge, coupled with decent decision-making skills in order to have an impact without dying too frequently.
Fear not though, our advanced Winston guide will help you on your way towards mastering Winston and becoming that unkillable gorilla you’ve always strived to be.
General tips for the battlefield
As a general rule of thumb, try and avoid those enemies that pose a serious risk to your self-preservation unless you’ve got a major upperhand. For example, those heroes that have weapons with large bullet spreads such as Reaper and Roadhog. Jumping in and attempting to take them on won’t end very well for you, as your Tesla Cannon simply doesn’t have enough burst damage to kill them quickly. Comparatively, it takes relatively little time and effort for them to mow you down since you’re such a big target.
Health packs are vital to your survival as a tank hero that's bound to take a frequent battering. Take pressure off the healers and be proactive in leaping over to the numerous health packs dotted around each map. If you’re not familiar with where they’re located on certain maps, we’d recommend you go and explore them freely in a custom game to build your knowledge of the best spots to jump to if you’re in a pinch.
Given all these points about survival, we’re going to hit you with a surprising counterpoint - dying first is okay. As Winston, your job isn’t to bag the gold damage and elimination medals, it’s being a pain to the enemy team that really matters. Throwing yourself in first and zoning some key enemy heroes away from the fight may result in a rapid death, but might well be the opening your team needed to take the objective.
Make the most of your Barrier Projector
Assess the situation before dropping your shield down, as it’s not always optimal to dump it on the ground as soon as you land on a target. Unless you’re under serious fire, it’s best to hold on to your shield and pop it where you think it would be most disruptive to the enemy team.
We recommend placing your Barrier Projector over the vulnerable damage dealers and healers on the enemy team. It’s going to cause them all sorts of trouble, as they can’t shoot enemies or heal allies through your shield for a short duration. This might force them to reposition into a less than ideal spot on the map that leaves them increasingly open to attack.
Your shield can give you the edge in a duel against an opponent. Drop it on an enemy - let's say McCree - so you’re both encased in the bubble. If you face him unprotected, your chances of losing the fight are extremely high, given the sheer damage he can output with that Peacekeeper of his. Dance in and out of your shield though, and you’ll take him down easily. Pay attention to your opponent’s movements and adjust your positioning within the bubble, to make sure that whenever he’s trying to bury a bullet in your fur, it’s being absorbed by the barrier instead
If you see a D.Va’s Self Destruct clunk into the middle of a fight, dropping your barrier directly over it will negate the explosion entirely and protect your team from ragdolling through the air.
Use your Jump Pack in new ways
When using Jump Pack to initiate a fight, always aim for the most vulnerable targets on the enemy team. If you see a Mercy healing allies in the background, use your Jump Pack to close the gap and start zapping away at her.
Focusing your attention on targets in this manner might give the impression that you don’t care about your team, but you're really not. By taking enemy healers and primary damage dealers out of the situation, you’re putting their team at a man disadvantage. They won’t have the same support or firepower to match your team's, and if you eliminate them and make it out unscathed then the team fight is yours for the taking.
While it’s a perfect tool for starting a teamfight, Jump Pack is also a great ability for repositioning yourself in a lengthy brawl, and making it possible to be everywhere at once.
- Use it to bound around the battlefield, focusing one target down and moving swiftly onto the next.
- Not sure who to target next? Leap straight up into the air or onto a nearby balcony. This will give you the brief breathing time you need to assess the situation, choose a victim and land straight on their heads.
- Jumping straight towards the sky when you’re on extremely low health forces the enemy to look up if they want to eliminate you. It might be the tiny distraction your team needs to gain the advantage.
- Don’t be afraid to jump in, drop your shield, do a bit of damage and jump out again. Your Jump Pack is on such a low cooldown that you can afford to back out of a fight if you think it’s not worth the risk.
Comprehensive tips for your Tesla
Tesla Cannon dishes out a steady trickle of low damage in a cone in front of you, which often gets misinterpreted by Winston players as an excuse to be lazy with their aim. With that said, we’re also guilty of being lax with our accuracy, as it’s far too easy to nonchalantly swipe your mouse and still end up zapping your enemy for the most part. After deciding to break this habit and get into the mindset of simply not allowing enemies to escape the Tesla Cannon though, our ability to secure kills on low health targets increased tremendously.
We don’t advise taking Reinhardt on in close quarters, but if you’re presented with the right opportunity, Winston’s Tesla Cannon is capable of electrocuting him through the Barrier Field he puts up. Sometimes it’s good to shock him with a steady stream of damage, as it’ll force him to reposition slightly, or bait him into dropping his shield so your team can follow up on his missteps.
A little known tip when frying tanks: you’ll deal more damage to a high health target by meleeing in between zaps.
As an additional point to this, it’s worth getting into the habit of throwing a punch just as you’re Tesla Cannon runs out of charge. It sounds like an odd thing to do, but it’s an extra bit of damage that might just be enough to secure the kill if electrifying them might not have got the job done.
Control your anger
Winston’s Primal Rage, despite it’s title, doesn’t cause his damage output to skyrocket all of a sudden. It’s a minor increase if anything, and it’s better to view his Ultimate ability as something of a tool that’ll get him out of trouble fast, or help him disrupt the enemy team more than usual.
When using Primal Rage it’s important to quickly seek out the damage dealers, or those that’ll pose the greatest threat to your team. Knock Soldier:76 into a corner, bat Ana off the map or knock Orisa out from behind her shield. It’s all about physically ripping the enemy out of their comfort zones and enabling your team to capitalise on their misfortune in the process.
Perhaps the best scenario to use Primal Rage is when you’re dangerously low on health. Not only does it replenish your health bar, it also boosts your health pool dramatically. Hammer the Q key to leap away from a sticky situation, or to extend your presence in a prolonged team fight.
Finally, if you’re able to contest the point and have Primal Rage charged up and ready to go, don’t hesitate to pop it when your health drops low. It’ll allow you to stall the enemy team’s progress for an absolute age, netting you precious percentage time and even the chance for your team to run back from the spawn and back you up.