Everything in Overwatch - and other competitive shooters - hinges on your ability to point a cursor, click the left button and hit people. Of course, it's doing this effectively that's the hard part. Although you can rely on game knowledge and strategic nous to a certain degree, executing your big-picture tactics all ultimately depends on having a rock solid aiming foundation.
You might be new to PC gaming, someone who's neglected honing your mouse movements, or resigned yourself to the belief that it's a part of the game you'll never master. For that reason we've put together some invaluable tips and training exercises on how you can improve your aim and become a mouse-flicking, headshotting machine.
All of our exercises will take place in a custom game skirmish. To set one up, navigate your way to the Arcade and click on 'create game' to the right of the screen.
The basic template
- At the custom game menu, set your game to 'Invite Only' so you don't get any friends awkwardly stumbling into your very serious training regime.
- Assign 6 Ana bots to the enemy team and set them to 'Hard' difficulty by clicking the 'Add AI' button to the top right.
- Now that's done, we need to muck around with our settings to get the slaughter started. Click on the 'Settings' tab followed by 'Modes', and then go about disabling everything and enabling 'Skirmish' instead. This means we won't have an objective getting in the way or any other complications to worry about. Just an arena and a 30 minute window to practice in.
- Go back and click on 'Maps'. We want to turn them all off with the exception of Oasis. Why? It's got a plethora of vertical spaces to toy around with and circular arenas to spar in, making it the ideal place to start cranking up that headshot percentage.
- Finally, it's a case of tweaking individual hero settings. Go into the 'Heroes' area and begin by nerfing Ana to the ground. Disable all of her abilities, increase her damage received value to 150% and enable headshots only.
- Choose a hero you'd like to practice with. We recommend you go with McCree as he'll provide you with a traditional one-shot-one-kill experience.
- Now go ahead and shoot some fish in a barrel.
How will this help you, then? Well, Ana's head has an extremely small hit-box, which means that your shots will have to be bang on the money if you want to take her out. Hit the body and you won't even make a dent on her health. This will get your precision aiming skills right up in short order.
Mastering aerial combat
Not all heroes are as run and gun as McCree, and so it's important to practise aerial combat as well.
- Follow the same steps as above, but lock in Pharah instead.
- We chose Numbani for this next exercise, as point A provides a tightknit area which you can toy around with. Old reliable Oasis is also a great map for this.
- Aiming as Pharah is very different to aiming with other heroes and requires a huge element of target movement prediction.
- Focus on one target among the swarm of bots, raining down justice from as great a height as you can muster while still being effective.
- Now do the same but from a significantly lower height, essentially bobbing inches away from your target.
- Once you've done these exercises for a few minutes each, jazz things up by doing whatever you want. Blast yourself upwards using Rocket Jump and then crash down incrementally, all the while spewing rockets.
- Make sure to count how many rockets it takes to kill your target. Make it an objective of yours to lower this number over time.
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Improve your sniping skills
Time for a little sniping practise.
- We recommend going for Ana or Lucio targets here, with headshot only enabled.
- Hop into Oasis.
- As you can see from the images, we elected to do a stint on the high ground by the jump pad and a session near the point.
- With Widowmaker, it's good to practice both aiming down your sights permanently and also snapping in and out of your scope between shots.
- If you really want to up the anté, turn away from the bots, throw out your Rappel to gain some air and go for 180 kills. While you might not land any shots at all, it's a great way to transform your clumsy turn into one rapid, precise spin.
Tracking fast-moving targets
You'll need to get very good at tracking fast moving, unpredictable targets. Give this exercise a go if you're struggling to stay on top of your prey:
- Grab a friend, get them on Lucio, and encourage them to survive for as long as possible. You can take it in turns if you both need a little target practise.
- We don't need to tweak anything, just communicate with your training buddy and make the exercise harder or easier as you go along.
- Oasis or Numbani are great maps which offer a number of interesting spots to shoot down from.
- Pick Soldier 76 and start by tracking Lucio with your mouse. Try your utmost to hold that cursor over the pesky DJ. Do this for a couple of minutes and force yourself to eliminate him using one clip only. If you fail, wait for his health to recharge, reload and go for it again.
- Tracer is also a great alternative to Soldier 76. Apply the same ruleset in aiming to take down Lucio in one burst from her Pulse Pistols.
Here are some extra exercises you might want to throw into the mix:
- Stick in one spot and go for headshots only, tracking your opponents with the reticule and pulling the trigger. If you want an even tougher challenge, try and go for one shot only before bringing your mouse back to the centre. Constantly darting your mouse from one point like this will help develop your 'flick' game immensely.
- Throw some strafing and jumping into the mix.
- Practice firing off rounds from all manner of distances. Spend five minutes at short range, medium range and long range.
- The Practice Range is a fantastic tool for some light aim training before a quick round of Overwatch.
Tweak our templates to suit the hero you need to work on. Want to practice hooking folks as Roadhog? Now you've got the knowledge, it won't be hard to knock a suitable custom game together.