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Sombra guide - 2018 - Overwatch

Our updated Sombra guide has everything you need to start playing this hero like a pro.

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Updated: 6th June 2018: How to play Sombra in Overwatch, with guides to making the most of her abilities, and gameplay tips to help you dominate.

After a teaser promotion that seemed to last forever, Sombra finally made her way onto Overwatch's live servers at the back end of 2016. Nestled within the Offense category of heroes - and with a somewhat similar combat flavour to Tracer - it's important to note that her damage output is considerably lower by comparison, and she functions much more effectively as a disruptor and opportunistic assassin. To help you get to grips with her niche playstyle, we've created a Sombra guide that will take you all way through the fundamentals of playing this character to a high degree of finesse.

An important part of Sombra's disruptive strength lies in her Hack ability, which allows her to either nullify enemy hero abilities or - more commonly - interfere with those delicious Health Packs littered around every map. Not only does hacking a Health Pack lock it out of use by the other team, it also dramatically increases the pack's recharge time. In addition, an enemy Sombra cannot use their skills to pinch it back for their team - not in the current incarnation of the hero, at least.

As far as her offensive nature is concerned, Sombra possesses some very cool mobility-enhancing abilities: one which help her to get into a preferred combat position using invisibility and another that lets her teleport to another position on the map. Given this exceptional mobility, you can perhaps see now why she's so often compared to Tracer, although this flexibility and agility comes at a price, and that price is paid with relatively low DPS and a wide, unwieldy spray of fire.

Frankly, the jury's out on whether Sombra - in the current metagame at least - is underpowered or overpowered. The verdict you hear will likely depend on the skill level of the player doing the talking, but we do know she's loads of fun to play and provides a canvas for some extremely inventive top-level play. Read on for everything we know about mastering this hero, and we'll have plenty of updates between now and her arrival on the live servers.

Editor's note - Update #5: We've also expanded on the tips section, and ensured that our list of cosmetic items is now up to date with all the latest events.

A new event has just hit Overwatch! Check out our essential Retribution guide for all the tips, tricks and strategy advice you need to master this new PVE mode.

Sombra abilities and strategy tips

If you haven't had the opportunity to mess around with Sombra yourself yet, here's a breakdown of all her abilities. We've also got some very general advice for you on making the most of them, with specific tips further down the page.

Machine Pistol [LMB] - A short-range automatic weapon.

As we mention further on in this guide, the Machine Pistol feels very similar to Tracer's weapon although it does have a larger clip. It's best to unload the whole thing at your target, as there's quite a significant spray element to the discharge, and you'll probably need the whole clip if you're to stand a chance of taking out your intended victim.

Hack [RMB] - Simply hold this button down to start the hacking process. If you've targeted a Health Pack, it will spawn faster but will only be available for use by members of your own team. This ability can also be used to directly hack enemy heroes, suppressing their use of abilities for a lengthy period of time. It's important to note that it also interrupts the following abilities during their cast time: Ana's Nano Boost, Orisa's Supercharger, Mei's Blizzard, Reinhardt's Earthshatter, and D.Va's Call Mech.

This is Sombra's signature move and allows you to hack a number of different things in the game, from character abilities to Health Packs. Doing so speeds up the recharge rate of the pack itself and denies use of it by the enemy at the same time - sorry about that! Keen map knowledge is obviously vital here, and you should always try to take control of large nearby packs during focused brawls.

Stealth [LSHIFT] - Become invisible and move quickly.

Essentially your get-out-of-jail-free card. Note that it can be used to get back into battle faster, or allow you to get into position unharrassed, so you can focus on either taking down a hacking target or just bother the enemy back line in some fashion.

Translocator [E] - Throw a beacon, then press E again to teleport to it.

This extremely cool device allows you to place a recall point in a position of relative safety, before diving into the battle. If things get too hot, simply head back to this point and recover. On that note, you might consider applying this device on or near a Health Pack for instant rejuvenation. Alternatively you can use this almost as a grappling hook, and for enhanced mobility when things are looking critical.

EMP [Q] - Hack enemies and destroy enemy shields and barriers around you.

This Ultimate ability is used to shut down enemy Ultimates. This is often used during vital last-gasp pushes and defending. Pull this off at the right time and you can have a game-changing effect on the match.

Opportunistic [Passive] - You detect critically injured enemies through walls.

This is a Passive ability so you have no control over its usage, but it does allow you to see the presence of critically injured enemy heroes, even if they're hidden by the environment. Get in there and make the kill, but make sure you're also ready to disable any nearby Health Packs that your future victim might be getting close to. You don't want to end up as the prey yourself, after all...

That's quite a lot of stuff to juggle in our opinion. For an idea of how this all looks in action, take a look at the official combat video supplied by Blizzard.

Hopefully this should give you some insight into how to blend all these skills together, although our tips section just below contains much more advice.

Here's some advice, including some tips from Redditor icominblob, which'll help you get to grips with Sombra.

General tips

  • Sombra's Passive Ability Opportunistic allows her to see enemies though walls if they are below 50% of their health.
  • She has a total of 200 health (all "normal" health).
  • Her SMG has a magazine size of 60.
  • Her SMG spread maxes out very quickly, then stays the same for the duration of her spray.
  • Turrets cannot target Sombra while she is invisible.
  • Healing an invisible Sombra as Mercy will not reveal her to the enemy (shows the beam to Mercy, but does not reveal anything to the enemy).

Translocator tips

  • Her teleporter stays up for 20 seconds before disappearing.
  • The enemy cannot destroy her teleporter beacon.
  • If your teleporter has already been thrown, you can still teleport to it if you are hacked by an enemy Sombra.

Hacking tips (general)

  • Hack range is 15 meters.
  • Hack takes between 0.5 and 1 second to activate.
  • Taking damage cancels the hack.
  • Hacking an enemy lets you see their health bar and Ultimate status.
  • When you hack an enemy, the ability cancel lasts 6 seconds, but your ability to see their health/Ult status stays for 20-30 seconds (this applies to her ult, too).
  • You cannot hack though barriers or shields.
  • Hacking an enemy Lucio will stop them from switching songs, but will not actually stop the song itself.
  • Hacking someone who has been Nano-Boosted will not stop the Nano-Boost, but they will not be able to use their abilities.
  • Hacking certain enemies will now completely interrupt them during their Ultimate cast times. Put simply, she can cancel their pre-Ultimate animations - very handy. Here's a list of the heroes that can suffer at the hands of a sneaky Sombra: Ana's Nano Boost, Orisa's Supercharger, Mei's Blizzard, Reinhardt's Earthshatter, and D.Va's Call Mech.

Hacking Health Packs

  • The hack duration when used on Health Packs is 60 seconds.
  • The hacking icon will slowly drain, indicating how much of this is actually left on the clock.
  • If you hack a Health Pack, it will recharge at 3x the regular speed for the duration of the hack.
  • When you hack a Health Pack, you will see a purple Sombra skull above it. The skull acts like a timer bar, slowly decreasing to show you how much time is left on the hack.
  • Health Packs stay hacked for 60 seconds, but if you hack them slightly before the hack disappears then you can "refresh" the hack countdown (when the skull is below 20%).
  • You cannot hack Health Packs during setup.
  • Enemies can see which Health Packs you have hacked, as well as the hacking meter above it (so they know how much time is left).
  • Multiple Health Packs can be hacked at the same time.
  • You cannot hack a Health Pack that has already been hacked by an enemy Sombra.

Hacking is such a fundamental aspect of Sombra's playstyle that we recommend taking a look through our separate hacking guide. This contains a huge amount of information on how this skill interacts with every other hero ability in the game, and we strongly recommend you read up on this aspect of her playstyle.

EMP tips

  • Her Ult uses line of sight, not pure range. As a result, any objects or walls between you and your target(s) will block the effect.
  • EMP is ineffective against Mei's Ice Block, and enemies can use this structure to shield themselves from the EMP effect.
  • Her Ult destroys not only physical shields (such as those cast by Reinhardt, Winston etc), but also shields appearing in the health bar. These include Lucio's Ult (essentially a direct counter to it), and other health bar shields. This would really hurt Zenyatta or Zarya, as the majority of their health is made up of shields.
  • Her EMP functions like an AOE Hack, so it can also interrupt the following Ultimate abilities during their cast time: Ana's Nano Boost, Orisa's Supercharger, Mei's Blizzard, Reinhardt's Earthshatter, and D.Va's Call Mech. So, if you've got the inkling that one of these heroes is about to lay down their best ability, pop your EMP and put a stop to it!

Opportunist tips

  • Try to keep in mind that only you can see obscured targets when they're below 50%, so communicate with your team if they are better placed to deal with the threat.

Thermoptic Camo tips

  • You can use Thermoptic Camo to either engage an enemy target on favourable terms, or to flee a battle that's going south fast.
  • Taking any damage whatsoever will break your invisibility, so don't just think you can run through spray damage undetected!

Cooldowns

  • Teleport (E ability): 4 seconds
  • Hack (right click ability): 8 or 2 seconds dependent on cancellation
  • Invisibility (shift ability): 6 seconds

Some other useful tips:

  • Sombra's clip feels a lot like Tracer's but it's not identical! It lasts a lot longer than expected, so make sure to use the whole thing (don't just spray a little bit and reload).
  • One useful thing to do as Sombra is sneak into the back lines, place your teleporter on a Health Pack, try to get as many kills as you can during the 15 second teleporter uptime, then teleport back to the health as soon as you are in critical danger. Doing this can safely secure 1, 2 or even more kills without really risking death.

Sombra counters and match-ups

Supremely flexible in combat though she is, there are hero match-ups that are particularly good and bad for Sombra to find herself in. Expect this section of the guide to change quite a bit as we explore this new hero in greater depth, but here are some of the match-ups we think you should be keenly aware of right now.

We like to take a top-three approach to this section of our hero guides, but Sombra's flexibility demands a little extra insight as well.

Strong against: Torbjorn, Reinhardt, Zarya

Shields and turrets are obvious magnets for the canny Sombra. We make a special additional note that her Ult is going to be a real pain in the neck for Lucio, Reaper and Pharah when it comes to casting off their own Ults.

Weak against against: Junkrat, Winston, Symmetra

Junkrat's Steel Trap is a real inconvenience for Sombra as even if she wants to destroy it, she'll be forced out of Stealth. Walking into this trap will also force her out of stealth, and the smartest Junkrat's will place them right next to your Translocators - not ideal. Symettra and Winston both have weapons that'll auto-lock on Sombra meaning that she can't escape with her Stealth ability.

Honourable Mentions

Brigitte's Shield Bash and Whip Shot make it much harder for Sombra to commit to a Hack or EMP because they'll either stun or displace her slightly. Mercy's Ultimate can also be used to dodge Sombra's Hacking range, meaning that she'll be able to revive targets without much hassle at all if you don't manage to catch her before she takes off.

Hanzo's Sonic Arrow and Widowmaker's Infra Sight can also reveal Sombra in Stealth mode, while Pharah can stay out of Sombra's effective range.

Our most popular Overwatch articles:

Sombra Skins, Victory Poses, Emotes and Voice Lines

Here's a quick look at all of the items you can unlock for Sombra via Loot Boxes.

UnlockCostNotes
Skins
Classic0Common
Cidro75Rare
Incendio75Rare
Mar75Rare
Noche75Rare
Glitch250Epic
Peppermint250Epic
Virus250Epic
Azucar1000Legendary
Los Muertos1000Legendary
Augmented1000Legendary
Cyberspace1000Legendary
Tulum3000Legendary
Rime3000Legendary
Talon3000Legendary
Emotes
Heroic0Common
Amused250Epic
Hold On250Epic
Masterpiece250Epic
Sit250Epic
Dance250Epic
Victory Pose
Heroic0Common
Hacked75Rare
Kneeling75Rare
Rising75Rare
Toast75Rare
Medal75Rare
Pumpkinette75Rare
Sparklers75Rare
Voice Line
Boop25Common
Did You Mean To Do That?25Common
Glitch In The System25Common
Good One25Common
Hack The Planet25Common
I Know Who's Been Naughty25Common
In Over Your Head25Common
Just Squishing A Bug25Common
Mess With The Best...25Common
Playing Fair0Common
Show Me What You Got25Common
Taking This Very Seriously25Common
You're Easily Impressed25Common
I Need A Drink25Common
Were You Done Talking?25Common
If You Hold The Information25Common
Try And Keep Up25Seasonal
What's Up?25Seasonal
Aw, Isn't That Sweet?25Seasonal
You Trying To Be Scary?25Seasonal
I Can Be Nice25Seasonal
I Know Who's Been Naughty25Seasonal
You're Easily Impressed25Seasonal
You're In The Doghouse25Seasonal
Back To La Medianoche!25Seasonal
Don't Be A Coward25Seasonal
I'd Love To Stay And Chat25Seasonal
Let's Not Do That Again25Seasonal
Highlight Intro
Heroic0Common
Hacking0Common
Pulse250Epic
Undetected250Epic

Comment on this article

  • T0MMYGUN #1 A month ago
    In overwatch, you will often find low levels trying to be Sombra mains and what I'm seeing here is probably the reason they are horrible, my number 1 rule when playing Sombra is that invisibility should never be an escape tool. Spread weapons such as D.va and Reaper's shotguns easily reveal you mid-escape, so next time you go in remember this; invisibility to infiltrate and translocator to escape. When surprising enemies think before you act, I usually don't hack widowmakers because they can be taken out in less than a second, hack enemies with shields and self-healing abilities. If I ever use a translocator offensively it will be to get to an out of reach enemy whose death will greatly impact the game, I activate invisibility throw my translocator NEAR them not in their line of sight as soon as I execute them I flee or even poking them is fine. Be careful when placing your translocator as when you place it straight on a health pack an enemy is bound to see it, get creative! Translocators expel light which means they are easily detected just like venom mines, I usually hid them under untouchable objects but mostly in pot plants. It does sound silly but it can really help in bad situations.
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