Updated 17th May 2018: Our massive Widowmaker guide contains ability and strategy tips, counter advice, and everything else you need to know about mastering this hero.
The really short and simple way to describe Widowmaker is to say that she is Overwatch's sniper extraordinaire. Do you have something of a tendency to get the shakes under pressure? Would you - frankly - struggle to hit the side of a very large barn with a rocket launcher? If you answered yes to either of those questions, then you should probably look elsewhere for your Hero of choice - not even our comprehensive Widowmaker guide will be able to help you shine with this particular Hero.
If, on the other hand, you think you're a bit of a superstar with a sniper, then we think you are going to absolutely love this incredibly powerful character. She's got a handy grapple hook that she can use to zip across to any of the sneaky hiding holes on each map, an incredibly powerful long-range weapon, and she even has a few personal defenses in the form of mines, which can be laid in advance to ensure she doesn't get flanked too hard.
Or at least, those mines sort of help her to stay alive. Like so many FPS snipers, Widowmaker is extremely vulnerable when she's laser-focused on whatever happens to be lying directly along her sights. Accordingly, Heroes with zippy mobility like Tracer and Reaper just love to race up towards a preoccupied Widowmaker and ripe her to shreds, and before she can so much as say "Ouh la la". To mitigate these sorts of threats, she can provide her team - and herself - with intel via her Infra-Sight ability, which lights up the position of enemy Heroes - even through obstacles in the environment. Throw a little teamwork into the mix and this should help you live to fight another day...
In the next of our comprehensive Overwatch Hero guides, we're going to take a look at how you should play Widowmaker to ensure you get the most out of your time with her. We've got a close look at all of her core abilities, along with some extremely handy hints and tips about how to use them, followed by some general strategy tips for playing this one-shot assassin. In the weeks ahead, we'll also be adding some information on which Heroes counter Widowmaker on the battlefield, along with a few clever tricks you can employ on all of the game's many maps.
Editor's note - Update #6: We've given this guide a good lick of paint. There's now more strategy advice and everything is now bang up to date!
Widowmaker abilities and strategy tips
Even the most seasoned sniper would do very well to spend some time under the hood of Widowmaker's abilities and mechanics. Here's how she operates in battle, plus you'll find a few tips for getting ahead of the game further on down the page.
Widow's Kiss: Assault [LMB] - This version of Widow's Kiss allows you to shoot from the hip a little easier when you find yourself in more immediate firefights. You don't want to use this against targets at range - obviously - but it may well save your skin against fast moving attackers like Genji and Tracer.
Widow's Kiss: Sniper [RMB] - The real reason you're packing this weapon is for its Sniper mode, which is particularly good for picking off the backline enemy Support Heroes. Note that the damage of each shot fired goes up the longer you hold down the right mouse button. It only takes a second or so to get fully charged up, and you should generally wait for it to do so, but if you need to pick a near-death target off quickly then by all means shoot fast and before they can flee to safety.
Grappling Hook [SHIFT] - Widowmaker's Grappling Hook allows her to swoop through the sky towards whatever piece of scenery is currently in range. This is amazing for darting from point to point after you've been spotted, for fleeing a very unwelcome close encounter, or for getting back into the thick of battle faster. Don't expect to be signing up for Cirque de Soleil anytime soon as a new player, but if you practise enough you'll be dancing your away around every map before you know it.
Venom Mine [E] - Widowmaker's Venom Mines are amazing, and you can plonk them down on just about anything - not just the floors. Don't place them somewhere obvious where the attacker will see them though, and instead think about tucking them in doorways or on overhangs, or even on the ceiling. Just make sure you develop a keen ear for their detonation noise so that you're ready to switch to Widowmaker's secondary firing mode when you need to.
Infra-Sight [Q] - This is an incredible Ultimate ability and if it's ready, there will very rarely be a bad time to fire it up. Obviously if all of your team are dead, for example, then it's less effective, but otherwise light those suckers up like Christmas trees. See the tips section further on for advice about getting more out of this wonderful Ultimate.
|Ability||HP||Ammo||Fire Rate||Duration||Cooldown / Reload||Damage||Range|
|Widow's Kiss: Assault||200||30||10 RPS||-||1.5s||13||-|
|Widow's Kiss: Sniper||-||3||1 RPS||-||1.5s||15-150||-|
|Venom Mine||-||-||-||5s||15s||75 over 5s||3m radius|
To get an idea of how these abilities actually play out in battle, have a close look at the overview produced by Blizzard when the game was announced:
It's going to take time and practise to truly master Widowmaker, as she's one of the most precision-focused Heroes to play in Overwatch. With that said, we think we can get you ahead of the pack a little by highlighting some of the tried and tested tips for playing this Hero.
- You might think that you're better off sticking to one spot and scoring more kills, but even the greenest enemy Hero understands the importance of taking you down. If they see where your shots are coming from, you are going to be targeted. Travelling is not downtime, it is a part of playing Widowmaker effectively in order to ensure greater uptime overall.
- Don't panic if your Grappling Hook fails to find purchase on anything, as the cooldown will not start ticking down until you've actually made a connection. Obviously if you hit a different part of the scenery than the bit you'd intended to, then you'd going to have to wait for the skill to recharge.
- You can only have one Venom Mine out at any one time, but it is capable of hitting multiple enemies. Be aware, however, that enemy Heroes can shoot your mines if they spot them before they're triggered. On that note, when they do go boom, they can actually inflict damage against Widowmaker herself, so watch your positioning.
- It's almost always correct to wait for your rifle to charge up to maximum strength before firing a shot off. The only time you wouldn't want to do this is if the target is at a very low health level and are in danger of fleeing to safety. When that happens, let rip and hope you pick 'em off fast.
- If you are not the sharpest shooter in the world - but you recognise that the team is in dire need of a sniper - aim for the torso while you're learning the ropes. Overwatch moves at quite a clip, and so it's more important to land whatever damage you can. Keep in mind though that - post nerf - the damage delivered via headshots is much more powerful.
- Symmetra's Teleporter can be a royal pain in the backside at any stage of a match, but Infra-Sight actually picks them up on the overview as well as the enemy Heroes. Get into the habit of scanning quickly for these annoying gadgets, and prioritise taking them out if you've got line of sight on them.
- Because of the sheer strength of your charged-up rifle, concentrate on obliterating squishier backline characters before focusing on tanks. You'll really struggle to take these chunkier characters down before you're spotted.
- If you're on defense and the enemy team has made some progress, be sure you're the first to start heading back and setting up position for the next phase of their approach. Any position that grants both protection and line of sight to the Payload or objective is a great place to be. Just make sure you move regularly.
- Keep one eye peeled for Reaper at all times. You've got a second to shoot him dead before he teleports to your location and takes you out with a couple of shotgun blasts!
Widowmaker map tips and tactics
Here are some more specific tips for playing Widowmaker across Overwatch's many maps.
Widowmaker: Assault tips (Hanamura, Temple of Anubis, Volskaya Industries)
When attacking, a Widowmaker can very quickly make light work of the enemy's official defenses. Once you've progressed from the spawn area though, you're probably better off switching out to something more aggressive - at least until a problematic situation calls for precise long-range damage, that is. When that happens, let your team know that you're targeting the problem and try to persuade them not to hurl themselves head-first into the same thing that just killed them...
Widowmaker's defensive strengths are obvious although it's vital that you keep moving, and always assume that at least one opponent has the smarts to directly counter you. Look for positions that provide a combination of clear sight, height advantage and nearby cover for when things get hot. Hanamaura has many such hidey holes, Volsakay Industries B features a fantastic rear balcony, and the left-hand channel of Anubis B - as you face the attackers - provides amazing line of sight opportunities.
We're gradually adding a selection of great sniping spots to our individual map guides. Until then, you must spend some time scoping out maps in practise mode if you want to really master Widowmaker. Finding your own preferential hiding spots and learning how to fluidly navigate the map will give you a powerful advantage.
Widowmaker: Control tips (Ilios, Lijiang Tower, Nepal)
We'd say playing Widowmaker on control maps isn't an ideal, unless you've got incredible aim, we'd say it's best to avoid picking her in most cases. This is simply down to her kit. She's built to pick off enemies from distance, needs a clear line of sight in order to do so and doesn't really bring any utility to the table - she's pretty linear in this respect.
The ebb and flow of a match on Ilios or Lijiang Tower isn't particularly smooth either. It's largely chaotic affair that centers around scrappy fights for the control point. Widowmaker can't hunker down somewhere and place pressure on a chokepoint without fear of being flanked or pushed. There's nowhere to hide!
Widowmaker: Escort tips (Dorado, Route 66, Watchpoint: Gibraltar)
Escort is where Widowmaker truly shines as she's able to take advantage of her long range insta-kill potential. When attacking it's best to place yourself behind the frontline, or off in the background and attempt to line up some devastating headshots. Keep an eye out for any vulnerable damage dealers or healers and drop them.
Having said this, you don't want to become predictable. Constantly switch your position to keep the enemy team guessing, obtain the highground, position yourself on the flank or simply hide behind your tanks.
Defending as Widowmaker's a little riskier as you're likely to be aggressed on by Genjis, Tracers and Winstons. It's essential that you set yourself up in the background, line up some big hits on enemies and prepare to retreat back to your teammates if opponents start swarming you.
Widowmaker: Hybrid tips (Hollywood, King's Row, Numbani)
Attacking as Widowmaker on these maps is usually more viable than defending as you're able to take liberties with your positioning. Again, it's your task to pick off any enemies unfortunate enough to step into your line of sight and apply a constant pressure on the opponent. Make them feel uncomfortable lowering shields or repositioning, and punish them when they do so!
Defending with Widowmaker on these maps is, once again, a little less forgiving. You'll need to position well and be on your guard for any aggressors. Stay with your team and aim to pick off any damage dealers or healers that step out of line.
Widowmaker counters and match-ups
There are certain enemy Heroes that Widowmaker just loves to pick off in one clean shot, but there are of course other characters who specialise in taking her down. Such is the way of all Hero design in Overwatch.
In the table below, you'll find the top three threats and targets for Widowmaker, with further explanation underneath.
|Widowmaker is strong against||Widowmaker is weak against|
If a Hero likes to stay out of sight or out of range, then Widowmaker's designed to pick them off. She's great at dealing with the likes of Bastion, Torbjorn and Pharah as a result, and is your first choice counter for these frustrating Heroes. Flanking characters like Tracer, Genji and Reaper are a bit of a problem for this sniper though, and she'll also struggle with many of the tanks in the game - those shields are great source of frustration all round.
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Widowmaker Skins, Victory Poses, Emotes and Voice Lines
Note that we haven't included any promotional Skins here, as they're not obtainable through gameplay mechanics.
|Over The Shoulder||75||Rare|
|A Single Death||25||Common|
|Let Them Eat Cake||25||Common|
|Look For The Woman||25||Common|
|One Shot, One Kill||25||Common|
|Ouh La La||25||Common|
|Step Into My Parlor...||25||Common|
|That's How It Is||25||Common|
|To Life, To Death||25||Common|
|What's An Aimbot?||25||Common|
|A Perfect 10||Seasonal||Common|
|I Don't Miss||Seasonal||Common|
|The Party Is Over||Seasonal||Common|
|Barking Up The Wrong Tree||Seasonal||Common|
|You Have My Attention||Seasonal||Common|
|Always The Hunters||Seasonal||Common|
|The Performance Begins||Seasonal||Common|
|What A Bore||Seasonal||Common|
|I See You...||250||Epic|
|Swinging Into Action||250||Epic|
|Under The Mistletoe||Seasonal||Epic|