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Zenyatta guide - 2017 - Overwatch

Our essential guide contains everything you need for mastering the mystical Zenyatta.

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About John Bedford

John is a freelance writer based in West Sussex.

Updated 19th December 2017: Our next Overwatch guide takes on Zenyatta. Read on for some essential strategy tips that will help you master this mysterious Support hero.

If you enjoy playing a Support role but you find yourself getting frustrated by the typically low damage output you'd expect from this category, then we think there's a lot you'll love about playing Zenyatta. While his primary purpose is to buff and debuff battlefield targets, this robotic healer is capable of dishing out a surprising amount of damage by himself while roaming the battlefield.

In many ways, Zenyatta shares a design philosophy with Lucio. Whereas his rollerblading brother-in-arms switches between speed and area-of-effect healing buffs, however, Zenyatta's job is to manage a pair of magical orbs. The first, aimed at a team mate, will gradually restore their health over time, while a second (thrown at an enemy target) increases all damage dealt to that target by a whopping 50%. As you might imagine, a well-played Zenyatta can make a huge different to his team's fortunes.

Juggling how you should prioritise targets with each of these orbs is a very impotrant part of playing this hero to a high level, however. In our next Overwatch hero guide, we'll explain how to manage all of Zenyatta's powerful roster of abilities, give you some general strategy advice, run through some popular tips that have stood the test of time, and even highlight all of the cosmetic unlocks that you can work towards with this character.

Got any tips of your own for getting more out of Zenyatta? Let us know in the comments section and we'll add a community round-up the next time we revisit and expand on this guide.

Editor's note - Update #4: It's been some time since we lasted updated our Zenyatta guide, so we felt it was time to dust things off a bit. In this article you'll now find more map-specific advice for this hero, along with our recommended video guide. We've also taken the opportunity to update the cosmetic unlock list, to reflect all of the seasonal goodies that have hit the game since launch.

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.

Zenyatta's abilities and strategy tips

Mastering Zenyatta's magical Orbs is a crucial part of playing this hero to a high degree of finesse. Here's the lowdown on how both of these arcane projectiles work.

Orb of Destruction (Primary) [LMB] - Unlike most Support heroes in Overwatch, Zenyatta packs a pretty mean source of damage output thanks to his Orb of Destruction ability. Debuff your target with Orb of Discord [E] first, and you'll be surprised at just how much damage you can then dish out with your attacks. Note that there's an element of travel time to take into consideration with this hero's damage output, and it'll take a little time to master the art of landing your shots every time.

Orb of Destruction (Alternate) [RMB] - If you want to let rip with a much larger dollop of damage, hold down the right mouse button until the effect is fully charged up, and then unleash the volley of shots straight into your target. Note that the orbs do less damage individually when they're used in this way, so you really want to make sure you have a full charge before letting go. As you keep the button held down, your orb "clip" will start charging up and will stop at a maximum of five shots. Make sure you aim and use it before the shots automatically fire off though!

Orb of Harmony [SHIFT] - This is Zenyatta's primary healing ability. Simply target an ally and tap Shift to place the Orb upon them, and then admire your handiwork as their health is slowly restored over time. Unlike most Support characters in the game, this effect works remotely too - once it's been dropped onto an ally, they can move as far away as they like and they'll still enjoy the restorative benefits of the Orb. Just keep in mind that the orb will be removed if you break line of sight with the friendly target for more than a few seconds.

Orb of Discord [E] - Once you've dropped the Orb of Discord onto an enemy target, you and the rest of your teammates will inflict an extra 30% of whatever damage you land against them. Note that you can only apply the Orb of Discord to one target at a time and so, just like your healing Orb, you need to make sure you're moving this debuff around as and when targets are killed. You'll get a message when it's returned to you, so make sure you apply it to a new target when you can.

Transcendence [Q] - While Transcendence is active, Zenyatta will not be able to use any of his abilities, but he will become immune and automatically heal all nearby allies. This creates amazing opportunities for you to help your team push towards victory, or stop the enemy team from overwhelming your defensive forces.

AbilityHPAmmoFire RateCast TimeDurationHealsDamageRange
Orb of Destruction200202.5 RPS---46-
Orb of Destruction (Alt)---1.1-4s--46 per orb-
Orb of Harmony-1 active---30 HPS-40m
Orb of Discord-1 active----40m
Transcendence----6s300 HPS-10m radius

The community continues to find ever-more imaginative ways to make a virtue out of Zenyatta's unique abilities, but here are all the best tips we've found for this Hero so far. Let us know of your own in the comments and we'll highlight them here next time around.

  • Prioritise tanks with Orb of Discord, and help your teammates push through the frontlines first. After this, you should all find it a lot easier to deal with the squishier opponents who are making up the rest of the team.
  • Watch out for messages on your screen that indicate the availability of a new target for your Discord Orb. Also keep in mind that while a Discord target is marked on the map for you, the rest of your team do not gain this advantage. Either communicate this intel to them, or be ready to deal with the marked man yourself.
  • Orb of Discord cannot be applied to a target if they have a shield blocking the path of the projectile. Neither can you put multiple Orbs of Discord on a single target if you have another Zenyatta on the team (now only possible in No Limits play).
  • Zenyatta has an extremely low health pool, and next to nothing in the way of mobility options. Stay well back at all times and keep your awesome support flowing from the rear.
  • As mentioned above, your volley of damage Orbs do less damage individually. Make sure you charge them up to the maximum level before letting rip into an enemy's face.
  • Note that you only need a single unit of ammo left in your weapon to charge up a complete stack of five orbs for this volley shot.
  • You can only have one Orb of Harmony and one Orb of Discord active at any one time, so choose your targets very carefully, and don't forget to move each Orb onto a new target when required to do so.
  • Focus Orb of Harmony on your DPS teammates, or on your tank if they are about to go screaming into the thick of battle. Outside of combat they can typically keep themselves alive, but once a fracas starts they'll need your help.
  • Never panic Ultimate, always use Transcendence to elongate a fight or save teammates at just the last minute.

Map-specific advice for Zenyatta

Here's some extra advice for playing as Zenyatta on individual map types.

Zenyatta: Assault tips (Hanamura, Temple of Anubis, Volskaya Industries)

On attack it's more essential than ever to watch out for enemy line-of-sight as chokepoints can be deadly. For the same reason, it's very easy for enemies to get out of sight for a few seconds and drop the debuff. If you must play Zenyatta on these maps, focus on getting that healing flowing above all else, and be very wary about getting anywhere near the front lines.

When playing defense, life is much better for Zenyatta on Assault maps. You have clearer sight on the enemies and more vantage points to maintain both your debuff and your healing. You also have good opportunities to snipe away here, and Transcendence can really make the difference when it comes to holding the point.

Zenyatta: Control tips (Ilios, Lijiang Tower, Nepal, Oasis)

You need to think quite carefully before choosing Zenyatta as your healer of choice on this sort of map. If you've lots of visibility (such as on Ilions Ruins), then you can do an OK job although more claustrophobic maps will make life a lot more perilous for you. You may spend more time dodging bullets than helping your team.

It's better to have any healer than no healer of course, but our honest advice here is that you might benefit the team more by picking a healer like Lucio. Do so and you'll get your friends into the fights and back from spawn faster, and you tend to see more close-quarters brawls on these maps - situations Lucio thrives in.

Zenyatta: Escort tips (Dorado, Route 66, Watchpoint: Gibraltar)

This is one of the game types where Zenyatta shines. Sit back as your team’s pushing forwards, healing those who need it and Discording vulnerable enemies who pose a threat. Don’t forget to fling your orbs near constantly as they’ll do fantastic damage and the enemy won’t know what him them.

The only thing you’ll want to mindful of are the flankers who will seeking you out at almost every opportunity. If the situation arises, don’t pop your Ultimate in panic, but rejoin your team and force them into a sticky situation - rather than attempt a tricky 1 vs 1 duel.

Zenyatta: Hybrid tips (Eichenwalde, Hollywood, King's Row, Numbani)

Following much of the same advice as above, we recommend staying back and following the fight from afar. Plonk orbs on whoever needs them and fling robs at vulnerable targets. Don’t be afraid to close the gap between you and the team if the fight’s hotting up as it’ll give you a much better chance of popping Transcendence at the right time.

Unit Lost's Zenyatta guide

For a closer look at how you should be playing Zenyatta, have a look at this video guide by Unit Lost.

Zenyatta's counters and match-ups

Certain Heroes pose a particular problem for Zenyatta. Here's how he stacks up against the rest of the hero roster in the current metagame.

Zenyatta is strong against:

As with many of the Support heroes in Overwatch, it's quite tricky to size Zenyatta up against the other characters in the game. The short answer really is that Orb of Discord is extremely powerful against every single enemy you'll encounter. If you're alive and your team is capitalising on your debuffs, you represent a deadly threat to all heroes.

Zenyatta is weak against:

There's less good news on the other side of the coin, sadly. Tracer is particularly adept at getting close to Zenyatta and tearing him to shreds in the blink of an eye, and she can also use Recall to remove his debuff. Other flankers like McCree and Reaper also excel at picking off all Support heroes. Put simply, Zenyatta is weak against anyone who gets close to him, and while his invulnerability-casting Ultimate is unavailable!

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Zenyatta's Skins, Victory Poses, Emotes and Voice Lines

As you'd expect, there are loads of different skins, poses and voice snippets to unlock for Zenyatta. Here's a breakdown of everything that's available, correct at the time of publication. We'll check the details again next time we revisit this article.

Round of Applause250Epic
Victory Pose
Voice Line
Death Is Whimsical Today25Common
Do I Think?25Common
Every Rooster CrowsSeasonalCommon
Existence Is Mysterious25Common
Form Is Temporary25Common
Free Your Mind25Common
Hello, World!25Common
How Disappointing25Seasonal
I Dreamt I Was A Butterfly25Common
I Think, Therefore I Am25Common
I Will Not Juggle25Common
Joy To The World25Seasonal
No Snowflake25Common
Ones And Zeroes25Common
Path To Enlightenment25Seasonal
Peace And Blessings25Common
Strive For ImprovementSeasonalCommon
The Iris Embraces You25Common
Trick Or Treat?SeasonalCommon
We Are In Harmony25Common
Highlight Intro
Harmony And Discord250Epic

Comment on this article

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  • Bedders #1 5 years ago
    @nicolasescobar40 Thanks for this, that shouldn't have stayed in obviously and I appreciate the spot. I'll get this top of today's list.
  • nicolasescobar40 #2 5 years ago
    Also I think is worth mentioning that the orb of discord and the orb of harmony don't have a fixed duration, they remain on target until it dies or are out Zen sight for 3 seconds.
  • nicolasescobar40 #3 5 years ago
    Zenyatta orb of discord buff the damage done to the target by 30%, not 50%. This change was made last year in the september 1st patch.,_2016
  • killymays41 #4 5 years ago
    @joshguillen24 Good guy zenyatta finds harmony with all things.
  • joshguillen24 #5 6 years ago
    "Transcendence [Q] - While Transcendence is active, Zenyatta will not be able to use any of his abilities, but he does become immune and will automatically heal all nearby enemies"

    Worst ult ever