Winston was one of the first Overwatch heroes we were ever introduced to. Alongside Tracer, Widowmaker, and Reaper, this blue/grey gorilla smashed into our hearts and minds. In game, he’s relatively simple, leaving some to think he’s boring. But make no mistake, there’s a lot more to Winston than meets the eye.
Winston is an engage tank, meant to leap into the backline and kill or disrupt his enemies. With his shock cannon and powerful ultimate, Winston is just as likely to kill your backline as he is to protect his own.
Winston’s primary fire is Tesla Cannon. Symmetra and Moira players should be familiar with this type of fire. When Winston holds down the fire button, the Tesla Cannon will arc electricity out of the weapon. The bolts of electricity will attach themselves to enemies and deal damage.
This weapon makes getting away from Winston extremely difficult. Unless you have someone that can kill or disable him, a Winston in your face is a sure sign of death for almost any hero. When playing as Winston, you want to work on flanks whenever possible to take down as many healers and damage dealers as you can. If you can get the enemy to shift their focus on you, you win. If they ignore you, you also win.
Getting around and flanking the enemy is made easier with Winston’s first ability, Jump Pack. When Winston uses Jump Pack, he’ll fly through the air. With some practice, this ability is very easy to control. Good Winston players will be able to leap through an enemy team and land by their primary target in an instant.
So far, we’ve mainly focused on Winston’s ability to deal damage. While he’s an excellent engage tank, he can also keep his allies (and himself) safe with his Barrier Projector. This device is essentially just a bubble shield. Winston throws a little generator at his feet and a shield will surround him.
Winston can use this in a few different ways. He can drop the Barrier Projector on his allies and then jump into the fray, protecting his teammates. Or he can drop the Barrier Projector at his own feet once he lands, forcing the enemies to come in close to him if they want to deal damage.
This is the ultimate conundrum for Winston. Do you protect yourself or your team? Chances are, the best way to actually win would be to protect your allies. However, that doesn’t mean you can never use your shield offensively as well. After all, aggression is often the same this as protection for Winston.
If you leap into even a decent enemy team, you’ll explode from instant damage. Being able to drop your shield and protect your allies is awesome, but you put yourself in a dangerous situation. This will separate the good Winston’s from the bad. The bubble shield isn’t necessarily the most powerful shield, but it can spell life or death for Winston or his team.
Winston’s ultimate is Primal Rage. To inexperienced Winston players, they may see this ability as “run recklessly into the enemy team and kill all of them” button. However, it’s actually best used for tanking. Winston enrages upon activation, causing him to gain a ton of health but lose his Tesla Cannon. He can use Jump Pack on a very short cooldown and swing his arms wildly. Enemies hit by Winston’s arms tend to go flying.
Winston’s disruption abilities are more for distraction than power. Winston is able to leap into a team, deal some damage and then use Primal Rage to save himself. Once he’s hulked out, Winston’s true potential becomes clear. Inside the enemy team, Winston can swing his arms and move enemies around. Trying to attack an enemy hero while Winston is pushing you is extremely difficult.
Being able to actively and successfully disrupt enemies while they try and attack your team is extremely powerful. While a good Barrier Projector may reveal a high quality Winston, Primal Rage is one of those abilities that only experienced Winstons will be able to use properly.
When to pick Winston: teammates and match-ups
You want to roll with Winston when you have another aggressive tank or an anchor tank. If you’re running a Reinhardt, Winston becomes a decent companion. While Rein stands back and protects the troops, Winston rolls forward as an aggressive force.
On the other hand, Winston and D.Va pair nicely for an entirely different reason. Having two aggressive tanks can make pushing a point extremely overwhelming for the enemy team. Zenyatta also pairs really nicely with an aggressive Winston, as Zen is able to place a fire and forget heal when he leaps in.
These two play styles speak to one of Winston’s greatest strengths: his versatility. While he isn’t a tank that fits perfectly into every composition like Rein, Winston is able to play aggressive or reserved depending on what’s needed.
If you have snipers or some back line allies, Winston makes for an excellent body guard. If you have divers like Genji and Tracer, Winston can tank some of the damage intended for his squishier allies.
But Winston has his weaknesses too. Characters like Ana, who can put him to sleep, have a distinct advantage against characters like Winston. One of the big guy’s biggest strengths is his mobility. Any charachter that can stop Winston and hold him still will prove problematic for him to deal with. Stay away from Mei, Zarya, McCree, and Roadhog.
How to win with Winston
Winning with Winston is all about looking for an opening. When you first start playing Winston, you’re going to die a lot. You’re going to jump into the enemy and get burned down in a tenth of a second. Believe it or not, you don’t want to do that. Instead, you want to protect your own line and look for the moment to roll forward into the enemy.
Once you find your opening, you can wreak havoc. Winston has a lot of power at his disposal but you absolutely must use it properly. There is a big difference between an aggressive Winston and a stupid Winston. Don’t overextend, be smart, and save your allies by taking down their biggest threats.
Tips and tricks
- More often than not, offense is the best defense with Winston.
- Try and ping, type or chat when you want to go in, That way, healers can watch your back.
- Use your ultimate to ruin others. If Moira is popping her beam, get in her face with Primal Rage and push her away.
- Like with all shields, move yourself forward and back through its protective layers. This lowers the damage your shield will be taking and increases your survivability.