In Overwatch, you’ve got to know your role to succeed! Think of any MMO you’ve ever played. In the vast majority, characters fall into one of three broadly defined categories: tanks, supports, or damage-dealers. This “holy trinity” is found in many games across multiple genres, and Overwatch is no exception! Each of these categories fills a specific need for their team: the tank demands enemy attention and soaks up incoming damage, the damage-dealing characters threaten to kill exposed foes, and the supports assist teammates via healing, buffs, or other utility effects. In this guide, I’ll break down Reinhardt: how to use his abilities effectively and carry your team to victory!
Reinhardt: the Basics
There are (currently) six tanks in Overwatch, but we can subdivide them into two subcategories: main tanks and off-tanks. A main tank is usually the primary “anchor” for your team, meaning that you’ll organize your plays around them. Main tanks usually work well in a structured environment before all-out fighting breaks out, like when the enemy is in front of you and your team behind. Reinhardt and Orisa are the standard main tanks, though Winston fills a similar role for mobile “dive” compositions. Off-tanks are still hardy heroes that can fill a tanking role, but in a different manner or lesser capacity. These heroes are at their best when the fight has broken out and become chaotic, like Winston or Roadhog.
Reinhardt is unique in the Overwatch cast: he can freely deploy a large 2000 HP barrier that can be used to block damage and deny Ultimates when used correctly. Broadly put, a tank’s job is to get in front of your squishier teammates and force the enemy to deal with your large health pool first. Because your teammates can shoot through your shield but the enemy cannot, it forces them to deal with the shield in one way or another before they can proceed. As Reinhardt, you are the wall keeping your team safe! You’re an obstacle that the enemy can’t easily ignore, and as such you’ll often be in harm’s way. Because of this, you want to stick near teammates to receive healing and shields that will help you stay alive. Let’s discuss each of his abilities and how to make the most effective use of them!
Reinhardt’s shield is by far the best true tanking tool in the game. On defense, you will usually be shielding and waiting for the enemy to initiate or make a mistake which will let you initiate on them. On offense, you’ll want to push into the enemy with shield up and, depending on the enemy’s composition and Ultimate status, you can either Charge, swing your hammer for free damage, or zone using the shield. If they have a Reinhardt and no Ultimates, it’s usually best to go for a Charge on the enemy Rein and have your team follow you in. If they have Reinhardt and Ultimate, you’ll have to zone and focus on their Reinhardt, while making sure you can block his Earthshatter if he chooses to use it. How much value you can get with the shield is partly up to your team, but largely on you as the player! Here are some general tips to maximize effectiveness:
- Don’t waste the shield blocking minor damage. You have 500 HP and 200 of it is armor, meaning you take reduced damage for the first 40% of your health. D.Va spamming from a distance? You might be getting pinged but your healers should be able to keep you topped off. Don’t waste shield health; saving it can be crucial in teamfights!
- Don’t walk around corners with shield up. Enemies can see it protruding and will start shooting it before you have even rounded the corner. This snowballs: you’ll have less shield health when you get to the objective, and that can mean leaving your team defenseless at the worst possible time. Instead, try jumping around the corner while deploying shield in mid-air. Rein also loves an allied Lucío’s Speed Boost to reposition quickly!
- Don’t be afraid to hold up shield in the middle of a fight. Keeping your barrier active can zone out enemies, block incoming damage, and keep your supports safe while you apply pressure.
- Conversely, don’t be afraid to swing your hammer! Sometimes shielding won’t help a chaotic situation, and dying fruitlessly means wasted time and free Ultimate charge for the enemies.
Reinhardt’s Charge is his only mobility ability – plus while charging you can’t stop and can only change direction slightly! These factors combined mean you should be extremely conservative in using this skill. If Reinhardt impacts an enemy while charging, he’ll push them along for 50 damage on the initial hit and 300 more damage if he crushes them into a surface. This is an incredible initiation tool that can assassinate a squishy hero every six seconds, provided you hit them. But don’t get overconfident: you’re completely open to damage during a charge and if you miss your target, you may wind up far out of position!
Personally, I would advise saving Charge for when you have a Zarya to shield, a wall close behind your target, and a team prepared to support you. If your team isn’t nearby or paying attention, you may very well be boned regardless of whether or not you pin an enemy! Remember, Reinhardt by himself can do very little. His damage is weak unless he can land a Charge, his gigantic hitbox is easy to target, and he lacks reliable escapes for sticky situations!
Fire Strike is Reinhardt’s only ranged ability: it launches a slow-moving projectile that deals 100 damage to anything it hits. The fireball travels through heroes, potentially hitting multiple enemies with a single use. This is an extremely useful tool that lets Reinhardt overcome his range limitations and build Ultimate charge reliably. When you’re not actively fighting, you should spam Fire Strike as often as possible, prioritizing large, slow targets like Roadhog or other Reinhardt. Once you have your Ultimate ready, avoid spamming Fire Strike as it will charge support Ultimates without benefiting you! In this case, save it to damage enemies that are easy targets after you use Earthshatter. Be sure to practice leading moving targets!
Finally, let’s talk about Reinhardt’s Ultimate! Earthshatter is an extremely high-impact ability that should not be underestimated. On activation, Reinhardt slams his hammer into the ground, sending out a cone-shaped wave in front of him that travels 20 meters. Any heroes hit by Earthshatter will be stunned and knocked down for 2.5 seconds. Earthshatter is incredibly versatile… Some of the applications include:
- Interrupting enemy Ultimates like McCree’s Deadeye or Genji’s Dragonblade.
- Catching evasive targets like Tracer, Genji, or Lucío.
- Stunning high-value enemy supports like Mercy or Ana before they can use key abilities.
There are some of the best instances where you can use Earthshatter. There’s nothing wrong with ‘Shattering a particularly dangerous enemy (e.g., Nano-Boosted Reinhardt, Bastion’s Configuration: Tank, McCree’s Deadeye, Soldier:76’s Tactical Visor, etc.), so long as you can shut down the play they’re making. Additionally, Earthshatter can make insane plays with a well-coordinated team. For example, Earthshatter combined with Pharah’s Rocket Barrage is very strong and usually results in at least two or three kills if not more!
Earthshatter is very strong, but has several counters you must be aware of. First off, it’s essential to note that the “wave” is blocked by all enemy barriers, including those from Reinhardt, Winston, Orisa or Zarya. If Zarya or another enemy is shielded directly in front of you, they will not be stunned by Earthshatter and neither will anyone behind them! What this means is that if two teams are facing off with Reinhardts up front, neither team is exposed to Earthshatter until their own Reinhardt’s shield is destroyed or temporarily disabled. It is important to be aware of threats to Barrier as it’s key to blocking Ultimate combos. Here are some things that can ruin your day:
- McCree Flashbang. It can be thrown over your shield to momentarily stun you and disable your barrier. This opens you (and your team) up to damage or ultimates (including Earthshatter) and can be very dangerous. You can tell a McCree is going to do this if he’s hanging around his own Reinhardt and walks towards you when you push in.
- Ana Sleep Dart. This is a disable similar to McCree’s Flashbang, but is not as effective because Ana has to flank you to hit it.
- Sombra EMP / Hack. Both of these abilities will disable your Barrier Field. Hack can be avoided if you can detect the Sombra quickly enough, but EMP is tailor-made for this situation and is very difficult to stop.
- Mei Freeze. This is a disable similar to the others, but isn’t as effective because it has build up to stun you. It won’t happen often, but a flanking Mei can still take your shield down if you let her.
- Roadhog Hook. Also a stun, and often similar to Ana’s dart because Roadhog will often have to flank to hit it.
- Roadhog’s Whole Hog will completely destroy your barrier and leave you vulnerable.
- Pharah’s Rocket Barrage will completely destroy your shield and kill you.
- McCree’s High Noon will destroy your shield completely if there are teammates behind it and he is allowed to charge for too long.
Keep in mind that these abilities threaten to take down your shield, but can do the same to the enemy Reinhardt as well. Regardless of what characters you play, incorporate these strategies into your own play to punish an inexperienced enemy! Finally, Earthshatter has a 0.6 second casting time. This means there is about a half-second delay between you activating the ability and it being used. You cannot shield during the animation and are vulnerable to enemy Ultimates and damage, so be careful of when you use the skill to avoid getting killed mid-animation.
In conclusion, Reinhardt is an extremely powerful hero with huge potential to impact the game. He isn’t mechanically complex to play, but there’s a substantial learning curve to achieving mastery. My biggest suggestion is to just get in there and play! The practice range will do nothing for you here; learning Reinhardt is all about playing games. With some time and patience, you’ll see great success with everyone’s favorite shield. Catch-phrase!