Reinhardt can be one of the most impactful heroes in Overwatch, but he’s also one of the most team-dependent! Acting on your own will usually get you killed and cause your team to lose trust in you… a self-destructive combination. While you’re a threat to most heroes up close, lack of mobility and range mean you’re reliant on your team. Only by working together can you be most effective with Reinhardt! Hopefully you’ve already read my previous article here to get an understanding of the nuances of Reinhardt’s Shield. Now let’s get started!
Don’t worry friends: I am your shield!
Repeat after me: “Your shield is not for you, but for your other teammates.” A simple but important mantra that you should always keep in mind when playing Reinhardt. Standing with your Shield up doesn’t accomplish much unless there are teammates to use this safety. If you don’t have anyone behind you, you probably don’t need to keep Shield up. Use this time to take cover and recharge the Barrier’s health! Be sure to have an idea of where you can rest in relative safety when your Shield gets low. Recognizing and taking advantage of these opportunities during play is the most important concept in Shield management. You want your Shield at high health for the teamfight, so you can create maximum time and space!
So how do you know when your teammates need your Shield? While you can see decently thanks to the 3rd person perspective, you’ll often have teammates outside your field of view. It’s important to keep track of both teams’ positioning so that you know which areas you need to prioritize shielding. You want to angle your shield based not just on where teammates are, but also what’s happening ahead. Your priority is opening a path and protecting them from enemy threats. If you’re not sure where your team is, don’t assume – make sure! You don’t have a rear view mirror, so look around occasionally. Take note of where everyone is and what they’re trying to accomplish. Don’t head in a different direction than the rest of your team: you’re likely to end up separated from your allies and an easy target!
Remember your healers!
Wherever you go, always keep your healers in mind! Not only are they priority targets to protect them from the enemy front line, but you need to know when you can (and can’t) count on their healing. Reinhardt is a damage sponge, and most of the time your healers will happily stick to you. Each healer has different range requirements and mobility options, but they all typically need line of sight to keep you healthy. Make everyone’s life easier: keep these restrictions in mind when positioning yourself! Also pay attention for when they die, are busy tending to someone else, or are trying to survive an attack from an enemy flanker. You won’t be getting all those juicy heals like you’re used to, so you may want to play more defensively.
Communicate with your team!
Unless you play at a high level, your teammates likely aren’t paying attention to what you’re doing. It’s a rare ally who looks at your Shield to know when it’s getting low. Let them do their job! Your role is to let the team know what you’re doing so they can plan around it. Whenever your Shield is getting low, communicate that! Don’t wait until it’s about to break; give status updates in multiple stages. You don’t need to use exact numbers, but rather generous, easy-to-understand estimates so that they know the window of protection is closing.
- “Shield at half!” (1200 – 1000 Health remaining)
- “Shield low!” (Less than 700 Health remaining)
- “Shield going down!” (Try to make this call 2 seconds before you actually need to drop it)
Depending on how much damage is focused on your Shield, its lifespan will vary greatly. Try to gauge the rate of incoming damage, and adjust your callouts and actions appropriately! You always want to bring your Shield down before it breaks so you can use it for a last-second block if needed. At the same time, your role is to protect: make sure to give your team time to react to its departure.
No, seriously Reinhardt. Communicate with your team!
Giving constant Shield updates like a Twitter account isn’t the only thing you should be doing. At times you may feel like a shepherd, trying to keep everyone safe with your shield and protect a valuable choke point. Tell your teammates how you’re positioning to help them out! You’d be surprised how often they don’t realize your ‘giant rectangle of protection’ is only a few meters behind them. That said, if they’re 25 meters around a corner doing their own thing, don’t waste your time positioning for them. Try to trust that they know what they’re doing. And if they’re unsuccessful going their own way, then perhaps remind them (gently) where the rest of the team is.
Usually you’ll want the majority of your team behind you and focusing the same target. Give your team the critical details: where you’re going, when to push in, and when to back off. You need your allies to have your back when you go aggressive… and not to rush to their deaths when you play defensively. There’s more to it than just communicating your intentions. These decisions depend on many factors, and require recognizing and capitalizing on momentary opportunities. They’re often important enough to be the difference between winning and losing! If you’re playing Reinhardt, you have tremendous influence: check out my beginner’s guide to shotcalling for more on how to lead your team!
Bring it on… I LIVE for this!
Between these articles, you should now have a good idea of when and where to protect your teammates… as well as how to communicate with them! Keep in mind, your role involves letting them know what to expect of you, and what you expect from them. That said, deciding when and how to initiate teamfights is another critical skill. Keep an eye out for a future article to help you learn how to prepare for and execute full team engagements.