Every hero in Overwatch has a unique set of abilities – you’ve got to master each to outplay your opponents! Reinhardt’s Shield is the most important element of his kit and an invaluable tool to protect his teammates. However, his barrier isn’t invincible! Learning how to get the most out of it isn’t as simple as you might think. If the shield breaks, Reinhardt is defenseless as one of the largest and least mobile heroes in the game. This also opens the floodgates for the entire enemy team to rain damage onto your allies. With any luck, my advice will prevent this worst case scenario and keep your team safe. Join me on this first step to fully understanding this key ability!
Understanding Reinhardt’s Shield
First, let’s discuss exactly how Reinhardt’s Shield (also called Barrier Field) works. The Barrier has 2000 health, which blocks enough damage to kill you four times over. All your teammates’ abilities pass through it, and it can be brought up and down (nearly) instantly. When deployed, it enables a 3rd person view that helps you see teammates nearby and better position to protect your team. Use this to peek around corners and scout without putting yourself in danger. Keep in mind that your Shield clips through walls and can be seen (and hit) by the enemy if you angle it poorly. You also need to bring down your Shield to use any your own abilities, so be careful!
Reinhardt’s Shield doesn’t stop everything! Learn which abilities pass through it and try to avoid these if possible.
Enemy attacks that go through Reinhardt’s Barrier:
- Reinhardt’s Fire Strike
- Symmetra’s Energy Ball
- Hanzo’s Dragonstrike (Ultimate)
- Winston’s Tesla Cannon
- Genji’s Dash
- All melee attacks.
The Shield is also very large. Its massive size means it absorbs most everything the enemy team sends your direction. This is a good thing and a bad thing. You can block entire choke points and protect your team, but it’s also very easy for the enemy team to break it. For example, Roadhog and D.Va are great shield breakers even from medium distances, because the spread of their weapons is negligible against such a huge target.
Stayin’ Alive: Watch Shield Health!
To prevent your Shield from breaking, you’ll have to bring it down from time to time and leave your team unprotected while it recharges. It doesn’t happen instantly though – it takes 2 seconds for the Barrier to start regaining Health at a rate of about 200 per second. Whenever you deploy your Barrier, the healing process stops. You’ll need to bring it down again for another 2 seconds and start all over again. As long as the Shield has as least 1 Health left, you can bring it back up at any time – and it will stop an any amount of damage from a single hit even if it exceeds the Shield’s current health. This means that a 1-Health Shield will protect you from D.Va’s 1000 damage Self-Destruct!
However, if you ever let the Barrier’s Health deplete fully, you can’t use it for at least 5 seconds. The Shield takes 2 seconds to start recharging, but the ability remains on cooldown for another 3 seconds until it has around 600 Health. This isn’t much, so be patient before interrupting the process. Every time you bring the shield up and down again, you have to wait those 2 seconds again… and every second represents 200 more Health! The enemy team isn’t going to wait around for you to recharge, so you’ll have to keep an eye on the situation and decide when you’ve healed enough. Sometimes it’s imperative that you block something right then and there – such as an incoming Roadhog Hook, Soldier:76 Tactical Visor, or D.Va Self-Destruct!
Mobility as Reinhardt
It’s critical to note that pulling out your shield cuts your movement speed in half. As such, you won’t be able to keep up with teammates that want to push past you! Often you’ll find a teammate wanting to round a corner or pursue an enemy, and waiting for your slow shield will mean a lost opportunity. Or perhaps you spot a straggler or flanker ahead of you that needs help as soon as possible. Walking slowly forwards with Shield up will cost precious seconds that could result in their death. After all, it doesn’t protect anyone ahead of you!
Similarly, you’ll find enemies walking up to or around you – and be unable to stop them if you do nothing! There’s nothing to prevent an enemy from bypassing your Shield except the threat of teammates behind you. If you’re all alone, that Roadhog or Reaper can walk right into you and shoot behind your Shield. Or you might find yourself surrounded by foes after a bad Charge, and backing up won’t get you out alive. In these cases, there’s an option besides dying with Reinhardt’s Shield up and trying to escape with your back exposed. You need to learn the magic of Shield Jumping!
Level Up: Shield Jumping
When you’re in the air in Overwatch, you continue traveling with the same initial inertia as when you became airborne. I’m sure you’ve been on the wrong side of this if you’ve ever been booped off the map by Pharah or Lucío. However, you can also use this game mechanic to almost entirely negate the movement penalty of your Shield! Simply jump in the direction you want to move while Shield is down, and use it the moment you’re off the ground. You’ll propel yourself at the non-Shield speed while in the air! Once you land back on the ground, toggle your Shield off just long enough to jump again and bring the Barrier back up. You can repeat this tactic indefinitely.
It takes a little practice, but with practice you can move at nearly the same speed you would with Shield down… but be protected about 75% of the time (even if you look a little funny). This is a huge benefit if you want to exit a bad situation or pursue an engagement without being entirely exposed. Keep in mind that this method does leave you unguarded at rather predictable moments if you do it too often. It also does expose you to some incoming damage, but if used well it greatly increases your mobility.
You should now have a grasp on exactly what your Barrier is capable of and what you can expect from it… but what can your team expect from you? It’s going to take a lot of practice and experience to master what and when to block, and there’s still a lot to learn about that decision making. Reinhardt is also a great hero to make calls, so check out my guide to Shotcalling here! With all that we’ve discussed, you should now have a great foundation of knowledge to make these future decisions. If you have trouble implementing these suggestions, try a lesson with one of the great coaches here on Gamer Sensei. You’re ready to get the most out of Reinhardt’s Shield!