Every Overwatch hero has a unique role at which they excel… and sometimes it’s tough to pin down what that niche is! Choosing the ‘power of science’ over his brawns (usually), Winston is a deceptively simple but highly nuanced hero that is easy to learn but difficult to master. If you like the leaping through the air to great heights, ruining the day of enemy snipers and supports, and leading your team into picking the enemy apart with more tactical skill than raw aim… then Winston might be the hero for you!
Hi there! Basics of Winston
Winston is a low-damage but highly mobile Tank hero with 500 Health, 100 of which is Armor. He lacks the strong defensive abilities that many other Tanks possess, but he does have a medium-strength shield to protect him and his allies for a short time. Although several heroes can hard counter him, the high mobility granted by his Jump Pack helps ensure he’s in the right place at the right time. Your mission as the superintelligent simian is to avoid poor matchups and take advantage of favorable ones! Like the character’s personality, Winston is all about making smart decisions rather than dishing out raw damage.
His main strengths:
- Excellent vertical and horizontal mobility with his Jump Pack.
- High Health and shield that make him very tanky.
- Auto-tracks targets with Tesla Cannon for reliable damage (excellent against mobile heroes like Genji).
- Can attack multiple targets at once.
His main weaknesses:
- Massive hitbox makes him an easy target.
- Very low attack range (must use Jump Pack or clever movement to engage).
- Low single-target damage (extremely low vs. Armored targets).
- Clunky Ultimate better for disruption and health restoration than damage.
Excuse me for dropping in… Ability Overview
Winston’s Tesla Cannon emits a low damage, short range, continuous electrical charge in the direction that he’s facing. It does 60 damage per second on every enemy within a cone 8 meters long and 6 meters wide. The Cannon has 100 max ammo and uses 20 per second. This means that you can fire your weapon for 5 seconds (dealing 300 damage) before needing to reload. On the plus side, you don’t need to aim precisely to do full damage, making it easy to track small, fast targets like Genji. You also damage all enemies in your effective range for the same 60 per second damage each!
However, Winston’s damage consistency comes with a downside. It takes about 3.3 seconds to do 200 damage, so you’ll need to keep your targets within range for an extended period of time to finish them off. Be aware that Mercy or Ana can outheal all your damage on a single target! His damage is also much lower when attacking armored targets, dropping to 30 per second until the Armor is depleted. This combination of low damage and poor performance against Armor makes other Tanks poor targets to take on alone.
Jump Pack is the most important ability Winston has, granting the rapid mobility that allows him to leap 20+ meters every 6 seconds. Upon landing, you do up to 45 bonus damage to all enemies within 5 meters depending on how close you land to them. Keep in mind that you propel yourself in an arc, not a straight line – so you’ll need to look up to perform an effective jump. Winston can also get a bit more altitude if you jump normally first and then use Jump Pack at the peak. You can use this ability to cover a lot of ground quickly, either to engage on an enemy that was previously out of range or escape a fight that’s going poorly.
Use your Jump Pack to reach high ground and quickly contest enemies that are out of reach for most heroes. This is a perfect way to deal with that enemy Widowmaker, Hanzo, or Soldier: 76 who may be picking apart your team. Pay close attention to when your Jump Pack is off cooldown; it’s a fantastic escape mechanism when things don’t go your way. A smart Winston is extremely tough to finish off and will always have an exit plan ready!
Barrier Projector (Shield)
Winston’s Barrier Projector, more often referred to as ‘Shield’ or ‘Bubble’, is his only real defensive tool. It’s a 600 Health 360-degree shield shaped like a sphere with a diameter of 5 meters. The center of the sphere is always placed just in front of Winston’s feet upon deployment. Although it’s a sphere, the device itself needs to be placed on solid ground and thus it normally resembles a dome in use. The shield cannot be moved once placed and lasts 6 seconds or until destroyed. This ability has a lengthy 13 second cooldown, so be careful when and where you use it! You might not get a second chance if you choose poorly.
Unlike Orisa and Reinhardt’s Shields, Winston’s Barrier Projector is ill-suited to protecting your team at choke points. Due to its far-lower health, small size, and lengthy cooldown, you’ll want to place it near the enemy team (or even on top of them) when you engage. Try to position so that a portion of the Shield is always between you and the enemy: you want to block their damage while keeping them in Tesla Cannon range. Barrier Projector has the same strengths and weaknesses as other Shields such as stopping most incoming damage and enemy heals, but allowing enemies to walk through it freely. You can find some discussion of these mechanics in my recent guide to Reinhardt’s Shield here.
Ultimate: Primal Rage
Winston’s Ultimate is one of the most misunderstood and poorly used Ultimates in the game. Activating it will greatly increase his size and strip his access to his Tesla Cannon and Shield in favor of four things for the next 10 seconds:
- Instantly heal to full and increases max Health to 1000.
- Attacks become punches that knock enemies back. You can punch 1.6 times per second for 40 damage each.
- Lower the cooldown of Jump Pack to 2 seconds.
- Move 30% faster.
This ability turns you into one of the toughest things in the game, with both a massive 1000 health and extreme mobility. The drawback is that you give up your consistent damage for punches that knock foes away from you. Because of this, it’s often best to use your Ultimate to save yourself from dying and give a sort of second life. Wait until you’re low health and then instantly go to 1000 health to continue with the fight. Ideally, try to disrupt the enemy team by bouncing them around, and look for opportunities to knock them off the edge of the map!
If you want to focus on killing one target, trap them against a wall, or better yet, a corner. This way you can pound on them without knocking them away! If you don’t, you’ll simply punch them out of range and spend your entire Ultimate chasing them around. It’s also important to note your Jump Pack cooldown is reset whenever you use your Ult and when it ends, which means you can relocate twice in a row in both circumstances.
The Miracle of Science! How to Play Winston
Winston is not meant to help push through choke points by blocking damage like other Tanks. Instead, he can quickly pass through dangerous areas and engage where the enemy is weakest! Winston can take on most 200 Health heroes 1-on-1 if you properly use his Shield to soak up damage, engage at high Health, and keep them in range of your attack. He is particularly great at contesting enemy snipers like Widowmaker and Hanzo that your team might be unable to reach, as well as harassing enemy healers. You should also focus on that annoying Genji and make him a priority: you’re one of the best counters to that slippery ninja! Finally, be sure to stay away from enemy Tanks, Reaper, and Bastion unless you have help from teammates.
The most important thing to know about Winston is that although he can beat many heroes 1-on-1, he’s much more powerful when you attack alongside your team! Winston doesn’t do a lot of damage on his own and gets targeted quickly because of his size and need to be close to his targets. He shouldn’t be relied to deplete an enemy’s entire health pool by himself. Instead, he’s perfect to soften up and finish off wounded enemies.
The Essence of Discovery… Advanced Tips
Winston partners well with speedy heroes that can keep up, like Genji, Tracer, Pharah, and D.Va. These allies take advantage of the space he creates and give backup when he jumps in to target someone. It’s critical that you don’t engage all alone! Make sure that your teammates – especially flankers – are ready to follow up on the same target before you jump in. Drop your Shield in the heart of the fight and keep an eye on both your health and your Jump Pack cooldown. Try to always remember where the nearest Big Health Pack is so you can jump to safety. Once you’re healthy, you can judge whether to leap back into the fight or wait for your team. A good Winston doesn’t die needlessly: stick with your allies as much as possible!
Now that you better understand Winston as a whole, with these tips and a little experience you should be able to make life much more difficult for troublesome enemies. At the same time, you’ll be making life easier for the rest of your team! Keep in mind that Winston is great at initiating teamfights and singling out targets, and thus he’s a perfect hero to work on your shotcalling. You can help lead your team to victory, one kill at a time! Be sure to read my shotcalling guide for tips on how to do just that. And keep an eye out for my guide to advanced Reinhardt plays coming next week!