Marketed as the face of the game itself, Tracer is one of the most unique and effective heroes in all of Overwatch! She has the potential to win any 1v1 matchup, but is also incredibly easy to kill. Do you like a high risk playstyle where if you play perfectly you’re basically immortal – but a single mistake and you’re dead? Strap on your chronal accelerator, because the cavalry’s here! And you’ll want to communicate effectively in the heat of battle, so check out my beginner’s guide to shotcalling here!
Cheers, love! Basics of Tracer
Tracer is categorized as an Offensive hero, but should be considered a flanking assault DPS that can work well on attack or defense. With only 150 HP she has the lowest overall health in the game. However, she more than makes up for her fragility with extreme mobility and surprisingly high close range damage. She’s a glass cannon that can go in, hit hard, and come out alive if you use your abilities correctly!
Her main strengths:
- Excellent horizontal mobility (can safely navigate dangerous open spaces).
- High close range burst damage.
- Very small hitbox (easy to avoid AoE projectile spam).
- Quick-charging Ultimate.
Her main weaknesses:
- Very low Health.
- Low damage at long range.
- All-or-nothing Ultimate (easy to miss and tough to use optimally).
- Lack of vertical mobility (forced to follow many traditional map paths save for a few cheeky Blink spots).
Let’s get to it already! Ability Overview
Tracer’s guns are essentially a pair of automatic submachine guns. You have 40 ammunition which quickly depletes, emptying your clip in exactly one second and reloading for another second. Each bullet does up to 6 damage and can crit for up to 12 damage on a headshot. However, Tracer’s accuracy beyond close range is terrible: the spread of her shots increases dramatically with range. Add in the fact that her bullets suffer from ‘falloff damage’ (as in they do even less damage than normal) starting at around 15 meters… Basically, the closer you are to your targets, the better!
Tracer’s rapid mobility (and her extraordinary strength) comes from her ‘Blink.’ This ability teleports her about 7 meters horizontally in the direction she’s moving. She can store up to 3 charges of this ability and use them in quick succession. Tracer restores Blink charges at a rate of one every three seconds.
Blinking is what makes Tracer so fast, hard to hit, and unpredictable, but they can quickly be used up. While Blinks can only move you horizontally, they can help cross gaps to an equal or lower vertical level. Chain them together to reach places the enemy might not expect, and open a new front on the battle! Keep aware of the best escape routes when you start an engagement, lest you Blink in the wrong direction and wind up dead. Familiarity with the map is critical to getting the most out of your Blinks in the midst of battle!
Tracer’s Recall is one of the most interesting abilities in the game. It does three things:
- 1) She teleports away from her current position and is returned to the exact position she was in 3 seconds earlier.
- 2) Her ammunition is replenished to full.
- 3) Her Health is restored back to its level 3 seconds earlier, unless the previous amount was lower than her current Health… in which case she retains her current Health instead.
Recall is Tracer’s ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card, as it can instantly escape danger and potentially replenish her entire health… But with a lengthy cooldown of 12 seconds, you should use it sparingly. You are extremely vulnerable without this reset button at your disposal, so play more cautiously while it’s cooling down!
Passive: Faster Than the Rest
While not listed in-game, it should be noted that Tracer’s base run speed is actually a bit faster (about 10%) than just about every other hero in the game. Only Genji shares this same passive trait, as every other hero moves at the same rate (discounting abilities).
Ultimate: Pulse Bomb
Tracer’s Ultimate is a sticky bomb that she tosses about 2 meters. It deals 5 damage on attaching to an enemy and detonates after 2 seconds, dealing up to 400 damage. In practice, it instantly kills entire teams if they’re stacked together. Only abilities like Zarya’s Barriers, Mei’s Cryo-Freeze, and Reaper’s Wraith Form can negate it, which means any hero with 400 or less health will die.
Landing Pulse Bomb on a hero can be tricky, but once it’s stuck they can’t shake it off! It’s one of the easiest Ultimates to charge up, and combos very well with coordinated team abilities like Graviton Surge. Be aware that it’s a projectile so if you throw it into D.Va’s Defense Matrix, she’ll delete it before it lands. If you toss it at a deflecting Genji, it’ll come right back at you!
Now, where were we? How to play Tracer
You know the basics of what Tracer can do: now it’s time for a quick overview of how you should play her! Tracer is most effective as an opportunistic flanker that strikes the enemy team when they least expect it or when they are busy focusing on something else. It’s usually a poor idea to hit the opponents head on! Use Blinks and quick movement to take safe routes around the main battle and sneak into position to attack. Make sure to engage your target from an angle that is different from the rest of your team!
If an enemy doesn’t notice you, it will usually take a bit to react to your presence. All you need is one second to unload your entire clip! Your damage at medium range isn’t great, so use these opportunities to Blink close and aim for the head. A full clip of body shots can kill any 200-Health hero, but mix in enough headshots and you can even tag a Zarya! After the enemy turns to engage you, Blink to the side to force them to rotate. Take down distracted foes, but if you’re drawing fire Blink around a corner or Recall and disengage. The more cooldowns available when you decide to engage, the more options you’ll have to attack and safely escape.
The cavalry’s here! Advanced tips
As just discussed, Tracer can (usually) choose which battles to take and which to avoid. Try to only take fights that are to your advantage! Look for enemies that are already at low Health, aren’t good at defending themselves, or just used key abilities. You’re also one of the few heroes that can get behind enemy lines and target those all-important healers. Make them run for their lives – and die tired. Be very careful to keep mental track of cooldowns for things like McCree’s Flashbangs, Soldier’s Helix Rockets, and Roadhog’s Hook!
When you have your Ultimate ready, try to Blink right next to an enemy when they’re not paying attention. While it’s easiest to land the Bomb on big tanks, remember it only does 400 damage! You’ll need to soften up these targets beforehand or stay on them afterwards to make sure they die. Knowing what you can get away with as Tracer, not being too passive, and not taking bad engagements are all critical skills you must learn through experience. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll become that dangerous pest that the enemy team can neither ignore nor catch!
With all this info, you’re ready to jump into battle! With practice, you’ll soon find yourself dodging (and dealing) damage like a pro. Tracer can be very tricky to master, and has a lot of map-specific options available. If you want to really up your game, consider talking to a coach! And keep an eye out for my article on Reinhardt coming out next week!