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Genji Strategy & Gameplay Guide “mi o stetemo myo-ri wa stezu.”

Last updated on May 23, 2016 at 20:09 by Vlad 7 comments

Table of Contents

Genji Portrait
  • Genji Personal Details Real Name: Genji Shimada, Age: 35
  • Genji Occupation Occupation: Adventurer
  • Genji Geographical Origins Base of Operations: Shambali Monastery, Nepal
  • Genji Affiliation Affiliation: Shimada Clan (formerly), Overwatch (formerly)

This guide takes an in-depth look at how to play Genji in Overwatch. We look at the strengths and weaknesses of the hero, and we go over mechanics, recommended strategies, and things to beware of.

The guide has been written based on our extensive experience playing the game since before the Closed Beta began, and it relies on our decades-long FPS experience. That said, our aim is to keep the guide relatively brief and easy to understand, making it accessible to veterans and new players alike.

If you have any comment on the guide's content or structure, please let us know in the comments! :)

Stamp of Approval

This guide has been reviewed and approved by michr, formerly one of the best Day of Defeat players in Europe, who now plays Overwatch for OWKings. He also writes for Gosu Gamers.

1. Strengths

  • Very high mobility
  • Excellent flanker
  • Ultimate (Dragonblade Icon Dragonblade) provides massive burst damage potential, and is the only offensive ultimate that can wipe an entire team without any set-up

2. Weaknesses

  • Very high skill cap
  • Very fragile

3. Strategy

In this section, we will briefly go over the main strategies you should employ as Genji. We will begin with an Overview, and then we will go in depth more about each ability that Genji has.

3.1. Overview

Genji is an offense hero, and he arguably has the highest skill cap of all Overwatch heroes. At 200 health, Genji is quite vulnerable, and, like Tracer, a single wrong move will get him killed.

Genji has very high damage potential, but this comes from using most of his abilities together in synergy, and not simply from his weapon (Shuriken Icon Shuriken). Using all of these abilities well requires high levels of skill. Aside from high damage, Genji also has very high mobility (rivaling or, according to some views, surpassing Tracer), allowing him to dash into and out of the enemy team's ranks often before even being detected.

Given this combination of traits, Genji should be played almost exclusively as a flanking, backstabbing, or ambushing hero. In terms of gameplay, he is most similar to Tracer. Your goal as Genji will, therefore, be to get behind enemy lines and burst down vulnerable targets (snipers, support heroes, Bastion), and then to get out or change position before you can be damaged. A good Genji will be relentless, harassing the enemy team's backline constantly, forcing them to divert large amounts of resources to placate him, thus making way for the rest of Genji's team.

Although Genji has the damage potential to kill most heroes, those that can last longer have good chances of repelling his attacks or killing him. Therefore, tanks in particular counter Genji very well, and you should generally stay away from them (unless they are distracted or low on health).

Finally, Genji's ultimate (Dragonblade Icon Dragonblade) turns his already high damage potential into something even greater, at the cost of turning it into melee damage only. As such, Genji can rip apart teams (especially if they are stacked, as he will deal AoE damage) during his ultimate, but being in melee range renders him even more vulnerable than usual.

3.2. Abilities

3.2.1. Cyber-Agility

Genji Cyber-Agility
Cyber-Agility Genji
  • Passive

Climb on walls and double jump.

Before looking at Genji's abilities, we should first talk about his passive, Cyber-Agility Icon Cyber-Agility. This grants him two effects.

Firstly, it allows Genji to climb walls by holding down the jump key (which works exactly like his brother Hanzo's Wall Climb Icon Wall Climb).

Secondly, it enables Genji to perform a double jump. This means that while he is in the air as a result of having jumped, pressing the jump key a second time will cause Genji to jump once again (as though he was standing on the ground). The effect is limited to 2 jumps, so following the above scenario with yet another jump is not possible, and you must instead wait for Genji to reach the ground first. Double jump therefore allows him to jump twice as high as other heroes.

Cyber-Agility is a great part of Genji's high mobility (Swift Strike Icon Swift Strike also helps, as we will see below), and using it to its full potential is very important if you wish to be successful.

Cyber-Agility has both offensive and defensive uses. Offensively, its benefits allow Genji to reach practically any location of any map. This makes it easy for him to sneak behind enemy teams to backstab or flank them, and it allows him to get up to sniper nests and take out enemy Widowmakers from close range.

Defensively, Cyber-Agility provides Genji with various means of escaping chasing heroes, while his double jump makes it difficult for enemy snipers to predict his movement.

It is pointless to try to list specific locations where wall climbing or double jumping is useful; you should make use of this passive all the time, experimenting with every possible location, and always keeping the enemies guessing as to where you are coming from or where you are going.

3.2.2. Shuriken (Primary Fire)

Genji Shuriken
Shuriken (LMB, RMB) Genji

LMB: Throw an accurate burst of 3 projectiles. RMB: Throw a fan of 3 projectiles in an arc.

The primary fire of Genji's Shuriken Icon Shuriken shoots 3 projectiles in quick succession. The projectiles fly in a straight line, and there is no damage drop-off either. That said, the projectiles have a short travel time.

In terms of damage done, the Shurikens are good but not outstanding. Each shuriken deals 28 damage, so it takes landing multiple shurikens to really damage an enemy.

Genji's Shurikens should not be viewed in isolation; he does not deal damage only with his weapon in the same way as Reaper or McCree do. Instead, Genji's Shuriken damage is used in conjunction with his Swift Strike Icon Swift Strike, Deflect Icon Deflect, and melee attack, as we will see below. That said, any Genji player must first master Shurkien aim.

In general, you should not use the primary fire as your main means of dealing damage at most ranges, since the alternate fire is preferable (as we will see below). Primary fire is best used for long range targets (especially stationary or slow-moving ones). Given that the shurikens do not deal very high damage, you should aim to headshot your target whenever possible.

There is not much else to say about using Shurikens effectively, except that you will have to put in a lot of time and effort to practice the skill.

3.2.3. Shuriken (Alternate Fire)

Genji Shuriken
Shuriken (LMB, RMB) Genji

LMB: Throw an accurate burst of 3 projectiles. RMB: Throw a fan of 3 projectiles in an arc.

The Shuriken Icon Shuriken alternate fire also shoots 3 projectiles, but these are shot at the same time, in a wide horizontal arc. They deal the same amount of damage as the primary fire shurikens, but the rate of fire for this firing mode is slightly higher, which compensates for the fact that it is more difficult to hit targets with all shurikens (due to their spread).

As we stated above, alternate fire is actually your preferred means of attacking. The higher rate of fire allows you to shoot far more shurikens, and these are also more difficult for opponents to avoid than those of the primary fire.

Despite the large spread of the alternate fire, hitting your target with at least 1 shuriken each time is achievable, and better results are possible at close range or against large targets.

All in all, you should use the alternate fire as your main firing mode.

3.2.4. Deflect

Genji Deflect
Deflect (E) Genji
  • Cooldown: 8 seconds

Deflect incoming projectiles towards the direction you are aiming.

Deflect Icon Deflect is an ability that lasts for 2 seconds when activated. During this time, any projectiles that strike Genji from the front will be deflected at the location of Genji's crosshair. There are many relevant things to keep in mind about Deflect, so let us get started.

  • Deflected projectiles can damage Genji's enemies, and in this sense they work exactly as they normally would. Pharah's rockets will deal splash damage and knockback, for example, and McCree's Flashbang Icon Flashbang can stun Genji's enemies.
  • Only projectiles (including bullets) can be deflected. This means that channeled or beam weapons (Symmetra's, Zarya's, etc.) will still hit Genji.
  • Genji can deflect ultimate abilities such as Zarya's Graviton Surge Icon Graviton Surge (before the orb she shoots explodes) or Hanzo's Dragonstrike Icon Dragonstrike (before the arrow he shoots turns into dragons).
  • Deflect does not do anything against AoE/splash effects (such as Pharah's rockets exploding next to him).
  • Melee attacks are not deflected (in the sense that they cannot damage Genji's enemies) but they are still blocked by Deflect, meaning that Genji takes no damage.
  • Any projectiles that Genji is not facing when they hit him (anything coming from behind or from the sides) will not be affected by Deflect.
  • Deflected projectiles cannot damage Genji's allies.

Deflect serves two main purposes for Genji: dealing damage and surviving. However, these two uses are often merged into one. This is because Genji players should never be content with blocking damage by using Deflect — instead, you should always try to aim at the enemies while Deflect is active in order to return that damage onto them.

As with every other ability that Genji has, Deflect will require ample practice in order for you to master it. Its 2-second duration is short enough that timing is crucial. Moreover, since many projectiles are instantaneous, you cannot simply use Deflect to react to what is happening; you will have to learn to anticipate.

Good uses for Deflect include using it while you run up into melee range/behind a Bastion, or when you know that an enemy Widowmaker is about to shoot at you. In such cases, Deflect will often get you a kill on the enemy directly.

One particularly important ability to try to Deflect is McCree's Flashbang. McCree is very strong against Genji, and if he can land his Flashbang, then Genji is as good as dead. Deflecting the Flashbang back at McCree will stun him, making him an easy kill instead. Beware, though, that McCree can throw his Flashbang at the ground next to you. In this case it will still affect you (its effect is AoE), but you cannot deflect it.

Still on the topic of McCree, Deflect is an excellent counter to Deadeye Icon Deadeye, at which time if you aim at McCree you are practically guaranteed to kill him.

There are as many uses for Deflect as there are abilities in Overwatch, so it is up to you to experiment and get a feel for how you should use it.

3.2.5. Swift Strike

Genji Swift Strike
Swift Strike (LShift) Genji
  • Cooldown: 8 seconds

Rapidly dash forward and inflict damage on enemies. Kills reset the cooldown.

Swift Strike Icon Swift Strike is an ability that causes Genji to dash forward (in the direction of his crosshair) a reasonable distance. Any enemies Genji comes in contact with during this dash take 50 damage.

Whenever Genji kills or gets an assist on an enemy (even if he did not use Swift Strike on that hero), then the cooldown of Swift Strike is instantly reset. Swift Strike's cooldown is also reset immediately when Genji uses Dragonblade Icon Dragonblade. Moreover, it is important to note that Swift Strike works in all directions. This means that Genji can use it to dash vertically as well as horizontally.

Swift Strike is yet another component of Genji's damage-dealing arsenal. This ability should be used almost on cooldown (provided that there are enemies around) in order to deal damage and position yourself better in relation to your target(s).

Typically, as Genji, you will begin by attacking your target from range using Shuriken Icon Shuriken, before they are aware of you. Once they take note of you, you will then want to combine your usage of Deflect Icon Deflect (to block incoming damage and return it to your target) and Swift Strike (to damage the target, dodge their attacks, and move into melee range of them where hitting them with Shurikens is easier). When in melee range of the target, you should also use your melee attack (default keybind V) to add additional damage.

There are two popular damage combos for Genji that allow you to deal great burst damage. We list them below, and keep in mind that the actions should be typically performed in very quick succession.

Use the following combo if you are already in melee range of your target.

  1. Use your alternate fire.
  2. Immediately afterwards use your melee attack.
  3. Immediately afterwards use Swift Strike to dash through the target.
  4. Follow up with alternate fire (or possibly primary fire, depending on the distance to your target).

The following combo should be used if you are far away from your target when you engage them.

  1. Use Swift Strike to dash to the target.
  2. Immediately use alternate fire and your melee attack (in that order, but in very quick succession).
  3. Follow up with more alternate fire.

That said, Swift Strike's uses are far from being only offensive. Defensively, Swift Strike is excellent in allowing Genji to dodge abilities or move out of melee range of enemies.

Lastly, do not forget that Swift Strike can and should be paired with Genji's Cyber-Agility Icon Cyber-Agility, allowing him to cross immense gaps (by double jumping off the edge and then dashing forward/upward, and wall climbing the wall at his destination if needed), seamlessly move around the enemy team, as well as run back quickly after respawning.

3.2.6. Dragonblade

Genji Dragonblade
Dragonblade (Q) Genji
  • Ultimate

Deadly melee weapon.

When Genji activates Dragonblade Icon Dragonblade, a melee sword replaces his Shuriken Icon Shuriken for 8 seconds. During this time, Genji can make a maximum of 9 slashes with the sword (limited by the sword's rate of fire/slashing), each of which deals high damage (120) to all enemies in an arc in front of him.

When Dragonblade is used, there is a delay while Genji unsheathes his sword, during which time he cannot attack. Moreover, Genji's enemies hear a very distinctive audio warning. While Dragonblade is active, Genji's movement speed is slightly increased, and he cannot use his Shurikens (but all other abilities work normally).

The damage that Genji can deal with Dragonblade is extremely high (over 1000 even if we assume that each slash only hits one target). However, making good use of Dragonblade is not easy. This is due to Genji's low health and general fragility — he is vulnerable enough even when attacking from range, but being limited to melee puts him greatly in harm's way. Moreover, the audio warning gives enemies a good chance to react and be prepared for Genji.

As with the ultimates of most offense heroes, Dragonblade works best when Genji's enemies are distracted or stunned/incapacitated. Therefore, it is not surprising that Dragonblade pairs excellently with Zarya's Graviton Surge Icon Graviton Surge and Reinhardt's Earthshatter Icon Earthshatter, to name just two abilities. You will have to be very careful when using Dragonblade, and you must choose your timing and your angle of attack very carefully. Moreover, even if it is a loss of damage, do not hesitate to use Deflect Icon Deflect while Dragonblade is active.

We feel that Dragonblade is a nice, situational bonus for a hero who can perform at the highest level even without ever using his ultimate. That said, you should still use whenever it is available, since it is so powerful that it will often net you several kills without any sort of preparation or coordination from the rest of your team.

When you do use Dragonblade, the strategy is fairly simple. Get up close to your enemies (the "melee" range of Dragonblade is quite forgiving, so you do not have to really be on top of them), and slash away until they die. You should continue using Swift Strike Icon Swift Strike during this time to move from one target to the next.

4. ChangeLog

+ show all entries - show only 10 entries
  • 23 May 2016: Updates following user feedback.
    • Added a mention that the cooldown of Swift Strike is reset when Dragonblade is used.
    • Added two versions of Genji's Swift Strike damage combo.
    • Fixed a mistake with the description of Swift Strike, whereby we had not mentioned that the cooldown of the ability is reset whenever Genji gets a kill or an assist (regardless of whether or not he used Swift Strike on that hero).
  • 22 May 2016: Updated the guide following michr's review.
    • Reversed the recommended usage of the primary and alternate firing modes (alternate fire is almost always recommended).
    • Added a mention that Deflect works against ultimates.
    • Changed recommended Dragonblade usage to not suggest saving the ability.
  • 20 May 2016: Updated guide with Genji's correct health level (200, not 150 as we had written).
  • 19 May 2016: Guide added.
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