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Hanzo Strategy & Gameplay Guide “True mastery is the highest art.”

Last updated on May 22, 2016 at 22:43 by Vlad 4 comments

Table of Contents

Hanzo Portrait
  • Hanzo Personal Details Real Name: Hanzo Shimada, Age: 38
  • Hanzo Occupation Occupation: Mercenary, Assassin
  • Hanzo Geographical Origins Base of Operations: Hanamura, Japan (formerly)
  • Hanzo Affiliation Affiliation: Shimada Clan

This guide takes an in-depth look at how to play Hanzo 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

  • High damage potential at close and medium range
  • Sonic Arrow Icon Sonic Arrow provides very useful vision assistance for his team
  • Ultimate (Dragonstrike Icon Dragonstrike) can zone enemies effectively, or even get several kills
  • Scatter Arrow Icon Scatter Arrow allows Hanzo to kill fragile enemies behind Reinhardt's Barrier Field Icon Barrier Field
  • Viable on both Attack and Defense

2. Weaknesses

  • Not as effective a sniper as Widowmaker (at long ranges)
  • Difficulty of landing shots can result in unreliable damage output
  • Lacks escape or survival mechanisms

3. Strategy

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

3.1. Overview

Hanzo is a defensive sniper, the only other sniper in the game aside from Widowmaker. While Widowmaker is the best hero for dealing high damage at very long ranges, Hanzo is more of a "mid range" sniper.

Regarded by many as a hero with a high skill cap, Hanzo relies on his Storm Bow Icon Storm Bow to deal most of his damage. The way the Storm Bow works presents many challenges for Hanzo players (shots must be charged up for maximum damage, the arrows have travel time and they drop off at a distance), meaning that extensive practice is required to be able to reliably land shots, especially on moving targets and when under pressure.

Since Hanzo does not have a scope like Widowmaker (and also since the arrows drop off at range, as mentioned above), you are encouraged to look for fights at medium range. Indeed, this fact coupled with Hanzo's ability to dispatch enemies in close range (with proper use of his Scatter Arrow Icon Scatter Arrow) means that unlike Widowmaker, he can contest Points and Payloads, thus being much more useful to his team overall, both on Attack and on Defense.

Speaking of team utility, the temporary AoE vision granted by Sonic Arrow Icon Sonic Arrow is extremely beneficial to Hanzo's team, and you should make it a point to use this ability as often as possible.

Finally, Hanzo can often make big plays with his Dragonstrike Icon Dragonstrike ultimate, which should be saved for opportune moments (since it is generally easy for enemies to avoid if they are not otherwise distracted or trapped).

3.2. Abilities

3.2.1. Storm Bow

Hanzo Storm Bow
Storm Bow (LMB) Hanzo

Hold LMB to charge then release to launch arrows further.

Hanzo's Storm Bow Icon Storm Bow is integral to the hero, and understanding how it works is extremely important.

The Storm Bow only uses primary fire, and it shoots arrows, one at a time. It has no ammo and never needs to be reloaded.

When you press primary fire (default Left Mouse Button), Hanzo begins to charge up a shot (up to a maximum of 1 second), which is only released when you let go of primary fire. This means that you can hold a charged up shot and only release it later, but keep in mind that whenever Hanzo is charging up a shot (or holding onto a fully charged shot) his movement speed is reduced significantly. You can cancel a shot that you are charging up, without firing it, by pressing alternate fire (default Right Mouse Button).

The arrows deal varying damage, depending on how charged up they are. An arrow fired without any charge up time (essentially just tapping primary fire) only deals 29 damage, while fully charged up arrows deal 125 damage. The damage does not drop off with range.

The charge up time also affects the power of each arrow in terms of how far it will travel. Arrows shot with little or no charge up time will fly a very short distance, and their trajectory will drop off sharply. Fully charged up arrows, however, travel very far, and their trajectory drop-off is less pronounced.

Usage of the Storm Bow is quite straightforward: locate a target, charge up a shot, aim it and release it. Generally, you should always fire fully charged up shots, since these not only deal more damage, but they are also easier to land since they travel farther and with less trajectory drop off. That said, it is sometimes better to shoot arrows with less charge up time, such as when the target is low on health, or when you want to be able to keep moving without being slowed by having a shot charging up for a long time.

The fact that using the Storm Bow is straightforward speaks nothing of its difficulty. As we stated earlier, being able to deal the high damage that Hanzo is capable of relies on landing a majority of your shots. This will requires lots and lots of practice. You will have to be able to compensate for the travel time, trajectory drop-off, and charging time of the arrow as well as for the movement of the target, all at once. This can be extremely challenging, especially against fast-moving targets and when you are taking fire.

Even the best Hanzo players in the world do not try to predict their shots at long ranges, since it is extremely difficult and unreliable. Instead, at such ranges you are better off spamming and pre-firing corners or other popular areas.

Do not let this put you off, though. It is perfectly possible to be competent as Hanzo if you put in the time and effort required. Moreover, as we will see, his other 2 non-ultimate abilities help to make it somewhat easier for him overall.

3.2.2. Scatter Arrow

Hanzo Scatter Arrow
Scatter Arrow (E) Hanzo
  • Cooldown: 10 seconds

Split into multiple ricochet arrows on impact.

Scatter Arrow Icon Scatter Arrow is a special arrow that, when activated, replaces your Storm Bow Icon Storm Bow's next arrow with an arrow that, on impact (with anything, players or objects) splits into 5 individual arrows. These 5 arrows then bounce off of objects, 3 times per arrow, before disappearing. While doing so, they damage any enemies in their path (they do not bounce off of players). If you wish to cancel the effect (before you have fired the arrow, thus avoiding triggering its cooldown), simply use its keybind again (default E).

Each of the 5 resulting arrows deal 75 damage. It is interesting to note that the Scatter Arrow itself deals 125 damage if it directly hits an enemy (though, as we will see below, this is undesirable).

The Scatter Arrow also has a charge up time, just like Hanzo's normal arrows, but this only affects how far the arrow will travel, and not its damage.

It requires an understanding of "simple geometry" (as Hanzo says in-game) to figure out how the arrows tend to move and bounce once scattered, and you will soon get a feel for this once you start using the ability. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the initial scatter always happens in the direction that the Scatter Arrow was traveling. For example, if you are shooting a Scatter Arrow at the feet of an enemy, a few meters before them, then the arrows will scatter and all fly in a sort of arc towards that enemy. From here, where the individual arrows bounce will depend on what objects they hit.

There are two uses for Scatter Arrow.

First, you should use Scatter Arrow whenever you want to damage enemies that are not directly accessible to your Storm Bow (so, enemies who are not in your line of sight). If an enemy is taking cover behind something, you can usually damage them by firing a Scatter Arrow somewhere around them or at a wall located behind them. You will need to figure out, on your own, where to aim each time, depending on the exact location. Another example is dealing damage to enemies who are inside a room or other confined space. Simply fire the Scatter Arrow into the room (even from a tight angle), and you can be pretty sure that at least several of the arrows will damage them.

The second use of Scatter Arrow is to kill enemies who surprise you at close range. The technique is fairly simple: aim the Scatter Arrow at the feet of the enemy who is attacking you (and definitely not at the enemy themselves). Most or all of the resulting arrows will hit them, dealing massive damage and probably killing them. This usage of Scatter Arrow makes Hanzo a fearsome enemy to ambush.

In general, you should use Scatter Arrow often, even if the targets you are trying to hit are not outside of your line of sight, because of Scatter Arrow's high damage potential. When doing so, try to fire it in areas where there are multiple enemies, to increase the chances of them being hit.

3.2.3. Sonic Arrow

Hanzo Sonic Arrow
Sonic Arrow (LShift) Hanzo
  • Cooldown: 20 seconds

Reveals enemies for a short time upon impact.

Like Scatter Arrow Icon Scatter Arrow, Sonic Arrow Icon Sonic Arrow replaces the next arrow that your Storm Bow Icon Storm Bow fires, and like Scatter Arrow, you can cancel the effect before firing the arrow by using its keybind again.

The Sonic Arrow will attach itself to the first object or player it hits, and it will provide vision of enemies through all walls or obstacles, in a radius around itself, for 10 seconds. The vision is provided not just to Hanzo, but to his entire team.

The Sonic Arrow damages enemies if it hits them directly, and, as mentioned, it sticks to them for its duration. The Sonic Arrow has a charge up time, just like Hanzo's normal arrows, which affects how far it travels and how much damage it does (30 at the lowest charge, and up to 120).

Some enemies have ways of dropping the arrow from them (Reaper with Wraith Form Icon Wraith Form, Tracer with Recall Icon Recall), in which case the arrow will simply fall to the ground and continue to provide vision around itself.

Sonic Arrow is an immensely useful ability. The fact that it deals damage is irrelevant, because you should never really use it in this way (although we can imagine a few creative examples of when it might be a good idea). The recommended usage for Sonic Arrow is to stick it to walls or other objects in such a way as to give your team temporary vision of crucial areas of the map.

There are 3 situations that occur regularly where using Sonic Arrow is very beneficial.

  • Shooting at choke points gives your team a great idea of what the attackers are doing, and allows you to prefire at them as they come around the corner.
  • Shooting it so that it gives vision of a flanking path can prevent ambushes and surprise sneaky heroes like Reaper or Genji.
  • Shooting it so that it gives vision of a hiding place (such as a room with a health pack) where an enemy you have been chasing is hiding can allow you to prefire them easily.

Like Scatter Arrow, you should make it a habit to use Sonic Arrow frequently. In fact, while an argument can be made for saving Scatter Arrow if you are afraid of being ambushed, there is no such argument for Sonic Arrow. You should essentially always have it up somewhere, unless all of the other team is dead.

3.2.4. Wall Climb

Hanzo Wall Climb
Wall Climb (Space) Hanzo
  • Passive

Jump at walls to climb up them.

Wall Climb Icon Wall Climb is a passive ability that allows Hanzo to climb up walls and other objects (like buses) by holding down the jump keybind.

This is a useful ability that gives Hanzo some mobility (he lacks any other movement, escape, or survival abilities), although this does not usually help in combat situations. Instead, this allows you to take unexpected positions against the enemy, take the defenders by surprise, or simply to take shortcuts around the map.

While not tremendously impactful, Wall Climb is a useful part of Hanzo's kit, and you should practice using it often, so that you get a good idea of all the different areas that Hanzo can climb to.

3.2.5. Dragonstrike

Hanzo Dragonstrike
Dragonstrike (Q) Hanzo
  • Ultimate

Launch a deadly Dragon Spirit that devastates enemies it passes through.

When you use Dragonstrike Icon Dragonstrike, Hanzo fires an arrow at the location of his crosshair, after a 1.5-second delay. During this time, Hanzo cannot move, but he can still move his crosshair and aim it anywhere. The arrow that Hanzo fires after this delay works and deals damage like a normal arrow, dealing 125 damage, but it also serves as a sort of "guide" for the true effect of Dragonstrike: two spinning dragons that fly in a straight line (in the direction where the arrow was fired), moving through any objects or obstacles, and dealing massive damage to any enemies they come in contact with.

The effect of Dragonstrike will continue to move forward in a straight line until it leaves the map. This means that it is theoretically possible to have the dragons traverse the entire length of the map, from one team's spawn room to the other's.

In terms of damage potential, Dragonstrike ranks among the deadliest abilities in Overwatch. The effect of Dragonstrike is quite wide, and also long. Any enemies it comes in contact with take about 200 damage for each second they spend inside the Dragonstrike effect. Winston's Barrier Projector Icon Barrier Projector and Reinhardt's Barrier Field Icon Barrier Field do nothing to protect against Dragonstrike.

Despite the power of Dragonstrike, several elements work to balance it out, rendering it less useful than it might appear at first. To begin with, there is a very loud audio warning for when Hanzo casts Dragonstrike. Also, the effect moves quite slowly, meaning that alert players have a good chance of getting out of its way.

As with many ultimate abilities, the ideal usage is to have your teammates incapacitate the other team, allowing you to score a perfect ultimate. 6 enemies caught in Zarya's Graviton Surge Icon Graviton Surge or Reinhardt's Earthshatter Icon Earthshatter make a perfect target for Dragonstrike.

However, such situations are rare and difficult to coordinate (especially if you are not playing within a team). Instead, you will have to look for more modest opportunities for Dragonstrike.

The most important thing to consider when casting Dragonstrike is that the enemies will try to run away, so you must look for situations that make it difficult for them to do so. Having them incapacitated is one example, but there are others. For instance, if the enemies are advancing through a narrow corridor or choke point, Dragonstrike may be unavoidable for them regardless of whether or not they are incapacitated. Abilities from your team such as Mei's Ice Wall Icon Ice Wall can help trap enemies and make it even more difficult for them to run away. Yet another example is the many narrow corridors that lead from spawn rooms: if you are fighting defenders who are just respawning (normally, the end of Payload paths is right next to the defender spawn), you can use Dragonstrike to damage them as they scramble to leave the spawn room.

Another way to increase the chances of your Dragonstrike being successful is to cast it from behind walls. If you cast Dragonstrike out in the open, players will see the massive dragons approaching and find some way to run out. Instead, try to figure out where the enemies are grouped up (Sonic Arrow Icon Sonic Arrow helps with this), move close to them but behind some wall, and then use Dragonstrike. The sudden appearance of the dragons will take them by surprise.

Finally, Dragonstrike can be used to very efficiently keep enemies off of an objective for several seconds, so do not hesitate to use this way in emergencies.

All in all, Dragonstrike is an ability that we recommend holding on to until a suitable opportunity arises.

4. ChangeLog

+ show all entries - show only 10 entries
  • 22 May 2016: Updated the guide following michr's review.
    • Added Strength that Hanzo can kill fragile heroes behind Reinhardt's shield using Scatter Arrow.
    • Updated Storm Bow damage and added more techniques for its usage.
    • Corrected the number of arrows into which Scatter Arrow splits (5 and not 6).
  • 13 May 2016: Guide added.
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