Junkrat Strategy & Gameplay Guide “Fire in the hole!”
Table of Contents
- 1. Strengths
- 2. Weaknesses
- +3. Strategy
- 4. Changelog
This guide takes an in-depth look at how to play Junkrat 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.
- Can provide high, sustained damage from relative safety
- High mobility
- Effective at holding choke points by himself
- Very distracting ultimate ( RIP-Tire) that can also be deadly
- Poor survivability
- Very exposed in wide, open spaces
- Has trouble dealing damage at long range and at specific enemies
In this section, we will briefly go over the main strategies you should employ as Junkrat. We will begin with an Overview, and then we will go in depth more about each ability that Junkrat has.
Junkrat is a defensive hero in Overwatch. The hero revolves around his peculiar weapon, the Frag Launcher, which lobs grenades that explode after 3 bounces (regardless of range) or on direct contact with enemies, dealing damage in an area. The grenades can be bounced off of any objects in the game, meaning that Junkrat can throw them around corners and at all sorts of odd angles. This, coupled with the splash damage and the fairly continuous rate of fire (5 grenades per 3 seconds and a 1.5-second reload time) make Junkrat a very spammy hero that is great at putting down blanket damage in narrow corridors or other choke points.
Junkrat's other abilities, for the most part, do not interact in any specific way with his Frag Launcher, and just work to give him a bit of variety and utility.
As Junkrat, you will spend the vast majority of your time lobbing grenades at the other team, bouncing them off objects in such a way that you yourself are not exposed to enemy fire. You can even fight enemies face to face quite effectively, but only in small, enclosed areas where the grenades can deal their splash damage, and where they are likely to hit enemies directly. Indeed, you should always stay away from large, open areas, as enemy snipers, and heroes like Pharah, McCree, and Soldier: 76 will dominate you from range.
You should make use of your Steel Trap and Concussion Mine to protect your flank, set up deadly traps, deal damage to your enemies, escape, and just generally to frustrate the other team (more details on these abilities below).
Attack Versus Defense Viability
Generally speaking, as a defense hero, Junkrat shines on the Defense side of maps, but picking him on Attack does not exactly cripple his team either.
His better performance on Defense has to do with him having a much better chance of predicting where the enemies will be (after all, there are only a handful of paths to enter a Point, and being on the Payload makes your location evident), allowing him to ricochet his grenades effectively while remaining safe.
Conversely, when attacking, Junkrat will have to make more difficult guesses as to the actual locations of the defenders, which can be varied. Moreover, the defenders can simply adjust their position so that Junkrat's blind spam does not damage them, and wait it out.
Another reason has to do with Junkrat's Steel Trap and Concussion Mine, which work best when the advancing enemies run into them unknowingly. This is fairly easy to set up when you know where the enemies will come through, but it is practically impossible to force defenders to come through your previously-laid traps, rendering them largely useless.
As we said, though, Junkrat is not necessarily a bad choice on Attack. When defending a Point during capture, and sometimes even when pushing a Payload, Junkrat can be a menace to the other team. Moreover, his ultimate works well on both sides. Overall, if in doubt, we advise choosing a more reliable attacking hero (essentially any of the offensive heroes).
As for Control maps, this is a game mode where Junkrat does very well. The fact that practically the entire length of each round is spent fighting over one single point (and that these points are, almost without exception, enclosed) gives Junkrat a lot of opportunities to inflict high damage with his Frag Launcher.
Bouncing explosive projectile weapon.
Junkrat's Frag Launcher has a 5-grenade clip, and is able to fire off all 5 grenades in 3 seconds. It has a 1.5-second reload time, as we mentioned earlier.
The grenades are much like balls, meaning that they bounce off of practically any object they touch. Each grenade explodes a very short time after its third bounce, or immediately on direct contact with an enemy. Direct hits deal a rather massive 120 damage, while the splash damage is lower, and it decreases the farther away the target is from the explosion. Junkrat also takes damage from these splashes, if he is in range of the explosion.
The grenades fly in an arc, dropping off in trajectory quite abruptly. This means that in order to fire them off at higher ranges, you must compensate heavily (by aiming above your target). Their travel speed is quite low, as well, so you must account for this too. Finally, your weapon does not have perfect accuracy, and the grenades have a rather bulky collision size. This results in some difficulty if you are trying to land your grenades inside a doorway from an acute angle, at long range, for example, as they are prone to hitting the sides of the door.
Practice is the key to mastering the Frag Launcher, but doing so is imperative if you wish to seriously play Junkrat. He relies on his grenades to deal damage and justify his place on a team, so you must learn to maximise your damage efficiency.
In addition to getting used to how the grenades work (including how they tend to bounce off of objects), you must also consider the best areas in which to throw them. Essentially, you should shoot your grenades anywhere where there are enemies. You should not make it a point to bounce them off of walls in order to stay out of sight — do so when that is the best way to hit the target, or when there are enemy snipers or long range heroes threatening you, but it is acceptable to shoot your grenades directly at enemies. If doing so, it will help to master strafing left and right as much as possible to make yourself more difficult for your enemies to hit.
Some areas are very obvious, but they are also very good. The gates used to enter the Points on the Point Capture, Hybrid, and Control maps are excellent. You should find a position out of sight of the opening of the gate, and continuously lob your grenades so that they explode in the doorway.
A similar example is the Payload. Stay out of sight if possible, and bounce your grenades off the surrounding objects so that they explode on top of or near the Payload. As you can tell where the Payload is at all times, this should be quite easy to do.
Moreover, Junkrat is very effective at killing Bastion, as well as Torbjörn's turret, as you can bounce your grenades right on top of these stationary targets from the safety of cover. This situation does not arise very often (since all of these heroes tend to appear on Defense and not on Attack), but it still good to keep in mind.
If an enemy challenges you in close quarter combat, you will have to use your Frag Launcher to defend yourself. This is not an ideal position for Junkrat to be in, and there are several enemy heroes that have a very good chance of killing you outright (McCree, Tracer, Reaper, Roadhog, to name just a few). That said, your Frag Launcher can still be very effective, and you can inflict lots of damage and even win these fights. The key is not to be caught out in wide, open spaces, because there you will have to rely on direct hits with your grenades to do any damage, which is difficult. Instead, you should try to stick to confined areas, where the bouncing of your grenades and their splash damage will make it much easier for you to hit your target (with direct hits being, of course, preferable to just the splash damage). Add to this your melee attack (default keybind V), your Steel Trap and Concussion Mine (explained below), and you should have a pretty good chance.
Aside from avoiding open areas and long range combat, you should also avoid exposing yourself to enemy Pharahs, as hitting flying targets with your Frag Launcher is extremely difficult. Finally, as an in-game tip adequately suggests, hitting enemies who have the high ground over you is difficult and it puts you at a disadvantage. So, try to avoid fighting players located on roofs, bridges, or ledges above you, as the bouncing of your grenades will generally not be effective, and you will have to rely on direct hits (with the added difficulty of having to compensate for the trajectory of your grenades at an odd angle).
Drop Bombs on death.
Total Mayhem is a passive ability that causes 5 grenades to fall to the ground at the location of your corpse, the moment when you die, which explode a moment later. These grenades deal high damage (up to 300) to enemies who are standing on top of or very near to them, with the damage depending on exactly where the enemies are located.
As this ability is passive, there is generally not much you can do in terms of using it. That said, you can try to increase the chances of it hitting enemies by getting up into melee range of your attackers, especially if you think you are about to be killed anyway. Even then, careful players will still be able to avoid them, but this still increases your chance. To increase your chances further, you can also throw down a Steel Trap at your location (but you should be doing this when fighting anyone at close range anyway).
- Cooldown: 8 seconds
Throw a triggered knockback mine.
Junkrat can toss his Concussion Mine forward a good distance in the direction of his crosshair. The mine has significant trajectory drop-off, so, again, you will have to aim above where you want the mine to land in order to obtain the desired result. It also has a limited range. Aiming with the mine, if it can be called that, is not a very precise technique, especially at range, but you can usually get pretty good results as long as you practice it and learn how it works.
The mine sticks the object it lands on, and it persists until Junkrat detonates it (causing it to deal 120 damage in an area), an enemy destroys it (in which case it does not detonate), or Junkrat re-places a new mine (since there can only ever be a single Concussion Mine active at once). While your Concussion Mine is active, Junkrat's left hand will hold a trigger (providing a visual reminder that you have an active mine), and you can detonate the mine using Right Mouse Button from anywhere on the map. In addition to the damage the mine deals to enemies, it also knocks them back. Junkrat is also knocked back by the mine, but neither him nor his allies take damage from it (and the allies are not knocked back).
There are 3 uses for the Concussion Mine.
The first use is to perform a mine jump. Since the mine's knockback works to push heroes in the direction opposite from the mine, if you are above the mine when it explodes, it will knock you up. This allows you to pre-place your mine, run over it, and then detonate it, sending you flying. You can even jump over the mine and detonate it while you are in the air, which will result in a longer knockback (useful when there is nothing above you, like a ceiling, that you may get stuck on). There are many uses for this mine jump, the most popular of which are running back to the fight faster after dying (just make sure you are slightly past the mine when you detonate it, so that it knocks you up and forward), getting up to difficult to access areas, or just confusing your enemies and making it more difficult for them to kill you when you are under pressure.
The second use is simply to use the Concussion Mine to damage and knock back enemies. The travel speed of the mine is quite high, and it is hard for enemies to damage it while it is flying, so if you see a group of enemy heroes, in addition to shooting your grenades at them, you can also throw a Concussion Mine and detonate it right away. As we said, in addition to the damage it deals, this will also knock the enemies up or away, which can be beneficial. As a side note, you can try to use the mine to knock players off maps.
The third use is to set up a death trap with your Concussion Mine and your Steel Trap. You should place your Steel Trap on the ground, somewhere where the enemies will not see it from afar or expect it, but somewhere where they are likely to run through (good examples are rooms where there are health packs or corridors or paths used for flanking). Next, place your Concussion Mine on the wall next to the trap, or on the ceiling above it. Again, make sure that you set up this trap right around a corner, so that enemies run into the Steel Trap before they get a chance to see it or the Concussion Mine. When your Steel Trap is triggered by an enemy, you will see it on your user interface. When this happens, immediately detonate your Concussion Mine. The Mine and Trap together deal 200 damage, so this will kill most non-tanks.
- Cooldown: 10 seconds
Place an immobilizing trap.
The Steel Trap is similar to the Concussion Mine in that there can only ever be one up, and that you lob it forward. That said, you can throw it forward a much shorter distance than the Concussion Mine, and the Steel Trap triggers automatically whenever an enemy walks over it.
In addition to dealing 80 damage to the trapped enemy, the Steel Trap locks them in place for 3 seconds. During this time, the enemy can perform any actions they normally can (attacking, turning, using abilities), but they cannot move, and any movement abilities they may have will not allow them to leave the trap.
We would also like to mention that while your own Steel Traps (and those of any allied Junkrats) appear quite visible on the ground, they are not nearly as visible to enemies (enemy Steel Traps sort of sink into the ground, being very hard to see).
The uses of Steel Trap are not as exciting as those of the Concussion Mine. You will find that you will mostly use the Steel Trap either in combination with a Concussion Mine to form the aforementioned death trap, or simply on its own somewhere to protect your flank. When you do place a Steel Trap, do not simply rely on the fact that enemies cannot see it very well, and instead try to put extra effort into concealing it. Again, placing it directly around corners is a good idea, as well as placing it inside bushes, or at the top of stairs (where anyone running up the stairs will not get to see it in time).
Finally, as we had mentioned earlier, you can and should make use of the Steel Trap whenever you are engaged in a close range fight. Simply place the trap on the ground somewhere near you, as this will make it even more difficult for your enemies to move around trying to avoid your grenades. If you are lucky enough for an enemy to trigger the trap, they will be an easy target for your Frag Launcher.
Drive and detonate an exploding tire.
When you activate RIP-Tire, Junkrat becomes immobile and you are instead given control (in third-person view) of a spiked tire for 10 seconds or until you detonate the tire or it is destroyed. As soon as you cast the ultimate, the tire begins to roll forward, and all you can do is control its direction (using your mouse). You cannot make it stop moving forward, but if you run it into an object, it will stop (temporarily, as when you face it away it will restart again). You can also make the tire climb up walls or jump using the jump key.
When you press Left Mouse Button, the tire explodes dealing massive damage in an area (up to 600, with the damage decreasing the farther away the targets are). Junkrat can also take damage from his own RIP-Tire, but his teammates are not affected. The RIP-Tire explodes on its own when the 10-second duration expires. Enemies can shoot at the tire (which has 100 health), and if they destroy it, it deals no damage.
Two more aspects are interesting to note. Firstly, the damage of the RIP-Tire is blocked by Winston's Barrier Projector and Reinhardt's Barrier Field, provided that the tire explodes on the opposite side of the shield from the enemies. However, these shields do not prevent the tire from moving through them. Secondly, if Junkrat is killed while controlling the RIP-Tire, he will still be allowed to control it until the end of the 10-second duration or until the tire is destroyed.
An important element of RIP-Tire is the sound associated with it. As far as ultimate abilities ago, RIP-Tire is probably the loudest, most difficult to miss one in the game. When an enemy Junkrat activates RIP-Tire, he yells out "Fire in the hole!", and after this time, the tire makes a loud engine noise whenever it is moving forward (so, it is only silenced if it is up against an obstacle). Moreover, the engine noise gets progressively louder as the RIP-Tire gets closer to its targets.
The very high damage of the RIP-Tire, coupled with the loud warning sounds associated with it make it so that your enemies will generally be very aware of the tire (the high damage means they quickly learn not to ignore it). This means that you will find it very difficult to simply activate your RIP-Tire and drive into the enemy team using the shortest path available. If you try to do this, the most common result will be that the tire will be shot down before you have a chance to detonate it.
Instead, if you wish to increase your tire's chances of success, you will have to make use of some combination of the following techniques.
- Use RIP-Tire when the enemy team is distracted by your own team.
- Do not attack them with the tire from a predictable area; instead, use the 10-second window to move around, climb up walls, and land it in the middle of the enemies from an unexpected angle.
- Move the tire up against a wall to temporarily mute it, in an attempt to make enemies forget about it, or at least confuse them.
- When you think the tire has been spotted, do not wait too long to detonate it (waiting for maximum damage), as that may prove to be too late.
Even if you do not manage to get many (or any) kills with your RIP-Tire, it can often still have a great effect by simply distracting the other team. While the tire sound is active, your enemies will be splitting up and frantically looking around to see where the tire is coming from to shoot at it. All of this can provide a great opportunity for your other teammates. In other words, if you think you have no way of getting the tire on top of the enemies successfully, you can simply run it around them for up to the 10-second duration to maximise the distraction (but you should still try to kill someone before the tire expires).
Regardless of this, you should find a safe place from which to cast the RIP-Tire, where you do not expect to be in line of sight of the enemies. To further increase your chances of survival, you could place a Steel Trap nearby to catch anyone coming to flank you.
Finally, we would mention that, while using RIP-Tire against a group of stacked enemies (such as attackers pushing a Payload) is obviously the most desirable outcome, it is perfectly acceptable to use it just against 1-3 enemies.
- 23 May 2016: Reworded two statements regarding our opinion of Junkrat's viability on Attack, to avoid any confusion (the opinion being that he is not recommended but not a terrible choice on Attack).
- 22 May 2016: Updated the guide following michr's review.
- Added Strengths of high mobility and ability to hold down a chokepoint without help.
- Changed the order of Concussion Mine uses.
- 11 May 2016: Guide added.
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