Sombra Abilities and Strategy
Table of Contents
- ×Abilities and Strategy
- +Synergies and Matchups
On this page, you will find a detailed overview of the abilities that Sombra has access to. We also explain how to best use these abilities.
The other pages of our Sombra guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the right.
1. Sombra TL;DR Tips
- Sombra cannot be played like the other flankers in Overwatch. Sombra is a slow-paced flanker and is best used by players who are methodical and can anticipate enemy movements.
- Sombra is heavily team-dependent due to her ultimate dealing no damage. Therefore, Sombra is better left on the shelf if your current team seems uncommunicative or unwilling to work together.
- Harassment and farming EMP is a completely healthy way to play Sombra (if her team is communicative and will follow up an EMP).
- Keep pertinent health packs under your control through Hack to boost your team's healing and deny the enemy team a place of respite.
- Use Translocator to provide yourself an escape route before you infiltrate the enemy backline.
- Provide your teammates information about the enemy team with Opportunist.
2. Sombra's Abilities
You detect critically injured enemies through walls.
Sombra's Opportunist is a passive utility ability that gives Sombra helpful information concerning the enemy team's health and positioning. Opportunist allows Sombra to see all enemy health bars that are lower than 100%, however, Sombra must be in line of sight of the enemy to see the health bar. Once the enemy is behind a wall, the health bar will no longer show on Sombra's screen. Additionally, Opportunist allows Sombra to see enemies through walls when they are lower than 50% health. However, if an enemy is healed past 50%, the x-ray vision of Opportunist will go away. It is important to note that information gleaned from Opportunist only shows on Sombra's screen (unlike Widowmaker's Infra-Sight). This means Sombra must communicate with allies to share her knowledge. See the videos for more details concerning Opportunist.
The X-ray vision of Opportunist only turns on when enemies are fully covered by a wall, and it has no cutoff distance, which means Sombra can always see enemies who are lower than 50% health regardless of her positioning.
2.2. Machine Pistol
Sombra’s fully-automatic machine pistol fires in a short-range spread.
Sombra's primary fire, which is the only damage-dealer in her whole kit, is called Machine Pistol. This weapon is most like Tracer's Pulse Pistols, but there are a number of key differences. Machine Pistol's clip takes much longer to fully unload when compared to Pulse Pistols. In fact, it takes Sombra 3 seconds to fire one whole clip, while Tracer can fire a whole clip of Pulse Pistols in just 1 second. This means Tracer can deal a potential 240 damage in 1 second, while Sombra can only deal a potential 160 damage in the same time frame (not factoring in headshot damage for either weapon). However, Sombra's damage per second total does catch up (and surpass) Tracer's over a 3-second period. Over three seconds, Sombra can deal 480 damage, while Tracer (due to her need to reload) can only deal 420 damage in 3 seconds. However, at 4.5 second intervals, Tracer and Sombra have equal damage outputs. Therefore, Sombra has less burst damage potential than Tracer, but has better sustained damage at 3 seconds, and ultimately both heroes have the same damage outputs on 4.5 second intervals. This means players who have slower reaction times and find it hard to land every shot may want to main Sombra over Tracer if they desire to play a flanker. Other Machine Pistol mechanics include:
- A damage falloff range starting at 15 meters with Machine Pistol shots scaling to 2.4 damage a round past 25 meters.
- Weapon spread of maximum 2.7 degrees
- 60 Rounds
- Takes 1.5 seconds to reload
Sombra hacks enemies to temporarily stop them from using their abilities, or hacks first aid kits to make them useless to her opponents.
By far the most versatile ability in the game, Hack has a plethora of uses because it shutdowns various enemy ultimates, abilities, and secondary fires. Hack has a channel time of 0.65 seconds, stops enemies from using their hacked abilities for six seconds, reveals the hacked enemies health bar to all allies for 20 seconds (they must be in line of sight of the hacked enemy to see the bar) and shows allies if the enemy has full ultimate charge anytime within the next 20 seconds.
If Sombra loses sight of an enemy, the player fails to hold down the Hack button for the whole 0.65 channel time, or if the enemy breaks past the 15-meter reach of Hack while it is being channeled, the Hack will fail and the ability will reset. However, if Sombra takes damage while attempting to Hack, the ability is put on a two-second cooldown. A hack cannot permeate shields of any kind (like Zarya's Protective Barrier and Brigitte's Barrier Shield) and cannot target invulnerable enemies (like Wraith Form Reaper or Zenyatta during Transcendence).For your convenience, we have gathered all of Hack's interactions with other in-game heroes.
2.3.1. Hero Hack Interactions
In the following list, the term "prevents" means to disable a hero from initiating an ability while the term "cancel" means to stop an ability while it is in use.
- Ana: prevents the use of Biotic Grenade, Sleep Dart, and Nano Boost;
- Bastion: prevents the use of Reconfigure, Self-Repair, Configuration: Tank, and cancels Configuration: Sentry and Self-Repair;
- Brigitte: prevents the use of Repair Pack, Whip Shot, Barrier Shield, Shield Bash, and Rally;
- D.Va: prevents the use of Defense Matrix, Boosters, Micro Missiles, Self-Destruct, and Call Mech and cancels the following abilities Defense Matrix, Micro Missiles, Boosters, and Call Mech;
- Doomfist: prevents the use of Seismic Slam, Rising Uppercut, Rocket Punch, and Meteor Strike;
- Genji: prevents the use of Cyber-Agility, Swift Strike, Deflect, and Dragonblade, and cancels the following abilities Swift Strike and Deflect;
- Hanzo: prevents the use of Wall Climb, Dragonstrike, Storm Arrows, changing the currently selected arrow to Sonic Arrow, and cancels the channel of Dragonstrike, which takes away his ultimate charge;
- Junkrat: prevents the use of Concussion Mine (the placement and the explosion), Steel Trap, and RIP-Tire and cancels RIP-Tire during its channel, which takes away his ultimate charge;
- Lúcio: prevents the use of Wall Ride, Sound Wave, Crossfade, Amp It Up, and Sound Barrier, cancels Lucio's song from Crossfade, cancels a current Wall Ride, and cancels Sound Barrier if Lucio is Hacked before he can hit the ground to initiate his ultimate;
- McCree: prevents the use of Combat Roll, Flashbang, and Deadeye, and cancels Combat Roll and Deadeye;
- Mei: prevents the use of Cryo-Freeze, Ice Wall placement, and Blizzard (Mei can lower her Ice Wall while Hacked);
- Mercy: prevents the use of Angelic Descent, Guardian Angel, Resurrect, and Valkyrie, and cancels Guardian Angel and Resurrect;
- Moira: prevents the use of Biotic Orb, Fade, and Coalescence, and cancels Coalescence;
- Orisa: prevents the use of Halt!, Fortify, Protective Barrier, and Supercharger, and cancels Supercharger if Orisa has not placed the charger before she is Hacked. Additionally, Sombra can Hack a Supercharger to shutdown its damage increasing effects for 10 seconds;
- Pharah: prevents the use of Jump Jet, Hover Jets, Concussive Blast, and Barrage and cancels Jump Jet, Hover Jets, and Barrage;
- Reinhardt: prevents the use of Barrier Shield, Charge, Fire Strike, and Earthshatter and cancels Barrier Field, Charge, and Earthshatter;
- Reaper: prevents the use of Wraith Form, Shadow Step, and Death Blossom and cancels Shadow Step (Reaper must be hacked before leaving initial destination) and Death Blossom;
- Roadhog: prevents the use of Take A Breather, Chain Hook, and Whole Hog and cancels Chain Hook, Take A Breather, and Whole Hog;
- Soldier: 76: prevents the use of Helix Rockets, Sprint, Biotic Field, and Tactical Visor, and cancels Sprint;
- Sombra: prevents the use of Hack, Stealth, Translocator (placement and activation), and EMP;
- Symmetra: prevents the use of Sentry Turret, Photon Barrier, and Teleporter and cancels the current channeling of Energy Ball, but does not prevent further uses;
- Torbjörn: prevents the use of Deploy Turret, Overload, and Molten Core, and can be used to disable turret for 10 seconds;
- Tracer: prevents the use of Blink, Recall, and Pulse Bomb, and cancels Blink;
- Widowmaker: prevents the use of Grappling Hook, Venom Mine, and Infra-Sight, and cancels Grappling Hook;
- Winston: prevents the use of Jump Pack, Barrier Projector, and Primal Rage, and cancels Jump Pack;
- Wrecking Ball: prevents the use of Grappling Claw, Roll, Adaptive Shield, Piledriver, and Minefield and cancels Grappling Claw, Roll, and Piledriver ( EMP can shutdown a deployed Minefield for 10 seconds while Hack does nothing to deployed mines);
- Zarya: prevents the use of Particle Barrier, Projected Barrier, and Graviton Surge;
- Zenyatta: prevents the use of Orb of Harmony, Orb of Discord, and Transcendence, and cancels the build-up of a Orb Volley, but does not prevent future Orb Volleys from being used while Zenyatta is hacked.
2.3.2. Health Pack Hack Interactions
As shown above, Hack can be used to disable the enemy team in a number of ways. However, Sombra can also alter the very nature of the battlefield by Hacking health packs. Hacked health packs are completely unusable by the enemy team, as opponents who walk over them will not have their health restored. To further aid her team, Sombra's Hacked health packs respawn at a faster rate than usual. Typically, small health packs take 10 seconds to respawn, and large health packs take 15 seconds to respawn. However, Sombra's Hacked health packs respawn in 2 and 4 seconds, respectively. Sombra can Hack a total of two health packs at a time, but a single Hacked pack will only stay under Sombra's control for a minute. Therefore, if Sombra wants to keep a health pack under her team's dominion, she must re-Hack the pack at least once every minute. Hacked health packs are denoted to the enemy team by a red Sombra symbol floating above the pack, allies can recognize a friendly Hacked health pack by the purple Sombra symbol floating above the pack. Additionally, teammates can see allied Hacked health packs through walls if they are within 30 meters of the pack. It should be noted that Sombra cannot Hack a health pack already Hacked by the enemy team.
- Cooldown: 6 seconds
Sombra becomes invisible for a short period of time, during which her speed is boosted considerably. Attacking, using offensive abilities, or taking damage disables her camouflage. Run faster while moving forward
Stealth is a personal utility ability that makes Sombra invisible to enemies and increases Sombra's mobility by 50%. When Sombra initiates Stealth, it takes 0.7 seconds to channel. If Sombra takes damage while channeling Stealth, or if she takes damage/is hit by a crowd control ability while invisible, Stealth is put on cooldown, and Sombra will become visible to enemies. Additionally, if Sombra attacks, begins to Hack, or attempts to use EMP while Stealth is active, Sombra will become visible and Stealth will go on cooldown. However, Sombra can use Translocator while in Stealth without breaking her camouflage.
It is important to note that Sombra must un-Stealth before she can use her offensive abilities or Machine Pistol. This is crucial to understand as the process of un-Stealthing takes Sombra 0.7 seconds. During this time, Sombra is visible to enemies, and will state a voice line that lets enemies know that she is in the area and is un-Stealthing. The un-Stealthing voice line can be heard as long as the enemy is within 15 meters from Sombra. While un-Stealthing, Sombra can move, but is completely unable to attack or use Hack/EMP. Watch the video below for more details.
Sombra Un-Stealthing Explanation
One last point about Stealth, Hanzo's Sonic Arrow and Widowmaker's Infra-Sight will reveal an enemy Sombra to a team even when using Stealth. The speed boost of Stealth still applies to Sombra if she is seen by Sonic Arrow or Infra-Sight (assuming she does not take damage,) but she can be targeted by lock-on abilities like McCree's Deadeye and Zenyatta's Orb of Discord. However, Sombra becomes invisible again if she exits the vicinity of Sonic Arrow, or if Infra-Sight runs out before Sombra's Stealth expires. See the video below for an example of a Stealthed Sombra getting spotted by Sonic Arrow, but becoming invisible when she leaves its range.
Stealthed Sombra Spotted by Hanzo
- Cooldown: 4 seconds
Sombra tosses out a translocator beacon. She can instantly return to the beacon’s location while it is active by pressing E (including when it’s in mid-flight).
Translocator is (yet another) utility ability for Sombra. When used, Sombra throws out a small device (the Translocator) in an arc in front of her. At any point, Sombra can use the ability again to instantly transport herself from her current position to the current position of the Translocator. The Translocator has 5 health and can be destroyed by the enemy team or by Sombra.
Sombra can use her Translocator for a number of in-game maneuvers such as:
- Harassing the enemy
- Escaping when too deep in enemy territory
- Positioning for the use of EMP
- Getting to high ground
- Quickly returning from spawn
- Finishing off enemies who are low
- Following up ally picks
Sombra discharges electromagnetic energy in a wide radius, destroying enemy barriers and shields and hacking all opponents caught in the blast.
EMP is essentially a stronger version of Hack for a number of reasons such as:
- It is an area of effect ability rather than a channeled ability.
- It can impact any number of enemies, whereas Hack is a single-target ability.
- The EMP burst will destroy all barriers like Winston's Barrier Projector and Zarya's Particle Barrier (Reinhardt's Barrier Field and Brigitte's Barrier Shield will not break from EMP, but will be unusable for 5 seconds).
- The EMP burst will destroy all shields of enemies who are in range.
The AoE distance of EMP is 15 meters around Sombra, but enemies must be in line of sight of Sombra when EMP is used. This means walls and obstacles stop EMP from affecting enemies. It should be noted that EMP will affect all enemies and their abilities in the same way as Hack (see the list above for hero-specific interactions.)
About our Author
Mournflakes is a flex Grandmaster Overwatch player who boasts a career high SR rating of 4433. His favorite heroes are Roadhog, Soldier: 76, and Ana. He has played Overwatch since its initial release, and has put over 700 hours into competitive play. When not writing guides, you can catch Mournflakes streaming on his Twitch channel.
- ×Abilities and Strategy
- +Synergies and Matchups
- Recruiting Writer for Path of Exile
- Mike Morhaime Gamelab Interviews
- PTR Patch Notes, June 26th
- PTR Patch Notes + Known Issues, June 24: Subtitles, Workshop Updates
- Top French Publication Says Diablo 4 Has Been Shown to Blizzard Employees
- Baptiste Reunion Challenge Patch Now Live (Developer Update, Patch Notes)
- Borderlands 3
- 11 Builds to Try in Path of Exile: Legion
- Overwatch Reinhardt
- Hanzo - Simple Geometry
- Sorry Sombra
- Overwatch Wrecking Ball
- Overwatch Point Capture
- Overwatch Genji Skins
- Overwatch Hanzo
- Overwatch Reaper