Symmetra Guide: Strategy & Gameplay “Order is restored.”
Table of Contents
- 1. Strengths
- 2. Weaknesses
- +3. Strategy
- 4. ChangeLog
This guide takes an in-depth look at how to play Symmetra 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
- Provides excellent utility to the team with shields and Teleporter
- Photon Projector Orbs allow her to deal high damage through shields and to stationary enemies
- Poor mobility and lack of escape mechanisms
- Difficulty dealing damage outside of close range
In this section, we will briefly go over the main strategies you should employ as Symmetra. We will begin with an Overview, and then we will go in depth more about each ability that Symmetra has.
Despite being classified as a Support hero in-game, Symmetra does not have any means of healing her allies, unlike the other 3 Support heroes.
Instead, to support her team, she places 25-health Photon Shields on her allies, increasing their maximum health (the shields regenerate after 3 seconds of the player not taking damage). This ability of increasing players' maximum health is rare (only Torbjörn can do something similar, but the armor he provides does not regenerate once damaged). The value of this is significant, as it allows players to survive damaging abilities that would otherwise have killed them, and it grants them an amount of guaranteed self-healing when out of combat.
In addition to her shields, Symmetra also provides great help to her team with her Teleporter ultimate, which can instantly transport players directly from the respawn room to the middle of the action. If placed correctly (close to the action but out of sight of the enemy), the Teleporter can turn the tide of battles, effectively negate enemy kills (as Symmetra's teammates can run in much faster than the opponents), and generally make it very difficult for the other team to take over a point.
Aside from these two supportive abilities, Symmetra can place Sentry Turrets around the map, which damage and slow enemies who come close to them. These turrets serve to damage the enemy (granting Symmetra ultimate charge), slow them, and also to alert Symmetra as to the enemy positions (the user interface shows a warning when a turret is dealing damage).
Overall, as Symmetra, your top priority is to make sure all your teammates are shielded at all times. Aside from that, place turrets around the map in strategic locations or choke points, and stick with your team to help them fend off enemies with your weapon. Your turrets will be destroyed regularly, so make sure you keep refreshing them.
When your Teleporter is available, place it somewhere safe, where the enemy cannot locate or destroy it.
3.1.1. Attack Versus Defense Viability
Symmetra is much more viable on Defense than she is on Attack. There are two reasons for this.
The first is that her Sentry Turrets require the enemies to run into them in order to be efficient. When Symmetra is attacking (and therefore constantly pushing forward into enemy territory), she cannot place her turrets in this way. Of course, Symmetra could place turrets on a Point that her team had just taken control of, to fend off the defenders who are trying to take it back, but these are very rare situations, and other heroes could be even more useful than Symmetra here anyway.
The second reason is that her Teleporter is much more difficult to use when Symmetra is attacking. Generating enough ultimate charge is difficult to begin with (since Symmetra lacks reliable damage potential outside of close range), and even then finding a safe and useful Teleporter location is not easy. Since the Teleporter has to be close to an enemy-controlled objective to be efficient (by reducing the time needed to run back), it is very easy for the enemy to kill it. On the other hand, when placing a defensive Teleporter, the location is one that is on the safe side of an objective that is controlled by Symmetra's team, making it much safer overall.
As a result, we would advise against picking Symmetra on Attack, or on Control maps. Moreover, even on Defense, Symmetra can quickly lose viability. In any situation where her Teleporter does not provide meaningful benefits, Symmetra should be switched out for a better hero. For example, if Symmetra's team is defending point B on Point Capture maps, or if the enemy has pushed the Payload almost to the end of the map, then Symmetra's Teleporter is almost entirely useless (only saving players a few seconds at best). In these cases, almost any other hero is a better choice.
3.2.1. Photon Projector Beam
Short range beam weapon with increasing damage.
Symmetra's primary fire channels a damaging beam. The beam has auto-aiming capabilities, locking onto the enemy in Symmetra's field of vision that is closest to her crosshair. Once the weapon locks onto an enemy, it will continue to damage them as long as you hold down the primary fire, the enemy is in your field of vision, and you still have ammunition in your weapon.
The damage of Symmetra's Photon Projector Beam ramps up over the first 3 seconds that you spend channeling it into the same target. The damage increase you gain this way is significant (30 damage per second by default, then 60, then 120), so you should avoid breaking the channel.
In terms of damage done, the Photon Projector Beam is not outstanding. This, coupled with the fact that Symmetra has no survival or escape mechanism, makes her overall quite fragile in close range. However, this is not to say that she is guaranteed to lose any fight she gets into.
The Photon Projector Beam's locking on characteristic makes it ideal for damaging enemies that move around unpredictably. Specifically, it means that Symmetra can put up a great fight against equally skilled Tracer, Genji, and even Reaper and Soldier: 76 players. We would argue that it often even gives her an edge over many other less lethal heroes, such as Mercy, Lúcio, or Zenyatta.
Basically, when fighting someone in close range with your Photon Projector Beam, there are two things you must do. Firstly, you must make sure that the enemy remains in your field of vision at all times, so that the beam is not interrupted. Aiming precisely does not matter. Secondly, you should jump and move as erratically as possible, making it difficult for the enemy hero(es) to hit you. Since you do not need to worry about your aim, moving around a lot does not impact you negatively.
3.2.2. Photon Projector Orbs
Short range beam weapon with increasing damage.
Holding down the alternate fire button charges up a damaging orb. The orb requires 2 seconds to charge up fully, at which point it costs 20 ammo and deals 125 damage to any targets in its path. The less time you spend charging it up, the less damage it will deal and the fewer ammo it will cost. You can fire the orb by releasing alternate fire, and it will release on its own even if you keep holding it, a short time after it is fully charged up.
As stated, the orb passes through all enemies in its path, dealing damage to all of them. The orb also passes through Reinhardt's Barrier Field and Winston's Barrier Projector shields, although its damage is still blocked by Zarya's shields.
These Photon Projector Orbs are your only means of doing damage outside of close range, as Symmetra, so you will have many opportunities to use them. In fact, whenever no enemies are in your close range, and whenever you do not need to re-apply shields or re-place turrets, you should be charging up orbs.
The orbs you fire have a very slow traveling speed, meaning that your enemies will generally have an easy time avoiding them. As such, you should be creative in how you use them to increase their efficiency.
One strategy is to shoot them down long and narrow corridors through which the enemy is attacking, as that makes it much less likely that they will be avoided. A classic example of this is the series of rooms alongside Point A on Numbani, through which the attackers often move.
Another strategy is simply to pre-fire the orbs at the choke point through which the enemies are attempting to enter. This will either damage your enemies, or at least cause them to have to keep moving away to avoid them, disrupting them and making it easier for your other teammates to repel them.
To reduce your exposure to the enemy as you fire your orbs, you should charge them up while you are behind cover, and simply duck out and release them when they are fully charged.
Finally, we would like to mention that these orbs are particularly effective against stationary enemies, especially against Bastion. You can even shoot them up towards a sniper nest where a Widowmaker is located, since they will block her vision as they approach and force her to avoid them (but be careful not to get shot by her).
3.2.3. Sentry Turrets
Deploy a small turret that damages and slows enemies.
Symmetra can have a maximum of 6 Sentry Turrets up at any one time, and placing a 7th turret will cause the oldest of your turrets to be removed.
We have previously exposed the usefulness of your turrets in damaging enemies (and charging up your ultimate), slowing them down, and informing them of your location.
You should make it a point to always have 6 Sentry Turrets up at all times. Ideally, you should choose clever positions for your turrets (we explain this below), but if that is not possible due to time constraints or because you are under pressure, it is better to place them almost anywhere (though preferably at least somewhat hidden).
Indeed, Sentry Turrets only have 1 health, which makes them extremely vulnerable to any form of enemy fire, including splash damage from rockets and Junkrat bombs. As such, you should not place your Sentry Turrets too close to each other (even if you are setting up a fortified nest), so that they do not all get destroyed by the same splash damage, and you should not place them out in the open where enemies can see and shoot them from afar.
Below, we list a number of the best uses for Sentry Turrets. In the future, we will include screenshots of the best locations.
- At the start of games, you should place several turrets right outside the spawn point of the attackers. They will be destroyed, but the damage they do will go a long way towards charging up your first Teleporter.
- Place turrets in hidden locations.
- Above doorways (on the opposite side of the enemy) is a good location, but it is so popular that it has become quite predictable.
- Placing them on the inside of doorways near the floor may be more unexpected.
- Hide them behind any objects you notice on the map (tables, chairs, cars, road signs, rocks).
- In situations where you are under pressure, you can even place Sentry Turrets on the Payload (on the opposite side of the enemy location). They will not live long, but they might slow, damage, and disrupt the enemies for the few seconds you need.
- When fighting in close range, placing Sentry Turrets anywhere around you can help greatly. For example, if you are being chased by a hero you do not wish you fight, as soon as you run around a corner, place a Sentry Turret on the wall. If you manage to set up enough of them and avoid the hero for long enough, they may wear done their health enough to allow you to fight them with your weapon.
Alternatively, you can even use Sentry Turrets not to deal damage and kill enemies, but to warn you of enemy movement. You can place a single Sentry Turret in a corridor or some other path located behind your position; if the turret is destroyed or begins dealing damage, you will know that you are being flanked.
3.2.4. Photon Shield
Give shields to an ally.
Each of Symmetra's teammates can have one Photon Shield active on them at one time. The shields persist through damage (even if they are fully depleted, they will regenerate 3 seconds after the player has stopped taking damage), and they survive even if Symmetra dies (but they do disappear if Symmetra is switched for a different hero).
Since the Photon Shields disappear from teammates when they die, your job as Symmetra is extremely simple in regards to the shields. Apply them to any teammates who do not have a shield. Your goal is to maximise the uptime your shields have on your allies, plain and simple.
Deploy a teleporter that connects to the spawn room.
Symmetra's Teleporter is an extremely impactful ability, in certain situations. Unlike other heroes that can have peak performance without ever using their ultimate (McCree, Roadhog), Symmetra relies her Teleporter to make a meaningful contribution to her team.
This means that if the Teleporter cannot be used properly, given the map situation, you should probably switch out from Symmetra altogether. As stated earlier in the guide, these situations are those in which the Teleporter does not save your teammates enough time when running back to the fight.
Indeed, that is the primary purpose of Symmetra's teleporter: to allow her teammates to get back quickly after dying.
Once placed, your Teleporter links the location where you placed it to the spawn room (only traveling from the spawn room is possible, and not the other way around), allowing a maximum of 6 players to travel through it before it disappears. While the Teleporter is active, you do not gain ultimate charge. Note that the Teleporter can be destroyed by the enemies, although it is quite resilient at 200 health.
It is important to note that if Symmetra's team is defending with her Teleporter up, and the attackers advance enough on the map to change their respawn point (such as capturing a Point), then the Teleporter is destroyed and Symmetra is refunded a percentage of her ultimate charge (based on how many charges are left on the Teleporter, with all 6 charges resulting in a full refund). This enables Symmetra to re-place the Teleporter in a location that is better suited to the new situation. That said, it can sometimes feel like a burden to lose your Teleporter this way.
The best example of good Teleporter usage is when Symmetra's team is defending Point A on Point Capture maps. In this case, placing the teleporter near to Point A means that if the two teams trade an even number of kills, the defenders will return to the point long before the attackers, thus gaining a significant advantage. Point B on Point Capture maps is always located very close to the defender spawn, so the Teleporter loses a lot of its efficiency in this way, as it does when attacking, when defending against a Payload, or on Control maps (see discussion above).
You can assume that the other team will be aware of the existence of your Teleporter as soon as they realise that there is a Symmetra in the game. They will look for it and attempt to destroy it, so you must be as clever as possible when placing it. If your Teleporter is destroyed before it has a had a chance to be used by at least a few players, it is a considerable blow to your team.
If your team has a strong hold of the point and the other team lacks fast flanking heroes (like Genji or Tracer), then you can be more bold in your Teleporter placement, putting in rooms that are adjacent or very close the point. However, if the other team has shown a tendency to aggressively flank your team, then you must be more cautious. It is perfectly acceptable to place the Teleporter a bit farther away to increase its safety, and you should do so.
If your Teleporter is ready and your entire team is alive (while defending Point A or the Point on Hybrid maps), then you should not place your Teleporter. Instead, you should stay somewhere hidden and close to the Point, and let your team engage the enemies 5vs6. If your teammates lose the fight, then immediately place your Teleporter, so that the entire team gets to run back in. While this technique may seem counter-intuitive, it is a great way to ensure maximum value from your Teleporter without risking having it discovered by the enemy flankers.
- 21 May 2016: Updated the guide following KabaL's review by expanding the Teleporter section (most notably adding information about the Teleporter being refunded in some cases).
- 11 May 2016: Fixed a mistake where we mentioned Symmetra's shields providing 50 health, while the correct amount is 25.
- 30 Apr. 2016: Guide added.
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