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Winston Guide: Strategy & Gameplay “Imagination is the essence of discovery.”

Last updated on May 22, 2016 at 20:43 by Vlad 6 comments

Table of Contents

Winston Portrait
  • Winston Personal Details Real Name: Winston, Age: 29
  • Winston Occupation Occupation: Scientist, Adventurer
  • Winston Geographical Origins Base of Operations: Horizon Lunar Colony (formerly)
  • Winston Affiliation Affiliation: Overwatch (formerly)

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

  • Easy to aim weapon that allows for sustained close range damage to multiple enemies
  • Solid ability to protect teammates from damage
  • Can harass enemy backline heroes very well
  • Primal Rage Icon Primal Rage (ultimate) causes a massive distraction and disruption of enemy team (and grants survivability)
  • Good escape mechanism and mobility
  • Easy to learn hero
  • Viable on both Attack and Defense

2. Weaknesses

  • Unable to do damage outside of close range, and low burst damage overall
  • Hard to master (requires good positioning, engagement timing, and Barrier Projector Icon Barrier Projector usage to survive)

3. Strategy

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

3.1. Overview

Winston is the only other tank in Overwatch (aside from Reinhardt) who can reliably protect his team from damage, which he does using his Barrier Projector Icon Barrier Projector dome.

Aside from the protection that he offers, and the reasonable close range damage that he does, Winston's main function is to harass and disrupt the enemy team, which he can do normally with his Jump Pack Icon Jump Pack, and particularly with his Primal Rage Icon Primal Rage ultimate.

As Winston, you should look to keep your team safe, and help them contest the objectives. However, instead of sticking to your team like glue (as Reinhardt is encouraged to do), you should make use of your kit to disrupt the enemy team.

For example, Winston is ideally suited to leaping behind enemy lines to directly harass a Zenyatta, or leaping to a sniper nest to force a Widowmaker or Hanzo out of position. While Winston's health is not particularly high, nor does he have personal survivability abilities, his ability to leap in and out of combat, coupled with his Barrier Projector and reliable weapon can ensure his survival.

Primal Rage fits this theme very well, reducing your damage output slightly but massively increasing your survivability and disruption potential. For 10 seconds, you become a complete chaos machine on the battlefield, destroying any plan the other team might have had.

3.2. Abilities

3.2.1. Tesla Cannon

Winston Tesla Cannon
Tesla Cannon (LMB) Winston

Electric frontal cone weapon.

Winston's Tesla Cannon Icon Tesla Cannon weapon has a single firing mode (primary fire), which releases energy in an area in front of Winston, at a rate of 20 ammo per second (with a total ammo capacity of 100). The energy damages any heroes it hits for about 60 damage per second, and it has no limit as to how many heroes it can damage. It is also nice to know that you can reload the Tesla Cannon while you are flying due to having used Jump Pack Icon Jump Pack.

Because of the nature of the weapon, precise aiming is not required. In this sense, the weapon is similar to Symmetra's Photon Projector Icon Photon Projector beam (although Symmetra's weapon locks on to a target and cannot damage more than one hero at a time). As long as Winston is looking in the general direction of a hero, and as long as he is close enough to that hero, then he will damage them.

Winston's Tesla Cannon is his primary means of doing damage. Winston can also deal damage with melee attacks (default keybind V), which deal 25 damage per hit, as well as dealing 50 damage to enemies he lands on top of when leaping with Jump Pack Icon Jump Pack.

You should use your Tesla Cannon whenever there are multiple enemies in your range that you can hit with it. It is your tool for harassing, defending yourself, contributing in team fights, and chasing down heroes you are trying to kill. That said, using the Tesla Cannon is only efficient if it can hit more than one hero at once. Otherwise, you are better off spamming your melee attack on cooldown, thus also conserving ammo.

While the damage that the Tesla Cannon deals is not very high, its reliability (it is very difficult to miss the target for more than a few moments) and your high health mean that you will beat a number of enemy heroes in 1-on-1 combat, especially if you can also use correct positioning and Barrier Projector Icon Barrier Projector placement. For example, Winston can win fights against many damaging heroes like Soldier: 76, Widowmaker, Hanzo, and even Reaper. That said, beating these heroes requires a great mastery of Winston's abilities and movement, so it does not come easily. Winston also does very well against weaker heroes like Lúcio, Mercy, or Zenyatta, who have absolutely no chance against you. Given their lack of escape mechanisms and the mobility you have from Jump Pack, these latter heroes cannot escape you either, so you are guaranteed to kill them if they do not receive help.

3.2.2. Barrier Projector

Winston Barrier Projector
Barrier Projector (E) Winston
  • Cooldown: 13 seconds

Hold to deploy a frontal energy barrier.

Your Barrier Projector Icon Barrier Projector places a small object on the ground, around which a protective dome appears for 6 seconds or until it absorbs 600 damage. In this sense, the Barrier Projector works much like Soldier: 76's Biotic Field Icon Biotic Field, meaning that if you place it on a moving object such as a Payload, it will move forward with that object.

Your Barrier Projector works exactly the same as Reinhardt's Barrier Field Icon Barrier Field in terms of what it does and does not block. We will look at exactly what that is below, but first we want to clarify that the Barrier blocks enemy damage through it regardless of which side of the Barrier the enemies are on, as long as Winston or his teammates are on the other side of the Barrier from the enemy.

Barrier Projector blocks:

  • all pistol, rifle, and rocket projectiles;
  • damage from Symmetra's Sentry Turret Icon Sentry Turrets, and Junkrat's RIP-Tire Icon RIP-Tire (if the tire explodes in front of the barrier);
  • damage from Zarya's weapon;
  • Roadhog's Chain Hook Icon Chain Hook and Reinhardt's Earthshatter Icon Earthshatter.

Barrier Projector does NOT block:

  • melee attacks;
  • channeled weapons (Winston's and Symmetra's);
  • Symmetra's Photon Projector Icon Photon Projector orbs and Reinhardt's Fire Strike Icon Fire Strike;
  • AoE effects (Hanzo's Dragonstrike Icon Dragonstrike, Mei's Blizzard Icon Blizzard, etc.);
  • player models (including Junkrat's RIP-Tire).

This is your only way of protecting your team from damage (short of blocking damage with your hero model), and it is quite an effective tool for that. Compared to Reinhardt's Barrier Field, your Barrier Projector has the advantages of blocking damage from all directions, of not requiring you to be present at the location where it is placed for its entire duration, and of not incapacitating you while it is active. On the other hand, Reinhardt's Barrier Field absorbs considerably more damage (2000 versus 600), and it can be dynamically repositioned.

The main usage for Barrier Projector is actually to disrupt the enemy team's ability to carry on a fight and to zone them (rather than to just protect from damage). Since the Barrier blocks damage in both directions, your team can use well-placed Barriers to have a great advantage over the other team or to force them to retreat away from the Barrier.

Another important disruptive usage is based on the Barrier's ability to block friendly line of sight for your enemies as far as their ultimates and abilities are concerned. For example, a Lúcio who uses Sound Barrier Icon Sound Barrier will only affect allies who are on the same side of the Barrier as him (this also applies to his Crossfade auras). What this means is that Winston is an excellent counter to Lúcio, being able to use Jump Pack Icon Jump Pack to get to Lúcio as he casts Sound Barrier and block its effect. A similar usage works great for diminishing or negating the damage of Reaper's Death Blossom Icon Death Blossom.

Of course, you can also use your Barrier Projector to protect your teammates from taking damage. This means placing it on the Payload or Point, or in a choke-point. Other times, you will simply be placing it wherever a skirmish is taking place, since its presence will severely reduce the enemies' damage-dealing capabilities, giving you and your teammates a great advantage.

When using the Barrier, you need to keep in mind that it has a 13-second cooldown, and that if you waste it, it will not be immediately available to protect your team from high damage. As such, we do not recommend using the Barrier Projector as often as possible, simply for the sake of using it. It is perfectly fine to hold on to it until there is enough enemy fire to justify it.

Finally, do not hesitate to use the Barrier even if it only protects you. A good example of this is if you get involved in a close range fight against a strong hero (such as Reaper), where using the Barrier and then dancing in and out of it (while dealing damage with your Tesla Cannon Icon Tesla Cannon) can block enough damage to make a difference.

3.2.3. Jump Pack

Winston Jump Pack
Jump Pack (Left Shift) Winston
  • Cooldown: 6 seconds

Leap forward into the air. Landing on an enemy damages them.

Jump Pack Icon Jump Pack causes Winston to leap in the direction he is facing, dealing up to 50 damage to enemies he lands on (with the damage decreasing the farther the enemies are). It is important to understand that the exact position of the crosshair affects where Winston will leap, not simply the direction where the character is facing; in other words, Winston's leap works both vertically and horizontally.

It will take you some time to get a good feel for how far Winston can leap, and where exactly you should be facing to get to your desired destination (in front of you, on a bridge or roof, inside a door), so feel free to experiment.

There are many uses for Jump Pack.

  • It is a great escape mechanism, allowing you to get away from undesirable fights or out of line of sight of the enemies.
  • It is an excellent tool for chasing heroes (you can even leap in front of them to maximise the time you can spend damaging them with your Tesla Cannon Icon Tesla Cannon before they out-run you).
  • It helps you quickly get back to the fight after dying, or quickly get to your teammates in order to protect them with your Barrier Projector Icon Barrier Projector.
  • It lets you jump up to sniper nests to push back or kill enemy Widowmakers or Hanzos.
  • It lets you ignore the other team's set-up and engage the backline heroes directly.

Given the wide variety of uses that Jump Pack has, it is not possible to give precise recommendations for its usage. You should simply do what is appropriate in the given situation.

Our only word of caution is to watch out, when using Jump Pack, not to expose yourself to a situation that is more dangerous than you can handle. For example, leaping after a Lúcio to finish him off is fine, but if that hero is running to the safety of their team, then leaping after them will leave you very exposed and without any means of escaping.

3.2.4. Primal Rage

Winston Primal Rage
Primal Rage (Q) Winston
  • Ultimate

Gain immense health, but you can only leap and punch enemies.

Primal Rage Icon Primal Rage boosts Winston's health to 1000 for 10 seconds, and heals him to full health. During these 10 seconds, Winston's model is much larger, he cannot use his Barrier Projector Icon Barrier Projector, his Jump Pack Icon Jump Pack cooldown is decreased to 2 seconds (from 6), and his Tesla Cannon Icon Tesla Cannon is replaced by melee attacks with his fists, which deal 40 damage per hit (in an area in front of Winston) and knock back any affected enemies.

Primal Rage serves two important purposes for Winston.

Firstly, it allows Winston to create chaos in the other team. With his ability to leap almost continuously and knock back enemy players with every hit (while never really having to fear for his life given his high health), it allows him to devastate the other team's positions. It is great for keeping enemies off the Payload or Point, for breaking up teams that are trying to stay together, or for pushing together teams that are trying to stay apart, and just generally for making it impossible for the other team to organise. Your hope, as Winston, is that the rest of your team will take advantage of this distraction to inflict high damage on your enemies.

For actual damage-dealing, Primal Rage is not very good, although keep in mind that it does allow you to knock enemies off the map, which can result in easy kills.

Secondly, Primal Rage acts as a very effective survival mechanism for Winston. If you are low on health and in danger of dying, simply activate Primal Rage. This is guaranteed to get you the kill on your enemy (if you are fighting in a 1-on-1 situation) or to escape (if you are outnumbered).

4. ChangeLog

  • 22 May 2016: Updated the guide following michr's review.
    • Added the Strengths that Winston is easy to learn and that he can harass enemy backline heroes.
    • Added the Weakness that Winston is hard to master.
    • Reworked the Tesla Cannon section to mention that it is more efficient to use melee attacks against a single target, that you can reload the Tesla Cannon while using Jump Pack, and also to fix the amount of damage dealt by a melee attack (25) and by Jump Pack (50). Also reworked the list of which heroes Winston can defeat 1vs1.
    • Emphasised the importance of the disruptive features of Barrier Projector.
    • Added that Jump Pack can be used to harass the enemy backline heroes.
    • Removed a mention that implied using Primal Rage simply to survive might be sub-optimal.
  • 04 May 2016: Guide added.
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