You’ve decided to play as the character everyone hates right now. Hanzo may not have the explosive power of McCree’s alternate-fire or the incredible damage of Widowmaker’s sniper rifle, but he does have magic arrows that can headshot players around corners. The Japanese archer may not be the most powerful hero in the game, but he definitely is one of the most annoying to deal with. If you want to learn how to frustrate your opponents with Hanzo, you’ve come to the right place.
To master Hanzo, you must first understand his backstory. Okay, you probably don’t need to know his backstory but I’m telling you anyway. Hanzo was born into the Shimada clan. As the eldest son of the family, Hanzo was destined to take over the Shimada empire after his father. To cut a long story short, Hanzo’s father dies and the Shimada clan elders order Hanzo to straighten out his wayward brother, Genji. Yeah, that Genji, the cyborg ninja. Of course, in true wayward fashion, Genji refused forcing Hanzo to kill his own brother. This request from the Shimada elders was the last straw for Hanzo, causing the last remaining member of the Shimada bloodline to abandon the clan. Hanzo now travels the world to improve his skills as a warrior and to restore his lost honour… so he’s a bit like Ryu from Street Fighter.
Hanzo holds the highest difficulty rating in the game, making him one of the hardest heroes to play in Overwatch. It’s pretty easy to see why he’s rated like this; armed with only a bow and three types of arrow, Hanzo definitely takes some time to learn. Let’s break down all of Hanzo’s abilities:
• Wall Climb – Being a master warrior, it just makes sense for Hanzo to be able to climb walls
• Storm Bow – Hanzo’s regular arrows. As with all of Hanzo’s arrows, they must be charged fully to deal the most damage (damage range: 29-125)
• Sonic Arrow – An arrow that allows Hanzo and his team to track enemies within a certain radius (cool-down period: 20 seconds)
• Scatter Arrow – This arrow allows Hanzo to fire a fragmenting arrow that splits and ricochets (cool-down: 10 seconds)
• Dragonstrike – Hanzo’s ultimate ability. Using an arrow, Hanzo summons a dragon that can rip through a team
Hanzo’s Wall Climb ability is very important if you plan on staying alive. You can play as Hanzo by going directly to the frontlines, but you’ll have a much easier time if you alternate between two different playstyles: long-ranged sniper and short-ranged sniper. Hanzo can get out of trouble when on the frontlines when playing on certain maps. As long as there is a wall around (preferably one with a window), Hanzo can escape from the battlefield to find a health pack or place another Sonic Arrow. Climbing certain walls and pillars will give you a nice height advantage, perfect for shooting off several regular arrows and maybe even a Sonic Arrow. Try not to stay on elevated platforms for too long as it makes you a very easy target to pick off.
The Storm Bow is unlike any other weapon in the game. Those familiar with The Huntsman in Team Fortress 2 will understand the bow’s properties better than most. Whereas most weapons actually fire where you’ve shot them, the Storm Bow takes distance and power into consideration. It’ll take you a few hours to understand exactly how you’ll need to shoot at enemies, but once you understand, it’ll make playing Hanzo considerably easier. The only real advice I can think to give someone is to try to aim where the enemy is moving towards, don’t shoot where the enemy is currently standing.
Hanzo was never made to be another sniper like Widowmaker. Hanzo can’t kill from great distances, but he can help your team avoid characters that can. One well-placed Sonic Arrow in a sniper spot will make your entire team aware of a Windowmaker’s (or Hanzo’s) presence. As Hanzo, it is your duty to give your team sight in areas they can’t see. The Sonic Arrow lets you see practically anyone, providing the arrow doesn’t move through the character’s body. Don’t worry, only Tracer and Reaper have this ability, so try not to hit those characters directly with the Sonic Arrow if you can help it.
A clever place to shoot the Sonic Arrow is in any of the map’s chokepoints, particularly near corners and bends. Your arrows can end up saving your team, assuming your placement is good enough. Another thing to remember is that your Sonic Arrows are completely undetectable. The opposing team won’t be able to see where you’ve placed your arrow which leads to some rather frustrating deaths. You only have to imagine the face of a person who died thanks to your Sonic Arrow, and they’ll see it right on their death camera.
Scatter Arrow is best used when you’ve already placed a Sonic Arrow. The best way to describe how to use Scatter Arrow is by using a quote from Hanzo himself, “simple geometry”. You can use your own Sonic Arrow to see around corners, which makes it perfect to use with Scatter Arrow where you can hit the opposing team without them even seeing you. This is particularly great against enemies with low health points, as even one ricocheting arrow can be the difference between an enemy living and dying.
Another use of the Scatter Arrow that seems to be underutilised is to kill enemies at a close range. If you fire the arrow at the feet of an enemy, the arrow will split into several different arrows which land directly into the target. You’ll need to perfect this technique if you have any hope of killing flankers like Tracer and Reaper.
Dragonstrike may well been the most annoying ultimate to deal with when you first start playing the game, but it doesn’t take long for you to start strafing out of the huge dragon’s way. The secret to Dragonstrike is to use it in enclosed spaces where the enemy has no chance to escape. It may be tempting to unleash the dragon in the middle of an open battlefield, but you will miss everyone and all your friends will hate you for wasting an extremely powerful ultimate. You can combine Dragonstrike with Mei and Zarya’s ultimate to guarantee kills. With your opponents locked into place, you can sit back and watch the dragon devour your enemies.
The cool-down on the Sonic Arrow is twenty seconds, and the cool-down on the Scatter Arrow is ten seconds. At the beginning of each game (on defence), you need to get used to firing your arrows from the enemy’s spawn door directly into the air. It takes roughly eighteen seconds for a fully charged arrow to travel into the sky and back down to the ground. You can fire both of your special arrows before the doors open, giving you the option to use them again once the spawn doors open.
Think about it: what do you really have to lose? You gain the sight of one spawn door and a potential hit from the Scatter Arrow, and even if they both miss, you actually haven’t wasted anything as the cool-down period will have ended by the time the spawn doors open. What do you lose by doing this? Practically nothing. At a stretch, you could argue you may not be able to get back to your sniper position, but you probably shouldn’t be there anyway! As Hanzo, you offer more to your team with these arrows at the start of the game than you do by having a better sniping spot.
Try to communicate with your teammates as much as possible when you have your ultimate. You should really be talking to your team anyway (with a microphone!), but Hanzo in particular needs another hero present in order to maximise the effectiveness of Dragonstrike. You can use the dragon without the help of your team, it just won’t be as useful if you do. Why settle for one or two kills when you could have four or even five?
My final tip for potential Hanzo players is that sometimes your team just doesn’t need you, and that is okay! If you find yourself struggling to help your team, try to remember that there are twenty other heroes for you to choose from. Hanzo isn’t going anywhere, so don’t feel the need to pick him every single time. Trust me, no one likes that guy.
Now you know some basic tips for Hanzo, just in time for the release of Overwatch’s competitive mode. I recommend playing as Hanzo for at least three hours before jumping into competitive mode with him. You’ll need to get to grips with the arrows before you can stand a chance against the likes of McCree, Widowmaker and Tracer.
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