Soldier 76 may not be popular in Overwatch’s 3-3 meta, but with a new patch rolling out that gives him a modest buff, we might be seeing a return to a DPS-heavy meta for which Soldier will be well-suited. Whether you’re just picking up the game or returning to Soldier after months apart, there are changes you can make to step up your play on everyone’s favorite rifle-wielding dad.
Here are the ten things you might be doing wrong as Soldier 76.
1. Playing too aggressively.
Soldier’s high mobility and relatively high-damage clip might entice you to run into engagements on your own, or to step to the other team’s McCree and play as a solo flanker. Resist this impulse. Soldier is also an enticing target, and when you sprint headlong into engagements, you’re giving the opposing team a golden opportunity to take you out and force your team into a 5v6 fight.
Think of it this way. Soldier 76—that is to say, Jack Morrison—is a military man and has a history as a commanding officer, both before and during his time with Overwatch. He is designed to synergize around a team and lead other characters into combat. Unlike pensive loners like Genji and McCree, Soldier is not a DPS hero who’s designed to function alone. Playing him as aggressively as you would other DPS heroes is going to land you—and your team—in hot water very quickly.
2. Jumping into one on ones.
If you’re playing hyper-aggressively and trying to play as a solo flanker, you’re going to find yourself trapped in one on ones with other DPS heroes who are possibly better set up for such engagements. Virtually every other DPS hero can pose serious threats to Soldier when he’s on his own. A flashbang from a McCree, a well timed reflect from Genji, or a few taps from a relatively healthy Reaper are going to send you back to spawn before you can even put up a fight.
If you do find yourself in a one on one, drop your biotic field as soon as possible and stay in it—Reapers will likely try to force you out by rushing you, but you have to hold your ground in your healing field if you want to stand any chance against them. Aim and track carefully, and when your opponent is below half health, drop a helix rocket at their feet. You run the risk of killing yourself on your splash damage, of course, but that’s better than feeding your opponent an elimination and ult charge.
3. Ignoring your healers.
Soldier 76 has a gift other DPS heroes don’t have—a biotic field he can deploy that will heal any ally who stands in its area of effect. Too often, I see rookie Soldier players deploying that field only to save themselves in one-on-ones. Soldier is most successful when you play him as you might play Zenyatta—as a high-DPS healer. More often than not, winning fights is about getting early picks on the other team’s healers, a strategy you can counter as Soldier.
As tempted as you might be to try and keep your tanks and other DPS healthy, try saving your biotic field for when your healers get into trouble. If you keep them up, they can focus on their job, and you can get back to pouring out damage. Support-main players work hard and rarely get any credit for the sick plays they enable; playing Soldier is a good opportunity to return the favor. (And if you get a pocket Mercy out of the deal, so much the better.)
4. Laying into your primary fire.
Soldier, like many of Overwatch’s hitscan heroes, wields a weapon whose accuracy depletes over time. In other words, the spread of his shots increases the longer you hold down his primary fire. It’s tempting to just lay on the primary fire, especially in the middle of tough fights, but Soldier’s damage will be more effective and consistent if you can train yourself to fire in bursts of three to four rounds. After five, your spread is going to expand, and your accuracy is absolutely going to tank.
5. Using your helix rocket to open fights.
Soldier’s helix rockets are a ridiculously useful asset, but too often, players fire them into an oncoming melee of opponents instead of holding onto them for a more opportune moment. When the fight’s reaching its climax and all of your enemies are below fifty percent health, that’s when you want to be tapping into the helix rocket’s decisive damage. A well-aimed rocket at the feet of your opponents can deal enough damage to win you some final blows and bring long fights to a swift end.
The best time to deploy a helix rocket, of course, is only after you’ve heard the chilling ping-ping-ping of Genji’s deflect ability. You do not want to eat your own helix rocket, folks.
6. Playing the low ground.
Soldier’s sprint ability gives him almost unlimited horizontal mobility, but the best players have long since realized that his helix rocket gives him vertical mobility, as well. By pointing your reticle down and hitting helix rocket, jump, and sprint at the same time, Soldier can bounce up and across distances of several meters or more. You will take some splash damage, but it’s easy enough to soothe away with your biotic field—or better yet, feed to one of your healers’ ult charge.
It’s tempting to hang out by the payload and just pour out damage, but Soldier’s efficacy skyrockets once you start playing him from the high ground. The big shift here is that you have a much higher chance of scoring head shots when you’re above the opposing team, and you’re more likely to have better lines of sight on the enemy healers. Try starting engagements from the high ground with the intent of getting an early pick on a support hero, then use Soldier’s sprint to hurry back to your team and drop into the back or middle position to melt shields or deploy biotic fields for your supports.
7. Ulting from the low ground.
Unless you’re just using it for crowd control or to scatter the enemy team, using Soldier’s Tactical Visor from the ground level is more or less the worst mistake you can make on this hero. Soldier’s Tactical Visor ensures absolute shot accuracy, but his damage output and clip size remain exactly the same. That means a single shield can completely nullify his ultimate.
When you pop your Visor on the high ground, however, you have better line of sight on enemy’s heads, and you’re more likely to be positioned above—and if you’re lucky, slightly behind—a shielded hero who would otherwise render your ultimate useless. Taking the high ground also means you’re less likely to get eliminated in the middle of your ult—which leads me to my next point.
8. Going for big solo plays with your ultimate.
Even when he’s ulting, Soldier is unfortunately a pretty easily dispatched hero. A hook-shot combo from a Roadhog can be enough to send him back to spawn, and when it happens in the middle of your ultimate, it’s possibly the worst thing a human being can endure. Okay, not really, but it definitely blows. Soldier is really a hero who’s meant to synergize with his team, and this certainly applies to his role in the ultimate economy.
We all want big solo plays, but if you want your team to win while you’re on Soldier, you need to be looking for opportunities to synergize his ult with others. Sombra’s EMP, for example, will drop enemy shields and make them more susceptible to damage—that’s a field day for a Soldier whose Visor is online.
Soldier’s ultimate can also be used as a distraction—while the enemy team is rushing to either hide from or disable your ult, they’re not focusing on the D.Va who just popped her Self Destruct or the Mercy trying to escape to safety. If you can get the enemy team to turn their backs on something like an Earth Shatter or Blizzard, you’re putting your own team in a great position to wrack up ridiculous damage, ult charge, and hopefully eliminations.
9. Not firing enough.
Soldier is almost unrivaled in terms of his ability to pour out steady and consistent amounts of damage. There’s really no moment in any given match when you shouldn’t have your finger on your primary fire. Even if you’re not making contact, laying down constant fire keeps the enemy team on the defensive and can manipulate their lower-HP heroes into places where they’ll be more easily picked off. Even if your eliminations and final blows come out low, when you’re on Soldier, you’re aiming for gold-medal hero damage every time.
10. Getting comfy.
Soldier is, bar none, one of the most mobile DPS heroes. Don’t let his age fool you; he is not a hero who wants to stay in one place. Unlike a McCree or Widowmaker, who can find a nook and get cozy, Soldier needs to be moving about the map and constantly renegotiating his position based on the needs and positioning of his team. You want to be always rotating to high ground and shifting to hover around your team’s backline, always looking for the place that will let you pour out the most damage while still being ready to respond to your team if they get into trouble.
And, if you’re really clever, you’ll never ult from the same place twice; the enemy team will get wise to your tactics real quick. Soldier’s mobility is arguably his best asset, so take full advantage of it and make the whole map your playground.
What Soldier strats did I miss? Did any of the above tips help you step up your play on Commander Dad? Be sure to let me know in the comments, and stay tuned for more Overwatch hero guides!