Overwatch — Practicing with Tracer
Tracer from Overwatch

So it has been months since Overwatch officially came out, and I haven’t been playing it as much as I should. But within my limited play time, I’ve only gotten competent with three heroes—D.Va, Soldier 76, and Junkrat. Despite my best efforts, I consciously feel the limits of these characters during gameplay, and those limits are getting worse over time. Perhaps it’s due to lack of practice, but I think that can also be remedied by practicing with more challenging characters like Tracer.

The main problem with learning how to play more heroes in this team-based online multiplayer game is that the only proper practice is with human opponents since the AI is either too easy or too hard. I could use some target practice with headshot-only custom games against Ana’s and practice maps in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, but that can only take me so far. After all, the best practice is still being in the thick of it.

I felt that by getting good with Tracer in Overwatch, I can get better with my aim, my movement, and my game sense since she has so little health and has a very high skill ceiling. Perhaps I can then move on to practicing with Reaper later on, who has his own quirks and tactics. Besides, playing Tracer suits my in-game name (Avoider) anyway, so I might as well get comfortable with her.

What I Like About Tracer So Far

Mobility and DPS are the name of the game with Tracer. Playing her in Overwatch is like learning boxing for the first time; learning to hit without getting hit. Defense is about mobility, and clean movements prevent mistakes like blinking to a corner or exposing oneself in an open space for too long.

The three blinks available at one time is a resource that must be managed carefully. When you’re out of blinks at the moment and get caught in a precarious situation like a Roadhog looking right at your direction, you’re pretty much dead. Therefore, it’s important to have one blink saved up whenever you’re in the hot zone. As much as Tracer is about speed, she’s also about patience and knowing when and where to pick your spots.

Recall gives you an option to escape adverse situations, albeit with a long cooldown that prevents its abuse. The key is to be quick with it when you’re getting hit, like how you should hit Shift as soon as you’re getting low on health as Reaper. I’m still trying to get quick with that escape; I tend to get overaggressive in pursuing a kill, which makes me overextend.

It seems like the key to understanding Tracer is to remember that she is primarily a deterrent and not necessarily a killer. She harasses first and foremost, killing only when it’s convenient. In a way, she’s like D.Va with a lot less leeway.

Finally, that Pulse Bomb ultimate is a tricky one to master. It works best as a sticky bomb, so you have to get close to a target to stick it on for the big kaboom. It seems simple enough—blink in, press Q, then press E to get out. However, you have but a split second to get it right on the target before it goes boom, all while trying to not get hit back.

The best thing to do is to come in from behind, but that’s one of the things I’m trying to do better in as Tracer since I’m not that used to being sneaky and elusive in this game.

What I Don’t Like About Tracer So Far

That small health pool is indeed challenging, but that’s part of what makes her good for practice. You make a mistake in your movement and put yourself in a corner or make yourself too visible of a target, you get punished almost immediately. Mind you, it’s still irritating to get killed 3-4 times before getting an actual kill.

The spread on her dual Pulse Pistols can be pretty irritating since you know you can hit enemies, but you’ll have to get closer to really put in the damage. Both the spread and the falloff make her less effective at mid to long range; only D.Va is worse off. The trick here is knowing at what range you’re still dangerous without getting too close too often, constantly putting yourself in harm’s way.

Other Things I’ve Learned with Tracer So Far

Coming from months of playing D.Va for a vast majority of my games, unlearning my bad habits learned from playing an off-tank hero in order to learn Tracer properly has been a bit of a challenge. Since I don’t have 500 health with armor and a “second life” anymore, I have to engage mostly at midrange and be out before I’m noticed. This hit-and-run playstyle is something I’ll have to get used to over time.

As for how it plays into team dynamics, I’m playing Tracer entirely in attack (I play Junkrat in defense). I feel that it’s the best compromise in actually helping my team to win while still getting some practice in, even if it means it cuts how much I get to practice with Tracer by half. Winning is still the name of the game, after all.

I have to keep in mind to not target tanks as Tracer, but aim for squishier targets that have a greater effect on the opposing team’s success, like Reaper, McCree, Widowmaker, or so on. If I know I can take a hero out quickly with one or two flurries, I’ll have to gun for that guy every single time.

Got Feedback?

Do you think me learning how to play Tracer is a waste of time? Do you think she’s trash? Do you think Overwatch is poopoo and I should play Dota 2 instead? Or maybe CS:GO, which is a real man’s game?

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