Zarya: Power Overwhelming
Posted with permission from Oranges, a Zarya player who peaked at rank 73 on the US servers.
Zarya is an aggressive tank that can be played on both defense and offense.She is best played with another tank, or other extremely aggressive characters. She is the very definition of a frontliner, and should always be tanking and blocking hits with her barrier, while also dealing massive damage with her particle beam and energy blasts.
She is a great initiator and dueler, and can "rarely" be played as a flanker. By tanking attacks with her barriers she can deal up to TWICE her normal damage at full charge. She also has 200hp that constantly regenerates after 3 seconds of taking no damage, so don't be afraid to take some hits for your team.
"This is just like training! Visualize then execute!" -Zarya
LMB: 80 dps with 0% charge, ~150dps with 100% charge. Extends 15 meters.
Fire a continuous beam from your cannon.
Requires some time to learn to aim and track with it, but it's very powerful when you master it. Once you're decent at tracking you should be using this on most enemies. It has a deceptively long range and does a hefty amount of damage when you have over 50% charge.
RMB: 45 DMG at 0% Charge, 95 DMG at 100% Charge. 5 Meter Radius
Fire an energy blast from your gun.
This is your go-to weapon for large groups of enemies when you ult. You should also use it to do damage to enemies when they're not in range of your particle cannon and on fast mobile characters since your particle beam is usually both ineffective and detrimental.
E - 200 HP Shield, Grants 1% Charge for Every 4 damage Blocked. 50% Charge on Break. 8 Sec CD
Place a barrier around your ally.
This shield will earn you the love and affection of your team, and grant you more damage. Place it on your teammates to save their lives when facing threats like: Tracer bombs, Reaper flanks, Roadhog hooks, Reinhardt Pins, and D.VA ult.
LSHIFT - 200 HP Shield, Grants 1% Charge for Every 4 damage Blocked. 50% Charge on Break. 10 Sec CD
Puts a barrier around yourself absorbing damage.
This is your best offensive and defensive tool, and is one of the most versatile abilities in the game. In simple terms, use it to both protect yourself and gain damage. Don't be afraid to step in front of a Reinhardt rectangle with barrier active to gain some free charge.
At 0% charge your DPS is laughable, but at 70%+ your enemies will fear you. Always put a barrier on yourself slightly AFTER they begin firing on you as a general rule.
Q - 22 DMG over 4 seconds. 8 Meter Radius
Shoot a black hole from your gun pulling all enemies to its center.
In my opinion the second most powerful ultimate in the game. It will single handedly cause team wipes, capture objectives, and win games for you. It also has one of the longest times to charge, and misusing it can be a huge misplay on your part.
Always, always coordinate this ultimate with your team. If you use your ult while alone, it will almost never get any kills. When it's ready, alert your team of its status. Then, with the help of your allies, unleash hell upon the enemy team when they group up.
On offense you should be using this ultimate as an initiator. Observe all of your enemies, and when they group up to stop a point from being taken, or to fight your push, trap them in your ult. Keep watch if there's a mercy on their team, since if she's not trapped it's a wasted ult on your part.
On defense your ultimate is used to stop pushes dead cold in their place. Lucio just ulted to rush his team to the point? Graviton has them all trapped. Mercy rezzed her team after a wipe? Trap them to send them back to the grave.
Teach everyone to respect both you and gravity.
The Barrier & You
"Don't just stand around. Do something!" -Zarya
When against normal enemies from range (i.e. at the beginning of a round) you should WAIT for them to start shooting at you before putting a barrier up. The reasoning behind this is that it's highly unlikely that the enemy will recognize to stop shooting as the barrier is being put up. This ensures that you will get some charge out of your shield, and that they will waste some ammo on you.
An important part of playing Zarya effectively is dueling enemies and flankers in 1v1's and coming out on top. Your barrier ensures that you will have a free 2 seconds of DPS against the enemy, and with this time you can beat Reapers and Roadhogs at close range. Use your barrier to counter CCs like flashbang and freeze. Know your matchups, and always anticipate the enemy's moves. With enough experience you can practically win any duel within close range.
When playing Zarya you should always be watching your cooldowns. ALL THE TIME. As soon as you use your barrier, you should be counting down the time until it's off cooldown. You'll get better at this the more you play her, but it's extremely important that you master this. You should time your pushes for when your barrier is up, and time your retreats for when it's on cooldown. Nothing is more frustrating than knowing you could have avoided a death if you just had stepped back to let your barrier recharge.
Always use your ult in conjugation with your barrier. When your enemies are trapped they will search to kill you before you can kill them. Also project a barrier on the allies helping you kill your enemies. A Reaper death blossoming into your ultimate won't make it to the end without a barrier.
Tips and Tricks
"Practice makes Perfect!" - Zarya
- Always try to have your own bubble on cooldown. As Zarya you should be constantly running into enemy fire to charge your gun up. At less than 30% charge, your DPS is negligible, but at 60%+ you're damage is outstanding. This DOESN'T mean use it when no one is around. Just don't be afraid of your enemies. They should be afraid of you.
- Never be afraid to shield someone if you think they're about to die or take a large chunk of damage. I see a lot of Zarya's saving their shields for ultimates, or saving it just for your support. Guess what guys, if all of your DPS is dead because you saved your shield on the off chance your support gets flanked, you'll be next.
- Your shield is a huge sign to the enemy saying DON'T SHOOT THE PINK BUBBLE! It's great to throw on Reapers and Roadhogs, as it gives them momentary immunity to whatever enemies they're facing.
- That rate at which you block damage correlates to how much danger you're in. What this means is if you walk into a building shielded and your barrier breakers immediately, recognize that you're in hot shit, and you better get out before they kill you. Alternatively if you place a barrier on yourself when capping a contested point, and it stays at zero, that means people are ignoring you, and you are free to DPS whomever you want. Manage your CD's and know their power!
- Everyone's heard about energy boosting. This is where you use the knock-back of your own energy blasts to get in previously unreachable places. Unfortunately I haven't found much real game use for it. In most scenarios you should be on the front line taking hits and dealing damage. If you really want to know the all the nooks and crannies you can reach, here's a small guide so you can utilize this knowledge to better affect your play.
As Zarya, you should always be mobile, constantly pushing and retreating at a moments notice. You should always be planning your movements around your cooldowns. Step back when your own barrier is used up, barrier your nearby Roadhog/Winston/Reaper for some easy charge and better surviability, etc. - Your job is to make the other tank's job that much easier.
Every fight you should either be kiting (moving backwards while firing) or applying pressure by moving forward. This makes it harder for the enemies to deal with you, and most of the time they will be too panicked to do anything but fire straight into your barriers.
Always be aware of your teammates positions. If you notice that your ally is about to walk into a deathtrap, barrier him. Your ultimate puts you in the position of shotcaller, so never be afraid to speak in chat "We need to break the Reinhardt rectangle before I use Graviton surge" or "My Ultimate is fully charged, what's the charge on your ult, Pharah/Genji/etc.?"
"I will break you." - Zarya
Knowing your matchup is extremely important to playing Zarya at full efficiency. With both knowledge and skill, you will win duels against most enemies.
NOTE: These matchups are under the knowledge that you are facing equally skilled opponents in 1v1 scenarios within a range of 25-0 meters with your abilities off cooldown.
BASTION - HARD
200 HP, 100 Armor / 250 Armor in Ult form
While putting up a barrier and predicting when he's going to fire is easy, dealing with his DPS is not. Just rushing him and throwing a barrier on yourself can be effective, but in general Bastions don't really care, and will burst through you and your barrier in sub 2-seconds.
Try to get in a position to bomb him with your energy blasts where he can't fire on you. Luckily his ultimate is relatively easy to counter - simply shield yourself or whoever the Bastion is targeting, and he'll have a much harder time killing people as you beam him to death.
GENJI - HARD
He's fast. He hits pretty hard, and his katana will cut your barrier like butter.
When facing one, rather than trying to track him with your beam, try hitting the ground with your energy blasts. This way he might get hit with the collateral. Only use your beam to do damage him when he's using deflect, as your beam will ignore that nonsense and deal damage straight to him. When he ults, your best bet is to protect your support and yourself with a barrier, and try to kill him before he kills you.
PHARAH - HARD/EASY
Any Pharah duel can be answered in one question. Is she in range of my particle beam? If the answer is yes, start attacking the Pharah to get her attention. Then stare her in the eye, and if you're fast enough you can shield her first and probably second incoming rocket, earning you an easy 50% charge, which you then use to vaporize her in no time.
If the answer is no, your best bet is just to focus protecting yourself and your allies, as you're practically useless to an airborne Pharah.
REINHARDT - HARD
300 HP, 200 Armor.
The only good thing about facing a Reinhardt is that you'll be able to get a huge chunk of charge by using your barrier to absorb fire strike when he uses it to poke your team. The secret to beating Reinhardt is either A: be annoying enough for him to drop his shield and try to melee you to death, or B: ask your team to break the barrier. IT IS VITALLY IMPORTANT that his shield either be cracked or broken when you use Graviton Surge, otherwise his shield will protect his team entirely.
It is also important to watch his pins. If he pins you, you might as well be dead as he just took out 75% of your hp, and just needs a single firestrike to kill you. If he pins your teammate on the other hand, it's easy, just barrier them before Rein hits a wall, the barrier will absorb all of the damage, and save your teammate.
Blocking Reinhardt's Earthshatter requires extremely fast reflexes, but is possible if you're paying attention. Simply stand directly in front of the hammer when he ults, and ALL of the ult will be ignored. Most of the time, however, if you're not stunned yourself, just shield those who got caught in the ult and try to keep them alive.
TRACER - VERY HARD
She is the actual bane of your existence. Extremely small hitbox so tracking is hard, fast enough to avoid your energy blasts on a regular basis, doesn't do enough damage to fully charge your shield.
The best way to kill her is to try and predict her blinks, and blast the ground where you'll think she'll be. Try to predict her cooldowns and burst her down. Be wary of shielding against her - while her guns do a good amount of damage to you, she may be baiting out the barrier to throw a sticky on you and/or your teammates.
WIDOWMAKER - VERY HARD
In general Widowmakers will snipe you from afar, and there's nothing you can do about it.You can try to hide and move unpredictably, or predict when she's going to fire on you and barrier. But it's a hard life for Zarya in this matchup.
Even if you manage to get close, grappling hook generally has a far enough range to avoid your beam/blasts, and her extremely small hitbox doesn't make things any easier.
ZENYATTA - HARD - PRIORITY TARGET
50 HP, 150 Shield
He's long range DPS, while your mid-short range DPS. His Discord orb will make your life hell, and while you're barrier will cleanse this momentarily, he can slap another on immediately. He can charge his energy balls while you barrier, ensuring no loss in DPS against you, and most importantly, his ult counters yours. HARD.
No matter the DPS you put out, Transcendence will out-heal the graviton surge. Your best bet against Zenyatta is to get close to him, and just laser him down before he can even react. It shouldn't be to hard as he has no mobility to get away from your beam, and he's easy enough to track.
ANA - NORMAL - PRIORITY TARGET
Similar to Zenyatta, to beat an Ana you have to get close to her. However Ana has nowhere near the DPS of Zen, and your barrier counters her sleep dart.
Anas will try to sleep dart as soon as they realize they're in danger, so anticipate this and have a barrier ready, and ALWAYS be moving unpredictably. She has very little mobility, so you should be fine blasting/beaming her to death.
There is little you can do when she uses her ultimate. Just barrier yourself/whoever is being focused by the Boosted enemy.
LUCIO - NORMAL - PRIORITY TARGET
While Lucio doesn't pack quite a punch himself, his healing is vital to his team, and eliminating him early is crucial. Use energy blasts to deal with Lucio's, as they are generally very mobile and hard to track with your beam. Also be wary of his boop - fall damage is something to be wary of because no amount of health will protect against it, and you have a long walk back to the point.
If you're on defense and Lucio speedboost-ults to take your point, graviton surge will trap and stop the push cold. It lasts long enough to remove all the temporary health they gained from ultimate and will give you the upper hand momentarily. On offense, some Lucio's will try and counter your ult with theirs to survive the surge.
REAPER - NORMAL - SKILL MATCHUP
While Reaper may be known as the tank-buster, you're the anti-Reaper. Get in his effective range, don't be afraid, and begin tracking him with your beam cannon. As he begins firing at you, put a barrier up on his second shot. This will either give you a full 2 seconds to DPS him if he stops to reload, or you'll get an immediate ~35% charge, and if he's slow, a full 50%.
With just this much charge, by tracking him correctly you will be able to either fully kill him, or force him to wraithform away in shame (in which case you can chase or retreat).
SOLDIER 76 - NORMAL
The secret to beating soldier is either dodging or absorbing his Helix rockets in your barrier. Just like Reaper, get close to the enemy soldier and begin tracking him with your beam. Most soldiers will not shy away from the fight and begin firing at you. In general soldiers will either shoot their rockets at the beginning of a fight, or after a burst, so try to predict it.
After dealing with the rockets, your beam cannon should out-dps his bullets and he will either A: Drop a healing station where he stands, and try to juke your beam. or B: Run like a little girl. If A, begin shooting your energy blasts at the ground, as it has nearly the radius of the healing station itself, ensuring that he takes damage, and if B, chase him down, retreat or fire long range particle blasts.
D.VA - VERY EASY
100 HP, 400 Armor / 150 HP out of mech
Begin tracking her extremely huge hitbox. When she starts firing at you, as always, barrier slightly after she begins firing. She will then probably Defense Matrix to protect herself from fire. Begin laughing manically as you laser her through defense matrix.
She will then either run away, or let her mech die. If her mech dies, reload during its death animation. After she's out blast the ground near Pilot D.Va, as she is now slow enough where she won't be able to avoid the energy blasts, and tracking her with the beam is actually pretty hard.
Use your barriers to absorb her ultimate's blast for yourself and a teammate, giving you easy 100% charge, the love of your teammate, and the feeling of being a badass.
The only thing you have to worry about when facing D.Va is not to fire your ultimate when she is using defense matrix, as it will absorb your black hole. And trust me, that's a horrible feeling.
HANZO - VERY EASY
When facing a Hanzo, simply rush at him in a straight line, and track him with your beam. He'll think you're an easy target, and as soon as you see him draw his bow, barrier. Its an easy 30% charge.
If you don't have a barrier when facing a Hanzo, act as you normally would, be unpredictable and zig-zag, whilst bombing him with energy blasts and laser and eventually he'll die.
JUNKRAT - EASY
Apply pressure to the enemy Junkrat and begin either tracking or blasting him. As he turns your attention to you, watch his gun and predict either his first or second grenade. This ensures that the following grenades he fires at you (as he will be most likely constantly firing at you) will be absorbed by your shield, earning you an easy 50% charge.
At that point keep blasting/tracking him, and he will either be forced to retreat or die. It's important to note that you also counter his ultimate. As soon as you see a rip-tire, shield yourself and the most nearby teammate, and begin firing at the tire. He will either explode it early, earning you a full 100% charge, or it will have been turned into ash.
MEI - EASY
So long as you have your barrier, you should never lose this duel. Begin tracking and blasting her, and she will in turn try to freeze you. The secret to this matchup is making her think your barrier is on cooldown, and as she's about to freeze you, pop a barrier. This will cleanse the slow and her stacks of freeze on you, giving you a free 2 seconds of dps to either burn her down, or force her to turn into a Popsicle.
Its also important to note that your barrier will also cleanse other people being frozen by her, AND your barriers will counter her Blizzard ultimate in the same fashion.
MCCREE - EASY - PRIORITY TARGET
The secret to beating McCree is getting close and beating the flash. 80% of the time, when you're in distance of a flashbang, they're going to flash immediately. Get ready for this and barrier immediately as soon as he starts looking at you and backing up.
After his flash is absorbed in your shield, just track him with your beam. He's slow and practically immobile so it should be pretty easy. Also, if a McCree is using Deadeye in front of you, get right in front of him and barrier, and just beam him into ash. He will either die in his ult, or have his bullets hit your shield.
MERCY - VARYING - PRIORITY TARGET
Not much to say about her that you don't already know. Trap her in your graviton ults along with the rest of her team, or you'll be seeing the enemies you just killed very shortly. Prioritize her over others.
If she's on the ground, she's a pretty easy kill. If she's in the air it's nigh impossible to kill her.
If she just rezzed her team from an earlier teamfight, don't be afraid to place a graviton surge to put them right back down.
ROADHOG - EASY
Apply pressure to Roadhog using beam/blast. Immediately as he turns towards you HE WILL ALMOST ALWAYS try to hook you. It is imperative that you barrier before this happens because if you're hooked, your chances of survival have dwindled considerably.
Continue to apply pressure and he will either run away, or just try to break your shield. Either option is good for you. If the enemy Roadhog tries to vape in front of you to mitigate the DPS you're dealing to him, it's just free ult charge for you, which is GREAT!
TORBJORN - VERY EASY
200 HP and up to 75 Armor / Molten Core up to 200 HP and 375 Armor
Turret Lv. 1/2/3, 150/300/800 HP
At range his turrets should just be free charge for you, as they can't stop hitting your shield. If the Torb is protecting his turret, bomb him with energy blasts with your barrier up. The blasts will damage both of them, dealing more damage then he can heal up, while granting you even more power.
At close range alone just track him as he is mostly immobile, and he should be dead in no time. Alternatively bomb him where he and his turret can't see you (like around a corner). However be careful when he uses molten core, as both him and his turrets DPS skyrocket, and your barriers will not be enough to save you.
SYMMETRA - EASY
100 HP, 100 Shield
Whenever dueling a Sym, your barrier will stop all of her damage - her turrets, her beam gun, her balls of doom. All free charge for your gun.
As she tries to beam you to death with her primary, blast the ground, as Syms are generally very slippery and hard to track with beam. Your energy blasts have enough radius to hit her no matter her slipperiness and ensure she dies before she kills you.
WINSTON - VERY EASY
400 HP, 100 Armor
Most Winston's plays very similar. Jump on you/support character, place barrier, hold LMB down. Good thing you're barrier counters all of that. When a Winston jumps on you/your support just barrier them/you, and you just severely dampened his plans.
His tesla gun will give you easy and free charge, increasing your damage to track/beam his huge body, or force him to run away. Your barrier is also great at shielding an ally if he has them ult-locked into a corner.
ZARYA - ?
200 HP, 200 Shield
Zarya matchup duels are fairly common, where smart play determines who comes out on top. Most Zarya duels come down to three factors: Is there anyone else around? Who has more charge at the beginning of the fight? Who can track better with the beam?
Having any of these advantages will generally put you on top.
Other tips include watching the enemy Zarya's character animations. The best time to use barrier is right AFTER they reload. This allows you to do damage uncontested while they're reloading.. Also, whenever the enemy Zarya uses her barrier, you should be reloading your particle cannon, as not to feed the other Zarya's charge. Make sure to put a barrier around yourself and whoever else is near you when the enemy Zarya graviton surges you.