Five quick tips for Overwatch's new Arena modes


How to squeeze a couple more loot boxes out of the Anniversary event

With this week’s anniversary update, Overwatchoverhauled its player vs. player elimination modes, adding three new maps and changing the rules for how matches will play out. The new rules are probably different than you’re used to, so here’s some things I noticed that might help you pick up a few more wins.

1.) Know the terrain.

In addition to the existing Ecopoint: Antarctica map, the anniversary update added Necropolis, Castillo, and Black Forest to the potential elimination battlegrounds. Each of the new arenas has plenty of opportunities for ambushes and reversals, but before you jump into the fray, I recommend loading them up in a private custom game to get a feel for how each will play. You can do this by going to Arcade mode, then selecting create game. You’ll then need to choose the gear-shaped button that says “Settings” and pick “Presets” to gain access to the new maps, since you can’t seem to turn them on and off in custom games without this additional step just yet. Choose “1v1 Limited Duel” and then go to “Maps” to turn off everything except the map you want to practice on. It may (Mei) also be a good idea to take a thorough look at Ecopoint: Antarctica since it’s still in the rotation.

Each of these maps has some environmental hazards, so be careful around edges, particularly if you’re facing a Pharah or Lúcio. If you end up on Necropolis, be especially careful of the pit in the center of the map. It’s bigger than it looks, and you may want to practice jumping over it with different characters to see which can make it and which can’t.

2.) Know the rules.

Both 1v1 and 3v3 elimination modes have had their rules changed in the current patch. Both modes have added a capture point sudden death feature so people won’t be able to stall or force a draw by running and hiding. Previously, 1v1 games had both players competing with the same, random hero until one or the other was killed, and 3v3 matches let your team choose groups of any three heroes as many times as you liked. Both modes have had their rules changed significantly to incentivize learning a deeper hero pool.

In 1v1 you won’t necessarily be fighting mirror matches all the time anymore. Instead, both combatants will select from the same choice of three different heroes before the battle begins. Hero selection is key, and choosing your best character might not be the best strategy based on the options available to you. For example, if the options are Pharah, McCree and Soldier: 76, even the best Pharah players may want to stay on the ground. One other thing to mention is that nine of the 23 current heroes are disabled, so you won’t see D.Va, Winston, Zarya, Reinhardt, Symmetra, Mercy, Lucio, Torbjörn, or Bastion in this mode.

In 3v3, there are less restrictions and all heroes are available to your team at the outset, though you’re limited to one of each. What you may have noticed is the new modifier “Lockout,” and wondered what that means. In lockout elimination, winning a round means that the characters your team was using are banned for your side until the end of the match. If you lose a round, there’s no change to your hero options. So even if the other team destroys you with Bastion, Roadhog, and Mercy, take heart and keep in mind that they won’t be able to select any of those characters again during your match. The same goes for you though, so it might not be a good idea for your team to use all your best characters at the same time.

3.)Know your heroes.

For 1v1 matches, being able to sustain yourself is incredibly important. Heroes who can heal themselves like Roadhog, Mei and Ana have a huge advantage over characters who lack this ability. If your opponent doesn’t have any self-healing abilities, don’t be afraid to blast at them, even if they’re outside your normal range. This chip damage can add up, and a Roadhog can take down a Pharah over time even if she stays out of his hook’s grabbing range.

Don’t forget that none of the arena maps have any health packs on them, so some abilities are less useful, especially in a 1v1 setting. Reaper will have less sustainability since you won’t have as many Soul Globes to consume. Sombra has no health packs to hack, though she can still hack enemy players to temporarily disable their secondary abilities. This can prevent Mei or Roadhog from healing themselves, stop Mercy from jumping from player to player, and keep Soldier: 76 and Genji from dashing, so hacking is not without its uses.

For 3v3 matches, it’s usually a good idea to have one healer and at least one damage dealing character. Just as in the previous 3v3 mode, do your best to stay as a group so you can focus fire and take out opponents quickly. The game won’t tell you, so try to remember what your opponents have already won with since you won’t need to worry about those characters anymore. If your team has two close-range characters on it, consider picking Lúcio and speed boosting so they can get close to the opposition faster. A versatile group is usually better than three specialists, and if all three of your characters can only deal damage at close range, you’re probably going to have a bad time.

4.) Know your opponent.

It’s hard to judge what you’ll be facing in 3v3 mode since the entire hero roster is available to both sides, but some heroes are more popular than others. Pharah and Mercy have been a potent combination sinceOverwatchlaunched, and Soldier: 76 is a frequent choice as well. Roadhog can absolutely delete a character with 200 health or less, and his self-healing and initiation ability makes him a solid pick in both modes. Ana’s kit makes her a versatile threat, and her sleep dart can turn a 3v3 into a 3v2 for long enough to shift the battle in her team’s favor. Expect to see at least one of each when playing in 3v3.

For 1v1 it can be tougher to gauge your opponent, though you’ll know who they picked before each round starts. Play to your strengths; if your enemy chose a sniper and you didn’t, don’t stick your head out. You can hide in a corridor and wait for the capture point to open up, forcing them to meet you in the middle. If your hero can self-heal and the opponent can’t, hit and run tactics are a valid strategy. Chip away at them and try to keep your own HP up to outlast the opposition. If they can heal but you can’t, use your mobility and burst damage to take them out before they get a chance to do so. Characters who can move freely have an advantage over those who can’t, especially if you can claim high ground and use cover to your advantage. You can sometimes tell a lot about someone from their name as well: if your opponent is named “xXSniperXx,” you may want to avoid long range duels with them.

5.) Know yourself.

Elimination is a great way to practice mechanics, but it’s ultimately up to you to choose which characters you think you can handle and which you’re better off avoiding. I enjoy playing the Random Heroes mode in arcade since it forces me to play heroes I otherwise might not, and I’ve learned more about what I’m good at and what I’m not that way. You may have to choose a character you’re not great with in these modes, but you might surprise yourself with how well you do.

There are a couple of other things worth mentioning. In 3v3 mode your team will almost always do better if you stay together rather than spreading throughout the map. It’s unlikely that a match will last long enough for anyone to charge their ultimate, but if you get one don’t be shy about using it, since it’s not like you can regroup and try again. Try to take high ground if you can, since you can use the edge as makeshift cover and fire down on your opponents. If your enemies have already done this, try to fight from the same level or higher to nullify their advantage.

Knowing where your opponent is located is the first step towards serving up a lead sandwich, and the best way to do that is to listen carefully. Being able to hear the direction your opponents are coming from is very helpful, so try to play with good headphones if you can. To counter this, you can muffle your footsteps by crouching at the expense of some of your speed; this is especially useful for ambush characters like McCree and Reaper. Since Zenyatta hovers constantly, he doesn’t make any noise when he’s moving. No matter who you’re playing, you can stop moving and wait for your opponent to stumble into you if you’re in a good tactical position. If you don’t move, emote, or fire your weapons, you won’t make a sound.

Hopefully, these tips will help you become a better duelist. You won’t win every battle, but with persistence you should at least be able to claim the free loot boxes granted for winning a round of 1v1 or 3v3.