How to improve Overwatch aim: crosshair, tracking & movement tips

ana overwatchActivision Blizzard

Even five years later, Overwatch remains one of the most challenging mechanical games for players. With so many different heroes and types of weapons, aiming in Overwatch takes thought and strategy to see true improvement.

Overwatch, Activision Blizzard’s hero shooter released in 2016, is one of the most unique and challenging FPS titles currently at the forefront of the gaming world. Its cast of 32 completely unique heroes, three roles, and multiple different map types demands a lot of game sense and understanding from its player base. With all of that depth and diversity, it’s no wonder that aiming in Overwatch can be quite the challenge.

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While aiming may not be as important for Winston, Moira, and Reinhardt players, it is a must for anyone playing a Damage character, particularly one of the game’s hitscan options. But whether Tank, Support, or Damage, every role benefits from better mechanical skills.

To help acquire that skill, here are some concepts and training methods that should have you clicking more heads, more often, in Overwatch.

tracer in overwatch team fightActivision Blizzard
Crosshair placement can be the key to winning or losing a fight in Overwatch

Master your Overwatch crosshair: Tips

There are so many elements of the crosshair that lead to better aiming in Overwatch, as well as most other FPS titles. We’ll touch on a few here that should lead to a feeling of being more in control of your shots, and hopefully hitting more of them before too long.

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One thing we won’t touch on is the actual crosshair itself, due to its subjectiveness. Every placer finds different crosshairs better or worse, and some even differentiate them between heroes in Overwatch. The general idea is that less is more. Keep it small, test different options on different heroes, and find what works best for you.

Crosshair placement and discipline

The crosshair, perhaps obviously, is where your hero is looking at any given time. If you’re running around looking up or down or all around, hitting shots is probably not something you’re going to be doing too often.

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Instead, start by simply looking at the fight you’d like to engage with. Allow your movement keys to get you where you need to go, but focus your attention, and your crosshair, on the fight itself. It might sound silly, but try this for a few engagements and track the number of times you pointlessly look away.

After trying that for a bit and feeling comfortable, start looking at a particular enemy. Then, at that enemy’s head, especially if you’re playing Widowmaker, Hanzo, or something similar. Get used to doing this when strafing around a corner or even just standing behind a shield.

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Far too often, players are wowed by professionals who can land impressive flick shots time and time again. It’s impressive, sure, but more often than not those players would prefer a smaller flick, where they are already generally oriented with the enemy’s position, than a wild, roundabout flick shot. Despite how cool they are to see.

But, even with this in mind, there is a time and place where this sort of playstyle is required. This is a lot of what goes into distinguishing between tracking and flick shot heroes.

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zarya and mccreeActivision Blizzard
Zarya is much more of a tracking hero, while McCree requires more flick aim

Tracking vs flicking

Tracking, for those unfamiliar with the term, refers to the ability to keep your crosshair on a moving target, dealing consistent damage to it while it’s moving.

If you play Overwatch, Zarya is the hero that demands this the most, with Winston requiring a very loose version of it with his Tesla Cannon. Other characters with single shots, especially ones that are slightly delayed projectiles, require the player to perform at least somewhat of a flick in many cases.

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To improve at both tracking and flicking, practice makes perfect. There are lots of good community-made custom games that help generate AI heroes that move in random patterns that players can practice with. Otherwise, simply logging more hours in-game, and in modes against other humans like Deathmatch, will be the easiest way to see improvement.

One thing to keep in mind with flicking is that crosshair placement and discipline are still essential to flicking. Basically, don’t get out of the habit of looking at your enemies just because you have to flick a bit to hit them. Just watch “Pine” of the NYXL and how he manages to balance keeping his eyes on enemies, while also flicking to hit them.

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Movement, or a lack thereof

This is advice may sound crazy, but here it goes: Don’t move when you don’t need to.

One thing many FPS players do, especially those coming from run and gun games like Call of Duty or Apex Legends, is constantly toggle their character side to side to make themselves harder to hit. This is sometimes referred to as “AD strafing” referring to hitting the “A” and “D” keys on the keyboard which move a character side to side. This is a key principle in many different situations within Overwatch, but also one that is done a bit excessively, oftentimes.

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For example, let’s say you are playing Widowmaker and have taken an off-angle. You can confirm that no one on the enemy team can contest you at range and, to boot, you have a Sigma with you on the off-angle that has provided a shield. Basically, you are in the clear and have a firing range in front of you, your team desperately in need of a pick to help open up the fight and turn the tide in their favor.

In this scenario, there is absolutely no reason for a player to be worried about strafing, or really moving at all. Instead, there should be a complete and utter focus on aiming. Find the right target, and strike. Standing still will make hitting those shots easier, take it from the Valorant and CS:GO players.

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Combining these three principles will give readers an aiming edge in Overwatch. With the news that Overwatch 2 could be on the horizon soon, now is the time to get ahead and prepare for the next wave of players entering the game.

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