A Beginner's Guide to Zarya

by theScore Staff Feb 6 2017
Thumbnail image courtesy of Blizzard

Zarya is a tank that specializes in providing single target support while dealing increasing damage as she builds up momentum. A good Zarya is a playmaker who can single-handedly turn the tide of a match with her powerful ultimate and wide area-of-effect damage.


Particle Cannon is a weapon that can either fire a direct beam at short range or lob an explosive ball of energy over a greater distance. While damaging on its own, its true strength lies in its ability to gain Energy when enemies attack either her Particle or Projected Barrier. The more Energy the Particle Cannon has, the greater the damage Zarya can deal, making her a hero that grows more powerful the more she is attacked.

Particle Barrier shields Zarya for a large amount of damage for a short time. It has a long cooldown, so it should be used when Zarya is about to be hit by an attack that stuns her or when she is about to take considerable amounts of damage. When attacked in this state, Zarya gains Energy which increases the damage of her Particle Cannon.

Projected Barrier surrounds one of Zarya's teammates for a short period of time, similarly preventing negative effects and keeping them safe from harm. When the ally is attacked while shielded, Zarya gains Energy which increases the damage of her Particle Cannon.

Graviton Surge is Zarya's ultimate, creating a gravity well that pulls nearby enemies into it, dealing damage over time. While damaging, Graviton Surge leaves enemies trapped and ready for Zarya and her allies to quickly and efficiently cut them down.

When is Zarya a good choice?

Compared to other tanks, Zarya's health prevents her from being a solo tank in most cases. But with another tank at her side and proper management of her cooldowns, Zarya can dish out damage that will kill all but the sturdiest of heroes.

Zarya is a good choice when:

  • There is a high-damage ultimate on your team, such as Pharah's Barrage, since it syncs well with Graviton Surge
  • There are other tanks on the team, as she excels at providing secondary support with shields
  • The enemy bunches up together so she can deal plenty of damage through her charged attacks and ultimate

Zarya can be more difficult to play when:

  • She is a solo tank, as she has difficulty protecting multiple people and defending a set location
  • She is unable to build energy properly, because low energy means low damage for her attacks

Zarya thrives in areas where:

  • There are multiple paths for flankers to attack points, such as the final point on Temple of Anubis since she can easily shield allies very quickly
  • There are good sightlines so she can shield her allies from a distance, such as most outdoor areas on Numbani

Preston Dozsa is a news editor for theScore esports whose journalism idol is Dino Ghiranze. You can follow him on Twitter.