A Beginner's Guide to Widowmaker

by Josh Bury Feb 6 2017
Thumbnail image courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

The consummate killer, Widowmaker's ability to feel emotion has been dulled after being turned into a deadly weapon by the villainous organization known as Talon.

In-game, she's a sniper that can bring death to her opponents from extreme range. Though she is classified as a defensive hero, a proficient Widowmaker need not refrain from playing her on offense.


Widow's Kiss is Widowmaker's primary weapon. It has two modes, and is in Assault mode by default, where it has the rapid rate of fire and low accuracy of a submachine gun. Alternate fire puts the weapon into Sniper mode, engaging the weapon's scope. While in Sniper mode, the weapon's damage begins to charge until it either reaches the 100 percent cap or is fired. After a shot is fired, the weapon begins to charge anew.

Widowmaker's Grappling Hook can serve as either a tool to reach new heights, or a quick escape from trouble. When activated, the hook attaches to a surface, pulling Widowmaker to that location. The hook can be canceled mid-pull so that Widowmaker retains the momentum from the pull instead of losing it on arrival. If the hook fails to find a solid surface, it does not go on cooldown.

Venom Mine is another good multi-use tool as it can be placed on Widowmaker's flank to alert her to approaching enemies, or simply thrown into a choke point to ensure some extra damage. Whether triggered or destroyed, Widowmaker will receive an alert that the mine is no more.

Infra-Sight is Widowmaker's Ultimate ability, and it allows both her and her allies to see enemies through walls for a short period of time. This can help her team immensely with both big-picture decisions like where to attack an objective, but also help Widow specifically on a smaller level in duels with other snipers and DPS heroes.

When is Widowmaker a good choice?

Despite a reputation in the game's community for ineffectual play, Widowmaker can dismantle teams on offense or defense. In order to do that, however, she needs to have good situational awareness and map knowledge.

Widowmaker is a good choice when:

  • The enemy team has a Widowmaker or Hanzo of their own, and her team is not capable of dealing with them effectively
  • The enemy team is using heroes with predictable movement patterns like Pharah and Mercy, or heroes that frequently remain stationary like Bastion or Torbjorn
  • The enemy team has low-health targets that, when exposed, can be quickly dealt with
  • Her team does not otherwise have effective ways to deal with long-range threats
  • The enemy team is forced to peek into predictable chokepoints, where Widowmaker can rack up easy headshots

Widowmaker can be more difficult to play when:

  • Her team already has a Hanzo, as the two snipers will often be watching the same angles but will leave their team more vulnerable to flanking
  • Her team's frontline is weak, preventing her from having a lot of space to work with
  • The enemy team's frontline is substantial, making it hard for Widowmaker to quickly focus down targets, especially when a Reinhardt is present

Widowmaker thrives in areas where:

  • Good sightlines exist, with plenty of early warning when flankers are approaching, like the final point on Watchpoint: Gibraltar
  • Opponents must deal with her before approaching the objective, like the first and last points on King's Row, and some Control maps
  • Enemy players are forced to blindly peek around blind corners
  • She feels comfortable and familiar with common attack routes to the objective and can adapt to changing battlefield conditions

Josh "Gauntlet" Bury will play Widowmaker no matter the situation, because he needs flick shots to live. You can find him on Twitter.