Hanzo is a damage hero in Overwatch. He was formerly classified as a defensive hero but is now relatively flexible, as he can be played effectively on the offensive too. He is a mid to long-range sniper, so he excels at picking off enemy backliners from any distance, and in some cases, enemy flankers trying to kill his supports.
While Hanzo can get a lot done behind the protection of a shield tank, he can also be dangerous if he is unseen and has the high ground, as his Wall Climb allows him to reach places that many heroes can’t get to reliably.
Hanzo sits at 200 health, which is one of the lower health pools in the game, but very much the middle ground when talking about damage heroes (he beats out the 175 health heroes, like his sniper-rival, Widowmaker, and the 150 health heroes like Tracer and Zenyatta). As such, you need to be super careful with your positioning, considering how easy it is to kill a Hanzo: you don’t even need a headshot with some heroes to deal 200 damage.
Hanzo Shimada, eldest son of Sojiro Shimada and brother to Genji Shimada, is destined to inherit the leadership and wealth of the Shimada family, an extremely successful criminal organization of assassins operating out of Hanamura (yes, like the map in the game).
Not only was he expertly trained in the likes of battle strategy, the ways of the sword and bow, and martial arts, but he displayed an inherent understanding of all of them, making mastery a piece of cake. However, even though everything was lined up perfectly for him after his father’s death, it didn’t go the way anyone had planned. At all.
When it came time for Hanzo to take his place as leader of the Shimada family, the elders (rightfully) thought that Genji could help him lead, but Genji wasn’t exactly the most well-behaved individual in his pre-cyborg life.
Thus, they asked Hanzo to reign in his brother’s rebellious side so that they may be heads of the family together, but when Hanzo approached Genji with such a prospect, Genji refused. The natural next step from there would be Hanzo murdering his brother, as one would expect from an organization of assassins and crimelords.
After the Fratricide
Though Genji barely survived his brother’s blade, Hanzo had no idea of such occurrences. As a result of his broken, grieving heart, he promptly abandoned the Shimada family entirely, leaving behind all his inherited wealth and power in the process, likely in search of some meaningful introspection.
Hanzo vowed never again to wield a sword (since that is the weapon he used to “kill” his brother), and as a consequence of his betrayal of the Shimada family, they continually sent assassins after him.
Ten Years Later
Ten years after Hanzo abandoned his family and their legacy, the events of the wonderful “Overwatch Animated Short: Dragons” occur. To set the stage, Hanzo returns to Shimada Castle to pay his respects to his “slain” brother on the anniversary of his death, as he did each year during the past ten. However, this time is a bit different, as you can see the cinematic right here:
Abilities and Some Tips
Alright, with some backstory out of the way, time to take a look at his abilities.
Primary Fire: Storm Bow
Hanzo’s Storm Bow is his Primary Fire and only form of auto-attack, as he has no alternate fire. The arrows he notches can be released instantly or charged for a little bit, and the longer you charge it, the faster it will travel and the more damage it will do.
That said, there is a maximum charge time (in other words, once you charge it up a certain amount, even if you keep holding the arrow notched in his bow, it won’t gain any damage or speed), and there is a 30% movement penalty while holding a charged arrow. Depending on how long you charge the arrow, it can deal anywhere between 27 and 125 damage for a body shot, and up to 250 damage for a headshot.
- If you want to un-notch the arrow from your bow, use your Alternate Fire button.
- You don’t always need to charge up an arrow to max strength: sometimes, it’s more important for you to shoot fast instead of hard.
- Hanzo’s Storm Bow is not a hitscan weapon, so when aiming, keep in mind the arced travel of an arrow. On top of that, the arced travel varies depending on how much you’ve charged the arrow.
Hanzo’s Storm Arrows (which used to be his Scatter Arrow, by the way) are instantly shootable arrows that have the same speed as fully charged regular arrows from Hanzo’s Storm Bow. They deal reduced damage and cannot be charged further to cause them to deal more damage: as soon as you shoot the arrow, it fires.
This is a bit like a transformation ability and makes Hanzo’s next five arrows fire in this way. It has a ten-second cooldown and cannot be interrupted, so if you get stunned by a Cassidy’s Flashbang, a Brigette’s Shield Bash, or literally anything else before shooting all five of your arrows, the ability will remain active, allowing you to shoot however many arrows remain after the stun wears off.
- These arrows can be fired in very quick succession, so if you’re looking to try and burst down a tank or flanking damage hero in your face with little worry about aim, then fire those Storm Arrows as quickly as you can!
- You can cancel this ability before shooting all five arrows simply by pressing the same key again.
- Storm Arrows won’t get through shields any better than Hanzo’s regular arrows. Seeing that the latter gains higher damage output at the expense of speed, and the former gains higher speed at the expense of damage output, they balance out.
Hanzo’s Sonic Arrow is fired in the same fashion as his regular arrows, meaning it has an arced travel. However, it has a sonar attached to it, giving you and your team vision in a 9-meter radius around wherever the arrow lands for six seconds. This ability has a 12-second cooldown.
- If Sonic Arrow hits an enemy hero, the arrow will attach itself to the hero, and the vision gained from it will travel with the hero as they move around for the same 6-second duration. So, unless you need vision of a particular area, it might be more worth it to hit a tank or a flanking damage hero to keep track of them for a short time and reposition accordingly.
- Sonic Arrow can reveal Sombra while she’s stealthed.
- Sonic Arrow will attach itself to a shield. If the shield disappears while the arrow is attached to it, the arrow will fall.
Wall Climb (Passive)
Simply put, Hanzo’s passive allows him to climb walls by jumping at them, but he can’t climb indefinitely. The maximum distance he can climb in a straight vertical is 4 meters, so if you get knocked off the map and can’t reach a wall fast enough, you most likely won’t be able to climb back up to avoid falling to your death.
Hanzo’s Lunge, also known as his double-jump, used to function the same way as Genji’s double-jump and had no cooldown. However, he was changed (for the better, I think) so his double jump now has a five-second cooldown. That made him slightly less mobile, but since he can still climb walls freely, he still has a nice chunk of mobility as he can easily escape flanking damage heroes with his Wall Climb.
- If you’re in the middle of a team fight, since Hanzo’s double-jump has a cooldown, don’t use it as willy-nilly as you would Genji’s. If you find yourself too far from a wall to climb, or you require a quick dodge/escape, this can be particularly useful in fleeing from a diving Reaper, Winston, or anyone else that can get in your face.
Hanzo’s ultimate, Dragonstrike, is one of the heavier-hitting ultimates in the game. In short, Hanzo fires an arrow that summons two blue dragons that then travel forward in a DNA-like spiral (just as it looks in the previously linked animated short), dealing high damage to all enemies in its path.
Granted, it’s not as potent as Pharah’s Barrage in raw damage output, but it still packs quite the punch, especially considering it can travel through shields and walls (Mei’s ice wall too). Although Hanzo’s basic abilities have a tough time getting through shields, his ultimate is a very present threat for shield tanks, especially those protecting stationary targets like Bastion.
That said, since Hanzo’s ultimate is an arrow before it turns into the two spiraling dragons, it can be soaked and utterly negated by certain heroes.
This, coupled with the fact that Hanzo does a little twirl and shouts his signature ultimate line (“Ryū ga waga teki o kurau!”), makes it easier for enemies to react to him if he is in their line of sight. Thus, instead of waiting to list the heroes that can negate his Dragonstrike in the “What Counters Hanzo” section, I’ll do so here:
- D.va: D.va’s Defense Matrix can eat Hanzo’s Dragonstrike while it is still an arrow, but it is useless against it once the dragons are out.
- Sigma: just like D.va, Sigma‘s Kinetic Grasp can soak up Hanzo’s Dragonstrike while it is still an arrow, but is helpless against the dragons themselves
- Genji: again, Genji can use his Deflect against Hanzo’s Dragonstrike while the ultimate is still in arrow form. However, instead of negating the ultimate entirely, as is the case with D.va and Sigma, Genji straight-up reflects the Dragonstrike at you, causing the dragons to spawn against you and your team (as red dragons).
- Always be aware of an enemy D.va, Sigma, or Genji, and whether or not their aforementioned abilities are available or not to negate/deflect your ultimate.
- If possible, try to be sneaky with your positioning when using your Dragonstrike. Even if the enemy has a D.va, Sigma, or Genji, if they can’t see where you’re using your ultimate from, they can’t react in time to respond. The same goes for the rest of the enemy team: the scariest ultimate abilities are those you can’t keep track of or see where they’re coming from. Sometimes, the panic that ensues as a result of this is more detrimental to the enemy team than the ultimate itself.
- If you have a Zarya on your team, try to hold your Dragonstrike to synergize with her Graviton Surge. But, at the same time, if you see a good opportunity to use Dragonstrike, don’t pass it up just because you’re waiting for the Zarya to use her Graviton Surge.
What Counters Hanzo?
In addition to the three aforementioned heroes who can completely negate Hanzo’s Dragonstrike, Hanzo has a few more counters (some harder than others) to be aware of, so let’s go over them.
Shield tanks are generally hard for any sniper hero to deal with, and Hanzo is no exception. Yes, his Dragonstrike can go through their shields and damage the tanks with no problem, but that’s all he has going for him. Outside of his ultimate, Hanzo struggles to get through shield tanks, and his Storm Arrows are particularly bad when it comes to trying to brute-force his way through said shields.
With that said, the enemy team will have at least one shield tank in most games you play. Therefore, having to deal with them is inevitable. So, just do your best to find a position on their flanks, or look for openings where their backliners stray from the cover of their shield tank’s protection.
Flanking heroes are a general counter to sniper heroes, just like shield tanks, and therefore, Hanzo has a bit of a hard time dealing with them.
Some damage heroes you should look out for in particular are Reaper, Genji, and Doomfist, since they can close the distance on you pretty easily and give you hell. So, if the enemy team has some flanking heroes, don’t get too comfortable in a single position and stay on your toes because you’ll likely have to reposition at a moment’s notice.
Speaking of shield tanks and flanking heroes, Winston is a hero you need to pay specific attention to, as he can ruin your day on two fronts. First off, he is not only a very mobile tank, but he has a shield, which can cause you some serious trouble.
Secondly, as a result of his mobility, he excels at jumping into and disrupting the back line, and if you’re playing Hanzo, that means his sights are on you (and the support that is probably pocketing you too). Simply put, there’s no easy way to deal with Winston as Hanzo.
The best you can do is either run away or dance with him in and out of his semicircular shield and try to kill him before he kills you.
Widowmaker is on the list of heroes that counter Hanzo mainly because she is another sniper that can out-snipe him. Though she may be less team fight oriented when comparing ultimates, hers can nonetheless allow her to pick off Hanzo much more easily.
On top of that, her sniper rifle is a hitscan weapon, meaning her shot will reach you before yours reaches hers. Though the extra time may seem inconsequential, a good player with great reflexes can take the shot at you and then move to dodge your arrow, avoiding death and killing you.
In the end, the Hanzo versus Widowmaker matchup largely comes down to a difference in skill, and if one is better than the other, it will definitely feel like you (or they) are getting hard-countered by the other.
Zenyatta is a counter to Hanzo mainly due to his ultimate, Transcendence. While Transcendence can’t prevent Hanzo’s Dragonstrike from being cast (in other words, it can’t soak it up in its arrow form), it can completely negate its damage while in its dragon form.
Not only does Transcendence make Zenyatta invulnerable, but it massively heals his allies within the radius of his ultimate, healing the damage dealt by Dragonstrike so fast that it won’t even look like the dragons are doing any damage, to begin with. So, if you’re up against a Zenyatta, keep track of his ultimate, because it can ruin that Play of the Game moment you’re looking for.
Baptiste is another support to look out for due to his Immortality Field. While this won’t completely negate Hanzo’s Dragonstrike (since the dragons can kill the Immortality Field itself), it will severely hinder much of its damage and give your enemies more time to get out of the spiraling dragons’ way.
That’s not even mentioning the fact that it can protect squishier heroes from getting one-shot by Hanzo’s regular arrows. Baptiste is probably a harder counter to Hanzo than Zenyatta only due to the increased frequency with which he can use his Immortality Field (since it’s a base ability), as opposed to Zenyatta’s Transcendence (since it’s his ultimate).
Pharah and Echo
Pharah and Echo are on this list because they can fly, and Hanzo’s bow and arrow is not a hitscan weapon. Because of this, it is incredibly difficult for Hanzo to land a shot on either of these heroes while they’re in the air (which is most of the time), especially Echo because she can fly faster than Pharah.
If you’re up against either of these heroes, you’re better off swapping to a hitscan hero, like Widowmaker, Ashe, Soldier 76, or Cassidy. After all, unless your bow and arrow skills are truly that of a master, you’ll have a tough time knocking Pharah or Echo (and the Mercy that is usually pocketing them) out of the sky.
Who Does Hanzo Synergize Well With?
Hanzo generally synergizes well with three types of heroes: shield-shredding heroes, hitscan heroes, and heroes with big immobilizing ultimates. Let’s take a look at each of these categories individually.
Hanzo works well with shield-shredding heroes simply because he can’t shred shields himself. If you pair him up with a Bastion, Junkrat, or Pharah (to name a few), Hanzo will have a much easier time picking off enemy backliners, since they won’t have the protection of their shield tanks.
As was the case with shield-shredding heroes, Hanzo works well with hitscan heroes simply because he isn’t a hitscan hero himself.
So, if you’re paired up with a hitscan hero like Soldier 76, Cassidy, or Bastion (to name a few), they can deal with flying heroes like Pharah and Echo. That would make your life easier on Hanzo since you don’t have to worry about looking up every three seconds to avoid incoming missiles.
Just whatever you do, don’t pair up with a Widowmaker. Two sniper heroes on the same team, especially when on the offensive, is a terrible idea (unless you guys are just meme-ing around, of course).
Heroes with Big Immobilizing Ultimates
The main reason to pair Hanzo up with heroes with big immobilizing ultimates is so that he can combo his Dragonstrike with them.
Zarya is the most obvious hero to pair Hanzo up with due to her Graviton Surge, but some other heroes can achieve the same thing, just to a slightly less effective extent. I’m looking at Reinhardt’s Earthshatter and Mei’s Blizzard in particular. If you’ve got one of these three guys on your team, it’s less important that you use Hanzo’s Dragonstrike from a sneaky vantage point.
The enemy team will be too immobile and/or distracted by the immobilizing ultimate to pay attention to those spiraling dragons until it’s too late.
As of writing this article, the following list includes all of Hanzo’s available skins in the in-game shop:
- Azuki (base rare)
- Kinoko (base rare)
- Midori (base rare)
- Sora (base rare)
- Dragon (base epic)
- Cloud (base epic)
- Demon (epic ‒ Halloween event)
- Kyōgisha (epic ‒ Kanezaka challenge event)
- Kabuki (base legendary)
- Young Hanzo (base legendary)
- Young Master (base legendary)
- Okami (base legendary)
- Lone Wolf (base legendary)
- Cyberninja (legendary ‒ Anniversary event)
- Wave (legendary ‒ Summer Games event)
- Dai-Tengu (legendary ‒ Halloween event)
- Casual (legendary ‒ Winter event)
- Huang Zhong (legendary ‒ Lunar event)
- Scion (legendary ‒ Archives event)
- Dark Wolf (legendary ‒ Anniversary event)
Question: Is Hanzo a better sniper than Widowmaker?
Answer: The only way to get an objective answer to this question is to look at individual situations. That said, neither Hanzo nor Widowmaker are good at dealing with shield tanks, but outside of this common flaw, they each have their own strengths and weaknesses, mainly due to their different weapons. Since Widowmaker’s sniper rifle is a hitscan weapon and can be scoped, it makes it more accurate and more apt at taking down flying targets, like Pharah, Echo, D.va, or even Junkrat.
Contrarily, Hanzo is better than Widowmaker when getting flanked by, say, a Reaper or Doomfist, for two reasons. First, his field of vision isn’t as constricted by a sniping scope, making it easier for him to be aware of the heroes flanking him and reducing the likelihood of tunnel visioning.
Second, his ability to flick-shot is quite strong, making him more efficient at killing heroes in close range than Widowmaker with her automatic assault fire.
At the end of the day though, both Hanzo and Widowmaker are snipers, making them vulnerable to pretty much the same stuff. In my opinion, it just comes down to preference (do you want a hitscan sniper or a bow and arrow?) and skill.
Question: Is Hanzo hard to learn?
Answer: If you’re someone coming from other first-person shooters (FPS), or you’re just super used to hitscan weapons in Overwatch, Hanzo might be a little tough to learn due to his lack of a hitscan weapon.
The arced travel of his arrows is unique in Overwatch in its style, but once you get the hang of how said arced travel works (the arced travel is different depending on how long you charge the shot up for), you’re good to go. At the end of the day, it just takes practice and determination, and the learning curve will vary depending on how much experience you have with hitscan weapons and/or weapons with an arced travel in FPSs.
Question: Does Hanzo hard-counter anyone?
Answer: As a sniper, you could say that Hanzo counters squishy heroes out of position, but he doesn’t really hard-counter anyone other than Sombra, thanks to his Sonic Arrow’s ability to reveal her while she’s invisible.
Question: What changes is Hanzo seeing in Overwatch 2?
Answer: Hanzo is only seeing one change in Overwatch 2 (other than his visual update), and that’s the reduction of the damage of his non-headshot Storm Arrows from 70 to 65. This overall nerf to his burst damage is likely due to the five versus five format of Overwatch Two, as there will be one less tank on each team for heroes to hide behind, making it easier for Hanzo to deal damage. Aside from this, Hanzo will play the same way in Overwatch Two as he does in Overwatch.
Hanzo Overwatch Guide: Conclusion
Hanzo is a mid to long-range sniper hero who has grown to be able to fill both a defensive and offensive position (as traditionally, he was mainly picked when on defense).
His bow makes him unique, as his arrows are not on hitscan trajectories, but arced ones, which makes for a slightly different playstyle than someone like Widowmaker or Ashe. Either way, as a sniper, Hanzo excels at picking off squishy heroes who have nothing to hide behind.
Hanzo has long been known to be a hero with a very high skill cap, so if you’re looking for a fun, rewarding challenge, I would recommend you pick him up and give him a go. Just don’t credit your skill if you get random, lucky headshots. Unless, of course, you want to tilt your enemy, in which case, flaunt away your unrivaled skill in the chat.