Well known for being one of gaming’s edgiest characters, Reaper is a staple of Overwatch, iconic for his foreboding appearance, gloomy voice lines, and a comically never-ending supply of guns. One of the most familiar DPS heroes the game has to offer, Reaper takes time to learn, with certain buffs and specialized abilities requiring precision and timing.
As Reaper is not quite as much a flanking hero as Tracer or Sombra, playing him well means team synergy is crucial, as, like so many other Overwatch heroes, Reaper works best with his teammates by his side, despite him being able to move quickly and teleport.
Who Is Reaper?
Reaper had once been known as Los Angeles police officer Gabriel Reyes, who eventually joined the US military as a senior officer. Because of his esteemed position, he gained a place in a secret government program in which soldiers were enhanced – the same program that Soldier 76, otherwise known as Jack Morrison, had been on.
The soldiers on this program were given improved swiftness and strength (think Captain America in The First Avenger) to fight the ongoing Omnic Crisis.
Reyes and Morrison were given the opportunity to join a new United Nations task force, Overwatch, which had been created in hopes of quashing the crisis. It intended to unite people from all over the world who had notable abilities or skills that would form a cohesive whole.
Because of the program, Reyes and Morrison were good friends and agreed to join together, with the UN giving Reyes leadership of the team. Reyes found he did not enjoy being in charge, and soon Morrison took the official leadership role, which Reyes was happy about as he much preferred being second in command.
In order to retain Overwatch’s heroic public image, the black ops division Blackwatch was founded with Reyes as the commander. Shortly after, Cole Cassidy was recruited following his apprehension as Reyes was impressed by his gunmanship. Geneticist Moira O’Deorain eventually joined too, and it was her experiments that created Reaper’s Wraith Form, which would later become an iconic Reaper ability both in terms of lore and gameplay.
While Reyes generally remained on good terms with Overwatch, he began to clash with Morrison who was disapproving of the black ops divisions’ controversial acts. Before long, Reyes met recently apprehended terrorist Doomfist, who played on Reyes’ doubts and highlighted that Overwatch had not achieved anything in fixing the world.
Reyes’ realization that, despite always being on the ‘good’ side, from police, to soldier, to Overwatch, nothing had changed – and it was this meeting that likely started Reyes’ mental transition to Reaper.
Terrorist organization Talon, initially run by Doomfist, became more commonly known, with Blackwatch being put in charge to begin missions to stop them alongside Gérard Lacroix. After Reyes and Cassidy left a meeting with Lacroix, in which they discussed the plan to tackle Talon and their arms dealer Antonio, the building was blown up by the terrorists with only Lacroix surviving.
It was this that caused a further rift between Morrison and Reyes, as Reyes stated that Morrison’s moral approach was failing and that the Overwatch investigation against Talon’s arms dealer would not achieve anything. Morrison said there was nothing else to be done without destroying Overwatch’s image, but Reyes argued that Blackwatch had the ability due to its secrecy.
Despite Morrison’s clear objection to Blackwatch getting involved with Talon further, Reyes and his division proceeded, with Genji Shimada, O’Deorain, and Genji all embarking on their mission to seize and interrogate Antonio. However, when Reyes found Antonio, he was clearly unbothered and pointed out what Morrison had said – that this had the potential to destroy Overwatch’s reputation.
Knowing he was right, Reyes shot Antonio, knowing that the original plan of capturing him would not achieve what they wanted. Reyes showed no remorse for his actions regardless of anger from Cassidy over the diversion from the plan, doubling down further when Morrison demanded to know what happened. The event had dire effects on Blackwatch, with the existence of the division being reported on and being made public.
The continual controversies surrounding Overwatch caused its downfall, some of which were a result of Reyes’ actions. Public distrust had grown too widespread to ignore, and Reyes led a rebellion against Morrison’s leadership, with the divided sides fighting causing Overwatch’s Switzerland headquarters to be blown up, with Reyes and Morrison officially regarded as dead.
Moira O’Deorain saved Reyes’ life through her genetics experiments, officially creating Reaper. His wraith form ability had become more powerful and he gained further powers, with him becoming a ruthless mercenary causing terrorist attacks – any sign of Gabriel Reyes had diminished.
His mission was to kill former Overwatch agents from a list he carried, and a year after the Overwatch explosion, he joined Talon, and it was in Talon missions that he realized he could never go back; this new terrorist Reaper with a need for justice was who he now was.
Why Is Reaper A Good Pick?
Reaper’s abilities make him stand out as a strong DPS pick. He can escape fights, move fast around the map and heal as he deals damage. Mastering him is tough, but once you are familiar with his abilities he becomes a hugely fun and enjoyable hero to play, ruthless against the enemy team.
While not as quick as other heroes, Reaper’s ability to transport and use his wraith form makes him an excellent choice for players who enjoy utilizing the element of surprise. He does not require much precise aim thanks to his use of shotguns, meaning Reaper is a wise choice for those who enjoy the ‘spray and pray’ playstyle of gaming.
Reaper is able to deal extensive amounts of damage at close range, so he is great at focusing on reducing a tank’s health or picking off healers. When defending in a match, Reaper is your best bet for dealing with any lone enemy team members desperately trying to capture the point.
An ability with many uses, Wraith Form provides Reaper with temporary invincibility and increased speed. It is arguably one of the most helpful abilities in the game for escaping death.
Wraith Form lasts for three seconds but has the option to be canceled. This added control over the ability differs from Reinhardt’s Charge ability, as it means players can more easily get to where they need to be without wasted time.
This 8-second cooldown ability also offers a 50% speed buff, and while Reaper cannot use weapons or any other abilities while in Wraith Form, he is able to pick up health packs, making it ideal for escaping from a doomed fight to avoid death.
Furthermore, after using Wraith Form, Reaper’s shotguns return to having full ammo, adding to the usefulness of returning to a fight after using it.
Aptly named, the Reaping is Reaper’s passive ability and lends to his impressive DPS strength. Reaper heals 35% of any damage he deals to enemies, forcing the enemy team to be careful to not feed him any damage, lest he easily regain full health.
A hugely beneficial ability, the Reaping allows players to avoid the long trek from spawn to payload or point so long as damage is continuously dealt. Being able to heal and prolong Reaper’s time on the point can potentially sway the match in your team’s favor.
Another ability which provides Reaper with speed, he is able to teleport up to 35 meters with Shadow Step. In the midst of teleporting he yet again becomes invincible, but when picking a location to move to, it is still possible to take damage and so is important to know where you want to go before activating.
With only a 10 second cooldown, and the time it takes to teleport being only 2 seconds, Shadow Step lends an already particularly strong Reaper even more ways to be a formidable foe against the enemy team, with Shadow Step providing an excellent way to sneak up on the enemy.
The only dual-wielding shotgun character, with practice, Reaper’s main weapon can devastate the enemy team. Every shot can deal up to 120 damage, and with 2 shots per second, having good aim will undoubtedly put a one-on-one fight in Reaper’s favor.
The reload time of the Hellfire Shotguns is also incredibly quick at only 1.5 seconds, giving Reaper further advantage at close-range gun combat. The only downside of his main weapon is the ammo capacity is small, with only 8 bullets, however, they still prove to be super powerful weapons.
Death Blossom is Reaper’s famed ultimate ability, an attack that with careful use can lead to quadruple kills and team wipes. With an 8-meter radius and a staggering 170 damage per second, any foe in the way of Reaper’s ultimate will struggle to escape.
It is crucial to time this ultimate well and use it stealthily, as enemies can easily kill you before you achieve any kills. Additionally, Death Blossom lasts only three seconds and comes with the drawback of limited movement.
Playing as Reaper
An extremely common mistake to make as Reaper is not utilizing the stealth his playstyle offers. Players will often use Wraith Form to enter a fight or use Death Blossom, which will of course mean the enemy will target him as it becomes obvious to what is happening. In comparison, teleporting with Shadow Step into a conspicuous location and jumping down, or getting behind the enemy in a hidden location, will prove to be far more useful.
While Reaper is not the stealthiest choice of heroes, utilizing height and hiding spots will hugely assist how well you do in terms of kills and damage. Plenty of maps – King’s Row especially – have small ledges that Reaper can quietly teleport up to before dropping down to wreak havoc.
Death Blossom is also best used when sneaking up on a large group of the enemy team. For example, in a payload push, try to get behind them without being noticed and then pop your ultimate. The element of surprise is endlessly helpful for everyone’s favorite edgelord.
Wraith Form is powerful when you know how to use it. If you’re low on health and stuck in a fight, use it to get away and regenerate health, or if the game is almost over it can be a good idea to use it to get to the point quicker thanks to the increased speed it provides.
While Reaper has a degree of flanking elements due to his speed and teleportation, it remains important to consider team composition when picking him to ensure victory.
Reaper’s close-range style of combat means the secondary DPS should ideally be able to shoot further distances. Cassidy proves perfect for this; he doesn’t have the disadvantages a sniper has as he can play at almost any range with his own abilities.
Utilizing Cassidy alongside Reaper provides the team with extensive damage no matter the distance and will leave the enemy team needing to be extra cautious of their placements in the map.
Reinhardt’s shield offers an already undisputed killing machine even more defense against enemies in close fights. Particularly when attacking points, a Reaper alongside Reinhardt will create a difficult push to stop, as not only will Reaper be able to heal but he will have the added support of a strong shield.
Zarya is another great tank choice when picking Reaper. She can place a protective shield bubble around him, offering an additional defensive mechanism akin to Reinhardt’s. The lack of need for Zarya to be close by Reaper as he enters a fight means she is able to engage in separate battles and ensures her own weaponry isn’t wasted.
Reaper being an original Overwatch character means his lore and history is vast, with his voice lines, interactions, and hero shorts/comics offering insight into his relationships with other characters.
Reaper and Soldier initially founded Overwatch before becoming adversaries after Soldier’s criticisms of Blackwatch. After the explosion at Overwatch’s Switzerland base, Reaper became determined to find Soldier as he believed him to still be alive.
Widowmaker, Sombra, and Doomfist
While there is little in the way of explaining how these three interact with Reaper beyond brief moments in hero shorts, all four are members of Talon, meaning any missions are likely to have them involved. Their working together and for Talon will hopefully be explained more and expanded on in Overwatch 2.
Moira is a Blackwatch, and eventual Talon, geneticist who gave Reaper his wraith abilities. She is the reason he was able to survive the Overwatch headquarters explosion, as her experimental drugs enhanced the original wraith ability
Question: Is Reaper a good flanking pick?
Answer: While Reaper plays best alongside his team, and particularly alongside the synergy matchups listed above, Reaper can also work as a flanking hero. If you’re wanting to solely flank, quicker heroes such as Tracer or Sombra are a better choice, but through practicing Reaper’s teleportation and speed abilities you will find yourself able to deal quick damage to the enemy team before getting away to rejoin your own team.
Question: Is Reaper the best close-range hero?
Answer: With so many abilities in Overwatch, it’s always difficult to determine who is best as each character has huge pros and cons unique to them. Reaper is absolutely an extremely powerful close-range hero, his shotguns and abilities are a testament to this, but only when played well. In terms of ease, Reaper is a great choice for new players favoring close fights or those who detest careful aim.
Question: Is Reaper going to be in Overwatch 2?
Answer: Despite Reaper’s lore swaying away from the Overwatch task force, Overwatch 2’s focus on PvE will hopefully build on Talon and provide beloved characters like Widowmaker and Doomfist more lore and involvement in the story of the game. The members of Talon, as well as new hero Sojourn, will all be in the upcoming game, with Reaper even having undergone a cosmetic makeover for his gloomy and foreboding appearance.
Reaper Overwatch Guide: Conclusion
Reaper may be well known from Overwatch for his over-the-top edgy characterization, but in-game he proves to be a brutal enemy to be up against. His speed and damage output means any DPS or support caught by him is unlikely to survive, and learning to play him well is easy and ideal for newer players who wish to get to grips with shooting mechanics without precision aiming.