Updated at: 28-04-2022 - By: Leo Hall

Zarya is a highly-versatile Overwatch tank capable of shielding both herself and allies from bursts of damage and can be absolutely lethal once her cannon is fully charged.

Combine this with her Ultimate ability Graviton, and you end up with one of the best utility heroes in the game.

In this Overwatch Zarya guide, we’ll be highlighting the best tips, tricks, and strategies for playing as the gravity gun-touting Russian athlete.

If you would like more tips and tricks, check out our Overwatch Beginner’s Guide, where we dive into hero roles, team composition, and best practices for winning.

Zarya Abilities and Role Explained

Zarya requires a different mindset than most other tanks in Overwatch, especially at higher competitive levels where the margin for error is much smaller.

She thrives at mid to close-range, depending on the hero she’s battling, but can also deal damage at long-range using her cannon’s alternate fire mode.

Though it can be tempting to go full aggro with Zarya at max charge, you should be mindful of your main tank and supports, should they need a temporary barrier.

How To Use Particle Cannon

Zarya’s primary means of dealing damage is her Particle Cannon, which has two modes of fire: a narrow beam that deals consistent damage and an arcing projectile that deals splash damage.

By default, both have a relatively low damage output that can be increased by absorbing damage through the use of Zarya’s barriers, or “bubbles.”

Once at max charge, Zarya’s Particle Cannon, particularly her beam, becomes one of the deadliest weapons in the game, capable of taking out most heroes in a matter of seconds.

It’s best to alternate between Zarya’s two fire modes throughout matches to maximize your DPS and apply pressure to the enemy team.

How To Use Particle Barrier

With only 200 HP and 200 Shields, Zarya relies on Particle Barrier to save her from big bursts of damage and quickly charge up her weapon.

Upon activation, it generates a 200 HP shield of energy that surrounds Zarya for 2 seconds and converts incoming damage to energy for her Particle Cannon.

While inside, Zarya is invulnerable to attacks and cleansed of most status effects, with the biggest exceptions being instances where Zarya has already been hacked by Sombra or put to sleep by Ana.

A good rule of thumb is with Zarya is to engage near cover, bait a big attack, trigger your bubble to absorb damage, and then retreat once the ability is on cooldown.

How To Use Projected Barrier

Projected Barrier works the same as Particle Barrier but gets applied to a teammate of Zarya’s choosing instead of herself.

Allies who are bubbled will be immune to all damage, including pinned damage from Reinhardt’s Charge, and any damage it absorbs gets converted into energy for Zarya’s weapon.

Just like the Particle Barrier, the maximum energy Zarya can gain from each bubble is capped at 40, so it’s possible to get a cool 80 energy charge using both abilities back to back.

Projected Barrier is very situational and should be used anytime a teammate (primarily a main tank or support) is being focused on by multiple enemies or a particularly powerful flanker.

How To Use Graviton Surge (Ultimate)

Arguably the best tool in Zarya’s kit, Graviton Surge sees her launching a gravity bomb that draws in nearby enemies and holds them in place while dealing 5 DPS for 4 seconds.

Upon activation, the bomb is launched in an arcing projectile similar to the Particle Cannon’s secondary fire mode and has a 6-meter radius.

While a well-timed Graviton Surge has the possibility of pulling in all six players on the enemy team, in most situations, Zarya will only be able to reliably catch 1-3 heroes.

Before casting Zarya’s Ultimate, make sure at least one of your teammates has theirs (preferably something offensive like D.Va’s Self-Destruct or Doomfist’s Meteor Strike) to ensure you make a dent in the enemy’s numbers.

Zarya Strengths

Zarya is at her best when partnered up with a main tank willing to take most of the incoming damage in exchange for protection in the form of Projected Barrier.

Players who are proactive with Zarya and can anticipate her teammates’ needs will be able to save their allies from spam attacks within a short window.

While her regenerative shields and personal bubble make Zarya somewhat independent, she still needs a Support or DPS hero by her side; below, we’ve provided a list of the most relevant ones.

Which Heroes Combo Best With Zarya?

  • Ana – Can provide good heals and use Zarya’s large health pool to charge Nano Boost faster.
  • Doomfist – Can use Projected Barrier to safely close the gap between enemies before striking.
  • Mercy – Can keep Zarya healthy while benefitting from Projected Barrier’s effects.
  • Orisa – Can use Halt! to pull additional targets within range of Zarya’s Graviton Surge.
  • Reinhardt – Greatly benefits from Zarya’s bubbles; provides enough shielding to let Zarya set up.
  • Soldier: 76 – Can stay alive longer using Zarya’s bubbles; makes up for many of her flaws.
  • Winston – Zarya can protect Winston from afar using Projected Barrier, allowing him to play more aggressively.

Zarya Weaknesses

Zarya’s weaknesses become more and more apparent the longer you play as her, and higher-ranking players will know exactly how to exploit them.

She doesn’t fare well against long-range damage that she can’t predict nor gain significant charge from.

Additionally, Zarya’s damage output prior to reaching high charge (50 and above) is relatively low compared to most other heroes.

Below, we’ve provided a detailed list of heroes that are either immune or extremely resistant to most of Zarya’s kit.

Which Heroes Does Zarya Struggle Against?

  • Bastion – In turret mode, Bastion easily shred through Zarya’s bubble before finishing her off.
  • Hanzo – Normally sets up beyond Zarya’s effective range; can kill Zarya with 2 charged headshots.
  • Reaper – Deals high enough damage to overpower Zarya in most situations; can escape Graviton Surge using Wraith Form.
  • Sombra – Can leave Zarya defenseless using her Hack ability; if Sombra’s EMP manages to hit Zarya, her effective HP is reduced by half.
  • Widowmaker – Similar to Hanzo, Widowmaker is typically too far away for Zarya to deal with.

General Tips for Playing Zarya

There’s a bit more of a learning curve involved with playing Zarya compared to other heroes due to how situational her kit is.

As a result, she has many quirks that won’t become apparent until you’ve sunk many hours into practice.

Below, we’ve provided some additional tips to help you along the way to becoming an unstoppable Zarya player who’s almost always at max charge.

  • At the start of a match, focus on building up your charge as quickly as possible by alternating between your two modes of fire.
  • Zarya can maximize her DPS and ammo consumption by using her alternate fire in situations where she has less than 25 ammo left in her weapon’s magazine.
  • Remember that anytime Zarya is killed, her charge meter is reset, so try to avoid dying recklessly.
  • Zarya can perform a “super jump” by firing her arc projectile at the ground and simultaneously jumping, allowing her to clear gaps and return from spawn much quicker.
  • Try not to save your Ultimate for the “perfect moment” and instead focus on using it to keep Zarya alive, save teammates in a pinch, or simply prevent enemies from contesting.

Particle Cannon

  • When at 0 Energy your reliable damage source is RMB (Right Mouse Button) + Melee (47 + 30 = 77 DMG)
  • When high charged (50%+) while dueling an opponent just hold down LMB (Left Mouse Button), track that bitch.
  • Zarya most efficient use of a full ammo clip is RMB, LMB (split second), RMB, LMB (split second)… till your clip is empty. Zaryas RMB takes up 25 ammo, but you can still fire a RMB as long as you have 1 ammo in the clip. The idea behind this is to use the laser between the animation recovery of continuous RMB recovery, With proper usage you should be left with 1-5 ammo left in Zaryas particle cannon before the last RMB.
  • Following the previous point, if you are considering reloading because you are low on ammo, just throw out a RMB to finish the clip.

Particle/Projected Barrier (AKA Bubble)

  • I need to put this out there. Zaryas bubble is a shield, every mechanic that applies to shields applies to Zaryas bubbles, some of my tips will elaborate on this.
  • | IMPORTANT | After you reach 60-70% use your personal bubble to keep your charge at a high percentage and keep your projected bubble in preparation to save your teammate from a dire situation. Examples of dire situations; Reinhart about to pin a teammate and Hog hooking a teammate.
  • Bubble BURSTS after 200 damage. The key to this is understanding that Zaryas bubble can block a burst of ∞ damage. This can be used to deny abilities such as DVA bomb, Junk tyre, and Mcree Ultimate.
  • Bubble can be used to block ES (Earth Shatter), this can be used to also protect team mates behind you (remember Zaryas bubble works like a shield). ES spreads out in a cone shape, the closer you are to rein when he uses earth shatter the more of ES you will block for your team. This also applies to the above tip, teammates behind a bubble are also protected from the abilities above (except mcrees ult).
  • Zaryas bubble works as a cleanse. You can remove status effects off your teammates and yourself with a bubble. Examples of status effects, Ana bio nade, Zen discord, Ashe dynamite burn. (Sadly this does not work for sombras hack ಠ╭╮ಠ )
  • Leapfrog back and forth between your Reins shield, to build charge and mitigate damage taken to Reins shield.
  • Bubble sticks out in front of Reins shield, any enemy shooting reins shield centre mass will instead be hitting your bubble, building you energy.
  • If you have heros on your team such as Genji or Pharah who are very vulnerable while they ult. Communicate with them and prepare your bulb for when they ult to block initial CC (Crowd Control) or damage. Game Changer.

Graviton Surge

  • Make use of shooting a graviton into a wall. This denies Defence Matrix from eating your ultimate.
  • 6 Man Grav is not the only Grav, 3-4 is enough to secure the team fight. Something to consider, if you do not have a combo ult try to isolate 2-3 squishies with a Grav (mainly supports), then you are golden 👌
  • Dont be get pressured by your team to “just grav”. You are Zarya, when YOU see the oppurtunity go for it.
  • RMB into gravs for max damage on all enemies (Splash Damage)
  • Look to coordinate ults with your Grav, such as Hanzo dragon or Pharah barrage.
  • Make sure your team does not overcommit to gravs, by this I mean you should be using max 1 extra ult with Grav. The only exception I can think of would be to use Grav+EMP+DpsUlt to deny something like Zenyattas transcendence.
  • Opportunities appear where you can isolate squishies with a Grav, if you are going to commit to this make sure your personal bubble is available so you do not get burned down trying to finish off your Grav kills.

Extra Tips

  • You can RMB rocket jump to move faster, this should be used to get to your team faster after respawning.
  • RMB rocket jumping can also be used to get to ledges and areas you would not usually be able to get to.
  • Use personal bubble when exiting attack spawn room when the game starts. Defenders love to spam garbage through the door.


  • RMB = Right Mouse Button = Primary Fire
  • LMB = Left Mouse Button = Alternative Fire
  • ∞ = Inifnite
  • DMG = damage
  • ES = Earth Shatter
  • CC = Crowd Control

Graviton Surge

Grav is one of the best ults in the game, I’m sure you’ve felt the pain of a good grav dozen of times in your career, a good grav followed up by a whole set of combos usually means a team wipe.

Winning a team fight with a good grav, using all that damage to build a second grav to set up another one in the next team fight makes it a game breaker that can help your team snowball to victory. This is exactly why you need to keep stacking your energy in order to build up the charge as fast as possible.

It’s truly simple maths, a Zarya that chains 10 gravs in a game, compared to the Zarya who can’t manage her energy and gets only 5 per game is immensely better, obviously.

Differences between good and bad Zarya

A good Zarya needs to quickly react to any sort of danger when it comes to her or her teammates. For instance, a Tracer bombs your support behind your back, you need to immediately bubble him to save him. There are many examples of this.

Like I said earlier, Zarya is a high skill cap hero, she relies heavily on game sense, mechanics and positioning. However, when you do master her, it means you’ve mastered the holy trinity as well! Meaning you will be able to transition to any new hero that you think can carry games with ease.

Therefore, before starting to main Zarya, understand that she is not a passive tank, your full attention is required at all times. Let’s resume with the strategy part.


Whenever there’s a fight starting, your first and primary goal should be to build up energy as fast as possible. Communicate with your main tank and tell him to soak the damage so you keep bubbling them and charging up.

If your main tank won’t synergize with you, you’ll need to find someone else who’s getting rammed, or yourself and keep bubbling them or yourself. When your bubble goes off, retreat, get back when it’s off cooldown.

You will need to evaluate, does your team or their team have an advantage, and how high is your energy in case you wish to capitalize on it. This is the game sense part that you will obtain by playing Zarya often. Whenever you fail and get punished, write down why did this happen, don’t just let it go.

It’s important that you don’t die recklessly, a good Zarya will pull back from a fight when it’s too dangerous not to lose energy and having to recharge it again, the only time you should be dying is when your whole team is getting wiped.

You’re not just a pillar

Many tanks in Overwatch will prioritize positioning over mechanics, such as Reinhardt. Zarya cannot let herself only play on positioning, as she needs game sense as well, I’ve explained how powerful she can be and nearly one-shot squishies.

Having high energy and making a sick flank play where you burn down a squishy support before anyone has a chance to react. Having yourself bubbled is imperative of course, so nobody can deny you.

Don’t be afraid to practice with tracking squishies like Tracer and Soldier and flanking them before they know what the hell happened. Let’s move on to tips that will help you to get that Top 500 boost as Zarya.

Zarya Tips

1. Alternate Fire

You may not know that when you’re running out of ammo by spamming primary fire, and you’re down to a super low number, let’s say 1 left in the magazine. You can still click alternate fire and get it out. You should never run out of ammo fully by just spamming primary, the last one needs to be alternate fire to maximize your DPS.

A sick combo when trying to burst down a squishy would be alternate fire and instantly melee.

2. Alternate fire (again)

For example, when coming back after a respawn, and you want to jump over a cliff or a hole, fire an alternate fire into the ground while instantly jumping in order to get a “super jump”. It will deal a little damage to you but you will close the gap between you and your team faster. The same trick works for reaching high grounds offensively or defensively.

3. Engaging and disengaging

Essentially, when you do have your cooldowns up, especially bubble, you need to push forward and burn them with primary fire, being proactive. When cooldowns are down, you need to pull back while spamming alternate fire from range. This rotation is a staple of a good Zarya.

4. Your Grav and Alt fire travel the same

Your alternate fire nade travels the same vector as the grav, so in order to do precise gravs, shoot the alt-fire into the enemy team, if it goes right where you wanted, you can launch the grav instantly knowing it will land where you wanted it. This happens on a microsecond scale of course. Knowing this also allows you to practice gravitons when actually just doing alternate fire.

5. Know when to play with MT and when to solo

Like I talked earlier, your main tank will sometimes play with you, sometimes not. Ideally, you should duo queue with a main tank when playing Zarya, if you don’t have one, you can get some duo Overwatch boosting and reach the Skill Rating you desire.

If you play solo, you can still make an immense impact by flanking or peeling your team.

6. Don’t save your grav for a perfect moment

Everyone loves the juicy 6 man gravs, however, this doesn’t happen that often, forget the Reddit clips. It’s worth using it on a single person too if it means you won’t die, or you will save someone else and turn the fight around.

7. Do not use bubbles preemptively

Bubbles need to be used strategically, the one person bubble needs to be used in the right moment when that teammate is about to receive insane damage or die. Do not use it preemptively just because it’s off cooldown. The same goes for the team bubble. Bubble management is key.

8. Position yourself in the middle to the front of the team

Most of the time you will be spending behind your main tank and in front of the backline. Somewhere around the middle, often pushed a little forward. This gives you an opportunity to use the flexible Zarya playstyle, where you’re able to peel, flank and tank whenever necessary.

9. Alt-fire into grouped enemy players

Alt fire is better than primary fire when you shoot it at grouped enemy players, you will deal more damage and charge up faster.

10. Communicate

Communication is key, you need to let your enemy know when you’re preparing and doing a grav, you need to tell them when your bubble is on cooldown. They need to be aware of your abilities or everything falls apart.


How do you get good at Zarya overwatch?

General Tips for Playing Zarya

  1. At the start of a match, focus on building up your charge as quickly as possible by alternating between your two modes of fire.
  2. Zarya can maximize her DPS and ammo consumption by using her alternate fire in situations where she has less than 25 ammo left in her weapon’s magazine.

Is Zarya a good main?

Zarya is great in sustained fights. She works very good in comps that can sustain and fight on the point for long periods of time like triple tank. The longer she is alive the more charge you can get and the more damage you can do.

Is Zarya from overwatch straight?

Zarya comes out as a lesbian
It’s not the first LGBTI character to come out in Overwatch – in 2016, writers revealed Zarya is a lesbian. Michael Chu said at the time: ‘It’s very important for us to have diversity and inclusiveness of all types, and that includes LGBT characters.