Hello and welcome to the Amateur’s Pharah Guide! In this unnecessarily long post, I shall pass onto you my limited (but still useful) knowldege on how to rain down hell from the skies with our girl Fareeha.
Note that this is merely a starter’s guide on how to effectively play as Pharah, and not something as intricate as a full-on, all-map strategy guide. I’ll be focusing mainly on her abilities, strenghts and weaknesses, and also your rules of engagement when encountering each possible enemy hero. She is also not my “main” per se, but she’s my second most played hero and I just love having a good match with her. Pardon any grammar or phrasing mistakes, for I am not a native speaker.
So, without further ado:
Pharah’s kit is a relatively simple one, in that it relies almost solely on one thing – air superiority. Although she is not useless when spamming her rockets while on the ground, Pharah benefits greatly from her mobility and flanking potential, allowing her to displace entire enemy teams, take out key targets or set up a devastating ult in clutch moments and locations.
- Rocket Launcher – 120 damage
Pharah’s rockets don’t really need an explanation. Press LMB to fire, hit enemy to hurt them. Their relatively quick travel speed and forgiving blast radius make for a decent AoE projectile, although you’re much better off hitting those direct hits for maximum damage. Remember, two direct shots melt more than half of Overwatch’s cast.
- Jump Jet – Shift
This is also pretty self-explanatory. Pharah’s Jump Jets are what allows her to boost into the skies and dance around like some sort of vicious, gun-toting vulture. Timing your Shift and knowing when not to use it, however, is a prettybig part of playing Pharah. You see, being airborne is not only a way of being offensively superior, it’s also a way of escaping enemy abilities and/or attacks. Like with Genji’s Swift Strike, Jump Jet is best used if not constantly spammed cooldown after cooldown. When you are closing in to the enemy, assess the situation and determine wether you should or should not pop Shift before engaging. When you’re stuck in a 1v1, specially against another Pharah, Shift discipline can be essential for your survival. Remember that you can leap over medium obstacles with a continuous burst of your Space/RMB, leaving the use of Jump Jet for combat and overcoming greater obstacles, like buildings and the like.
- Concussive Blast – E
This is perhaps Pharah’s most useful and versatile ability, and one that is, unfortunately, commonly mistaken for an AoE Lúcio boop. While this use is by no means incorrect (and can lead to some incredible plays), there is much more to Pharah’s E than just sending enemies down a cliff:
o Use it to increase your survivability. Pitted against strong close-quarters attacks, such as the ones of the likes of Mei, Reaper or even Roadhog, aim E between you and your enemy and jump to a safer place. Concussive Blast is a really strong means of escape, specially in the absence of a charged Jump Jet.
o Displace the enemy team! Whenever it’s just for sending an organized attack flying everywhere or isolating the enemy team’s tank, E is also very useful as a means of foiling your opponent’s plans. I try to aim it mainly at charging frontline heroes, such as a brave Rein or Zarya, sending them into the jaws of my team.
o Save your teammates! As well as saving your armor-plated butt when it comes to near-death encounters, E can be used to send that hooking Roadhog away from your defenseless Zenyatta buddy. Everyone will love you (except the Roadhog).
- Barrage – Q
AKA Justice rains from ab-AAAAAUGHH!!!, or “Why the hell can’t I kill anyone without getting slaughtered by an omniscient Widowmaker?”, Pharah’s ult is a monstrous delivery of damagez upon the enemy’s faces – as long as you’re not shutdown right after triggering it. There’s a lot of strategy to each map and its best flanking routes, and utilizing Barrage to its fullest relies on just that: knowing where and when to be. Be smart: know the enemy’s comp and the heroes that could shut you down easily. Do they have a good sniper? Is their Roadhog focusing solely on taking down flankers? Are their under pressure from the rest of your team? Know when the danger of yelling justice into your foes is less high and find a position where you would be hard to rapidly take down. Wait for abilities to be used, shields to be broken, ults to be used. But DO NOT (and I stress it again: DO NOT) wait too much for that team wipe you’ve been dreaming of. Getting two or three kills with barrage is already a devastating blow to the enemy, and will allow your team to keep pushing or relieve their defense efforts. Focus on priority targets: supports, tanks, anything that can keep the enemy together. Be wise, and your rockets will be wiser for you.
Pharah Etiquette of Engagement
Now that we’ve gone through the basics of blowing stuff up, let’s take a look at how you can effectively face the entire cast of Overwatch. Remember: this does not encompass every encounter you might experience.
- Ana When faced with an enemy Ana, be sure to greet her every time you find her, since mama Amari will probably cheer for you instead of shooting you head on. In case that doesn’t happen (which is always. Why mom ;-;), be careful around an enemy Ana, since her bodyshots can actually take you down relatively fast. Use the environment to your advantage and single her out; displace her with your E to throw off her aim for a bit, then follow up with a well-placed rocket. I’m a grown-up now, alright mom?
- Bastion Pharah’s pretty good at taking down our derided omnic buddy from a distance. Three rockets easily destroy his face in Sentry Mode, as long as you’re not caught in his hail of bullets for too long. Staying away is key.
- D.Va Oh god. The gremlin queen is a pretty good match-up for Pharah, since she can eat her rockets and evenher entire ult. Taking down a D.Va takes patience and caution; be sure to keep Jump Jet charged for when she flies at you guns blazing. Hit her where her Defense Matrix cannot get to, and work with your team to eventually whittle her mech down. Lil’ D’Va is just about landing the rockets on her face.
- Genji Genji’s a pretty terrifying enemy for even a good Pharah. Deflect and great mobility make him a threat in every situation, so additional caution should be taken when faced with one. Bait him into using Deflect and then evade his range (momentarily) with your Jump Jets; displace him, hit him with the AoE when direct hits are a no-no. When you hear his ult, pray to Horus while sitting in a corner, crying.
- Hanzo Genji’s older brother isn’t an easy target, too. As with Ana, displace him before he can arrow you out of the sky, and follow up with aggressive rockets to give him no chances of survival. Mind your flank routes, bits of cover and other map details that could give you an edge over Dragonman. Also keep in mind that while you are as mobile when firing as when not firing, Hanzo needs to slow down to take aim at you.
- Junkrat Simple math: Jamison’s grenades arc, your rockets do not. You can fly, he cannot. Just stay away from his traps and Junkrat’s a dead man.
- Lúcio AKA “Why won’t you die god damnit I’ve shot like seven thousand rockets ar you”, Lúcio can be quite a pain in the ass with his self-heal and mobility. Direct hits help a lot, but your first priority should be getting him away from his team before engaging in explodey business. Also: his gun actually does damage, and it willeventually hit you.
- McCree Nope, nope, nope. McChicken may be a rather deadly opponent for our girl Fareeha, but keep in mind that not all is lost when facing robot-arm future cowboy man. Treat him like a fast-firing sniper: displace him, bait him into thinking you’re a lesser threat, then punish him with follow-up rockets. Taking him by surprise (and thus giving him a taste of his own medicine) is a pretty good way of facing McCree; flank, hover above him, do everything to drive his aiming hand nuts. If you’re being taken down easily but your team still needs your rockety rockets, work with your tanks to stay out of his range and then leap in when he least expects it. (I swear it works! …sometimes.)
- Mei Just stay out of her freeze’s range and pepper her with rockets from afar. Keep in mind that, while less accurate than it was before the hitbox nerf, Mei’s icicles can still deal a hefty sum of headshot damage. Watch out for her walls; be sure it’s on cooldown or she’s dead before unleashing Barrage on a team with her.
- Mercy Being your #1 bae, Mercy should be the one whose butt you’ll be after most of the time. Strike unexpectedly to give her less time to react; use her Guardian Angel ability to your advantage, predicting where she will stop to land your next rocket. All in all, be heartless to our helpless Angela. :3
- Pharah Fareeha v Fareeha is a tricky business, and often comes down to whoever has the best aim and thus can land the most direct hits. If you’re not one of these, don’t despair: you can always use the map to your advantage. Use Jump Jet with care, deploy an E if the need arises and watch out for nearby surfaces. Always try to be moving around, and never near a wall or ceiling, since your enemy can use these to deal some splash damage when you least expect it.
- Reaper He’s got shotguns. You’ve got Shift. I think this is pretty much self-explanatory. Pro tip: get Edge Blossom away from your team with E. :3
- REINHARDT! Six rockets do a lot of damagez (720, to be precise) to Gramps’ old shield, which means a lot to whittle down enemy pushes or defenses. Be sure to punch his shield’s power before deploying Barrage on a team with a Reinhardt, since it can mean the difference between success and failure. Displace Rein with E and flank his shield through the air; be careful when his team’s paying attention to your actions, though.
- Roadhog Stay the FUCK away from his hook. In case you’re caught, pray to the Blizz gods and fire an E at him before he can slaughter you with his LMB. Be wary: his RMB deals a LOT of damage in the right range, and should not be underestimated. Other than that, Makoman is a good ult builder and a big target for your speedy rockets.
- Soldier: 76 Basically a slightly less terrifying McChicken, Soldier can be a pain in the ass as well. Once again, play to your strengths: strike in unexpected places, use the map’s and your teammates’ cover, be cautious and mindful. When you hear his ult go off, do the same thing you’d do for Genji.
- Symmetra Don’t get caught by her microwave gun. Find teles before she can get her entire team back into action.
- Torbjörn Attack his turret like you would attack Bastion: from far away and out of its range. Toblerone himself is relatively vulnerable to your rockets, but he can deal an unexpected chunk of headshot damage. Run the hell away from Molten Core, or focus fire on Toblerone and his turret if you’ve got your team watching your back.
- Tracer Oh god, where is she? Facing Tracer is all about not letting her catch you on the ground and predicting where she’ll land next. Learn your enemy’s favorite patterns and frequency at which they use both Shift and E; aim your launcher accordingly.
- Widowmaker Ugh. Another sniper? Well, keep in mind that Widow can use her wallhack ult to easily foil your flanks, so move with care when it’s up. Other than that, Take the same caution you’d take with Hanzo or Nana.
- Winston Winston’s really only terrifying if your Shift is down. With his leap, he can tear down your health pool faster than you’d imagine, so try to keep your distance. Also, his shield breaks with five of your rockets.
- Zarya AKA TOGETHER WE ARE STRONK, Zarya is only terrifying when you’re up close. Keep your distance as you’d do with Winston and DO NOT shoot at the god damn shields. If you feel your AoE damage is feeding her too much, consider either being more cautious or switching to a less feedy class.
- Zenyatta Zenyatta went from Squishy Tank Destroyer to Relatively Powerful Tank Destroyer in the Ana update, but that won’t stop you from taking him down. Be wary of his orbs, since he can put out significant headshot damage with Discord; treat him like some sort of projectile sniper. Dealing with Zen is absolutely essential in occasions where he can pop Transcendence and deny your entire ult.
And that’s it, folks! I hope you’ve learned something useful and taken a different look at how Pharah can work in different situations. Any constructive criticism is appreciated! Have a beautiful day and some excellent games! 😉