Zarya is a character that evolves as the conflict goes on, going from laughably mediocre – boasting just 80DPS with primary and the weakest explosion in the entire game as a secondary, to the tank with the greatest damage:range ratio out of any of them. But how much energy is enough energy? How do I know when I can go up against a Mccree or a Roadhog? If it were a battle of attrition where both sides unloaded their weapons into eachother while standing still, I could give you exact numbers but that is not the case, unfortunately. What I can do, as a hardened Zarya player, is give you fairly reliable indications of when you should be looking to engage certain characters. I will not be considering every factor of a fight but will add some modifiers at the end. For now, these numbers are under the assumption that:
- Both players are at the same level of skill, making moves and combos as expected of a typical player
- The fight is an isolated 1v1 with no walls or hazards for either side to take advantage of
- The combatants are at a range where the Zarya can hit with her primary
- Zarya’s particle barrier is available, although I’ll put another energy estimate in parentheses for if it is not
And with that, let us begin. Please bear in mind that the energy estimates provided are at the start of the fight, and it is assumed they will increase from the use of the particle barrier
–Ana(25): On paper, Zarya already outdoes Ana, although strategic use of healing and the sleep dart can potentially tip the balance in her favour. However, simply absorbing a shot or two cancels this minor advantage out, the energy taking Zarya over 100DPS
–D.Va(40): Zarya is D.Va’s chief counter. Her primary ignores Defense matrix completely and her barrier turns D.Va’s fusion cannons against her. What’s more, D.Va’s slow speed allows Zarya to back off enough so that the fusion cannons are reduced to minimal damage while Zarya maintains her DPS. As if that wasn’t enough, Zarya’s damage per shot is less than 5, meaning D.Va’s 500 points of armour completely fail her.
–Mercy(0): Not much to say here. Mercy isn’t built for a 1v1 showdown.
–Symmetra(60): As long as you have your barrier, symmetra kills herself regardless of how she approaches a Zarya. Decision 1: hit Zarya with primary fire and lose all your charge when you have to take it off due to the particle barrier. Decision 2: Maintain the beam to maintain charge and have a chance, but at the same time charge Zarya past any level of DPS you could ever hope to achieve.
–Torbjorn’s turret(0): You don’t even need your shield. Zarya doesn’t care about torbjorn’s turret.
–Torbjorn(30): Torbjorn’s secondary can pretty easily eat away at most tanks, but for Zarya it simply serves as an energy boost. It will be one of the closer 1v1s you encounter in the 0 energy list, but you’ll win more than lose.
–WidowMaker(20): Assuming Zarya is within range, Widow is unlikely to opt for her sniper rifle, meaning her venom mine and primary fire are her only weapons, both of which are completely impractical for dealing with tanks.
–Zenyatta(50): Especially with the health buff, Zen has become a formidable duellist, being able to use discord orb to shred even offence characters. However, his lacking mobility and zarya’s ability to completely negate discord through use of the barrier means the tank will almost always outlast him.
–Hanzo(70): Hanzo’s abysmal fire rate is a boon in this matchup for him, as Zarya’s shield makes little difference in the 2 seconds it is up, only catching a single arrow. However, this arrow provides 24 energy, which can be more than enough to finish off whatever is left of his Hp. R.I.P the Hanzo that opened with scatter arrow.
–Junkrat(70): Zarya is a soft counter to junkrat, as many Zarya players view him as an energy dispenser. Regardless of a junkrat’ reaction time, he can’t take back the grenades he launched once the shield is popped. If you get uncomfortably close to junkrat, it is possible to coax him into using concussion mine as you use your shield, making him an even smaller threat.
–Lucio(50): More of an annoyance than a threat, Lucio can often outsmart Zarya by switching between healing and speed to keep her from getting a bead on him. Zarya must also switch up in sync with Lucio, using grenades while sped up and focusing your primary fire when he slows down to heal.
–Mccree(90): Almost every Mccree will instinctively open with a flashbang and fan the hammer. Big mistake. Zarya can open with a shield and absorb all that damage, beginning the fight with an already injured Mccree and energy in the 80s. Without the shield, Zarya starts with half health and her energy will have decayed mildly within that time.
–Winston(60): Winston has much lower damage than Zarya, but his barrier and higher health pool gives him an edge. Not to mention he will provide Zarya with very limited energy. Despite all that, it comes down to a battle of attrition that a charged Zarya often wins.
–Genji(60): Genji will patiently wait for the barrier to go down, giving it little importance. Like Lucio, genjis going up against Zaryas should be dealt with by leading them with grenades as they leap around. They will make the mistake of eventually stopping to deflect grenades back at Zarya, which is where Zarya can surprise genji with the unblockable primary fire.
–Soldier 76(90): Soldier’s typical opening barrage with a helix rocket is an easy energy boost, but his primary can shred Zarya once her barrier goes down. The key to beating soldier is to harass him as much as possible once he deploys the biotic field, forcing him to either stay and fight or get into a more acceptable range at the cost of healing. In this energy range, Zarya can outlast soldier if he chooses the former.
–Tracer(80): There is little option other than to spam grenades. Tracer is a 2 hit kill from 67 energy onwards, but never a 1 hit, with grenade damage maxing out at 90.
–Bastion(N/A): Bastion will screw you over without a barrier at the ready, but you can otherwise walk straight up to a bastion, soaking up enough damage to outlast it. Just.
–Mei(N/A): Your barrier can negate the freezing effect of the ice queen herself. You can survive the process of freeze>headshot twice before Mei ends you, and being able to circumvent the first is a great advantage. Due to Mei’s health pool and low damage output, it is essential to enter the fight with high charge.
–Reinhardt(100): While Zarya controls the flow of most fights with her barrier, control of this one goes to Reinhardt, with a shield Zarya can’t penetrate which he can put up when he chooses. Playing defensively against Reinhardt is important for a chance of winning instead of trying to get behind his shield. Baiting him into charging is the best bet to winning, and facing off against him in general isn’t recommended.
Run fast; Run far
–Pharah(N/A): You cannot reach her in the air and her low fire rate means minimal energy gain. Never consider engaging a Pharah unless she is tied to the ground by whatever means.
–Reaper(N/A):Reaper doesn’t care that you will gain energy. He will shred your shield in one hit and then your body in another 2. Stay away from reaper at all costs.
–Roadhog(N/A): Roadhog can be beaten by Zarya, but usually only with teammates around, which isn’t the case in these scenarios. In a standoff, Roadhog can bide his time with a breather when Zarya’s shield goes up and is also more than capable of tearing through health and shield alike.
When calculating whether to take on an opponent, add or take off energy as these modifiers describe (If the requirement goes over 100, I would personally not recommend engaging an enemy under those parameters)
Allies: -10 energy requirement per ally
Enemies: +15 energy requirement per
Being healed: -5 if by Lucio, -15 for other sources (do not apply this vs bastion)
Enemy being healed: +10 if by Lucio, +15 for other sources
Damage amp: -30 from mercy, -40 from Ana
Enemy damage amp: +30 from mercy, +60 from Ana
Favourable cover: -10
Unfavourable cover: +15
Please keep in mind this is all a combination of rudimentarily calculating damages and energy decay, with my own personal experience as a Zarya main. I hope this provided some restraint next time you want to take on that reaper now you have 70 charge.
It is worth noting that it is extremely possible to kill reapers, pharah’s and other characters with way less energy than listed. This is a personal recommendation under basic circumstances, and there will be situations where other heroes are at a disadvantage (situations I may go over in another post). Until then, feel free to list disagreements etc.