So you want to play some Overwatch, but who do you pick? You want to be able to dish out some damage, but you don't want to melt quickly, and you want some mobility thrown into the mix for escaping and engaging. Look know further than Winston, the absolute animal.
Role: Tank / Beast
Weapon: Tesla Cannon
Jump Pack [SHIFT]: Jump pack is your mobility with Winston. Use it to get to a capture point early, or use it to escape a dangerous situation, learning how to aim it is important, because different aiming arcs produce different results - if you're brand new, practice against AI and play around with Winston's Jump Pack because it will pay off in the long run, giving you insane map presence and survivability.
Barrier Projector [E]: This will be your bread and butter for engagements, and learning when to pop it and managing its cooldown is something that will come with time. Spamming it willy nilly isn't going to benefit you or anyone else (but that's explained later in the guide). The barrier will assist you in raw survivability (of course), but it's most powerful usage will be keeping your squishier team mates alive while giving them a 360 degree bubble of protection while they can dish out the damage.
Primal Rage [Q]: Winston's Ultimate can be one of the best point clearing tools and survival tools in the game. Knowing when and how to use it will allow you to eradicate enemies turtling in a point and help keep you alive in tricky situations. Primal Rage gives Winston an astonishing amount of health, severely reduces the cooldown of his leap, and he puts away his Tesla Cannon to go fisticuffs with brutal strength, knocking enemies back and dealing a significant amount of damage.
Know His Strengths - The trick to playing Winston is knowing his capabilities. He's a tank, so he's pretty hefty in the health department, he's mobile with his Jump Pack ability, and he can deal great damage in a cone to multiple enemies with his Tesla Cannon, but you must also know his limitations.
Know His Weaknesses - The Tesla Cannon is great when you're up close, but Winston does NOT have any long range attack, so Sniper characters can be a detriment depending on the map and if you're being funneled into a location where ranged DPS can take you out. His leap tends to have a bit of a cooldown, around 8 seconds, so if you use it to engage in combat, make sure you can survive long enough to use it to escape if you have to. His Barrier Projector has a pretty long cooldown, around 12 seconds, and it's health isn't anywhere near that of, say, Reinhardt's shield, so multiple enemies firing upon it can melt it down pretty quickly, be aware of this, and make sure to use it situationally and with conscience of the enemy locations and quantity.
With that out of the way, we can get into the meat and potatoes of letting out your primal rage.
Winston can really shine on Payload [Attack Side], for this very particular reason - Winston's Barrier Projector will move with the Payload if you pop it while sitting on top of the payload (moving or not). If your team has a Bastion, or a Torbjörn that can manage to get a Turret deployed on the Payload, the Barrier can provide you and your ally/their turret some defense while keeping the payload moving, and most times you can either scare the enemy team away, or melt them down with Bastion's barrage of fire, making keeping the payload moving a breeze.
When playing on Payload, the enemies will usually rely on a sniper and/or a Torbjörn with a turret to keep you from advancing past a certain point. With Winston, you can usually take them out by approaching from the side and leaping to whatever location they're at and melting them with the Tesla Cannon. Many Widowmakers are far too busy being scoped in looking at a specific choke point. You can melt down half of their health before they even realize they're next to you - sometimes without them realizing at all!
Primal Rage is your ace in the hole for a stubborn enemy team that doesn't want to get out of the way and keep contesting your payload. When the enemy is surrounding an area and preventing you from advancing, it'd be nice to throw your Barrier Projector out to whoever needs it, OR place it on the payload, and whenever you're ready to do some housecleaning, press that Q button and start to individually approach each enemy with your Jump Pack which is on an almost instantaneous cooldown, then smack them away from the payload. If they're in front of a wall, they can always be sent flying upwards. As you finish up with one target, leap to the next, and send him/her packing as well. This can give the Payload just enough time without being contested to make it to the next checkpoint, and potentially win the game.
While defending with Winston, your job is to monitor a choke point by keeping your barrier up on and around it for you and your team mates that are tackling any offenders coming that way, and to keep poking with your Tesla Cannon, which is GREAT if they approach as a group, you can hit all of them for 25% or more of their health with a well placed, well timed Barrier and a clip of that Tesla Cannon. If you have a Bastion, you can yet again utilize Bastion sitting on the payload with a Barrier around him. If the opportunity presents itself, you can gain a stupid advantage by having the enemy team have to come to their own payload with a shielded bulletstorm sitting on top of it.
If the attackers have a counter-sniper tucked away somewhere, Winston can take an alternate route, leap up to their perch, and melt down the sniper before they realize what happened. If you keep pressure on their sniper, you can either pressure them into a character switch, or you can keep a permanent lockdown on their sniping abilities with good map knowledge and movement. In my experience, Winston is perfect for eliminating snipers, and his mobility makes him a perfect candidate - on the same level as even a Reaper when it comes to one on one sniper elimination.
POINT CAPTURE [Attacking]:
Barrier, Barrier, BARRIER! Use that barrier, but the key with Winston on Point Capture is don't get ahead of your team. It's tempting to use your Jump Pack to get to the point quicker, but you'll get there just when the entire enemy team is arriving, and that's bad news, because even the best player is going to get rocked in a 5v1. Stick with your team, and when you reach that standoff with the defenders, use that Barrier to keep the enemy pressure off of your teammates and get them advancing and working picks.
Again, use Winston's Jump Packs to drop in on those pesky snipers before they see it coming. Taking out a sniper, then leaping back to your allies for a well placed Barrier can completely turn the tide of an otherwise stalemate of an offense.
If you're at a standstill and need to do some house cleaning (those nightmarish choke points on Anubis and Hanamura Point B come to mind), approach from one of the side routes if the enemies are mostly watching the front, pop that Primal Rage, and unleash the chaos. The benefits of this are pretty straightforward - the enemy team will find it hard to ignore the massive, angry, red gorilla charging in, so you'll draw the fire to you. Winston gets a whopping 1k health in his Rage form, so you can soak pretty well, but beware of Roadhog's ultimate, which will not only push you back, but MELT away huge chunks of that 10k health you're going to need for your ultimate usage to be beneficial - if necessary, use the Jump Pack to escape it. Once you've taken the enemy by surprise, do your best to prioritize your targets - any squishy DPS characters go first, provided they're accessible and not surrounded by too many of their allies, then move on to your turtle types that are keeping your allies at bay, and any tank types I usually go for last, but just remember, this is all situational - as you play, you'll get a feel for the flow of the game and how to play against different team compositions.
Don't get discouraged if your ultimate doesn't pay off as well, it's all a learning experience, and for a game with as much variety and depth as Overwatch, some things will only come with experience!
POINT CAPTURE [Defending]:
The only key difference while defending is putting more emphasis on keeping enemies out than letting allies in - the core rules are the same, and as always, if you need to wipe out a sniper, you've got the capability, just try to use your best judgment and make sure it's not at the cost of letting the rest of your team die from a big push while you're out taking out a single target.
With Primal Rage, you're going to be using this to hop in, knock the enemy team out of the capture point, and prevent them from taking it - and what's great is that usually they're all in a small area (the point itself), so cleaning house is a breeze, and on maps like Hanamura, you can usually knock one or two of them off of the map without even trying!
Currently, Hybrid consists of just Point Capture and Payload, so the guidelines are just a split between the two, just refer to the sections above.
Control is a newer gametype where both teams are essentially "Attackers," and is a best of three format. You're going to essentially be taking a blend of the guidelines from Point Capture Attack AND Defend, though you may see far less snipers in this game mode because it often relies on raw damage output and team survivability, which is where your Barrier will come in handy!
Hopefully this guide can help you let out your inner animal, thanks for reading! Feel free to post any questions/comments/concerns, if I've made any mistakes or if any of you other Winston players have any alternate strategies, I'd be happy to add it to the guide and of course give credit where credit is due - this is of course a living document, so I'm more than welcoming to changes and additions. As a final word, please take this quote.
We all have a favorite character or characters, but don't let that keep you from changing to a different one if the situation or the enemy composition demands it. Don't let go of a win because of a stubborn affinity for one character in particular - they're all worth playing.
Version 1.0 - Initial submission
Version 1.derp - Fixed Typo 10K instead of 1K health for Winston's Ultimate.
Version 1.3 - Cleaned up visuals, added graphics, updated references for abilities and game modes. Added companion YouTube video.