If you are new to Zarya or new to Overwatch then first, welcome and second, start right here.  The stuff you need is at the top of this guide.  If you are an experienced player then jump down to the bottom to Tips and Tricks.  Thanks for joining us.  We appreciate it!

Zarya is incredibly useful for almost any composition. She has sustain with 200 shields and can apply barriers to herself or allies. Her attacks are weak when at low charge but can bring massive damage when she is charged. 

What's particularly interesting about Zarya is that she's capable of dealing high amounts of damage and benefits massively from actually receiving it. Her Particle Barrier redirects incoming damage to bolster her output, allowing her to cut down enemy Heroes incredibly quickly once it's maximized. Despite her damage, she's also incredibly useful for protecting her allies with her Projected Barrier and if necessary, preparing for a team spike with her Ultimate ability. 




Her Ultimate ability is incredible for setting up a team spike

A slow playstyle in comparison to Winston and D.Va

Both of her fire modes are excellent, offering high damage and poke pressure 

Her Projected Barrier needs to be timed based on incoming damage

Having the ability to Barrier herself and her team offers survivability and mitigation 

Coordinated teams can mitigate Particle Barrier by avoiding damaging Zarya

Her damage output, once she has used her Particle Barrier, is very high

Has no real means of escape or healing 


Aleksandra was born in a remote Siberian village that was on the front lines of the Omnic Crisis, which began some thirty years ago. Although Russian forces defeated the omnics and shut down their omnium, the region was devastated by the conflict. Only a child at the time, Aleksandra was surrounded by the post-war destruction, and as she grew older, she swore that she would gain the strength to help her people recover.

Focusing on weightlifting and bodybuilding, Aleksandra was identified by the national athletics program as a potential star. She trained extensively, moving up the ranks while representing her country, and was expected to shatter longstanding records in the upcoming world championships.

A magazine article on Zarya

But on the eve of the tournament, an attack came from the long-dormant Siberian omnium, and her village was thrust into war once again. Aleksandra immediately withdrew from the competition and rushed home to enlist in the local defense forces, sacrificing the life of fame and fortune she might have had. The magazine Богатыри reported on her departure.

Now she serves—a symbol to some, a stalwart fellow soldier to others. But for Aleksandra, it is a chance to use her great strength to protect the ones she loves.

As the Siberian omnium continued its attacks, Atlas News interviewed Zarya.


Energy (Passive) -  Zarya utilises an Energy mechanic that bolsters her damage when she takes damage. When either of her Barriers take damage, her Energy will increase in percentage increments. For example, if she has 65 Energy, her damage will be increased by 65%. 

Particle Cannon - Coming equiped with two fire modes, Particle Cannon is capable of dealing high damage. Its primary fire allows Zarya to fire a continuous beam of energy in a straight line, harming anyone in its path. It's a particularly strong primary attack because it's not only easy to aim (it's hitscan), but easy to track targets with. Quick movements just mean you move the beam into the enemies general direction and you're back dealing damage to them. 

Tip - Zarya's primary fire can bypass Genji's deflect.

Where her alternative fire is concerned, Zarya fires an orb of energy. These explosive charges are lobbed, rather than fired horizontally, meaning you have to not only predict the speed and velocity, but where the enemy will be when your orb lands. A little practice goes a long way with her alternative fire though it does deal less damage than her primary (a little over half). This damage does splash around the target and can be very effective against grouped enemies.

Particle Barrier - When activated Zarya will surround herself in a Barrier that allows her to absorb incoming damage for a brief period of time. All damage received is converted into Energy, while she is immune to crowd control such as stuns or knockback. It's important to note that Particle Barrier is incredibly powerful, not only because of the near immunity it provides but because of the fact that even if the Barrier only has 1 health left, all incoming damage will still be mitigated (without transferring to Zarya). Unsurprisingly Particle Barrier has a relatively lengthy cooldown (10 seconds) and considering it only lasts 2, you need to ensure you have it available when it's needed. Finally, unlike other Barrier's in the game (such as Reinhardt's) Zarya's blocks all projectiles, even those that would normally pass through. 

Tip - Both Particle and Absorption Barrier protect for 200 damage

Projected Barrier - A targeted ability that provides any ally with a Barrier, this acts exactly the same as Particle Barrier (including all of its benefits). Interestingly and this is key to maintaining your Energy stacks, allies affected by your Barrier contribute to your Energy percentage. In essence, you have two sources of Energy gain from two Barriers and maintaining both as often as possible is key to your damage output. Just like with Particle Barrier, knowing when to use Projected Barrier - based on incoming damage - is incredibly important as its cooldown is relatively lengthy (8 seconds). 

Graviton Surge - Arguably one of the strongest Ultimate abilities in the game, Graviton Surge pulls all nearby enemies into it, dealing damage over time. The radius is fairly generous and so it's relatively easy to ensnare multiple enemies at once. The fact they're then held in the gravity field for 4 seconds allows you and your team to bombard the area with as much damage as possible. Two important things to note however when it comes to Graviton Surge is that some mobility skills can escape from it (Tracer's Blink) while Barrier's (such as Reindhart or Winston's) can mitigate it entirely - do not fire it into their Barrier! 


First and foremost, Zarya is a Tank. She's there to mitigate damage for her team, be the center of attention and deal as much damage as possible. This can only be achieved by being alongside your team rather than attempting solo play or making an effort to secure the most kills. You're of much more value to your team by being a permanent presence beside them, laying down your alternative fire and constantly shielding your allies. 

Unlike with Winston, Zarya lacks mobility and is effectively a damage sponge. Part of her design and it revolving around Energy is that by default, she doesn't deal a huge amount of damage. She has to be taking damage and using her Barrier's against it so that she can maximize her damage output. At zero Energy her damage isn't terrible, but it isn't great. With that in mind it's in your best interests to not only distribute your Barrier's as much as possible, but ensure your own is regularly active. If you can, try to always sit at around 60 Energy with a view that 100 is perfect but not always obtainable. In a particularly heavy fire fight however and with rotation between Barrier's, maintaining 60 is relatively easy. 

Tip - Applying a Barrier onto a front-line Hero such as another Tank can be a gaurenteed way of increasing your Energy gain. 

When it comes to fighting with Zarya and not just your management of Energy and Barriers, it's important that you apply constant pressure. Your alternative fire has a large range and its damage, although not enormous by default, will hurt when you begin to ramp up your Energy. The fact you can continually lob them into the enemy (especially against Torbjorn turrets) makes it particularly effective as surpressing fire. Most enemy teams can't constantly deal with the barrage and will either retreat or attempt to force a fight. At this point it's easy to switch to your primary fire for high, continuous damage, or to drop your Graviton Surge. 

Finally, be concious of the fact that you have no escape skills or any means of healing yourself. Once you're committed to a fight, Zarya has to go all in unless she's on the fringes. Once in amongst it however, as long as you keep your Barrier's up and continually use cover and line of sight, you'll survive for a long time.


Heroes listed here are particularly challenging for Zarya. While those listed can still be killed, they pose a particularly difficult challenge for her so be sure to take extra care. 



Bastion: Your Barrier will save you against Bastion for a few seconds to at least let you know his location. At this point you should bombard him with his alternative fire as often as possible (while using cover). It should pressure him enough that he can't just repair to full.


Reaper: Always a threat to most Heroes simply because he hits so hard and due to his ability to teleport, it can be difficult to know where he will flank from. 


Soldier 76: Your Barrier can buy you some time but his constant barrage of attacks from out of your range is deadly. If he has his Ultimate ability, you're done for. Try to poke from afar with your alternative fire and if he gets too close, use your Barrier to maximise your Energy and burn him down.  8/10

McCree: A well placed stun combined with a couple headshots will deal serious damage to you and if he catches you unaware, your Barrier will buy you very little time against his attacks. If possible, try to use your Barrier just before he stuns or uses his alternative fire. At this point, keep your primary fire on him. 


Mei: Her ability to freeze you is incredibly annoying and if she rotates her Ice Block and Wall, she'll outlast your damage. If she purposefully buys time when your Barrier is up, she'll also prevent your Energy gain - freeze you - and then shoot you in the head. Keep her at arms length at all times.


Tracer: Although your Barrier can mitigate some damage from her, it won't save you for long. Even your primary fire will find it difficult to keep track of her.  8/10




Zarya guide by ioStux Coaching


Rocket Jumping on Hollywood


Seagull Rocket Jumping on Dorado




When to Effectively Use Your Barriers

Understanding that Zarya's barriers are for more than just generating charge is the difference between an average player and a great one.  Gold medals and high energy don't always translate into wins.   Here are some examples of effective Zarya barriers.  

  • Saving a teammate who is going down, especially a healer or main tank. 
  • Removing CC on a teammate who is ulting.  
  • Teammate hooked by Roadhog or flashed by McCree. 
  • Teammate getting pinned by Reinhardt. 
  • Your Reinhardt charging.  
  • Save a teammate from a D.Va ultimate. 
  • and many more.

Short story, think before just firing out your barrier to gain charge.   Being down a player is a lot worse than you being down a bit of charge.   Team first!


Zarya's Barrier Sensitivity Explained


Gameplay Review by 4200 SR Player


Zarya Parkour For Route 66



Zarya's Role and How to Play It


Zarya Advanced Guide


5 Mistakes Many Zarya Players Make


Positioning as Zarya (VOD)


Master Zarya Gameplay Review


Zarya Coaching Guide


Grandmaster Graviton Guide


Sneaky Zarya Graviton Spots


The Shotgun Technique - How To Break Chokes


How To Gain Charge Fast


This list of tips and tricks are just a handful of things we think will help your Zarya play. We'll continue to add to the list as required and if you have any tips you'd like to share, let us know in the comments below and we'll place them here. 

1. Zarya needs Energy to bolster her damage - be sure to gain it from your Barrier's as often as effectively possible.

2. Both Zarya's Barrier's function exactly the same, the only difference is that one is for Zarya and the other can be cast on her allies. 

3. Don't forget that her Barrier's mitigate all incoming damage, even if the Barrier only has a fraction of health left. 

4. Damage received while either Barrier is active will provide percentage increments to your Energy gain. 

5. Barriers only last a few seconds - be sure to time your use of them to ensure you mitigate the damage and gain the Energy conversion. 

6. Your alternative fire deals less damage than your primary, but has a much large range and can hurt players in an area of effect. 

7. Your alternative fire is also a lobbed projectile, that is fired in an arc. This allows you to fire over walls or over enemy players to reach a backline.  

8. Zarya's primary fire deals high, continuous damage but doesn't have an overly long range. It should only be used when you're close to the enemy. 

9. Graviton Surge is incredible and can easily result in the enemy team being wiped. If you're alone but catch the enemy with your Ultimate, bombard them with your alternative fire. 

10. Your Barrier's make you and your allies immune to crowd control. This is particularly effective against Heroes such as Roadhog and his Hook. 

11. When you need to escort a Payload or hold an Objective, always be sure to remain as close to it as possible while distributing your Barrier. Zarya can withstand a fair amount of punishment and can be a nuisance to uproot. 

12. Your barrier can save an Ally hooked by Roadhog - contributed by Halberd

13. Excellent for avoiding McCree's flashbank / fan the hammer combo - contributed by Halberd

14Escape Mei's primary fire by using the barrier on yourself. - contributed by Halberd

15. Save yourself or an ally from high damage ults. - contributed by Halberd

16. Your alt-fire allows you to "rocket jump" short distances. - contributed by Halberd

17. You can knock enemies off ledges or out of position with your alt-fire.  - contributed by Halberd

18. You can "rocket jump" to normally inaccessible spots by shooting your alt-fire at your feet. 

19: List of Ultimates countered by Zarya's barrier: Tracer's Pulsebomb, D.Va's Self-Destruct, Reinhardt's Hammer Down, Junrat's Rip-Tire, McCree's Deadeye.  It partially negates many others. 

20. Use your personal bubble to build charge.  Use your team bubble to save lives.  

21. Sometimes taking out the support(s) is worth using your Graviton. 

22. You are an off-tank.  Act like a guard dog.  It is often better to use your shield to save a teammate than to build charge.  Most players can't resist shooting at a bubble on a low health player, putting you in a win-win situation. 



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Last Updated: Jun 05, 2017