Hey there OverwatchUniversity, I figured I’d write a guide after noticing an increased interest in Soldier 76, so players looking to pick him up know what to expect, and anticipate when playing the military man himself. I’ll go over basic stats, positioning, what you should be looking to achieve, ult usage, technologies they don’t teach you, etc. This guide will assume some basic knowledge of the game, but no knowledge of soldier.
It’ll also be pretty long, so grab a snack and your favorite beverage (mine is seltzer water) and kick back for a good read.
First, a disclaimer. I am a gold player. I am by no means an expert on Soldier, but I like to think I know a decent bit about him. I believe I’m in gold due to my aim. If you think that invalidates my advice, then fine, but I invite you to post corrections if you have any. I wish to learn too.
Soldier:76 — About the hero
Soldier 76 is classed as a DPS hero, and is one of the heroes classified as “hitscan” heroes, meaning that his shots hit instantly with no travel time. So, if you click on someone, they take damage. No ifs, ands, or buts. However, unlike a hero like McCree or Widowmaker, just clicking on someone is going to do very little damage. Soldier’s sub-type is a “tracking” hero, meaning that his damage is designed around tracking, rather than occasional high damage shots like Widow does. Instead, he fires a great deal of relatively low damage bullets, and it’s up to you to keep your crosshair on the enemy, rather than just placing and clicking.
Soldier is one of the more aim-intensive heroes, and rewards good mechanical skill. Players that bring their aim from other heroes and games will do very well on soldier. Many describe playing him as being similar to playing other FPS games.
Stats — What’s your damage?
Soldier has 200 health that doesn’t regenerate on it’s own, typical of a DPS. He is considered a “squishy” hero, capable of putting out large damage but weak when attacked directly, a bit like a glass cannon.
In terms of damage, soldier fires bullets that do anywhere from 6 damage to 19 damage, based on falloff range. Damage fall off occurs at 30m for soldier, making him one of the longest ranged hitscan heroes in the roster, second only to Widowmaker, who has essentially infinite range. Headshot doubles that to 12-38 damage per shot. He fires 9 shots per second from his 25 round magazine when holding the trigger, making his max DPS with only bodyshots (or against shields) 171 damage per second. This means that he can kill a 200 health hero in a little over a second if all his bullets hit as bodyshots. If he does nothing but headshots (only achievable at point blank against something large like a Winston) his total DPS is 342, meaning he can shred Roadhog in about 1.8 seconds, if he lands every shot as a headshot.
An entire clip of his gun emptied as bodyshots (or into a shield) would come out to 475 damage total, if all headshots, 950.
Surprising, isn’t it? People often underestimate how much damage a soldier can put out, due to the grand majority of players’ aim being imperfect. His ultimate, Tactical Visor, is feared because it counteracts the very thing that makes him balanced, missing. Remember how if he lands nothing but bodyshots without missing (as the ult makes him do), his DPS is 171? Tactical Visor, or TacVisor, is a highly dangerous ult when there isn’t anything around to negate it.
As for movement speed and jump height, it’s the same as basically every other hero, unless he activates Sprint, which I’ll go into detail about in the next section.
Abilities — What can you do other than mindlessly hold left click?
Soldier has 3 abilities, Sprint, Biotic Field, and Helix Rocket.
These three abilities cover the 3 schools of mechanics: movement, defense, and offense, respectively.
His first ability, Sprint, has no cooldown and can be used endlessly. When activated, it raises his movement speed from the default to 8.33m/s, allowing him to outrun most heroes. Since the ability has no cooldown and can be used endlessly, you should be using it whenever you need to relocate, or get back into the fight, or run away, etc. Basically, if you aren’t shooting, be sprinting. In the options for soldier, Sprint can be bound to be toggled or held to activate. I personally use toggle, so it doesn’t require a finger held down to use, which can be tiring. It’s entirely up to whichever you prefer though.
His second ability is Biotic Field, this is his way to sustain himself while fighting. It heals for a decent 41hp per second, to anyone within it’s range, healing for a total of 204 health over it’s duration. Meaning, if you drop it, and don’t take any further damage, it will always heal you to full. If you take less than 40 damage per second, it will keep you alive as long as it’s down. If you’re taking more, it will greatly extend your lifespan and how long it takes to kill you.
Usage of this ability should be minimized, as opposed to sprint. You don’t want to have to use this, instead you should try to have your healers heal you, since doing that will build their ult. However, if you find you’re taking too much damage for your support to sustain, or your healer is preoccupied/non-existent, it can act as a pocket healer in a pinch. It also makes it much more difficult to 1v1 you, especially if your assailant cannot heal themselves. It is also capable of healing allies, so it can be used in calm situations to heal allies near you, or support other DPS such as McCree.
It has a rather long cooldown of 15 seconds.
His third ability is Helix Rocket. HR is what I like to call your “assassinator” ability, since landing it makes confirming kills easy. It’s in the same league as other assassinator abilities like Flashbang, Swift Strike, etc. HR deals 120 damage on a direct hit, and up to 80 with splash. With HR comes a few fun damage thresholds.
Helix direct + Melee = 150 -> Dead Tracer, Mini D.va
Helix direct + 1 headshot = 158 -> Dead Tracer, Mini D.va
Helix direct + ~2 headshots = 196 -> Very nearly dead 200hp hero
Helix direct + 4 body shots -> Dead 200hp hero
As you can see, getting hit directly (or “directed” in pro lingo) by a HR is very devastating.
Aiming HR can be tricky because it requires you to switch aiming modes from hitscan to projectile, but landing them directly should be doable with practice. Later in the guide I’ll teach you a few pointers about how to hit enemies more reliably as soldier.
It has a short-ish cooldown of 8 seconds, and the projectile travels at 50m per second.
HR should be used for two things: Confirming kills via burst damage, and breaking armor.
In the first case, you should use HR to confirm kills on people that are trying to get away. Typically, everyone has a comfort range for how much health they’ll lose before they seek cover/healing. You can trick enemies into thinking they’re safe (after all, they’ve only lost 80 health, right?), then you blow them away with a direct hit. Depending on how confident you are with your helix aim, you can either aim for a perfect execution (80dmg with primary fire, direct HR to kill), or work someone down most of the way with bullets, then use helix to get that last 60 damage. Whichever you prefer. Nothing more tilting than getting sniped at extreme range by a perfectly predicted HR shot. I’ve shot junkrats out of the sky with this ability.
As for breaking armor, due to the way armor works, you can do more damage to a hero with armor if you use the high burst of helix to get rid of most of their armor before shooting them. This is especially relevant with the release of Brigitte soon.
Positioning — Where did you come from, where did you go?
With positioning, there are two important things to remember. The first being “Can I do my job as a DPS?”, meaning can you kill the enemy quickly, inside your falloff radius, or are you too far away/don’t have the sight-lines to kill things?
The second thing is “Am I safe?”, meaning are you in a safe spot where you can’t be killed easily?
What I recommend for new soldiers is to follow what I like to call the “positioning priority list”. It’s a list of locations that are ordered by decreasing power. The list:
- High ground
This is your go-to. Always be on high ground if the enemy will let you. A good soldier on the high ground uncontested can wreck scrubs harder than a rodeo bull in a china shop. I once held a map for 6 mins on the second point because the enemy refused to remove me.
While you’re there, use your land advantage to shoot behind the enemy shields at squishies like supports. If you keep taking out their supports, they can’t push with any real power. This is your equivalent of Tracer’s spawn-camping, you’re in full “meme on them” mode. Also, if you can’t see anyone exposed, contribute to shield breaking, so everyone becomes exposed.
While you’re up there, you might receive attempts to remove you, usually in the form of the enemy flanker or off-tank trying to kill you or chase you away. What you do depends on how good your 1v1 ability is. If the enemy genji comes and you know you can 1v1 him because he’s bad, then go ahead and meme on him too.
If the enemy says “nah, get outta’ here with that bullshit” and successfully dives/snipes you off the high ground every time you try, commend them on their skill and awareness and fall down to the next positioning rung,
- Behind your team’s shields
Time to be a staple DPS, hang out in the second line behind your shield tanks and just put damage onto the enemy, like a McCree would. Contribute to breaking the enemy shields. Ho-hum. Keep an eye behind you for flankers trying to pull silly plans and shoot em down. Defend supports.
No shield heroes to cover behind?
Accuse your team of throwing Use cover of the map.
- Use map cover
If the enemy is really pinning you guys down and you can’t get much done, dial back the aggressiveness of your positioning until you start staying alive longer. From there you can run triage and try to help put regular damage into them. Kill people that overextend like winstons and idiot chargeaholic reinhardts.
Has the enemy team collectively decided “Fuck this soldier, lmao”? Well, time for the last positioning rung:
- Back line
You are now a support bodyguard/anti-flanker. Normally, this would be the job of a shorter range DPS like McCree, or perhaps an off-tank, but the enemy has decided to negate you. Assuming you don’t want to switch to something else, you now have to play like a support body guard. From this range, your damage falloff kicks in, so you won’t deal your full damage. That’s okay though, you can still help out with breaking shields. You really don’t want to act like this though, as this is not where your power lies. As soon as they get off your case, move back up the ladder.
Ultimate — Hacking legitimately
Soldier’s ultimate Tactical Visor is one of the most aesthetically cool ultimates in the game, right up there with dragon blade and dragonstrike. When you ult, you’ll get a subtle visor around your HUD, a timer will appear around your crosshair, and soldier will say in a chilling voice “I’ve got you in my sights”. To enemies, you’ll appear as a scary looking man with a red visor in front of his vision, as well as subtly glowing red. After the ult line is said, you and your enemies will also hear something similar to an ascending Shepard tone that warns enemies that you’re ulting.
The ult itself makes you never miss, essentially. You can only do bodyshots (even if you’re point blank to them), but every single bullet you shoot will hit someone, even if you aren’t aiming for them. It’s basically an aim-bot. Do note that it doesn’t boost the damage of your gun inherently, so you only do 171 dps to anything you’re hitting. Also note that they’re completely normal bullets, meaning they do have your normal falloff. This makes the ultimate much less useful for sniping, unlike Deadeye.
Tactical visor should be used at the earliest good opportunity, as it isn’t actually that powerful, despite the description and visual effects, unless paired with some form of damage boost. Since you can only shoot one enemy at once, and the ultimate itself can be blocked extremely easily by breaking line of sight or hiding behind a shield, it’s kinda a B tier ultimate. Personally, if I can pop it and get at least two people, it was a good use. When you do pop it, make sure you aim for hard to pin down characters like tracer, pharah, genji, etc. (A small tip about genji, when he deflects, you can let go of left mouse. The ult doesn’t force you to shoot. :))
Since it’s not as deadly as people think, it can also be used as a baiting ultimate, or a zoning ultimate.
As a baiting ultimate, it can be useful to pop Visor in order to make the enemy support reflexively ult to counter. Then, once the defense ult is over, you can have your team engage with A-tier ultimates and destroy them. You want to create the illusion for the enemy supports that if they don’t ult, they’ll lose people. Hell, perhaps actually make them lose a person or two, give em some convincing.
As a zoning ultimate, a bit like using Deadeye in this way, popping it can keep people out of your line of sight for a few seconds, which can allow capping a point or pushing for free. Interestingly enough, it can also be used as a defensive ult, in that it prevents enemies from pushing in unless they have a shield. It also can make getting dragon blade off successfully extremely difficult, since the genji either dies to the ult, or has to deflect, wasting his DB time, and still not necessarily saving him.
Specific mechanics of Tactical Visor
When TV is activated, soldier’s gun is reloaded instantly, and rhombus shaped targeting reticles will appear over enemies. The ult will shoot the reticle closest to the crosshair, This means that you can aim the ult specifically at certain heroes you want to ensure the death of. Typically, since the ult removes the need to aim, you should aim for heroes that are typically difficult to hit, like tracer, genji, pharah(+ mercy), etc, first. After they die, then aim for key supports or DPS that are already damaged. You can get a team kill if most of the enemy team is at low health and you just whip your aim around dinking them all dead.
Note that while the bullets do have falloff (the ult will still lock on to enemies too far away to do more than tickle), they don’t have spread. Thus, you don’t need to burst fire like normal, just hold left click. I’ll go over more about burst fire in the next few sections.
Also keep in mind that since TV is a transformation ultimate, getting stunned or hacked will not interrupt it.
Now I’ll go over when NOT to ult. Despite TV not being a top tier ultimate, it is still potent and decently hard to get, and should not be thrown willy-nilly like pulse bomb. You should never ult if:
- You are in a situation of imminent death. Don’t panic ult when you’re about to die, it won’t save you.
- If the enemy is unable to move. (eg Grav-ed, earthshattered, frozen) You don’t need auto aim if the enemy can’t dodge. Plus, ulting makes your dps actually go down slightly since you can’t headshot.
- You are too far away to deal any reasonable damage. It’s not capable of sniping like deadeye is.
- The enemy is amply covered by shields, or a D.va is near you and ready to DM your ult.
Hitting your shots — The art of hitscan
As I wrote earlier in this guide, soldier is a hitscan DPS, meaning that his shots travel instantly. Programmatically, the software does a ray trace whenever you click straight out from you, continuing infinitely until it hits an enemy, shield, or surface. The game instantly registers a hit if the end of that ray terminates on an enemy or shield. Enemies cannot dodge your shots, they can only dodge your *aim.* Dodging your aim is exactly what most players will try to do. While you’re trying to get a read on the way they’re moving, they’re getting a read on your aim style. They’re looking for patterns just like you. Is your aim predictive? They can throw that off by not doing the expected thing. Is your aim reactive? They can fake you out by ADAD spamming, stopping randomly, etc. Are you place aiming? They can easily stop that by never moving predictably, and crossing through your crosshair.
In order to hit someone with hitscan, all you have to do is take your crosshair, and put it on the enemy, and click. However, if it was that easy, nobody would ever miss a hitscan shot. Since you aren’t literally a robot, you will physically make errors in adjusting your aim, especially against a fast moving opponent. Thus, you have to “slow down” how erratic the enemy’s movement is by predicting them. Predict them correctly, and congratulations, you have tracking aim. Playing a hero like Zarya is a great deal of micro predictions that when strung rapidly together make it seem like the player is just visually tracking them. As the Zarya gets better, those predictions get better and better, until the success rate is so high the crosshair rarely wavers from the enemy.
When you’re starting out with soldier, the biggest thing to get down to habit is knowing when to burst fire, and when to lay on the trigger. Against shields, since they are a very large target, it’s fine to just hold left click. Every bullet should still land. However, if you’re shooting a small target, you should always be burst firing. Soldier’s gun is perfectly accurate for the first 3 bullets, mostly accurate on the next two, then very inaccurate past that. Thus, you should fire about 3-4 bullets, then stop for half a second, then resume. For an example of a good cadence, see here. Notice how all of my bullets are hitting dead center in my crosshair?
The second case where it’s fine to hold the trigger is against tanks at close range. If you’re inside about 15m against something like a Roadhog, it’s fine to hold left click. At that range, he’s a large enough target that all your bullets should hit if you aim for his belly. Same with D.va or other similar tank. However, against squishy heroes, you should virtually always be bursting.
Soldier is capable of dealing headshot modifier damage, meaning that if his bullets hit the head hitbox of his opponent, they deal double damage. Dealing double damage is pretty great, so you should be trying for headshots as much as is reasonable. In many cases, dealing headshots is as simple as moving your aim up a few pixels. Burst firing more also increases your chance to get headshots, as your shots go where you want them to.
Being on high ground also makes getting headshots easier, as it puts you at a favorable angle to do so.
Prediction — Step into the enemy psyche
The way I see it, there are two main types of prediction, visual prediction and psyche prediction.
With the first type, you’re simply looking at what the enemy is doing at this exact moment. They’re walking left at X speed, towards Y. My projectile travels at W speed, and so I need to fire it Z distance ahead of them to hit them. You aren’t actually calculating this out with trigonometry like a computer would, you’re just using your internal sense of how your projectile works.
Or, in the case of hitscan, you’re doing the same observations, but instead of leading your target, you’re thinking “They’re walking left at X speed towards Y. I’ll place my crosshair on them, start shooting, then adjust my pitch/yaw at the same speed and angle in order to keep my crosshair on them.”
But, visual prediction falls apart when your enemy isn’t moving in a patterned fashion. If they’re trying to throw off this type of aim, or you can’t keep up with them visually, you have to use the second type, which is superior, but requires a different form of thinking, and practice.
Psyche prediction – What does your enemy want to do?
The essential question that you must ask when you try to make this prediction is “What does he want to do?”. You have to step into his shoes for a bit, and notice what his situation is. Is he a bit low on health? He might be going for a health pack. Where’s the nearest health pack? There. Okay, can I put a rocket between him and it, killing him? Or, can I just shoot the last bit of his health off?
Did he just walk into a room? Okay, what is he probably seeking to do? Is he a flanker? Yes. Does that building lead anywhere other than where he went in? Yeah, right over there. Is there anything in that room that might make him deliberate or slow down? Yeah, there’s a health pack, but he’s full health. Okay, then he’s probably going to walk straight through the room, sparing no time. Can you put a rocket on the other entrance so he exits to a face full of explosive?
….and so on.
Using this Q&A thinking, you can figure out at a deeper level without having to visually predict him.
This prediction applies to more than just shooting. Prediction helps you win 1v1s. I was fighting a genji the other day that tasked himself with getting me off the high ground. We fought for a while, but the fight ended in my favor when I directed him with a helix right as he landed from a double jump. This prediction was easy, considering genji has no choice but to fall more or less straight down after double jumping, so it’s a great time to helix him.
However, the second time, I knew he learned. The genji in question was a smart dude, kudos to him. He learned that I’d end the fight with a helix on him as he landed from a double jump, so he used his deflect right as he landed. However, since I knew he was smart and would do that in prediction of me attempting the same strategy again, I just melee’d instead of rocketing. He deflected a grand total of 0 damage. Panicking, he started double jumping again, however this time his deflect was wasted, and I deleted him the next time I had a clear shot. He left me alone after that, and the Winston started trying.
Anyway, the point is is that prediction is a potent tool that you should be working to sharpen whenever you can.
Dealing with problem heroes — How to be annoying to the enemy
This is a bait match-up, mixed with a bit of skill match-up. She is trying to bait out your Biotic field and helix rocket, so she can engage you much more safely. You are trying to bait out her recall, so she has to either go all in and risk dying, or run away and waste time.
You can severely minimize how much you have to fight tracer directly by being positioned well. Make yourself an annoying target to get to, and you’ll be left alone by tracers for the most part.
If you do have to fight a tracer, the best case scenario is you see the tracer approaching from far away, and you have a healer near you. In that case, just start shooting her. If you shoot away a good portion of her health, she’ll likely disengage or even recall and disengage. Either way, you win. Most tracers won’t charge straight at you (since she’s a flanker), and in that case, you enter the bait contest. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT helix her unless she is 120 health or less, and you know for certain you can hit her directly. If you helix her and she survives, she’ll recall that lost health, and kill you. Your helix is like McCree’s Flashbang, it’s your trap card. Once you spend it, the tracer can be a lot more bold.
Some tracers will also attempt to bait your Biotic field by damaging you a little so you drop it, then hiding and waiting for it to end, then coming back and killing you. Don’t drop it until you think that the tracer is actually trying to kill you and isn’t toying with you. It’s extremely difficult for her to kill you while your field is down, so make sure it counts for a lot.
Some tracers who have read guides like this will try the silly strategy of simply never recalling unless you helix, so just shoot them down. When they do eventually realize they can’t bait the helix, they’ll recall the health lost to bullets, then you simply don your sunglasses, spray the ground, and helix the spot she was 3 seconds ago, so she reappears into a face full of rocket. Now she’s at 30 health and can be shot dead. Que the mountain dew, doritos and air horns.
When you’re starting out fighting tracers, it can be difficult to do what I described in the last paragraph, if you don’t keep track of her movement pattern. Realistically, just look to shoot her down to the best of your ability to around half health, then try to land a direct or close hit of the helix. You should win this engagement most of the time, or draw.
D.va, aka the Korean ult battery. You should not struggle much with D.va, unless she’s aware of the technique. This technique is to not allow you to stand in your Biotic field.
Many D.vas will see you up on high ground, and charge at you in one of two ways. Either they’ll rocket+DM, so you can’t shoot them back, in which case just back up unpredictably so few of the rockets hit, or she’ll try the typical burst of rocket straight at you, firing cannons and rockets, just trying to put a ton of damage into you at once. If she does the latter, sprint away unpredictably, so she can’t land close to you. When her boosters run out, you should have sufficient distance to where her cannons do so little damage they almost heal you, in which case you plop down your Biotic field and pound headshots into her. At this point, her rockets and boosters will probably be off cooldown, and your bio field will be ending, so just repeat the run away strategy.
The reason why soldier dies to D.va a lot in lower ranks is because they are too stubborn. They plop down their Biotic field when the D.va still has plenty of booster left, so she boops him out of it and shoots him dead before he can kill her mech. Don’t position stubbornly. Giving up positioning is better than dying and giving up positioning via death.
The trick with Winston is the same as D.va, you don’t want to try fighting him on his terms. Essentially all Winston’s will jump at you, and drop their bubble, trying to stay inside it while zapping you. Since his gun has pitiful range, simply sprint away when he drops his bubble, and force him to exit it in order to attack you. If he does, pound him with headshots. You out-damage him by a great deal. If he does the smart thing and jumps away, shoot him as he flies in a very predictable arc through the sky.
If for whatever reason he jumps you without bubble, drop Biotic field and pound him. He basically cannot kill you in any reasonable amount of time (he does about 20 damage per second to you when you’re getting healed by Bio field, meaning it takes him 10 seconds to kill you, an eternity. You should kill him before then.), so just punish him. The situation is even more hopeless for him if you’re receiving help from other DPS or supports.
This is a “don’t get played like a fiddle” match-up. If you play into his predictions, he’ll completely meme on you. The most important thing is to not let your rocket get deflected. It’s okay if it misses, but really, really not okay to get hit with it yourself. To win, you have to bait his deflect (or just kill him when you notice him use it on someone else), so you can fire your helix with impunity.
Same as with tracer, try to track his position and start shooting him before he even gets close. You can chase him away if you damage him so much he has to deflect to avoid dying. A smart genji won’t engage you without deflect.
If he gets the jump on you, and takes you down to about half health, use your bio field. Note that he can actually deflect your Biotic field if he’s point blank to you, and if this happens, you’re automatically dead. I’ve had this happen once in all my time playing. I’ve witnessed it like 3 times on other soldiers. Poor guys. Anyway, after you drop field, start shooting him. If your aim is decent he should start deflecting when he reaches about half health. Wait for the deflect to end, and look for a good opportunity to hit him with the right clicc.
Technologies — Things they don’t teach you
Soldier has one primary technology that doesn’t see too much practical use, but is very useful for getting into good positions: The helix jump.
This is basically a rocket jump preformed using your helix rocket. To do this, simply jump, then a split second later fire the rocket at your feet. Done well, this will net you a good amount of vertical height. This single large jump can be used alongside your sprint ability, which increases horizontal speed, in order to reach high ground faster. Once this is consistent, you can preform it in games to save those seconds taking the stairs.
Do note that you’ll take 40 damage from the jump, so be careful to get healed back up once you land.
Soldier has a few other techs as well, the second one to know is when to cancel his reload:
Soldier’s reload animation is distinctly 3 actions, since his gun is old fashioned and reloads via magazine, unlike a gun like winston’s. The first action is the click of him ejecting the spent magazine. He then pulls a second one from his belt, slamming it down into the top of the gun. Thirdly, the gun cocks forward.
Right when he slams the ammo into the top of the rifle, the ammo is recharged. If you start sprinting, drop Biofield, melee, etc, you don’t have to sit through the third part of the animation. Be careful that you don’t make some action before your reload completes, otherwise you’ll waste time having to complete the animation again.
In this capture you can see me canceling soldier’s reload. Notice how I can cancel it right when he smacks the ammo down. Watch the ammo in the bottom right carefully.
Thanks for reading this extremely long guide! I hope it helped you get into playing Soldier, and if you have any further questions, comments, or additions, drop them in the comments below. Also, share the guide with anyone you think could benefit.