Aleksandra “Zarya” Zaryanova
Purpose: Zarya is an off-tank/bruiser who does her best work when protecting allies, and surviving through short engagements, and intense periods of damage. Zarya’s greatest strength comes from her incredibly powerful mitigation abilities: Projected Barrier (E) which surrounds a single ally in a protective bubble that absorbs incoming damage, and Particle Barrier (SHIFT) which provides Zarya with the same defenses.
Playstyle: You’ll want to be as aggressive and up-front as possible when playing as Zarya, because in addition to their mitigative properties, Zarya’s barriers also cause her weapon to deal more damage as she tanks. When at maximum charge, her already versatile particle cannon becomes a force to be reckoned with, capable of shredding tanks with ease and obliterating squishy targets from afar. A common strategy you’ll want to employ is to bait enemies into attacking first, pop your defensive barriers, and then unleash the fury of Mother Russia by redirecting their damage back at them!
Priorities: Despite her tremendous damage output, Zarya is still a tank, and her number one priority is the same as any other tank’s: Protect your allies! You’ll want to make sure you have a line of sight on both your support and any high-priority targets your team may have (I.E. Bastion, Pharah, Reaper, Hanzo) as your enemies will be trying their hardest to kill them. Remember, a well-timed shield will not only save you, or your friend’s life, but it’ll also make you more powerful as well!
“I am the strongest woman in the world.” – Zarya
Ultimate: Zarya’s ultimate ability is Graviton Surge (Q) which sucks in all nearby enemies and deals light damage to them. While this ultimate ability is incredibly powerful, it does require some coordination to use effectively. As always, you’ll want to notify your team when your ultimate is ready (Z) and wait for a solid opportunity to combo with one of your allies. If you frequently, and properly utilize your Graviton Surge at choke points, on the payload, or in crowded rooms, your allies will have to wait in queue just to thank you for all the sick plays you’re helping them pull off.*
*Disclaimer: I have never once been thanked for earning someone a Play of the Game with my Graviton Surge!
Playing Against a Zarya
Mei – While Zarya’s barriers may prevent Mei from freezing your team while they’re active, her attacks and abilities sap your already lackluster mobility, making you an easy target for snipers, and assassins in an engagement.
Bastion – Zarya excels at protecting heavy damage, but only for a few moments. Bastion has more than enough bullets to shred you and your allies to pieces the moment your barrier goes down.
Pharah – Zarya’s primary weapon fire lacks accuracy, and her secondary weapon fire is incredibly difficult to land on aerial targets, so Pharah’s raw damage output and maneuverability make short work of Zarya.
Playing With a Zarya
Reaper & Pharah – Both characters can handily combo Death Blossom/Barrage with Zarya’s ultimate to devastating effect, and they can channel them from the safety of one of her barriers to boot, which will not only help prevent their deaths, it’ll also stop characters like McCree from interrupting their ultimates.
Bastion: This cute little guy is another really powerful choice for a team with Zarya. In addition to the solid way their ultimates combo, Bastion is a high-priority focus target that is very susceptible to focus fire – exactly the type of target that Zarya excels at protecting.
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