Russian bodybuilder Zarya has the lowest HP of all of the tanks, but she has the ability to get her damage output very high under fire. She can buff herself and her team with Particle Barriers, making her a great choice for team pushing.
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Zarya Move List
Primary: Particle Cannon
Zarya's Particle Cannon releases a short-range beam of energy. On it's own, that's not much, but the Particle Cannon gets buffed as Zarya fights. As her Particle Barriers take damage, the Particle Cannon gets stronger. Every 5 shield damage taken increase the Particle Cannon's strength by 3 percent, and it lose 2 percent strength per second. You can tell you current Particle Cannon charge by looking at your crosshair: under it is a number that increases from 0 to 100. 100 is full strength. A fully charged Zarya is a monster damage dealer, so this is where you want to be most of the time. Clip Size: 100
Zarya's secondary fire lobs an explosive energy grenade. Each grenade takes 25 ammo and gives Zarya a bit of range in her portfolio. Use the splash damage to clear up enemy clusters.
Zarya protects herself with a 2 second, 200 HP barrier, which transfers energy to her Particle Cannon when damaged. Use this when you know you're going to get hit hard and Zarya will always be at full strength. Timing is key for using this or Projected Barriers.
This is the same as Particle Barrier, but for Zarya's allies. Projected Barriers are actually stronger, protecting allies for 400 HP, but still having the same duration. You will be relying hard on Projected Barriers to keep your Primary weapon charged. The difference between a bad Zarya and a good one is keeping Barriers on yourself and your offensive team members, so that your damage stays high. Use them on an offensive ally who is pushing forward.
It's worth noting at Barriers will take the entirety of a single attack. Even if the one attack does more damage than the barrier, that damage doesn't roll over into the hero's HP. Abilities like D.Va's Self-Destruct can be shrugged off completely with a Barrier.
Zarya's Ultimate: Graviton Surge
Zarya launches a gravity bomb that pulls in all enemies within a certain range for 4 seconds. It doesn't do much damage on its own, but it's great in tandem with other Ultimates, getting all of the enemy team in one spot. D.Va's Self-Destruct, Pharah's Barrage, and Bastion Sentry mode can all play off of Graviton Surge well.
Some heroes can escape a Graviton Surge though. Reinhardt, Genji, and D.VA can jump out with Charge, Swift Strike, or Boosters respectively, Tracer can Recall away, and Reaper can use Wraith Form to run.
How to Play Zarya
Zarya is an odd one. Half of her 400 HP is shield, meaning she doesn't have a ton of HP, but the shield part regenerates outside of combat. (It can also be healed by healers.) That makes her somewhat resilient in bursts. The basic play here is to keep your barriers up on yourself and your allies. If your team is offensive, doing so will keep your damage output high.
Choices and timing are key, you need to look at who the enemy team is focusing on and keep them in your line of sight. Putting Projected Barriers on that player will help your damage output.
She's not a main tank, she's an off tank, providing a bit of extra damage mitigation, while also offering up great damage output. Pair her with a Reinhardt for some fun. Zarya is meant to be on the frontline pushing ahead with her team. Under fire, a well played Zarya is dishing out a ton of damage, you just have to make sure to duck around a corner or hide when your cooldowns are up.
Which Heroes Zarya Works Well Against
Genji: Genji cannot Deflect Zarya's primary fire and his attacks only make her stronger.
Mei: Particle Barrier will actually cancel Mei's freezing abilities, meaning all you have to worry about is the Ice Wall.
Zenyatta: Zarya can kill the healer quickly and Particle Barrier removes the Discord Orb.
D.Va: This is a really bad match up for D.Va. Defense Matrix doesn't protect against Zarya's primary weapon. D.Va's Fusion Cannons just charge up Zarya's Particle Gun. And even before she gets in range, the explosive secondary fire can light her up.
Who to Watch Out For While Playing as Zarya
Pharah: Zarya's main weapons make it really hard to hit an airborne Pharah. Rocket spam can quickly eat up shields and HP, but a fully-charged Zarya can't counter.
Reaper: High damage and low HP means Zarya may not survive most encounters with a Reaper.
Zarya might be one of the weaker tank characters in Overwatch, but that doesn't mean she can't be lethal in her own right, using the strategies we've given you in this guide.