Overwatch

Pharah Players: High Ground is Your Helipad

A lot of players struggle with playing Pharah after the flight changes that changed how hover jet fuel works. Before, as fuel regenerated quickly and combined with jump jet (which I will just call "boosters"), Pharah could stay in the air indefinitely without much effort. But now, despite the regeneration rate being recently buffed (from 35% to 43%), it's now trickier to do so.

Many players who haven't played a lot of Pharah after the changes struggle as they are still used to the style of staying in the air. They use their boosters from the ground, and then try to stay suspended in the air for the next 10 seconds. But due to the changes, they will often fall slowly to the ground, and before they know it, they're stuck in the middle of the enemy team with no escape in sight. Even though it is still possible to stay in the air indefinitely, by doing so, you severely limit your vertical mobility during duels, which can often make the difference between winning and losing (especially against projectile heroes). So how do you play Pharah with the changes?

Despite being able to fly, Pharah benefits from high ground more than most other heroes. Or as the title says, high ground is Pharah's helipad – the staging area on which she should base her play around. Pharah can:

  • reach high ground easily with her boosters
  • use high ground to not only poke, but also regenerate her cooldowns
  • drop OR venture away from high ground to get a better angle, and then get back to the high ground using boosters or concussion blast.

Knowing this, how should you manage your cooldowns on Pharah? Think of it as a cycle, which I've illustrated in this image: https://imgur.com/a/xWt1FE1

  1. BOOST or HOVER to get up to high ground (pink). If the fight hasn't started yet, if possible, try to do this a couple seconds before the fight starts. On defense, you should strive to be setup on high ground at the start of the fight, so you don't have to waste your boosters just to get to the high ground.
  2. REGENERATE either your booster cooldown or fuel on high ground (yellow). You do not have to wait the full 10 seconds! You just need to wait a couple seconds so that you aren't stuck in the middle of the air for 10 seconds once you perform the next step. During this, it is perfectly fine to poke from the high ground – just be careful if you don't have a Mercy pocket or ranged heals, as you might have to drop early to get healed up.
  3. DROP and/or ROAM with your booster cooldown partially regenerated (blue).
    • Dropping means to drop down to near ground level, either to get heals (if you don't have a Mercy pocket or ranged heals) or to quickly assassinate an enemy – usually if you want to do this though, you should be only a few seconds away from having your boosters.
    • Roaming means to use your hover jet and/or concussion blast to get an angle on an enemy that would otherwise be inaccessible from high ground (maybe they're playing under or far away from the high ground). Note that if you plan to roam far away from the high ground, make sure that you either have your concussion blast cooldown to get back, or you have another high ground to land on! However, especially if you have a Mercy pocket, you can start roaming after only few seconds of regenerating on high ground.
  4. Once your booster cooldown comes back, BOOST back to high ground (pink), using concussion blast if necessary, and repeat steps 2-4 until the fight is over.
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The most important part is that you avoid landing on low ground without your booster cooldown available, unless you're sure that it's safe to do so, or you are cleaning up a won fight. Otherwise, doing this cycle properly will maximize the amount of time you stay in the air, and also that you can always get back up to safety if you are under serious pressure.

If you have dive tanks like Winston or Ball, you should try to synchronize your cycle with their engages. What do I mean by that? This is perhaps best illustrated by an example: https://imgur.com/a/Uv5hIXj.

On Numbani 1st defense, your Winston decides to setup on the right high ground (pink). You decide to setup on the left high ground (step 1) creating another angle (blue). Usually, smart enemies will try to clear the high ground before pushing onto point, but let's say your enemy isn't one of those and decide to run it down main (green). When that happens, your Winston will drop onto the enemy backline. What you could do is follow up on your Winston's aggression and drop close to the enemy backline as well (step 3), and then when your Winston jumps back up to high ground, you use your boosters to get back up to high ground (step 4). While your Winston regenerates his bubble, you should use this time to poke as well as regenerate (step 2) your boosters. Afterwards, repeat the cycle again if necessary (steps 3, 4, and then 2).

The key point is, just like you, dive tanks have a similar cycle where they use high ground to regenerate their mobility cooldowns, before dropping and playing on the ground until they are pressured out, in which case they just jump (or in the case of Ball, roll/grapple) back up to high ground. By synchronizing your cycle with your tanks, you can follow up on their aggression and put out a devastating amount of damage!

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Finally, sometimes you will decide to boost from the high ground, which is useful on maps with high skyboxes. In that case, you should either strive to land back on high ground, or manage your hover jet fuel so that when you drop close to the ground, you have your booster cooldown available to get back up to high ground. The same principle applies: boost, roam around, and then land on high ground using your booster cooldown.

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