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Are there specific heroes I should be playing? Is there a specific game mode I should focus on in order to level up quickly? I'd love to get that gold flair on my profile as soon as possible, and I'd like to understand the most efficient and simple way to level up.

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From the wikia wiki:

Quick Play awards more XP than vs AI, here are the values for various actions:

  • First Match Win of the Day: 1500XP
  • Win: 500XP
  • Match Finish: 250XP
  • Time: 200XP per minute (the fextralife wiki reports 4.01 per second instead, which works out to 240.6XP per minute)
  • Consecutive Match: 200XP
  • Gold Medal: 150XP (only highest medal achieved applies)
  • Silver Medal: 100XP
  • Bronze Medal: 50XP
  • Group Bonus: +20% EXP
  • Leaver Penalty: -75% EXP

Given this list, it looks like your best bet to is play in a group for consecutive winning matches, while getting a gold medal in each match. Medals can be awarded for Eliminations (Overwatch's word for kill participation), Objective Kills, Objective Time, Damage Done, and Healing Done (H/T SaintWacko at this question). Only one medal bonus will be applied per match, for the highest medal earned.

There is also an experience bonus for backfilling when you get slotted into a match-in-progress in place of someone who left, but that will be more difficult to deliberately cultivate.

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    Note that the medal XP only counts once. So, you either get 150xp, 100xp, 50xp, or none depending on your highest medal. – Powerlord May 8 '16 at 22:25
  • Good point! Edited for clarification – JamesCW May 9 '16 at 0:52
  • @JamesCW Could you elaborate more on Heroes? I know that Healing EXP and there is Payload EXP of sorts, and damage EXP and kill EXP, how do these stack up against each other? – sayu May 25 '16 at 4:04
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    If they follow other Blizzard games, 2 people is enough. – JamesCW May 28 '16 at 0:50
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    +1, I'd like to note that most teams have one healer, and that one healer will get a gold medal almost every time. If you want to get lots of gold medals, and therefore experience, try playing support. – DCShannon Jul 7 '16 at 2:33

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