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I've been playing as Winston lately. While he's fun to play as, his tesla cannon seems incredibly weak.

Even at close range, it seems any character can out DPS Winston to the point where he'll die first. Even Widowmaker can beat me at close range simply by firing her assault rifle and killing me before she dies.

Is there a trick to making the tesla cannon deal a not insignificant amount of damage? Or is Winston just bad?

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His damage is one of the lowest (if not the lowest) in the game. Here is a relevant quote mentioned by Blizzard developers (This is in reference to D. Va, but the Winston mention is specific).

D.Va's damage is definitely on the lower side, much like Winston's. They are this way for a similar reason: They are both very mobile and hard to kill. Every character in the game has strengths and weaknesses, its part of what makes the teamplay work well.

Source: http://us.battle.net/forums/en/overwatch/topic/20744914371?page=3#post-43

As for "missing" something about the mechanics of Winston's cannon, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.

  1. It's an AoE. His cannon can hit multiples targets in front of him. It's a fairly small cone, but it will hit more than one enemy at a time if they are grouped up.

  2. There is no need to aim (mostly). His cannon doesn't really need to be aimed, just pointed in the enemy's direction. It can hit blinking tracers and such with nothing required except making sure you are looking at them and within range.

  3. His jump also does some damage. Minor, but if you jump ON your target, they take damage, then you burn them with the cannon and can jump away if it looks like you're losing, which ties in to the developer reasoning above.

Explicitly to answer the question, Winston's cannon will do more damage by hitting more than one enemy at once. Winston isn't bad overall, but he is bad at dealing damage - that is NOT what he is designed to do.

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    Also Winston's cannon can penetrate enemy shields, which actually makes him pretty decent as a counter to Reinhardt – David says Reinstate Monica Jun 6 '16 at 21:35
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    ...apart from Zarya's shield. – Steve Smith Aug 17 '17 at 14:25
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The advantage of the Tesla Cannon is its wide cone of fire, which makes it able to easily hit agile targets like Tracer and mechless D.Va, as well as hitting multiple enemies if they're all in the cone. This is particularly handy when entering a Symmetra turret nest, as a quick sweep will destroy all of them immediately.

The DPS is definitely on the low side, but it's usually enough against frail characters that Winston loves to jump on, like Widowmaker or Mercy. Winston's strength comes from his high health, shield to isolate himself from the majority of the enemy team while behind their lines, and booster jump to drop on a target and keep chasing while dealing constant damage.

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    Also worth noting that it goes through enemy barriers and Genji's deflection – blgt Jun 6 '16 at 21:07
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Winston excels in mobility and getting out of a bad fight easily. He also excels in what I like to call "personal combat arena".

What I mean is, through the use of his easy mobility to get to the other team's backlines, especially where Widows will usually lurk, he can hop in, plop a shield down, creating a mini space where he can fight the enemy without fear of getting chipped from other team members of the enemy. His mobility also lets him do a lot of work going against Mercys who are flying around to other team members, making taking down the medic a lot easier.

That is why Widowmaker's 2nd counter, besides another Widow, is a winston, because although his weapon is a very slow DoT, Winston has a huge HP pool, can shield up to create a personal area to fight in, and can easily jump back out should his HP get too low, then jump back whenever ready.

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  • How exactly is Winston supposed to beat Widowmaker, short of somehow getting the drop on her? He jumps in, they shoot each other, Winston dies. Does he jump away from the sniper and somehow win that way? – Studoku- Reinstate Monica Jun 6 '16 at 21:29
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    Winston has 500hp, Widow has 200hp. Winston doesn't have to aim, as long as he points in the general direction of Widow, and since the beam tracks, you can easily harass the widow. Remember, in some games, it's not about killing the widow, but distracting them from sniping the rest of your team. – senpai Jun 6 '16 at 21:40
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Try Doing a melee every few seconds while firing, it does a couple of things.

  1. Conserves ammo so you don't have to reload as quickly

  2. Gives an extra amount of damage along with your cannon

XQC, who is known as the tank god recommends this tip in his Winston tips video.

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