Tips and tricks for Overwatch’s new Lunar New Year Event 2018

Update: Lucio can no longer count on his wall riding ability to speed his escape. He'll now drop the flag when he attaches to a wall.

Overwatch’s Lunar New Year event went live this week, bringing with it the return to prominence of the game’s Capture the Flag mode, as well as more than 170 cosmetic unlocks to collect. This mode has been reworked since last year, and the new rules change how the game plays pretty significantly. Read on and we’ll give you some tips on how to form a team and get the most out of the revamped CTF.

What’s New

Last year’s Capture the Rooster game mode was a fun addition to Overwatch, but matches tended to end either in blowouts or scoreless ties. Every character’s moveset functioned just as it does in the main game, so characters with powerful mobility moves like Winston and Sombra had a huge advantage over those without such abilities. This was tempered somewhat by the fact that it took three seconds without taking damage to pick up the flag, but matches often devolved into defensive slugfests.

Starting today, all CTF games have some new rules which should help make the matches more fast paced and entertaining to play in. Picking up a flag is now instantaneous, but almost every ability which can move your character quicker than their standard pace will cause that character to drop the flag. Once dropped, the flag can’t be picked up again for five seconds. There’s a full list of which abilities will cause the flag to drop below.

In addition to the new ruleset for CTF, there’s a new map called Ayutthaya, set in Thailand. The new map was built from the ground up for CTF matches and features a palace and an ancient ruin with an enormous elephant statue in the courtyard separating the two. It’s one of the prettiest maps Overwatch has released so far, and well worth a look even if you’re not fond of the game mode. Further, there’s a visual indicator on the right side of the heads-up display that will indicate when you’re carrying the flag.

The final new addition is a ranked CTF game type, similar to the ranked competitive mode in the main game. Players will be able to earn competitive ranks and points by playing CTF from now until the Lunar New Year festivities end on March 5. Top players can earn a special icon for their character profile, and everyone who participates will earn a commemorative spray tag.

Dropping the Flag

The biggest change to the new CTF mode is the flag dropping mechanic. Prior to this update, players would only drop the flag when they were eliminated. While this will still cause a flag to drop, many heroes will also fumble if they try to move faster than normal. We tested each character to see what would cause them to lose their grip.

Attackers

Doomfist: All of Doomfist’s abilities including Meteor Strike cause him to drop the flag as soon as they’re triggered. He has great mobility, but makes a terrible flag carrier.

Genji: Genji’s Swift Strike causes him to drop the flag, but he can still climb walls and double jump without losing it.

McCree: Surprisingly, McCree’s Combat Roll does not cause him to lose the flag. This is the only movement ability that won’t cause a drop, but it’s such a minor speed boost that this shouldn’t affect games significantly.

Pharah: Triggering her Jump Jets will cause her to drop the flag. What may surprise you is that firing a Concussive Blast close enough to push yourself back will also cause a drop. Rocket jumping won’t trigger a drop. But it still hurts.

Reaper: Both Reaper’s Shadow Step and Wraith Form abilities will cause him to fumble.

Soldier: 76: Helix Rocket jumping will not cause a drop. However, Sprinting at any time will leave the flag behind.

Sombra: Translocating will cause a fumble, and so will activating Stealth. You can use Stealth before picking up the flag, but can’t start capturing until the ability ends.

Tracer: Her Blinks and Recall will both cause her to drop the flag, so she’s not much help as a carrier.

Defenders

Bastion: Nothing Bastion does will cause him to lose the flag, including rocket jumping in Tank mode.

Hanzo: None of Hanzo’s abilities will cause a drop. Like Genji, he can wall climb with no difficulty.

Junkrat: Using Junkrat’s Concussive Mine to bomb jump will cause him to drop the flag, but he can use all his other abilities freely.

Mei: Using Cryo-Freeze to heal herself will cause Mei to drop the flag. Placing an Ice Wall beneath yourself won’t cause any problems, though.

Torbjörn: None of Torbjörn’s abilities will cause a flag to drop.

Widowmaker: Widow’s Grappling Hook will leave the flag behind.

Tanks

D. Va: Her Boosters will cause her to drop the flag, and she’ll also drop it if she’s knocked out of her mech. However, calling down a new Mech while she’s in pilot mode won’t force her to drop it.

Orisa: None of Orisa’s abilities affect her grip on the flag.

Reinhardt: His Charge attack will leave the flag behind.

Roadhog: Can’t drop the flag. His bulky health pool and self-restoration make him a good choice for a carrier, though his slow foot speed means you may want to consider pairing him with Lúcio.

Winston: His Jump Pack will cause him to drop the flag, and leaping when he’s enraged leaves it behind as well.

Zarya: Nothing Zarya can do will drop the flag, including boost jumping with Particle bombs.

Support

Ana: None of her abilities cause her to drop the flag.

Lúcio: His speed boost and wall riding abilities both give him some bonus movement speed, and neither will cause him to drop the flag. However, if he uses Amp It Up to further increase his momentum he’ll set it down. Using an Amped speed boost won’t cause other characters to drop the flag though, so it can help a teammate make a quick exit. Amping up his health song doesn’t affect the flag, and neither does using Crossfade to switch between speed and healing. Lúcio makes for one of the better carriers thanks to his speed song.

Mercy: Flying to another player using Guardian Angel will cause Mercy to drop the flag. Furthermore, her Valkyrie ultimate will drop the flag and prevent her from picking it back up for the duration.

Moira: Her Fade drops the flag, but none of her other abilities affect it.

Symmetra: She can’t drop the flag. Expect to see her frequently, as her turrets are great defensive tools.

Zenyatta: Triggering his Transcendence ultimate will cause Zenyatta to lay the flag down.

General tips

As always, a coordinated attack will usually be more successful than everyone doing their own thing. Try to group with friends and get in voice chat to work with other players, and you’ll probably win much more often.

You can win a game if your team captures three flags, but most games don’t get that far. Whichever team has more points at the end of the time limit wins, but if there’s a tie the game will go into Sudden Death. Both teams’ flags move much closer to the center of the map, and the first team to score a point wins outright.

During Sudden Death, whichever side wins the first team fight will likely win the match. One strategy to use here is loading your team with tanks and healers and simply trying to outlast the enemy. It takes a few seconds after the match starts before flags can be picked up, so try not to overextend.

Be careful using abilities which push enemies away, like Lúcio’s Sound Blast or Roadhog’s ultimate. If you push the enemy towards their own goal while they’re carrying the flag, the rest of your team may not be able to catch up to them.

It takes a few seconds to return a downed flag to your base. Having a tank or two on your team will help, especially if they can put up a barrier to block incoming damage.

If your team is ahead, consider focusing on defense rather than trying to close out the match with three captures. Even if you’re behind it’s still a good idea to have some defensive characters on your side. Symmetra, Torbjörn, and Junkrat all have abilities that can help them defend the flag even when they’re nowhere near it. Bastion’s also a great choice since you know exactly where the enemy will be heading.

Symmetra is especially useful in this mode since she can lay turrets at her own base and then help with the attack. Placing a Teleporter in enemy territory can help your team group up quickly, but a Shield Generator can help bolster the entire team’s defenses. When in doubt, ask your team which they’d prefer. If the enemy team has a Symmetra, consider switching to Winston to quickly destroy her turrets.

Bastion and Torbjörn both work well in this mode since they can put out a lot of damage at a fixed point. If you’re pinned down by one of these characters, try using D. Va and flying towards them with your Defense Matrix and Micro Missiles active. If they’re being shielded by an enemy Reinhardt or Orisa, you’ll need to coordinate with other team members to break the shield before pressing the attack.

Take an extra second to look at the base of the flag for Junkrat traps and mines before you try to pick it up. If he’s on the enemy team, there’s a good chance he’ll have left a nasty surprise there.

Some characters make much better flag carriers than others. Most tanks work pretty well, but may need Lúcio to help shuttle them around since they tend to have below-average speed. Lúcio himself makes a great carrier, but his low health pool means he’ll need help getting close enough to pick up the flag.

Both standard and competitive Capture the Flag modes will be available until March 5, giving players an extra week to work towards the skins and other cosmetic items available only during this event. Good luck, and gong xi fa cai!