Reaper is a powerful, high-DPS hero who’s good at both skirmishing and flanking. With versatile abilities helping him surprise and escape his foes, he can ambush enemies and wipe teams with the support of his allies.
Compared to other heroes, Reaper is mechanically linear and simple. All of your abilities are easy to understand, but making use of them effectively requires game sense, awareness and coordination with your allies. He’s well-equipped and formidable, armed with high-DPS shotguns that can shred through all heroes and shields alike, and equipped with both a 250 health pool and a health-regeneration mechanic to boot. Reaper’s capable as both a head-on fighter and a flanker, but you’re extremely vulnerable to disruptions and displacements.
- Very high damage output
- Inherent sustain
- Large health pool for an offense hero
- Strong flanker
- Verticality, can get to most locations
- Powerful duelist
- Ultimate is easily shut down
- Long cooldowns
- Lacks in-combat mobility
– Ability Breakdown –
- 8 ammo
- 2-7 damage per pellet, 20 pellets per shot
- 2 shots per second
- ~ 280 max DPS
- 1.5 second reload
Reaper’s Hellfire Shotguns are among the most powerful primary weapons in Overwatch, and are the reason that Reaper is classified as a tank-buster. At point blank, you’re able to kill most tanks in 4-6 shots with maximum pellet coverage. As with other shotguns, aim at around neck/chin height while at medium range for coverage, and directly at the head at point-blank.
While it’s common to see Reaper players using melee mid-reload to shorten the animation, this won’t actually shorten the 1.5 second delay before you can start firing again. However, this melee strike won’t add to this delay, and can be done without consequence. In close-quarters scenarios, you may use reload and melee to add an extra 30 damage to a target in a pinch.
While it’s extremely trivial, remember that Reaper’s reload animation involves throwing away your guns, spawning two physics objects for 5 seconds. From first-person, it appears that you’re throwing the guns in front of you, but to other players you’ll actually throw the guns behind you. If you’re facing away from a ledge, you may accidentally disclose your location by throwing them down from above.
- Enemy deaths spawn Soul Globes
- Soul Globes restore 50 health each
- 5 metre absorption radius
- Lasts until the respective enemy respawns
- Only visible and usable by Reaper
The Reaping keeps Reaper on the frontlines for longer, and provides high survivability in skirmishes. All enemies will drop these globes, regardless of whether or not you contributed to their death.
To maximize efficiency with The Reaping, don’t take the globes if you’re decently healthy and your allied supports have access to you. It’s a waste to absorb globes on minor chip damage, which your supports can heal within a second. Try to move through them while taking substantial damage from enemies to keep you sustained during fights.
- Gives immunity to all damage and impairments
- Removes any debuffs (e.g. Discord Orb, Venom Mine)
- Increases movement speed by 30%
- 3 second duration
- 8 second cooldown
- Cannot be cancelled
Wraith form is essentially Reaper’s safety net, helping you escape when low on health or being collapsed on during a flank. It has many applications, but will primarily be used to withdraw from combat once the odds are no longer in your favour. Be sure to use it to cover more distance while there’s no impending threats.
Since Wraith Form lasts for a fixed duration, it’s easily telegraphed and adapted to by your enemies. When escaping a fight on low health in Wraith Form, enemies may pursue you to finish you off upon exiting this form. If you’re unable to retreat behind the frontlines of your team, you can improve your chances of survival by breaking line-of-sight with most enemies, retreating to an enclosed area, and/or reaching for a health pack. Emerging from Wraith Form in a narrow, secluded location like a small room will give you a better chance of turning the fight around against a pursuer, while potentially creating a 1-on-1 scenario. Forcing your enemies to give chase also helps your own team push ahead by partially distracting the enemy.
It’s almost always a good idea to reload before you use Wraith Form, using it to cancel the reload animation early. Since Reaper’s reload frame takes place early in his animation, you can chain it with Wraith Form at little to no cost (unless using Wraith Form spontaneously/reactively).
Be aware that during Wraith Form, while you can contest a point (i.e. prevent it from being captured, or keep it in Overtime), you will not actually capture it at all. Capitalizing on this, you can circle the objective in Wraith Form to stall, akin to how a Mei stalls with Cryo-Freeze.
If you’re stunned or disrupted, you can hold down Wraith Form’s ability key to cast it the very moment you’re free from the stun. Keep this in mind when recovering from McCree’s Flashbang or Roadhog’s Chain Hook.
- Teleport to a target location
- 35 metre range
- 2 second total channel time
- 10 second cooldown
- Channel cancelled upon receiving damage
Shadow Step gives Reaper high flank potential, enabling you to reach unexpected locations and higher positions.
Shadow Step is a volatile ability, rendering Reaper unable to do anything for 2 seconds, and can be easily disrupted. It also creates a prominent ghostly flare at the target location, as well as a loud distinguishable sound effect which can only sometimes be masked by the commotions of combat. For this reason, don’t teleport too close to an enemy or in their line-of-sight, or you’ll be taken down quickly. If you want to flank, try teleporting behind a wall or corner, and continue to close the gap by walking.
Use Shadow Step to bypass enemy sightlines so that you can set yourself up for a flank or avoid a Bastion deployment. Situationally, you can also use Shadow Step to retreat by breaking lines of sight and quickly teleporting from behind a corner. This only works if you can go unscathed for the first second of Shadow Step, and works best when fleeing from relatively immobile enemies like tanks.
- Deals 510 damage over 3 seconds (34 damage, 15 shots)
- 8 metre radius
- Reduces movement speed by 60%
Death Blossom is Reaper’s most powerful ability, and has the potential to wipe teams in moments. It’s best used when amidst clusters of enemies to whittle them down fast.
Death Blossom can be an easy ability to disrupt or block. Abilities that may cause Reaper trouble include:
- McCree’s Flashbang
- Reinhardt’s Earthshatter
- Lucio’s Soundwave
- Pharah’s Concussive Blast
- Genji’s Deflect
- D.Va’s Defense Matrix
- Roadhog’s Chain Hook
- Mei’s Wall
- Reinhardt/Winston’s Barriers
- Ana’s Sleep Dart
- Widowmaker/Hanzo snipes
Be aware of these as you make the decision to use Death Blossom. These abilities are the main reason why Zarya’s Projected Barrier is almost always necessary for Death Blossom to fair well against coordinated teams.
Death Blossom is effective when paired with the element of surprise, working best after reaching a high location or alcove to drop down onto your enemies from. Emerging from around a corner or from behind can also be effective. Even if you’re in a good position to ult through the enemy team, be sure that your team is applying pressure or ready to back you up, because Death Blossom will fail if your enemies are unoccupied, and they will turn and kill you instantly.
During unfavourable fights, don’t waste your Ultimate as a last-minute trump card. It’s common for inexperienced Reapers to waste it as a last-moment burst of damage when in a bad scenario. In these situations, it’s better to either Wraith Form away or just die, since Death Blossom charges relatively slowly and shouldn’t be squandered.
Death Blossom can also be used to make a couple of crucial picks, e.g. on the enemy Mercy or Zenyatta if you get the jump on the backline. You don’t necessarily need to be looking for 5 or 6 kills, as long as you take out high-priority targets. This really only applies to supports and damage heroes, don’t bother wasting Death Blossom in a 1v2 against relatively healthy tanks who won’t die quickly.
Composition & Playstyle
At high-level/tournament play, Reaper is usually picked as a core damage hero in a basic 2/2/2 setup (2 damage, 2 tank, 2 support) alongside another damage hero. On asymmetrical game modes (attack/defense), he’s a common pick overall, especially during phases of a match that have close-quarter environments. On Capture Point, he’s a staple pick alongside Tracer.
As of late, Reaper has largely been selected as a sole damage dealer, paired with a Mei instead of another damage hero. Mei enables Reaper more freedom to position aggressively thanks to her Ice Walls, and Reaper can easily collapse on enemies that Mei catches out. A common composition includes Reaper, Mei, Zarya, Reinhardt, Lucio and Ana, who all leverage Reaper with movement-speed, area control, protection and ultimates like Blizzard, Earthshatter and Graviton Surge which punish grouped enemies for Reaper to Death Blossom onto.
Reaper should almost always be backed up with a Lucio, since his speed-boosting aura and Amp It Up help him get within a close range of his enemies. Without Lucio, it’s much harder for Reaper to give chase and get into close-range before taking sufficient damage. He’s a staple pick alongside a Reaper, and is a far better option than a Mercy. Ana is another powerful choice, since she can keep Reaper healed and sustain him through a fight from a distance.
High-mobility heroes like Genji, Winston and D.Va are fantastic partners for Reaper, and can follow-up and help him if he wants to push up and create pressure. It’s common for Reapers to push forward in the moments after capturing or wiping the enemy team, gaining height and location advantage during the opponent’s downtime. Having the aforementioned heroes accompanying Reaper can help create picks and apply pressure.
In a defensive position, Reaper works well when lying in wait behind corners and ledges to collapse on enemies once they push past. He’s also effective against flankers like Winston, and can be played as a medium-range, middle-of-the-pack damage dealer that focuses on whittling down the opposing Reinhardt’s shields, reacting to enemy pushes and responding to flankers. Although Reaper is limited by his range, he’s still versatile to a degree.
Positions like this are ideal on Defense. From this position, Reaper can collapse on enemies emerging from the Cinema exit above, as well as the main gates, and can safely Wraith Form back to his team or behind cover from here.
Even though Reaper is often classified as an anti-tank, tanks still need to be approached with caution. While D.Va’s headshot hitbox is large and easy to focus with your Hellfire Shotguns, her Armor will reduce each pellet’s damage significantly, and Defense Matrix is easy to project over your shotguns and your Death Blossom. Although Reinhardt is fairly easy to drum down, be wary of his hammer blows, and that his Charge can one-shot you. Roadhog’s a fairly easy target as long as you can play around his hook cooldown. Reaper can deal with Winston and Zarya fairly well, and keep in mind that you can Wraith Form to escape when pinned down by Primal Rage or Graviton Surge. Generally, you’ll have greater success getting very close to tanks and strafing around them so that they can’t maintain aim on you.
Reaper synergizes best with allies that leverage his potential and compensate for his two primary weaknesses: his lack of speed and his close-quarters nature. Zarya’s Projected Barrier is extremely effective on Reaper since he’s a high-priority target when fighting at close quarters, and this shield will build energy for Zarya quickly and help Reaper stay in the fight. Furthermore, Projected Barrier will further Death Blossom’s potential by preventing the team from killing, displacing or disrupting him immediately. Raise Death Blossom’s effectiveness by coordinating with Zarya to receive a barrier as you engage and Ultimate, ensuring that Zarya has line-of-sight and it’s off cooldown.
Well-coordinated use of support heroes will also enhance Reaper’s performance greatly. Ana’s Nanoboost accentuates Reaper’s Death Blossom greatly, and has become a common strategy in tournament play. This pushes Reaper’s damage to insane levels, while compensating for Reaper’s generally slow movement and his speed reduction during his ultimate. This speed steroid and faster damage output enables Reaper to close distance with the enemy backline and shred through pivotal support heroes far more easily. Pair this with Lucio’s amped speed boost, a powerful tool to help Reaper collapse on opponents during engages and counter-engages.
A combination of Projected Barrier, Nanoboost and Amp It Up can turn reaper into a team-wiping death machine when executed correctly. The following clip showcases Fnatic coordinating these three abilities with their Reaper’s Death Blossom, making for an unstoppable wipe to secure the second checkpoint of King’s Row:
Here we see Reaper waiting in anticipation for the right call from his teammates to make the engage. Upon stepping into the open, line-of-sight is made with Lucio to help him close the gap by lengthening his jump with his speed-boosting aura. Nanoboost and Projected Barrier are placed upon him before he touches down, rendering attempts to disrupt him obsolete. Well-coordinated engages and support for a Reaper can lead to highly successful teamfights like this.
– While Reaper’s Wraith Form removes all debuffs, a Torbjorn’s Turret will stay locked onto Reaper if he uses Wraith Form while being targeted. You may use this situationally to alleviate the turret’s pressure from your teammates.
– When engaging and intending on using your Ultimate, ping Death Blossom’s charge and be vocal with your team. Using comms is crucial as a hero that is very dependent on windows of opportunity.
– You should keep most of your movements close to walls and corners, avoiding larger open areas where long-range heroes can gun you down.
- Team Dignitas
- The recent Overwatch Open grand finals, showcasing plenty of high-level Reaper play from Soon and AKM with the aforementioned Mei composition: Link
A handful of clips showcasing flanking paths and locations, most of which Reaper can make use of: Link
EnVyUs’ Taimou playing Reaper on Lijiang Tower, with comms: Link