Welcome to our handy dandy Hammond guide. This genetically modified hamster, or Wrecking Ball as he’s officially called, is a strange hero even by Overwatch standards. He’s a tank that heavily relies on verticality and ability usage much more than other mobile heroes like D.Va and Winston. His impact in a game is often invisible compared to a good D.Va Self Destruct or an incredible Zarya Graviton Surge, but it’s no less important.
Hammond is the Doomfist of tanks: an engager and a disruptor who can be easily punished if you’re not careful. This guide will help you understand your unique role as Wrecking Ball and how to be the most annoying little hamster possible.
Apart from Wrecking Ball’s automatic Quad Cannons and his melee attack, he has five separate abilities, including his ultimate.
Wrecking Ball can activate Roll to tuck in his mech’s legs and transform into a ball that moves at a slightly faster speed (which automatically reloads his weapons). You can’t shoot in this mode, but you can dodge incoming fire and avoid taking headshots, since Hammond will retreat inside the mech (this is useful if you’re about to be frozen by a Mei!).
Hammond has a grappling hook that automatically transforms you into a ball (if you aren’t already) and attaches to surfaces several meters away from you. Its claw stays attached as long as you hold the ability button down. Once attached, you can move to swing in a direction and cause the mech to speed up (signified by the ball being engulfed in flames). If you let go during this rush of speed, you’ll go flying in that direction. If you hit any enemies during this process, you’ll deal 50 damage and knock them back.
The key to Wrecking Ball is his Piledriver ability. Combined with the Grappling Claw, you can swing up into the air and smash down onto enemies, causing 100 damage directly below you (with reduced damage the further the targets are from your center). Every enemy you hit will fly up into the air for a brief time. You can also perform Piledriver anytime you’re just slightly above jump height, anywhere on a map.
Wrecking Ball’s Adaptive Shield makes up for your lack of a barrier shield and gigantic, easy-to-hit size. This ability grants you 100 personal shields per enemy within its radius when you activate it. The number of enemies in range is indicated on the bottom-left of your screen. That means that your 600 health can instantly double to a massive 1200 hit points—the highest out of any character in the game.
Finally, Wrecking Ball’s ultimate, Minefield, spews out about 15 mines from the top of your mech in a six-meter radius for 20 seconds. They spread out more if you’re in the air—which we’ll talk about later—and deal 130 damage per mine. Each mine has 50 health and can be destroyed by enemies, as well as disabled by a Sombra’s EMP.
I like to think about how to play ability-based heroes in Overwatch via their combos: the series of moves you can perform, one after another, that seriously impact any given team fight. Of course, you can use any ability individually, as needed, but heroes like Wrecking Ball get a lot of value when they string their skills together.
Engaging and Distracting
Wrecking Ball is a tank, much like Winston, that should focus on initiating team fights or engaging enemies when your team is nearby and prepared. You’re the one that swings behind enemy lines and makes room for your allies to follow up. You’ll want to attach your Grappling Claw to a high-up surface, swing into the most grouped-up enemies, detach at the peak of your swing, Piledriver down onto them, and finish with your Adaptive Shield.
This works because you’re hard to hit while swinging at maximum speed. Not to mention you both knock back and bounce up opposing players when you land near them. It makes it very hard for anyone to hit or avoid you. Be sure to use Adaptive Shield just after you land to withstand everything counterattacks following this combo. And, if needed, use your Grappling Claw again to escape.
It’s important to realize that, unlike Winston and D.Va, Wrecking Ball doesn’t block damage. He eats the damage with his immense amount of shields (which don’t grant the enemy ultimate charge, by the way). Your role is to swing in and disrupt. Swing out if your teammates don’t quickly eliminate someone. Wrecking Ball is fast and survivable enough to go deep behind the enemy team to grab health packs and ready himself for another engagement, but should only do so when his team is alive and ready. If the enemy chases you while you’re healing, you’re successfully splitting up the other team so that your allies can move in.
Some games, you’ll swing in and nothing will happen. Other games, your team will capitalize on the extreme distraction you create and you can stay in the fray. This is the “space” that so many high-level tank players (sincerely) talk about creating. The best way to judge whether or not to swing to safety is by checking the kill feed. If your friends go down, but your opponents don’t, it’s time to get out and try regroup. As soon as your have the numbers advantage, you can stick around, look for low-health targets to finish off, and try to win the fight outright.
Also unlike D.Va, Wrecking Ball’s damage output is uneven, ability-based, and doesn’t result in a ton of direct kills. He needs the help of his team to land those killing blows. He’s too weak without his shields to just sit and shoot for any length of time. If you’re not dropping into the bulk of the enemy team, and constantly swinging around to avoid damage, you’re better off playing another tank.
Wrecking Ball’s combo to deploy an effective Minefield ultimate is similar to his engagement combo. You still want to swing into and above your foes, but instead following up with Piledriver, you want to activate Minefield at the peak of your jump. Only slam down onto the other team with Piledriver after the mines are set. This causes the enemies to shoot up into the air and become briefly immobilized as your mines spread out and activate below. It greatly increases the odds that they’ll land on a bunch of the explosive buggers.
You can also drop your Minefield onto a section of a Control Point map, attach your Grappling Claw to the middle, and swing to bonk enemies into the explosives. But this is tricky depending on the map. Setting up the mines in advance allows time for the enemy team to destroy or disable them.
There are other times where a Minefield can zone the enemy out of a certain section of the map, whether it’s the payload, or your own team before the enemy collapses in on you. A Reinhardt looking to Earthshatter your allies and Charge will have to wait until your mines deactivate, which might give you time to win the fight.
Stalling a Point
Wrecking Ball is the ultimate point staller (someone who can keep the other team from capturing a point while they wait for reinforcements). A lot of Overwatch maps have sections where you can attach your Grappling Claw to the middle and indefinitely swing around the point. Wrecking Ball is incredibly hard to hit at max swing speed. If anyone tries to mess with you, you’ll knock them back and deal damage. Be sure to activate your Adaptive Shield before you attach and then swing while you wait for your team to return to the point.
Like all Overwatch heroes, Wrecking Ball has his weaknesses. Stuns are easy to land on a large target like him and, when he sits still, he’s easy to hit from most ranges. He’s also extremely ability-based. So if you get hit by, say, an Ana Sleep Dart while you’re mid Grappling Claw swing, everything can fall apart.
Before you swing into the team, consider what the enemy lineup can do to stop you. Be wary of Roadhog Chain Hooks, Ana Sleep Darts, and Junkrat Steel Traps. Mei can easily freeze you if you swing into her radius and a good Sombra will have you hacked and ability-starved with cooldowns. For the most part, nobody can hit you until you land. So work to avoid getting caught before that. That’s what will keep you alive. Oh, and try to swing in at angles that give your healers line of sight on you!
Generally, Wrecking Ball isn’t a good solo tank. If he doesn’t have another tank to follow him into battle, or protect him in some way, he’s risky to play. Professional teams have run Wrecking Ball with a Doomfist instead of another tank, but that level of coordination isn’t realistic for most players. D.Va is a good alternative pick if Wrecking Ball isn’t working out.
There are also some maps where you’ll find it tough to use your Grappling Claw. Take the final point of Rialto, for example. The mostly enclosed room only has one place for you to grapple to above. Even if you do, you’ll likely run into the payload and lose your momentum. If you find you can’t get good swings in, you should swap off of Wrecking Ball. Grappling Claw initiates everything the hero can do. So if you can’t use it, you’ll get no value out of him.
What to Practice
To really improve your Wrecking Ball play, you need to find common areas to use your Grappling Claw and practice impactful Piledrivers. You should focus on finding opportune times and sections of the maps where you can slam into the opposing team and create a ton of openings for your own.
Sometimes that means sitting on high ground and waiting for a team to push into your defending allies. Other times it means coming in from a side angle to push someone into a vulnerable position. You just need to practice two basic things: attacking enemies when your team can follow up and disengaging when they can’t.
Wrecking Ball shines on the attacking side and Control Point maps, but isn’t particularly bad at any mode. So you can practice him with and against almost any team composition. Keep an eye out for stuns and stay agile and you’ll add Wrecking Ball into your pool of go-to heroes in no time.
We hope you enjoyed our Hammond guide! Please check back for more Overwatch info as we continue to explain the ins and outs of Blizzard’s beloved hero shooter.