Overwatch: Sombra abilities and strategy tips

Overwatch’s notorious hacker, Sombra uses a lethal combination of stealth and debilitating attacks to manipulate her enemies. She’s an excellent addition to the roster and shares a similar combat style to Tracer. Her strength lies in her Hack ability, which gives great potential to disrupt and dictate the flow of a battle, while her Thermoptic Camo and Translocator greatly enhance her positioning. For those looking to create some extremely imaginative plays, Sombra is great pick.

Sombra’s Abilities

Machine Pistol [LMB] – Sombra’s fully-automatic machine pistol fires 20 rounds per second in a short-range spread. Each clip holds 60 bullets and feels very similar to Tracer’s Pulse Pistols. Make sure to focus wounded heroes with the help from your passive to really make the enemy team cower in fear.

Hack [RMB] – This is Sombra’s signature move and allows her to hack enemies to temporarily stop them from using their abilities, or she can hack first aid kits to stop her opponents from using them. Hacked first aid kits also respawn much quicker as a result of Sombra’s interference. Good map knowledge is vital if you want utilise Hack to its full potential.

Thermoptic Camo [LSHIFT] – Thermoptic Camo is a cloaking device that grants invisibility and greatly increases Sombra’s movement speed. This ability can allow you to get into position unnoticed so you can focus on hacking key targets or infiltrating the enemy backline. However, being damaged or using Sombra’s weapon and offensive abilities will instantly cancel the effect, so make sure you use Thermoptic Camo wisely.

Translocator [E] – This nifty device allows you to toss out a teleporter like a grenade. When active, Sombra can teleport back to the beacon’s location. Use Translocator to recall from the action if you need a swift escape, or use it to position yourself near a health pack to give yourself a quick top up before heading back into the fray. Try and use Translocator in coordination with Thermoptic Camo to catch your enemies off guard.

Opportunist [Passive] – Sombra’s passive allows her to see obscured enemy heroes when their health is below 50%. This gives the cybernetic hacker vital information on enemy locations and movements. However, this information is not available to her team, so she must be in constant communication with her allies to unleash the passive’s full potential.

EMP [Q] – When activated, Sombra releases electromagnetic energy in a wide radius, destroying enemy barriers/shields and hacking all opponents caught in the blast. If properly executed, this ultimate can be utterly game-changing. Being able to hack and deny enemy ultimates greatly disrupts the flow of battle and gives Sombra’s team excellent opportunities to steal that all-important victory.

Sombra Strategy Tips

Sombra is a hero who requires great timing and synergy to be effective on the battlefield. Her abilities give her plenty of opportunities to disrupt enemy tactics and make her extremely flexible in combat. She has great area control and area denial with her Hack ability and her playstyle oozes potential.

When playing Sombra ensure your primary goal is to take control of health packs with your Hack ability. Denying your enemy health will allow your team to capitalise off the reduced respawn and greatly diminish the survivability of your opponent. If you see an enemy running to a health pack use your Thermoptic Camo to catch up to them and quickly hack it to stop them from getting the aid they desperately need. Remember to Hack a health pack and place your Translocator on top of it. If you get into trouble simply teleport back and give yourself a healthy top up, but be aware of enemy players camping the beacon, especially Junkrat who can prepare an explosive trap ready for your arrival.

Sombra excels at using hit and run tactics to distract her enemy. Thermoptic Camo and Translocator not only enhance your movement when traversing the map, they also allow you to sneak behind enemy lines. Try to gun down squishy foes with your machine pistol before teleporting back to the safety of your team. If you can catch an enemy unaware, hack them to greatly reduce their effectiveness. Hack is particularly effective on heroes like Roadhog as it stops him from healing himself, giving your team a few seconds to chip away at his huge health pool.

Sombra’s EMP is not like other offense class ultimates as it doesn’t damage those caught in the blast. Don’t expect to able to run into a fight and sweep the entire enemy team with your ultimate by yourself. The effectiveness of Sombra’s EMP relies heavily on timing and positioning. If the enemy is itching for a teamfight and you see your opponents channelling their ultimate abilities, drop your EMP to disable some of their abilities and give your team a few seconds to capitalise off their reduced damage output.

Just remember that Hack and EMP affect enemy ultimates in the same way McCree’s flashbang does, so not all ultimates and abilities will be cancelled. For example, her EMP can stop Reaper’s Death Blossom but cannot stop Genji’s Dragon Blade ultimate. Try to use Hack on an enemy before landing your EMP to extend the hack even longer. This combo is useful for keeping a tricky target locked down, shutting them out of the fight completely.

Step back up to our complete Overwatch character guide. Or find out how to counter Roadhog with our Overwatch counter guide.


  1. SaintAn says:

    How many health packs can she have hacked at once? Was playing Sombra and the enemy Sombra already had the two health packs my team would need on lock down.

    • Frank says:

      Some site says:

      Sombra can “hack” something every 12 seconds. Hack as many health packs as you want; there’s o limit, but the hack lasts one minute on a specific health pack, which starts from the time it is hit, so it won’t be possible to completely disable all HPs for the whole match or anything crazy.

      Source: link to playstationlifestyle.net

      • SaintAn says:

        Thanks, that’s helped out a lot. Been stripping the enemy of their crucial health kits without worry that I’ll lose my teams crucial ones.

  2. Herring says:

    “Sombra’s EMP is not like other offense class ultimates as it doesn’t damage those caught in the blast.”

    That’s not strictly true; it strips shields so any character who’s health pool has a component made of shields (Zarya, Zenyatta etc) will lose them. It’ll remove the shield given by Symmettra, the health boost given by Lucio etc etc.

    It doesn’t seem to strip Zarya’s barrier though which further confuses matters :D

  3. inspiredhandle says:

    Always feel hopelessly excluded from the “in” crowd reading these articles. It didn’t bother me when it was MOBAs everyone was seemingly playing, as they don’t mesh well with my gaming interests at any level.

    This game however, looks great. In another life I would be all over(watch) this shit. Alas competitive gaming type fps’s are outside of my sphere of interest these days. What a shame.

    Go on without me. I’m too old…

    • Herring says:

      I’m an old dude and being competitive in an FPS is far behind me but there’s plenty to have fun with in Overwatch even if you’re “No-scope Challenged”. There are characters that don’t require any aiming at all and one of the best healers play-styles revolves around “stay near other people and try not to get shot.”

      Don’t know if that’s the reason you’re avoiding it but Blizzard has done a good job of making it inclusive on all sorts of levels.

      • inspiredhandle says:

        I’m pretty sure that if I play Overwatch I’ll want to play it at a competitive level though. I’m mostly just saving myself the conflict for time. I could play it well, and enjoy it, but if I know myself (and I think I do), it would be very much at the expense of doing anything else.

        • TeePee says:

          Yeah, if you’re susceptible to getting sucked into a community, I’d stay a long, long way away from OW.

          It’s really, really well balanced (with the exception of a couple of characters who haven’t quite found their niche yet IMO), and there are enough classes that everyone can find one that they really enjoy. As an ex-TF2 addict specialising in Pyro and Medic (IE anything I don’t have to aim), Mei, Mercy and Lucio are amazing for me, allowing me to get involved and help the team out without needing to have the twitch reflexes of a McCree or Tracer player.

          It’s just an incredibly well-polished and well thought-through experience, and it does grab you hard, whether you want it to or not!

  4. Zorgulon says:

    Sombra is a lot of fun and has a lot of potential, but I’ve found her learning curve quite steep. You have to spend a few round trying things out and failing miserably to work out the possibilities and limitations of her kit.

    For instance: shoot things, don’t try and hack people in a 1v1! Her gun has a huge amount of ammo in the clip and you need to be close up to do any damage, so flanking is necessary, but in a lot of situations it’s best just to shoot an enemy rather than try to hack them. Hacking is more strategic, denying abilities to Zaryas and Zenyattas for instance. It will do next to nothing against an angry Torbjörn, and it won’t stop anyone shooting your head off.

    Also don’t try and use the thermoptic camo as an escape mechanism! It takes a long time to become active, and you’re very susceptible to spray-n-pray from enemies trying to see where you went. Better to cloak on your way in, and translocate your way out.

    The time limit on your translocator is quite short too: about 14s. So use it liberally, and don’t get yourself stuck without a way out of a sticky situation. Using your passive to prioritise targets is crucial.

    • Herring says:

      Yes, every side I went up against in competitive last night that Sombra on it lost.

      It got to the stage where one guy on our team (randoms) just picked Sombra initially each round to stop anyone else picking her and “causing us to lose”. He’d swap out just before the timer expired.

      • Zorgulon says:

        I have no doubt that we will start to see some very skilled Sombra players over the next few weeks. The same thing happened with Ana, lots of flailing in the first week, then people stop wanting to play her automatically, but a few months (and a couple of buffs and tweaks) later, and she’s not only viable, but an indispensable team member in a lot of cases.

        It will be interesting to see how quickly the “ooh new hero!” insta-lock-ins will tail off when people realise how hard she is to get to grips with.

        • Herring says:

          You can see how useful she’s going to be; she’s basically “in case of support, break glass”. Even apart from hack shutting down their healer for few seconds her ult nullifies Lucio’s and turns Zenyatta into paper.

          That combined with stealth + teleport means she’ll shake up the ‘turtle with tanks / healers until ults are ready’ gameplay.

          I’m looking forward to trying her though I normally don’t play Attackers (with the exception of “Quake guy with on-demand Rocket-Jump”)