Escort is a game mode wherein one team attempts to escort a payload from one point on the map to the opposing side. The path in which the payload takes is pre-determined, and to move the payload, the attacking team must stand near it. The more players that hover near the payload (up to 4) the faster it goes. The opposing team's only goal is to ensure that the payload doesn't reach the end of the path before the timer hits zero, and can even move the payload backwards, though the payload moves significantly slower in reverse.
When escorting the payload, you will hit checkpoints. These checkpoints serve two purposes; the first it to ensure that the payload cannot be pushed back beyond that point, and second that the timer gets a small boost, granting more time for the attackers to succeed.
Now that you have some familiarity with the objectives posed in the match, let's dive into some strategies to dominate your game.
The following 7 tips are useful regardless of team objective.
1. Get Tanked
In escort missions, choosing a team rife with fast paced Assualt Heroes may seem like an enticing prospect. Though your damage output will be high, your objective isn't necessarily to just eliminate the other team. Your objective is to control the moving payload, and this is best done with the aid of a couple tanks. Though they generally move relatively slow, so too does the payload, and the payload itself can help provide cover from long range fire. It's recommended that a team have at least two Tanks on the battlefield.
2. Supplement With Support
Having a couple of support heroes backing up your team is a must, as the objective here revolves much more around staying alive and near the Payload than it revolves around causing damage to the opposing team. Lucio specifically is great for this, as his speed boost can help negate the slow nature of your teammates as they move towards the objective, or defend it as it's in motion.
3. Avoid Obvious Placement
It may seem advantageous to place a Turret from Torbjörn or Symmetra on the moving Payload, or to hunker down on the objective as a Bastion Sentry, but this is simply not so. The Payload is the major target of the match for both teams, and both will be focusing their attention on it primarily. This means that anything placed on it will be immediately spotted by the opposing team and dealt with. Instead, place your immovable damage dealers in more inconspicuous places, especially Torbjörn's turrets. If a turret is placed on the Payload, you may not even have the chance to upgrade it before it, and then you, are swiftly eliminated. Instead, try getting ahead of the Payload, and place your Turret (or sit down as a Bastion Sentry) at a point above where the payload will be passing through. Since most enemies will be hovering around the Payload, you will have a much better chance to turn the tide of battle in favor of your team.
This same principle also applies to long range Heroes. When playing as Hanzo, Widowmaker, or Ana, take up a point ahead of the payload and provide long range firing support from a safe distance. It's worth noting that long range heroes shouldn't be overused in Payload matches, but a well-timed deployment can be utilized to great effect.
4. Don't Be A Loner
It's important that you always stay in close to your friendly teammates. Make friends, invite them out for coffee, fall in love, and grow old together. Or at the very least, have their back in combat and escort the Payload with them. As described in the introduction above, the Payload movement speed is directly associated with the number of players standing near it, and because of this, neglecting to be a team player can lead to a slow escort, and a failed objective. In most game modes it's recommended that you stay with your teammates unless you're a long range Hero, but here it's significantly more important. Teams should always be vying for control of the Payload, and supporting each other in battle.
5. Untimely Ultimates Are Ultimately Unseemly
That title took me a few minutes longer to come up with than I'd care to admit, but it's for a noble purpose.To improve the vernacular of those who read this! Literacy rules! Sorry. Back to the guide. As with most matches, it's best to hold on to your ultimate, waiting for your opportune moment to devastate the opposing team, but here it's much less about the enemies near you and much more about the enemies near the Payload. Generally, with an Ultimate you want to use it to eliminate, or at the very least cripple, as many members of the opposing team as possible. In Payload matches, you should look for an opportunity that involves the payload, a moment in which the opposing team is focused on the Payload and you, or your team, are at a disadvantage in that particular skirmish. For instance, eliminating two enemies that are holding down the Payload is far more useful than eliminating 3 enemies closer to their spawn point. Forcing a barren Payload and pushing with your team for a few precious seconds will cover significant ground, and get you much closer to winning the match. Enemy elimination isn't the focus of the match, even if it's quite fulfilling on a personal level to be the one who attains the coveted PLAY OF THE GAME.
6. Experience Matters
This is a big one for those looking to raise their levels quickly, and honestly, who isn't? Every time you make an elimination near the objective you get bonus experience. This helps with unlocking those delicious loot boxes that (on occasion) contain a delightful new skin. A green Soldier: 76? DEAR GOD, YES PLEASE. This is just another incentive to stay near the payload, another check box on a list with an abundance of incentives. Incentives like winning, which is nice I hear.
7. It's Been 4 O'Clock For 3 Hours!
Have you ever watched the clock and realized that time moves significantly slower when your gaze is upon it? Unfortunately, that proven scientific anomaly is absent within the confines of Overwatch's reality. But it's still pertinent to keep an eye on the game clock, making certain that you aren't about to lose. It's an obvious tip, but one that has an unobvious advantage. The clock will help you determine what the both teams are going to do. The closer the timer gets to zilch, the more likely the opposing team will not only be near the Payload, but playing as more offensive heroes. If you are playing as the escorting team (escorts?) It's likely that your team will be attempting a full on assault to push the Payload forward. Balance this by playing as a support character, and buffing out your team with bonuses to give you the best chance to reach a checkpoint or the end of the path. When the timer is close to depleting, you don't want to be playing long range. It's best to be near the Payload and fighting close range so you can influence the direction and speed of the Payload. Tips 1 and 2 apply two-fold here.
Hopefully, these 7 tips will give you an edge in your escort matches so that you and your team can claim victory and revel in a sea of delicious experience points.