Knowing when to and whom to Particle Barrier during team fighting is key to maintaining a high energy charge to be impactful as Zarya. Let’s look into how to how to use Zarya’s Particle Barrier effectively.
Play aggressively with your Personal Barrier (to an extent)
Using your personal bubble is a great way to aggressively take space, especially if you just won a team fight. Also, you can gain extra energy before a fight as well. Push as far as you can with your team to gain space but most importantly make sure you have a fallback for escape after the personal cooldown expires such as a building corner, Reinhardt shield, or doorway. There have been countless times Zarya’s push too hard only to get hooked or focused by other enemy cooldowns right when the bubble expires.
Give Barriers to teammates who can give the most “VALUE”
The value as a friendly hero that 1) Holds/Gains space + 2) Gives energy + 3) Is in danger of dying from fatal damage. It varies from situation to situation and it’s not easy calculating which friendly has the highest score of these three factors but it’s more like a guideline of things to keep in mind when trying to figure out who to barrier. More often than not, this will be your main tank.
Projected Barriers aren’t solely for protecting teammates
Contrary to what some might think you don’t save your barriers to protect teammates. If your waiting until the perfect moment when someone will die to use your team barrier, you aren’t getting good value out of it. In general, it’s better to use your Projected Barriers proactively to gain or hold space and also most importantly gain energy. So instead of waiting for your Lucio to get hooked by a Roadhog, you’re better off using it on your Reinhardt who is pushing in and swinging on the enemy team.
A Zarya without energy is useless
Related to the previous point, if you aren’t effectively gaining energy and getting high charge, you’re better off switching heroes. A Zarya without energy is not only dealing no damage, but you’re also not charging your ultimate which is one of the most effective ultimates in the game and also takes longer to build up compared with many other ultimates. So if you find yourself at low energy after a while, you might be better off switching, sometimes it’s not even your fault, as your composition might be lacking in friendly heroes that can easily give you value.