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Abilities are the means through which players interact with the game world, dealing damage, defending allies, constructing turrets, changing hero mode or making use of special movement capabilities. Each hero has several abilities, including one Ultimate ability, an especially powerful ability which can only be used once the Ultimate Meter has been filled.

Abilities are the main difference between heroes. Abilities also define role, with Tank heroes generally have Crowd Control or protective abilities, Damage heroes having mobility or damaging abilities, and Support heroes having healing or buff/debuff abilities . All heroes also have access to a basic melee attack, which could be considered a default ability. The only exceptions are Reinhardt and Brigitte, who already possess melee-based primary weapons.

Abilities are accessed through certain preset keys, primarily left-shift, Q, and E. Some heroes also have abilities bound to other buttons, such as left click, right click, or left control.