With a new year comes a new set of hopes that the Overwatch community has for its beloved game. At the top of the list, it seems that most are asking for heroes. Not only more of them in 2020, but also more unique types of heroes.
In 2018, players were introduced to three new heroes, Brigitte, Wrecking Ball, and Ashe. These three did an excellent job at shaking up the game and providing players with a fresh experience upon their release (even if one of them did lead to GOATS). However, due to the fact that this only happened three times throughout the year, there were lots of moments throughout 2018 where the community felt starved for content. Maps and skins just proved not to be enough.
Much of the same was true for 2019, with Overwatch failing to even meet its 2018 marker of three heroes. While Sigma and Baptiste were both able to come in and immediately feel impactful, there hasn’t been a new hero since July of 2019 (nearly six months ago) to counter or take them out of the meta. As a result, players have been forced to play each one since release in order to be competitive, moving up their expiration date even faster.
Why More Heroes?
League of Legends also only released three new champions in 2018, showing games can have down years in production. However, this is coming after a two-year stretch in 2016 and 2017 that provided the game with 11 new champions in total and was followed by a 2019 year that led to five new champions on its own. In total, League of Legends has doubled Overwatch’s hero output over the last three years. Doubled.
For a comparison between League of Legends and Overwatch, see the following two images showing the heroes released, in both games, from 2016 to the present day.
While there are clearly lots of design differences and other things going on in the background, players often look solely at the number of new heroes/champions as their primary metric for how hard developers are working to keep the game fresh for them. For a great many players, for better or for worse, new heroes are the only thing that keeps them playing the game. For Overwatch, this could be the root of many of their problems over the past two years, losing streamers and a lot of its overall momentum.
So, moving into 2020, most can probably agree that Overwatch simply needs more heroes. But, with an increase in number also calls for an increase in design demand. Part of the issue in releasing six heroes in a year is coming up with, sketching, balancing, and patching six heroes in a year. With all the brainpower that is going to be required, it may benefit the designers to look to other titles in order to draw inspiration. After all, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.
[Related: Overwatch Hero 32 Candidate Tier List]
A Starting Point for New Overwatch Heroes
Looking at a wide variety of other games and the characters within them, this author has come up with three, albeit very rough, ideas for hero concepts that could be good fits for Overwatch. While none of these are fully refined, they may just be starting points that could lead to new heroes, just as they were for the games they have been made famous in.
Think of this as free labor, Overwatch developers. These first few are on us.
Karma is a support hero in League of Legends. She is one of the most unique champions in League because of her ultimate ability “Mantra.” This ability is unlike others in the game and is learned at level 1 rather than level 6. When used, this does not do anything on its own, instead, bolstering her other abilities and granting them additional power. This mechanic, in particular, is one that would be interesting to see in OW. Playing a hero that had their ultimate to start the match would promote a completely different playstyle that I think OW players could really enjoy.
This one seems like a no-brainer considering the similarities between TF2 and Overwatch. For those who may be unfamiliar, the Pyro is a character in TF2 that has a flamethrower. The Pyro’s slow-burning flamethrower could work in a similar way as the fire of Ashe’s dynamite or the poison of Widowmaker’s mine. This weapon paired with a couple of abilities could make an exciting DPS player or even a more damage-centered offensive tank.
Overwatch is also pretty wrung down with barriers at the moment, so this flamethrower could do increased damage to barriers, or even just slice right through them like Moira’s ultimate. If it moved players away from double barrier, there would likely be few caught complaining.
The basic idea behind combining these two into one concept is centered around the conjoining of multiple characters to make one complete hero. While you play the Ice Climbers and The Lost Vikings differently and they have unique roles in their respective games, each is a hero made up of multiple characters that are on the map at the same time.
Translated to Overwatch, this may look like Ashe’s ultimate, Bob. Extending from Bob, developers could leave the second character passive and give the hero a buff while the two are fighting together, just like the Ice Climbers. Taking this one step further could look like the Lost Vikings’ ability to control each of the three Vikings independently, allowing for a presence all over the map but with a serious vulnerability when separated.
There are lots of different options here the general principle could really work in Overwatch and make for a fun character for lower-tier players but also one with a high ceiling for professional players. As an Ice Climber main in Super Smash Bros. the author of this piece admits to a fair amount of healthy bias for including this one here.
Influence From Elsewhere is Okay, a Lack of Heroes is Not
While these may be rough sketches, developers have to start somewhere when crafting heroes. In the end, we all love video games and have been influenced by all of the games we grew up playing. Why shouldn’t we expect to see these games to continue to influence the games that we play today? Developers grew up playing many of the same titles we did, so it’s not out of the question that they would mix their creativity and ingenuity with their previous experiences, right?
In any case, it’s clear to this author that, for Overwatch to survive, it needs to increase its output of heroes in 2020. If players had to choose between more precise balancing with fewer heroes, or a few more heroes and more leniency towards balancing, most would likely choose the latter, at least for Overwatch.
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Featured Image Courtesy of Overwatch Wiki
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