Overwatch

Overwatch devs explain why Echo was originally a support hero

by Bill Cooney
Blizzard Entertainment

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Before Overwatch’s newest hero Echo was officially revealed on March 19, practically everyone in the game's community was certain she’d be joining as a support hero - which is, surprisingly, what developers intended to do first.

As we found out yesterday, Echo is definitely a DPS hero, with a kit chock full of offensive abilities and an ultimate that lets her transform into any enemy hero while charging their ult 650% faster.

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Geoff Goodman, one of the lead game designers on Overwatch, told GameSpot in an interview that developers had originally planned on making her a support hero.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmXNkp96g-Q

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Devs have been working on Echo as a hero since the “Reunion” cinematic from BlizzCon 2019, but Goodman said it was her ultimate that determined her final DPS role.

"The original idea was to keep her support, and then you'd be able to do this full clone ability that she has now," Goodman revealed in the interview. "But then, pretty quickly, we realized that ultimate is really cool, but it's not really going to work as a support, because I don't think you really want your healer to suddenly become a tank or DPS, and now you don't have a healer.”

Instead of temporarily sacrificing a valuable support hero every time Echo used her ultimate, the Overwatch team thought it would be a better idea to make her damage, instead.

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“Whereas somebody in the DPS role is much more flexible,” he continued. “Now you have a tank, now you have a healer. So it feels like, if we're going to do that kind of thing with swapping roles, you probably should start in the damage category.”

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Echo, or at least artwork of the character, has been around since before Overwatch was even called Overwatch.

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The Overwatch team has said before that they try to design heroes so that players are able to recognize which role they're supposed to fit into just by looking at them - but since almost everyone had Echo chalked up as a support, that obviously didn't happen this time around.

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The lead game designer explained that developers usually build a prototype hero with the abilities they want to see, then send it to the art department for them to come up with a design concept. In Echo's situation, though, it was the other way around.

"In Echo's case, it was more that we had the art for her from a long time ago," Goodman told GameSpot. "Technically, the real origins of her as a character goes back to Titan, which was our earlier project that got canceled before Overwatch 1."

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At first glance, Echo seems like she should definitely be a support, but that's why we don't judge a book by its cover, right?

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Echo is currently available to play on the PTR for PC players, but unfortunately, those on consoles will have to wait a while to give her a spin.

The Overwatch team has warned that Echo could be spending more time on the PTR than past hero releases, but if devs use that to make sure she's balanced when she makes it to the main game, players probably won't mind the wait.