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Overwatch • May 14, 2019

Overwatch lead designer reveals how Blizzard make new heroes

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Overwatch lead designer reveals how Blizzard make new heroes
Blizzard Entertainment

Overwatch lead hero designer Geoff Goodman has revealed how Blizzard go about creating new heroes for the game.

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Overwatch has seen a steady schedule of new hero releases since its release in May 2016, with new heroes arriving every March, July, and November since.

In a video with GameSpot, Goodman has revealed what the process for creating new heroes looks like as they turn concept ideas into fully-fledged heroes figure out what their abilities might look like, using the creation of the latest hero, Baptiste, as an example.

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New hero prototypes

The video gives a fascinating look into how heroes are prototyped by showing off footage of early versions of Baptiste that the developers used for testing.

Where new models and animations are required, Blizzard tend to use simple designs that only vaguely resemble the finished product, to ensure no more resources than necessary are invested into ideas that may ultimately be shelved.

Where possible, however, they often simply adapt existing elements – a prototype for Baptiste, for instance, used Ana’s profile picture, Soldier: 76’s weapon model, and a recolored version of Zarya’s alternate fire for his healing grenades.

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Blizzard Entertainment
Baptiste is the 30th hero in Overwatch, and the 9th to be released since the game's launch.

Baptiste ability changes

While talking through the development process for Baptiste, Goodman reveals some interesting details about how the hero’s abilities changed from concept to final implementation.

His most iconic ability is perhaps the Immortality Field, a unique mechanic that makes players within it invulnerable to damage beyond 20% of their health. Internally, however, this ability is still often referred to as “Lamp”, because it was originally prototyped by using a street lamp as the deployable object.

This actually had some effects on gameplay, as the lamp was apparently thrown like a spear, allowing players to influence how the Immortality Field deployed by placing it at unusual angles, which is why it was ultimately changed. The ability did get a buff, however, as it initially left players on just a single point of health.

Who is Overwatch hero 31?

Having been released to the live servers on March 19, Baptiste is now well-established in Overwatch, and fans are already turning their attention to the next new release.

While there are plenty of candidates for potential new heroes in the future, two of the most popular – Echo, who was revealed in the “Reunion” animated short, and Sojourn, who featured in the Storm Rising event – have been confirmed as not being hero 31.

That leaves the most popular candidate as the mystery omnic who also appeared at the end of the Storm Rising mission, but Blizzard have been known to introduce entirely new characters out of left field, so hero 31 could still be a complete surprise.

Whoever the next new hero is, they should be due for a release in late July, with a full reveal likely coming earlier in the month or perhaps at the end of June.