Overwatch players were delighted to see the introduction of Baptiste back in March, but have since turned their attention towards the next addition to the roster, with some potential candidates emerging for the 'hero 31' slot.
Theory-crafting about future heroes is one of the Overwatch community’s favorite pass-times, and with the current characters now old news, there's no doubt that a new hero is now the primary subject of speculation.
Thanks to in-game events that have taken place across 2019 already, there are perhaps more potential candidates than ever for hero 31. Here’s what we know about who could be a future hero, and which one is most likely to be next.
The Overwatch game director recently released a developer update on the summer content schedule, which is set to see the Summer Games arrive earlier than expected. He also revealed that the game's next hero will be released a little later than normal.
If the new hero had been on the usual schedule, players would likely have already seen at least initial teasers, so it's not too much of a surprise that hero 31 is a little delayed at this point. Kaplan said hero 31 will arrive "a bit later than you're used to, but he'll be here soon enough, so don't worry."
The statement also confirms that the new hero is male, ruling out a variety of popular candidates and most likely suggests that hero 31 is either Mauga, as seen in the Baptiste short story "What you left behind", or the mystery omnic seen at the end of the Storm Rising event.
According to Blizzard's usual schedule, the next Overwatch hero should be due for release towards the end of July, with previous summer heroes hitting the live servers between July 19 and July 27.
The first reveal of the hero usually comes towards the end of June or start of July, often with a few days of hints leading into a full announcement. Players can then expect the new hero to spend around three weeks on the Public Test Realm before joining the full game.
This year, however, the normal schedule might not be quite so reliable, as Jeff Kaplan hinted that changes are coming to the summer content schedule, and he's now confirmed this means a slight delay for hero 31.
While there are no official details about hero 31, and therefore no way of knowing for sure exactly what role the new hero will play, it is possible to speculate based on Blizzard's typical patterns.
For instance, they've only once released two heroes of the same role back-to-back, and in that case they were supports Moira and Brigitte. Given that the most recent hero Baptiste was also a Support, and Supports account for four of the nine heroes released since the game's launch, another new Support seems quite unlikely.
Between damage and tank heroes, most Overwatch players would likely agree that the tank role is more in need of more heroes, especially as it is generally further divided into "main tank" characters and "flex tank" characters which perform distinct roles. Given that tank is technically "due" a new hero, with both Support and Damage getting new additions more recently, this seems to be the most likely.
That being said, Blizzard are not beholden to any particular schedule or pattern when it comes to new heroes, so there are no guarantees until the official reveal.
The recent release of Baptiste short story “What You Left Behind” introduced a new frontrunner in the speculation for hero 31, a new Talon character named Mauga.
Described as a “giant, broad-shouldered man covered in tattoos”, Mauga is a former squad-mate of Baptiste’s from before the medic abandoned Talon. In “What You Left Behind”, Mauga and Talon analyst Nguyen track down Baptiste and drag him into a mission.
While Baptiste is of course the primary focus of the story, the level of detail given about Mauga suggests a greater significance than just another peripheral character. The story also gave some details as to what abilities Mauga might be expected to have: he wears heavy armor, wields dual machine guns “each as tall as a full-grown man”, and has an energy shield of some kind.
While Blizzard have introduced characters that are expected to become heroes far in advance of their eventual release, the timing and the fact that Mauga fits the expectation that a new tank is due suggests he’s now the most likely candidate for hero 31, especially with some of the other popular options having already been shut down.
So far, there’s only one character in the Overwatch universe who is known to be a future hero – Echo, the mysterious android who is rescued by McCree in the “Reunion” animated short. While Blizzard have confirmed that Echo is in fact a future hero, they haven’t yet announced when she can be expected to appear in-game.
Another character that many expect to be in line for release as a hero is Sojourn. Though she’d not been heard of prior to the Storm Rising mission, her clear authority in Overwatch makes her a fairly obvious candidate to join the game as a playable character at some point in the future.
Neither of these characters will be hero 31, however. While discussing Storm Rising with Overwatch streamers, game director Jeff Kaplan revealed that the next new hero would not be Echo or Sojourn, leaving the identity of 31 even more of a mystery.
With Echo and Sojourn out of contention, the most obvious candidate for hero 31 aside from Mauga becomes the mysterious hooded omnic who is seen talking to Doomfist at the end of the Storm Rising mission.
Unfortunately, almost nothing is actually known about this character, who hasn’t yet appeared anywhere else in the game’s lore, as far as players have noticed at least.
Perhaps the most popular theory is that this could be the leader of Null Sector, the omnic terrorist group who instigated the uprising that players fought against in the first iteration of the Archives event. The characteristic Null Sector purple is seen in his jaw, and Doomfist’s speech to him reveals he is fighting for omnics.
“The world doesn’t understand visionaries like us. I respect what you are trying to accomplish. You fight for your kind. It’s noble – and doomed to fail.”
Unfortunately, though, theories about who this character is or what they might be capable of if they became a hero are entirely guesswork until Blizzard decide to reveal more.
Players have been guessing the identity of the next new Overwatch hero since the game released, and over that time several rather compelling theories have been developed which have yet to come to fruition. It’s very possible, however, that one of these characters could become a hero at any time.
Since the first mention of the mysterious ruler of Junker Town, players have been eager to see her appear as a playable character in the game.
References to or images of the Junker Queen have popped up on several occasions, but she’s yet to really play an active role in the game’s story. Many players believe that Blizzard are lining her up for a larger role at some point, but whether or not she’s next in line remains to be seen.
Shortly after the events of Retribution, in which a Blackwatch mission goes awry after Gabriel Reyes apparently kills Talon boss Antonio, a new theory emerged that suggested that Antonio wasn’t dead after all.
Instead, the theory argued, the Talon leader would return as the realization of one of the early hero concepts, a masked figure who appears cybernetically enhanced with tubes possibly keeping him alive after sustaining a serious injury.
Blizzard have yet to significantly expand on the consequences of the Retribution mission, but reintroducing Antonio as a hero would certainly give them an opportunity to do so.
Best known for his appearance in the “A Better World” comic featuring Symmetra, Sanjay Korpal is – on the surface at least – an employee of Vishkar Corporation. In reality, however, he’s been shown to be working with Talon, appearing at a meeting of Talon leadership following Doomfist’s return in the “Masquerade” comic.
Fans have speculated that Sanjay could be a future hero, and there have even been fan concept designs regarding what his abilities might be. So far, however, little else about Sanjay has been officially revealed.
Whoever Overwatch's 31st hero really is, there's no doubt that - after waiting so long for their reveal - the game's online community will welcome them with open arms. Until then, the wait for teasers continues.
Last updated: July 16, 2019 - 09:41 AM EST.