SDCC: Blizzard Breaks Down New Overwatch Hero

Last night, members of Overwatch creative team hosted a special Overwatch panel to share their work on the game’s newest hero Ana.

They spoke about her design inspiration, her place as part the larger Overwatch story, and their world building strategy.

Overwatch Panel SDCC

The panel members included Michael Chu (Senior Game Designer), Arnold Tsang (Assistant Art Director), and James Waugh (Director, Story and Franchise Development). The panel kicked off with the Overwatch fanfare, courtesy of a diehard fan, and the team shared their new story and gameplay trailers for Ana with the room of excited fans.

Ana is a new sniper but she has a unique perspective from the game’s original Sniper, Widowmaker. Continuing Blizzard’s commitment to a diverse character set, Ana is a mature woman who has a long history within the game story. One of the original members of Overwatch, she was once considered the world’s best sniper. She is a dedicated soldier and (if the trailer didn’t tip you off) Farah’s mother.

Overwatch Ana backstory

Tsang and Chu went on to explain that after she is gravely wounded in an operation. She is presumed dead, but her commitment to her allies brings her back to the battlefield. They noted the significance, in the world where prosthetic limbs and bionics are so widely used, that Ana has chosen not to replace her missing eye. Rather, she returns to the fray and very committed to the challenge of, once again, dominating by her own skill.

It was important to the Overwatch development team that every character be unique and feel noticeably different before they add a new hero. This was important to them as they added a new sniper to the game. To this end, players will notice Ana has a distinct silhouette and set of abilities. Her secondary abilities to put enemies to sleep or heal her teammates. Don’t worry, the game knows when to do what and to whom. She will also have her own set of unique skins to set her apart.

Overwatch Panel Ana Design

When discussing the inspiration for new Characters, the panel said that the seeds for new characters come from three disciplines: Interesting gameplay potential, artwork, or story.  The Inspiration for Ana came from real life examples of middle eastern women, as well as notable examples of older female warriors in movies such as Mad Max.

The panelists did not offer many hints about other areas of the game, but they did talk about world building. The Overwatch design team and franchise development team are working closely together to build their story across multiple mediums. This holistic approach to storytelling has created interesting opportunities to deliver the story. Graphic novels are being used to flesh out the backstory of Overwatch, but the team is also employing small comic issues to offer small insights in the psyche of the heroes.

For fans of the animated shorts, Waugh says they are going to be a pillar of story telling going forward, so expect to see more down the line. Interacting with games over several mediums is helping Blizzard create a world without forcing players to buy a new game every fall. When questioned by fans about the progression of the story until now, the panelists admitted the team was still setting up a lot of story. The development team is building a world that they expect to be around for some time, like many of Blizzard’s other properties. Don’t expect resolution very soon, but it is on the way.

 

So, have you been playing as Ana? What do you think of her playstyle and lore? Let us know in the comments below!

Images © Blizzard

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