Following the reveal of Overwatch‘s newest Damage hero Echo, game director Jeff Kaplan said Blizzard has “multiple tanks and supports in development,” addressing concerns relating to role availability.
Kaplan made the comment in a recent developer livestream, where he noted the number of Damage characters Overwatch has when compared to other roles. As it stands, there are 17 Damage heroes, eight Tanks, and seven Supports in total. Overwatch’s roster, with the inclusion of Echo, is 53% damage-focused.
“I know a lot of people are going to be like, ‘Oh my gosh, she should have been a support,'” Kaplan said. “We have multiple tanks and supports in development. So we know that more Tanks and supports are needed, and we want to deliver on those too.”
Lead designer Geoff Goodman added: “The original idea was to keep her support, and then you’d be able to do this full clone ability that she has now. 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. Whereas somebody in the DPS role is much more flexible. 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. So that’s when we started going down to the damage route and developed the rest of her kit to support that.”
With Overwatch now using a role queue system in its main multiplayer modes, those seeking to play Damage face much longer wait times than those playing Support or Tank as the game searches for roles to fill out. Blizzard is testing out an experimental card with modifiers that “might be awesome or might not ever make it past the ‘Experimental’ stage,” according to community manager Josh Nash. This could be used to alleviate issues with team and role composition. The first experiment being tested, which went live on February 25 on all platforms, is a “Triple Damage” mode that sees the current 2-2-2 hero queue system replaced with one Tank, three Damage, and two Support.
Blizzard had been teasing Echo for a while now, using the name “Liao” as a means to set up Overwatch’s 32nd hero. Since her announcement, we’ve learned that Mina Liao is an artificial intelligence researcher who programmed Echo to help the world and battle alongside the Overwatch team. We went hands-on with her during an Overwatch preview event, where we discovered that even though Echo is a Damage hero, she can fit just about any situation with devastating effect.
It’s unclear when these new Tank and Support characters will make it into the game, particularly as Blizzard continues development on Overwatch 2. Around the time the sequel was announced, Kaplan confirmed another hero that is in development: Sojourn. With Overwatch 2 development underway, Blizzard said the two games will share DNA, meaning most of everything will carry over between Overwatch and Overwatch 2. Further, Overwatch will continue to receive new content alongside Overwatch 2.
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