Who is the next Overwatch hero?

Do we already know them? Or is the internet chasing red herrings? We investigate...
The hand of a hero in Overwatch
The world needs heroes © Blizzard
By Justin Mahboubian-Jones

Much like Ana before her, Sombra has slotted into the Overwatch roster with ease. But who will be joining the 23-strong line-up next to take it to a round two dozen? Reports suggest that at least one more hero is gestating within the belly of Blizzard, but when they will arrive, and who they are, remain unclear.

Whilst everyone is still basking in the warm glow of Mexico’s latest hacker extraordinaire, players are unlikely to see any explicit gestures toward a new hero just yet. This doesn’t mean, however, that we haven’t seen any of the future recruits already. Blizzard has spent the past six months enriching its universe with a variety of satellite media, from comics to animated shorts, which could provide clues as to the next addition to the ranks.

The characters below represent the most likely candidates for the full-on Overwatch hero treatment. In the world of Blizzard there are no guarantees; if something isn’t working, the developer is more than willing to cast it aside, but at the moment, the stars are pointing toward a few impactful characters within the shooter’s growing lore.

Athena

Athena in Overwatch
Could Athena have a similar form to this Robot © Blizzard

You already know Athena; she’s been present in every game of Overwatch you’ve ever played. The benevolent AI plays the part of announcer in-game, but Blizzard has also taken the time to develop her character further in the “Recall” animated short. Doing so is a pointed choice on Blizzard’s’ part: Athena could have been little more than a nameless computer script, but care has been taken to introduce her place within the team and core traits.

There’s just one slight problem: Athena is, presumably, a disembodied AI. Thankfully, the Overwatch universe has already lent a solution to this particular conundrum through the presence of Omnics, and in particular, God Programs. These artificial intelligences were contained by Overwatch after the Omnic Crisis, and in a Pharah comic called Mission Statement, one calling himself Anubis (who exists within the Temple of Anubis map) has broken free. The theory goes that Athena, like Anubis, is another God Program, who works in service of Overwatch rather than against it.

It’s been supposed that Athena could be the robots found in either of the drawing above, which is taken from one of the shorts explaining Overwatch history. The robot appears to bear a mark similar to that of Athena on the screens in Watchpoint: Gibraltar.

Doomfist

Doomfist in Overwatch
Doomfist does exactly what his name implies © Blizzard

Remember that first animated short which introduced us all to the world of Overwatch? Tracer and Winston are battling Reaper and Widowmaker for possession of a powerful gauntlet. This is the same gauntlet being transported within the payload on the Numbani map, and it’s no ordinary weapon: it belonged to a notorious villain known as Doomfist. This troublemaker was, according to lore, able to punch down skyscrapers with his knuckles alone, but he was ultimately defeated by everyone’s favourite ape: Winston.

A trio of posters on the Numbani map announce successive people to bear the name “Doomfist”, labelling them as Saviour, Scourge, and then, Successor. Presumably the latter, who has frustratingly been reduced to a silhouette, is the current iteration of Doomfist, and the most likely candidate for an appearance in Overwatch. All three characters are baring gauntlets of unique configurations. If the original is locked inside a museum in Numbani, presumably the latter two constructed their own.

Discussion of Doomfist as a playable hero has been brewing for months, and as early as last week American Actor Terry Crews suggested that he would love to voice the role. Blizzard has taken the time, both in-game and through shorts, to develop his place within the Overwatch universe; a compelling argument for his inclusion.

Right now, the only melee hero in the roster is Reinhardt: a character who by Blizzard’s own admission was difficult to slot into a first person shooter. Whilst it would be great to see Overwatch embrace more options for melee combat, it would be difficult to work into the game’s current format.

Liao

Liao in Overwatch
Liao is a founder, but they’re nowhere to be seen © Blizzard

The founding members of Overwatch are Ana, Soldier, Reaper (before he become a homicidal maniac), Torbjorn, Reinhardt, and someone you’ve probably never heard of: Liao. Earlier this year in a blog post titled “Overwatch is back”, Liao was named next to the above, but virtually nothing is known about him or her.

Until a few days ago, Blizzard was believed to be working on a graphic novel of much greater size than the comics it has published so far. The piece was to be titled “First Strike” and its narrative focus the team’s premiere mission, which would, presumably, have to include the mysterious Liao. Last week Blizzard writer Michael Chu announced the cancellation of First Strike, stating that the story was to go in a different direction.

"The original idea for the graphic novel dates back to the early days of the game's development and came from our desire to tell the story of the founding of Overwatch during the Omnic Crisis," he said. "In the years since First Strike's conception, we have done a lot of development on the universe and its stories. While the core of this story remains, we have changed and expanded upon how we see the events that took place during the first days of Overwatch."

Clearly something about the project didn’t mesh with the Overwatch universe, or Blizzard’s plans for the future of the game. It’s entirely possible that telling the story of First Strike would have spoiled the company’s plans for a future hero reveal. After all, Ana is key to the story of Overwatch, but Blizzard refrained from showing its hand before the time of her unveiling.

This above image is a drawn photo of original Overwatch members accompanied by Mercy, Mcree, and a couple of faces we don’t know. Could the man on the left be Liao?

And the rest

The rest of the gang in Overwatch
Who are these people? © Blizzard

Aside from the principal suspects listed above, there are other, unnamed suspects the comics, promotional art, and animated shorts who could make an appearance. Recall and the image above alone contain a few tempting-looking characters that seem ripe the full-hero treatment. Take the suited character above, who vaguely resembles the Pyro of Team Fortress 2, or the mech-suited giant in red.

It’s possible that any of these are the basis for a new hero, but given Blizzard’s secrecy over the visual appearance of Ana Amari and Sombra, whose guise wasn’t officially unveiled until the week before launch, it seems unlikely that we’ll glimpse the aesthetic of any pending heroes ahead of time.

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