With a successful launch and the reintroduction of competitive play, what's next for the team behind Blizzard Entertainment's team-based FPS Overwatch? A recent tease points to a new character for the game's roster.
[ARCHIVE] Communications Records of Ziegler, A. – Overwatch File 00231 – Security Classification: CONFIDENTIAL pic.twitter.com/lLAxTL2DhO— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) July 6, 2016
The picture attached to the tweet shows a conversation between Overwatch character Torbjorn and Mercy, talking about schematics for a prototype biotic rifle. The rifle is an adaptation of the biotic technology that power Mercy's Cadeceus Staff and Soldier 76's Biotic Field in-game. The conversation talks about guarding against the weaponization of biotic technology.
Fans have slowly put together clues relating to Overwatch's next character prior to the game's May launch. A Gamespot video released in April briefly showed artists working on what appeared to be a new masked sniper character. In the Dorado map, there are files for Soldier 76 that refer to Sombra, a newspaper asks who the character is, and a computer screen references to a "Protocol Sombra". Reaper also has a dialog line that goes: "Where is Sombra when you need her?"
Art depicting the original Overwatch team features a sniper character that's not Widowmaker, featuring similar eye tattoos to Pharah. In Pharah's origin comic, she mentions that she shares that tattoo, called the Eye of Horus, with her mother in order to honor her memory. Her mother, Ana Amari, died in an attack on Overwatch headquarters that also killed members Gabriel Reyes and John Morrison. Players know them as Reaper and Soldier 76.
Given the tease above, it's likely that Sombra is real and most of the information points to the character being a Support class sniper. How that will work is still open for speculation - shoot to heal? - but it's an interesting concept.
The information relating to the original Overwatch team also points to another character potentially coming down the pipeline. That team included Morrison (Soldier 76), Reyes (Reaper), Amari (Pharah's mother), Wilhelm (Reinhardt), Lindholm (Torbjorn), and someone named Liao. Other than this mention by Blizzard during an in-universe news article, nothing else has been teased about Liao and the character has never been pictured. Fans are speculating Liao may be a Tank class.
Regardless, that character would come after Sombra. Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan previously mentioned that the dev team is going to release characters one at a time, so as to not destroy the game balance.
"We have plans for some hero and map updates, which you'll be hearing more about as we get a little bit further into the summer," Kaplan told Eurogamer. "But we don't know what the right cadence should be just yet. An example from the beta is that we felt like our release rate was pretty good for the most part, but we widely on the team felt like releasing Mei, D. Va and Genji all at the same time was way too disruptive for the game. That was a lesson that we learnt. When we come out with our first new heroes post-launch, we're going to do them one at a time for a while, until we feel the game really stabilizes."
"We have put a lot of hints, all over the game and out of the game, so I would say it's about time that people are concerned with who Sombra is. I hope they keep researching more and find more hints that are out there," said Kaplan on Sombra specifically.