Wrecking Ball crashes onto the Public Test Realm and into the hearts of (most) fans
After a week of hints and build-up, Overwatch’s 28th hero has been fully revealed – and it’s a hamster in a ball.That is, a metal plated death-ball complete with twin machine guns and a grappling hook.
The champion revealed. pic.twitter.com/0Fdpg2iBcs
— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) June 28, 2018
Before today’s reveal, the popular theory claimed the next hero could actually be Hammond, a research subject on Horizon Lunar Colony who escaped in an uprising that left the science station wrecked and abandoned. That same incident led Winston to flee in an escape pod bound for Earth and eventually reinstate the Overwatch protocol. Others insisted Hero 28 would hail from Australia’s Junkertown, a ramshackle settlement in the remains of a sabotaged Omnic facility. Perhaps the Queen of Junkertown, herself, would take the battlefield as a playable character.
The truth ended up being six of one and a half dozen of the other.
Hammond’s official origin video shows the wily rodent hitching a ride on the back of Winston’s escape pod in his own ball and crashing in the Australian outback. From there, he modified his vessel into a mechanical fighting machine known as Wrecking Ball, claiming the title and winnings of the Champion of the Scrapyard.
To casual fans of the game, this might be surprising. Winston is a gorilla (ahem, scientist) and the assumption was all the other subjects on the station were also gorillas, or at least some species of primates. But in the video, Dr. Harold Winston, namesake of the playable tank, tells a different story. The primates were the main focus of the experiment that eventually led to the fateful rebellion, but other creatures, including Hammond, received the same treatment, leaving the door open to include other hyper-intelligent animals in the future.
Abilities and Role
Hammond and his mech, the eponymous Wrecking Ball, will act as an aggressive frontline tank capable of disrupting strong defensive fronts – think more Roadhog than Orisa. His kit includes two mobility skills: one increases his movement speed, while the other deploys the grappling hook to swing him around the battlefield, knocking back enemies in his path.
An adaptive shield that increases strength when more enemies are nearby gives Wrecking Ball some staying power, while his piledriver, slams the mech into the ground to deal damage and knock enemies up into the air. His ultimate, Minefield, festoons the area with explosives that will make recouping a broken defensive line that much more fraught with danger.
Blizzard wants Wrecking Ball to be an engager, either picking off out-of-position targets to give his team an advantage or smash headlong into shield walls often established at map chokeholds. On top of this, his enhanced mobility allows him to back out of misplays or situations that maybe weren’t as favorable as he thought.
Fans in the Overwatch subreddit were incredulous as one Redditor, TheDumplingz, apparently predicted Hero 28’s design a solid year ago! Congratulations on that wildly called shot.
On Twitter however, some fans were disappointed that the game introduced an anthropomorphic mech pilot instead of more human representation, which has been a selling point of the game since launch.
we ask for a single black woman, and this is what you do
— Jas ? (@lunxaa) June 28, 2018
What Overwatch says: “embrace diversity”
What Overwatch does: adds a playable hamster before any black women
— Alex Ziebart (@AlexZiebart) June 28, 2018
While I find Hero 28 to be adorable, it sits uncomfortably following on the heels of Moira and Brigitte, two characters that offer a certain measure of gravitas and believability in the Overwatch universe (remember: Jetpack Cat was apparently a bridge too far for the developers). The game took great strides to make sure Winston was more than just a talking Gorilla. He learned empathy and humanity from a surrogate father, and primate intelligence has enough of a real world analogue to seem at least plausible in Overwatch’s near-future lore.
By comparison, Hammond seems cartoonish in a way that breaks the game’s premise. The Australian Outback has been Overwatch’s repository for their… less-than-serious stories and characters, but to me imagining a bipedal rodent in an ACME-brand ball inhabiting the same universe as a London suffering the social fallout of the Omnic rebellion is more than tonally dissonant, it’s kind of obscene.
Regardless, you can roll out as the Wrecking Ball and try the newest hero for yourself on the PTR right now.