It's time to start speculating about who the next Overwatch hero will be, now that years of teases have finally paid off with the proper reveal of Echo. Fortunately, Jeff Kaplan is happy to oblige.
I got to speak with Kaplan, the game director of Overwatch, during a preview event for Echo on the Blizzard campus. We talked about how Echo works as a throughline all the way from the canceled project that preceded Overwatch all the way to Overwatch 2. But with no release date provided for the sequel yet, Blizzard will likely add more heroes to the roster before it arrives. When it does, it could go just about anywhere.
"Sometimes we want things to be a surprise, sometimes we want to deliver on expectations," Kaplan tells me, citing the long leadup to Doomfist compared to the sudden appearances of Sigma and Baptiste. There are plenty of old threads to follow up on and plenty of new places to expand on the Overwatch story. Fans do tend to fixate on the former category, since it gives them something to speculate about.
"There's like the running top three at any time of who they think is coming next," Kaplan says. "That's fun to us, when they're like 'Oh, it's gonna be Mauga', or 'It's gonna be Junker Queen!' OK, cool! We're glad you're excited for them and that gives us something to think about, you know. Maybe the next one will be Mauga, maybe the next one will be Junker Queen, or maybe it'll be a new Sigma that you've never heard of before."
He means "a new Sigma" in the sense of somebody who comes out of nowhere, not a new version of Sigma himself. That said, lead designer Geoff Goodman did tell me that Overwatch may eventually get to the point where its heroes have more overlap, mechanically speaking - though he always wants each hero to feel distinct and viable on their own. If we ever do get a new Sigma, I hope they bring shoes.
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