When Blizzard revealed that Overwatch's newest hero would be Wrecking Ball - a genetically-engineered super-genius hamster piloting a deadly mech - player opinion was immediately split. Some loved the idea of a cute little furball controlling a death machine, while others thought he was just too silly of a concept for the game's lore. All according to plan, says Blizzard.
In a post on the PlayStation Blog, Overwatch lead game producer Adam Gershowitz walks through the creation of Wrecking Ball, aka Hammond, from conception to implementation. But one standout admission is that Blizzard not only expected some pushback on the hero, but wanted it.
"We knew that [Wrecking Ball] was going to be a somewhat polarizing figure. We wanted him to be polarizing," Gershowitz writes. "I think you fail in both directions if people just hate something. But if everyone just loves a character and thinks they’re perfect? Well, nothing is ever perfect. You want that dichotomy between people saying, 'Oh this is too far,' and others saying, 'This is amazing!' We wanted that push and pull, that passion on both ends of the spectrum."
"Sometimes the polarization happens on the gameplay side, and sometimes it’s over a character’s personality. We knew we were pushing things, but we wanted to see where the limit was—how far we could push things, how much we could get people talking, while also putting together a really fun character with great new gameplay that all worked as one cohesive unit."
Even so, don't expect another out-of-left-field hero like Wrecking Ball for awhile. Gershowitz says that part of the reason it took so long for Blizzard to fully develop the character was adapting him from an early, more serious concept, and that the team wants to let time pass and people come to accept Hammond (much the way they accepted Winston, a glasses-wearing, talking gorilla from the moon) before they push the envelope again.
Wrecking Ball isn't the only major change to Overwatch in recent months. Read up on Blizzard's plans for Overwatch in 2018 to see more of what's coming.