Overwatch Beta In Autumn, Two New Characters Shown

This is the most Blizzard image I've ever seen.

As part of the preview event at PAX East, Blizzard announced two new characters and a revised beta date for the upcoming class-based multiplayer FPS Overwatch [official site]. They are Aleksandra Zaryanova, a russian strongwoman and Jesse Mccree, a bounty hunter cowboy fellow. They bring the total cast to fourteen members. At the end of the presentation, embedded below, game director Jeff Kaplan also announced that beta for the game would start in fall, revising the estimate from Blizzcon of “this year.”

Zarya’s role is as a tank, protecting others from damage and throwing out AoEs like deadly explosive candy. Her main weapon is a Link Gun-style beam, while its alternate fire is an on-contact grenade type deal. She also has a shield that can be deployed on herself or allies and absorbs a hefty chunk of incoming fire. Her ultimate ability fires a gravity bomb that draws all enemies towards its point of impact, setting them up for her alternate fire.

Speaking about Zarya’s physical design, Jeff said:

“We’ve been hearing a lot of discussion amongst players about the need for more diversity in video games. And that means a lot of things – they wanna see gender diversity, they wanna see racial diversity, the wanna see diversity along lines of what country people are from. But there’s also talk about diversity in different body types and that not everybody wants to always have the same body type represented. And we just wanted you to know that we’re listening and we’re trying hard and Zarya is the first step towards that. We’re paying attention.”

You can read her backstory and some other tidbits on the official character page.

Mccree, meanwhile, is a damage dealer. He has “BAMF” emblazoned on his belt buckle, meaning everyone who plays as him will be an absolute premium quality bastard. A Rich Stanton first pick, for sure. He’s got a revolver that he can fire in accurate semi-automatic or a full six-shot burst. A flashbang grenade can be thrown to stun groups of enemies for a second or so. His ult is an auto-locking instant-kill for every enemy on screen, firing after a couple of moments.

He sounds ludicrously overpowered, like all good heroes. More on the character page.


  1. Premium User Badge

    Qazinsky says:

    Gah, not again! I happen to be a fan of revolvers or pistols in games and that Cowboy dude looks like a great fit for me, but then they slap another boring autoaim move on him, the same way Gearbox destroyed the Sheriff character i Borderlands: The Presequel, I want a cool ability that I can use, not an ability that play FOR me!

    • TormDK says:

      Standing still in a game like that will get you killed, so somehow I don’t think it is as powerful as it appears at first glance.

      • Premium User Badge

        Qazinsky says:

        Well, I guess it depends how close it is to Team Fortress 2, which it seems to try to emulate. It is not that uncommon to see scouts sucessfully kill someone with the baserball bat emote, which has a several second windup and melee range.

        And now I am picturing this guy charging this move up behind the back of three snipers, standing on the battlement of 2fort.

        • TormDK says:

          Sure, I would consider that a valid use of the skill.

          Likely his voice emote will tip people off that he needs to die NOW unless they themselves fancy being a head shorter :)

    • Xocrates says:

      That’s an interesting design conundrum: How to make a character based on the fantasy of the deadeye shooter without aim assisting in some way?

      Slowing down time is common, but that’s a no-go in multiplayer.
      You can reward the player for being accurate, but that means the fantasy isn’t there for many (if not most) players.
      How to differentiate the character archetype from just another guy with a gun and a cool hat?

      I’ll probably spend way longer thinking on this than I should :P

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        The primary cynicism cortex in my brain lit up like a christmas tree when I read that. On the MRI you could read Q-T-E spelled faintly by the flaring synapse patterns.

    • Groove says:

      Have you tried console-shooter Destiny? The hunter class has an ultimate ability that sets your gun on fire and gives you 3 insta-kill(/mega-damage for massive PVE enemies) bullets. If you miss then your super ability did nothing.

      • Premium User Badge

        Qazinsky says:

        I have not tried Destiny, but I like the look of it, only have a PC myself. That kind of ability does sound better imo. I just don’t like games that give you a crosshair to aim with and then hit things for you in some cases.

  2. Kollega says:

    What I wonder is why the Russian is always the tanky muscular character with a huge gun, regardless of sex, when Soviet Union is notorious for fielding a hefty amount of snipers in World War 2, including, from what I know, the biggest amount of female snipers in military history. “Ice-cold Russian sharpshooter” should be as much of a stereotype as “mighty bear-wrestling Russian heavyweight”, if you ask me.

    Still, it’s nice that Blizzard are trying for diveristy in character design, at least.

    • Niko says:

      Yep, a stereotype is tiring. I guess it’s baby steps for Blizzard, and Zarya’s design is pretty cool after all.

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        Giving characters a national identity without resorting to stereotyping will be a thin line to walk.

    • Premium User Badge

      Qazinsky says:

      This struck me too, Zarya, HWGuy from Team Fortress, that guy in Predators. If I were to guess, they are all inspired by Ivan Drago from Rocky IV.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Probably goes back to all those doped-up athletes from the Cold War era.

    • Foosnark says:

      If anything, I’d like to see a Finnish sharpshooter. Outdated but reliable rifle, all manner of skill and daring, and a name nobody can pronounce and you have to put a cat on your keyboard to even be able to type it.

      • Kollega says:

        I know what historical sniper you’re referring to (for the uninitiated: Simo Häyhä), but that would be more stereotypical than a Russian sniper, since Häyhä pretty much single-handedly made a reputation for Finns as fearsome sharpshooters. Though considering how there are no Finnish characters AT ALL in most games, that would be a step forward too.

    • April March says:

      My brain smooshed most of the plot together as a defence mechanism, but wasn’t there a cold, inhumanly precise female Russian sniper in a Metal Gear Solid game?

      • Kollega says:

        If you mean Sniper Wolf (who I admit I only know because of parody comics), then she was actually supposed to be Kurdish or something, and her voice is a poster child for “What the hell is that accent?!” So I don’t think she counts =/

  3. Serenegoose says:

    Zarya is exactly the sort of character I love playing in these games, so I am most pleased. Give me a big gun and the ability to completely control a fight and I am a very happy egomaniac. Everybody watch and cheer for the tank now, all glory to the tank.

    • Grizzly says:

      So much this! There’s nothing like being a big heavy slab of meat and going “GROAAAAAWWWRRR” at everything that dares come close.

  4. kael13 says:

    Well as long as they change the HORRIFIC faux-Cockney English accent on that character, I’m totally game.

    I mean, it’s Dick van Dyke bad.

    • Serenegoose says:

      Come on. We scots have to endure the demoman.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Honestly, they really need to throw every line of dialogue in the bin and get someone with an original thought in their head to rewrite them before they worry about revoicing them.

      But if that’s the worst thing about this game, it’s looking good.

      • MrUnimport says:

        Oof, agreed. All the voice lines so far sound like themed unit barks, not like something the character would actually say.

      • April March says:

        I winced at “gravity kills”. How is that meant to be a one-liner? What does that even mean, outside of the very specific context of “I have a gun that fires black holes and just killed you with it?” Though I suppose it does sound like what someone with a very limited grasp of English would try to say for a one-liner.

  5. Marblecake says:

    I believe that Overwatch is Blizzard being sulky over DOTA2. They feel Valve stole their stuff, so they’re now doing the same thing with TF2.

  6. April March says:

    I don’t know why people are so excited about a strong female Russian heavy weapons lady when she’s not even voiced by Tara Platt.

  7. Stevostin says:

    I admire some part of the work here, but does Blizzard know the average age of a PC gamer ? There’s a fine line between cool & childish, and this time it’s really the wrong side of the fence. I can’t see myself playing. Makes me cherish TF2 and its adult fun.

  8. Opellulo says:

    It’s only my impression or Overwatch seems heavily influenced by Warframe?

    Every ability seems a ripoff (ok, there’s a general lack of creativity in shooter abilities in general) but there’s even an Excalibur-inspired space ninja in the rooster of Overwatch promotional material.