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Overwatch's Orisa nearly got an ability that let her teleport across the map

"I was sort of imaging a character more like Dutch from Predator"

Imagine you're having a scuffle in Blizzard's funky little FPS, Overwatch. Most of the enemy team is here, except one of their tanks is definitely missing. That's when you see it - a drop pod hurtling down from the sky. It crushes your teammates upon landing, before the gentle giant mech Orisa emerges from it. According to the Overwatch devs in a recent Q&A, this is what Orisa's ultimate could've looked like in early development.

"Orisa's first ult was an idea where she could 'teleport' away (we'd probably kit this differently though), and then 'drop' anywhere else on the map via drop pod or something similar," wrote lead hero designer, Geoff Goodman. "This was back when she was extremely early and we didn't have a character yet, so I was sort of imaging a character more like Dutch from Predator (hence the mini-gun)."

Alas for Orisa, the kind-hearted robot created by a young genius, this sort of ability really didn't make much sense for the character. The idea wasn't scrapped completely, however, as that ultimate ability ended up on Doomfist - makes a lot more sense on a man with a giant gauntlet with which to whack people with. I'm just sad that there's no footage or Orisa zooming in from the sky.

This is one of the many cool little development stories some of the Overwatch devs told in last night's Reddit Q&A. It's fun to hear about what could've been, or even what could still be, what with Overwatch 2 giving them a chance to rework stuff and try out new things.

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A fun one they mentioned they'd like to take a look at is giving Mei the ability to slide on the ice she can spray on the ground. A terrifying thought really, giving such a potentially powerful movement ability to a hero that's already horrible to fight against. In that same comment, Goodman talks about how Symmetra could've had turrets that heal teammates. Turns out Overwatch is just a bit too fast-paced for something like that.

A slightly more realistic change that the devs have been experimenting with, though, is making the tanks more aggressive. Tank is the least played role in the game, and right now they're split between more offensive heroes (like Roadhog and his big hook) and more defensive ones (like Reinhardt and his big shield). The hope with this would be that, if they made tanks like Rein deal more damage, more players would be inclined to pick them.

All this talk of "experimental" stuff has me hoping that maybe we'll see some of these changes on the experimental card some day. Speaking of which, the current experimental mode on offer is actually a reworked Assault mode. It's something the Overwatch team have been trying to rework for a while to address "snowballing" - when a team wins the first capture point so quickly and aggressively that it's easy for them to roll straight through to the second point.

While Blizzard have said this experimental mode won't come to the live game, it's one they wanted to let players try out anyway. So then, here are the changes to Assault you'll find on the experimental card:

  • "The game mode has been changed into a shorter set of rounds where after each point capture, the round ends and teams switch sides. The game will begin with Team 1 attempting to take Point A. Once Team 1 either succeeds or fails to capture Point A, Team 2 will then attempt to capture the same point. If both teams successfully capture Point A, the game will move to Point B, where both teams will then repeat this process to attempt to capture the same point. The team who succeeds in capturing more points wins the game.
  • Each team has 6 minutes on the clock. Extra time is not awarded on point captures.
  • The Assemble and Setup times have all been dramatically shortened for rounds 3 and above.

  • When a team defends Point A for the 2nd and subsequent times they will spawn in a new spawn room just off the point. This spawn room deactivates when the round starts. The intention here was to reduce setup time as much as possible.
  • Attacker and Defender respawn times have changed. Most notably, the defenders take longer to spawn when defending Point B."

The nice thing about these changes is that, yeah, snowballing is pretty much gone. But getting rid of one problem creates several others. The devs say this mode's matches feel too disjointed, and some rounds go by so fast it's not possible for certain characters to get their ults. Not to mention how confusing it is to constantly be swapping sides.

But what about you, reader? Have you had a go of this new mode? I'd agree with the above, it felt a bit all-over-the-place changing sides so often. Still, it's nice they let us try out these random changes - even if they are a bit rubbish.

I promise I'm done now, but just in case that's not enough Overwatch for you for one day, you could always check out the new soundtrack they've released. Or, you could take a look at some of the excellent photos taken by Overwatch's esports photographers.

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