Ashe, the 29th hero for Overwatch, was revealed during the opening ceremony for BlizzCon 2018, held at the Anaheim Convention Center on November 2nd. Ashe is a mid-ranged DPS hero who uses a semi-automatic rifle and is expected to bring a significant change to the meta, especially in the Overwatch esports, since her skill set is great for shifting the tides of battle. We had the opportunity to interview Scott Mercer, the principal designer for Overwatch, on this new hero.
Did you get to try the Licio-Oh’s that were introduced at the opening ceremony?
Not yet, unfortunately. Even though I'm working as an Overwatch dev, I didn’t know our Overwatch character was going to be featured for a cereal like that, but it is great to see it happen.
Can you tell us the backstory for the new hero, Ashe?
Ashe was created to appear in McCree’s cinematic, but we started to like her more and more, and that led to her becoming a hero in Overwatch. We took the Wild West in the 19th century as a reference for her, and she is a great hero for players with good mechanical skills. She may not be a sniper, but she can still hit her targets with precision using her weapon, Viper. Dynamite, one of her skills, was based on feedback we got from the community. Many Overwatch fans wanted a system where they can throw an explosive projectile and make it explode faster by shooting it. Just like in the cinematic, you can make the dynamite explode quicker by shooting at it.
Also, we thought about how we should put B.O.B, Ashe’s omnic butler, into the game and decided to make him a part of Ashe’s ultimate skill. Since we had to create two characters, our character art team had to put a lot of effort into designing them. Although we could have given up during the process, we were able to finish the development thanks to the effort of people who loved [B.O.B}. B.O.B will also get skins to go along with Ashe’s.
In the cinematic, it almost seemed like Ashe and McCree had some special 'something' between them. Also, why did Echo appear in the cinematic?
McCree was a former member of the Deadlock Gang along with Ashe; they aren’t in a romantic relationship, but Ashe does hold a grudge against McCree. As for Echo, we can’t say anything about her just yet.
What will the skins for Ashe be like?
I know that there were several ideas for Ashe’s skins , though I don't know about all of them in detail.
What kind of role can Ashe play?
The gameplay video we showed you has a bit of setup -- Ashe won’t be able to be played as a sniper like Widowmaker. However, she can do more damage than Soldier: 76 and has a longer range than McCree does. She may have some gameplay advantages over other heroes depending on the situation; for instance, she can use her Dynamite as part of a strategic ambush. Although I don’t have anything to say about Echo right now, she is a character I’m really interested in as well.
Many players see Doomfist as too OP in Competitive Play; what is your take on this?
After his addition to the game, Doomfist became powerful as he slowly blended with the current meta. He will be going through a balance change based on the feedback we have received.
It seems like lately, we’ve been getting heroes that rely more on a player’s precise mechanical skills.
We aim to create a variety of characters that many people can enjoy playing in Overwatch. Brigitte isn’t too difficult to play, but I think Ashe may be more challenging to an extent.
There was a clip where Ashe immobilizes enemy tanks with her Dynamite in the gameplay video. Also, it seemed there was a debuff effect caused by burns, can you tell us more about it?
DoT damage will be applied with the burning effect; you can heal when you are burned but can’t make it go away with Mei’s Cryo-Freeze.
It’s been two years since Overwatch was released. Do you have any plans to make some Overwatch animation or movies?
We don’t have any plans for that at the moment. We know that many people would like to know more about the Overwatch world, but we plan to show them that through animated shorts for now. This is because if we make a movie, we won’t be able to focus on developing other things. However, I think it is something that may happen in the future when we can solve the work allocation problem; [we know] many Overwatch fans love watching videos about the Overwatch world.
Lastly, is there anything you would like to say to the fans and community?
I want to thank everyone. As an esports fan, I’ve watched all of the games in the OWWC Qualifiers and the fan reactions to the Busan map when it was announced. I know there are many fans who truly love Overwatch and everyone in the dev team knows that there are high expectations from the fans. I think many gamers will be looking forward to playing Ashe since she requires a fair amount of mechanical skill. I’m looking forward to getting feedback on Ashe from our Overwatch fans.