Principal Designer Scott Mercer offers his insights on Sombra

▲ Principal Designer Scott Mercer


Why is Sombra classified as an offense hero when her damange is low, and her abilities are mainly geared toward debuffing and disrupting?

Earlier versions of her had even less firepower, because she was our first stealth character and we didn’t want her to pop out of nowhere without leaving room for counterplay. She did more support things back then, but we received the same feedback as you did during playtesting, so her gun got better.

She still kept her abilities, such as stealth and the translocator beacon which allow her to engage when she wants to do so. EMP also will help well-coordinated teams. She’ll be useful at the beginning of teamfights, shutting down enemy abilities and breaking down barriers. We’ll have to see how well she’ll perform as a solo roamer, though.

Was Sombra meant to be a counter to heroes like Torbjorn?

Sombra is good against characters like Zarya, Reinhardt, and Winston who have shield or barrier. Torbjorn is not really about shields. Sombra can disable his turrents, though. Nowadays Torbjorn is effective with his gun and armor packs. Not all of his power is in his turret.

What was the design goal behind Sombra’s ultimate ability, EMP?

We were looking for way to add counters to barriers. The fantasy behind Sombra is a sneaky infiltrator who works behind the scenes, and we also wanted a big team-affecting ability on her. The two combined.

What was the design intention behind adding stealth in the game?

Stealth is a popular mechanic in many games. Although Sombra is the first hero to have stealth, she’s not the first hero we tried stealth with. Our very first version of Genji had stealth, and he could go into stealth to backstab and oneshot. Although Genji loved it, we of course ended up setting that aside.

With Sombra, we knew we wanted her to be a hacker and infiltrator, which made sense for her to have stealth. That’s how it came to be.

How will Sombra affect hero balance, and should we expect more heroes with stealth?

There’s certainly a possibility in the future. Her stealth is very controlled in that it lasts a certain amount of time and breaks upon damage. So she can be countered. We didn't want stealth to grant invulnerability as it does in some other games.

As far as overall balance goes, we’ll see. We’ll be testing her on PTR and letting players try her out in the next week. She’s a difficult character to pick up and play properly. It’ll take some time for players to get a complete understanding of everything she’s capable of.

I found her quite tricky to use. Any tips?

She’s not only about stealth; her Translocator Beacon is often better because you can place somewhere safe and go back if you run into trouble. You can also open up new routes. I think people will soon learn to use her abilities in combination. You don’t want to put her in a hazardous situation because she’s not the type of character that charges at the frontline.

Some players have pointed out that Sombra's hack ability is a little confusing to use because its graphical cues aren't very intuitive. Was this intended?

It wasn't. If a targeting reticle appears, it means you can hack that person. If you try moving your reticle over them and nothing pops, then either the ability is on cooldown or you’re too far away.

Another thing you should remember is that it takes some time for her to hack. If she takes damage in the process, the channel will be disrupted. So hacking will be difficult if you’re in the middle of a huge firefight. It’ll take some time to get used to, but we can probably do a better job with visibility. We’ll see what we can do.

Where did you get the inspiration for Sombra? How did she end up being from Mexico?

There are many cyber punk influences in movies like Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell that feature a female lead. We definitely wanted a character along those lines. She’s not super serious. She's a little playful.

As to why she’s from Mexico - we were working on Dorado, and there were ties to the Los Muertos gang, which we really liked. A lot of pieces fell into place and things just worked out.

I thought Sombra had a thick Mexican accent, but a manger from Latin America said she sounds more Colombian. What goes in the casting process for voice actors?

It’s always a challenge. Some people in England don’t think Tracer sounds British. Even within one nation, there are different dialects and different ways of speaking. Especially for voice actors, we are always trying to find the best fit.

Our goal is to be faithful to the original as much as we can, but we have to make sure they’re good actors too. It’s tough because some actors sound authentic but don’t read the part well.

Many fans were frustrated with Blizzard's slow and fragmented buildup for the Sombra reveal. Did you achieve what you wanted with your marketing strategy for Sombra?

A lot of it wasn't our strategy; many leaks were not ours. Some pictures that showed up on the web weren’t planned to be shared at all. We wanted to save the reveal of how she looked and played for BlizzCon. It was fortunate that at least her abilities weren’t leaked. It was what it was. We just had to roll with it.

Aimbotting has been a consistent issue since late Season 1. How are you addressing it?

We take cheating very seriously and constantly work to stop and prevent it. We have a zero tolerance policy. You will be banned upon detection. Don't ruin the game for yourself. 


Source article by Inven KaEnn

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