Blizzard Entertainment officially unveiled the 24th new hero for their popular online hero shooter Overwatch. Orisa is a giant four-legged robotic defender built by 11 year old tech genius Efi…
Overwatch’s fan community has taken on a life of its own – particularly when it comes to sussing out the next new hero to be released. After the agonizingly long tease and meta gaming that lead up to Sombra’s release, Blizzard has been playing its hero cards a bit closer to its chest. They just laid down their first card with a mock interview with an 11 year old tech-wiz from Numbani: Efi Oladele.
The interview showcases Blizzard’s fun way of playing with Overwatch’s lore. Efi Oladele has won the Adawe Foundation’s Genius Grant for her work in robotics and artificial intelligence. She’s received a large sum of money and teases out her plans on what to do with it.
The biggest speculation is that Efi constructs either a D-Va style mech-tank, or an A.I. like Bastion. Whether or not Efi herself will be playable remains to be seen – but she would be awfully young compared to the adult cast of Overwatch.
Polygon provides a deep dive into the Overwatch community and the biggest fan theory – that Efi constructs a quadruped spider tank that’s seen in many of the game’s early art work. Jeff Kaplan told Polygon that Efi will play a part in the upcoming hero’s story, but the actual playable hero has not yet been announced.
To date Overwatch’s post-launch heroes have been slow to arrive but generally well-received (and free). A total of two heroes have been released since Overwatch’s launch in May 2016: Ana, a Support sniper in July 2016 and Sombra, an Offense hacker in November 2016.
After the big Winter Wonderland seasonal event, nobody expected Overwatch to launch into a new seasonal event so soon. The official Overwatch twitter account teased the upcoming event, which looks to be based on the Chinese New Year.
🎊 Good luck and great fortune await! 🎊 pic.twitter.com/Az6XkHScV5
— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) January 19, 2017
Chinese New Year (or Spring Festival in China) typically begins in late January or early February – the first new moon of the year. Each year is dedicated to a different animal within the Chinese Zodiac 12-year cycle. As seen in the Overwatch teaser video, 2017 is the Year of the Rooster.
The ten-second teaser video doesn’t share much information other than a date: January 24 when the even kicks off. A new Mei skin is shown in the video. Mei, the scientist armed with freezing abilities, is the game’s resident Chinese hero. The Overwatch Korean twitter account shared a slightly different teaser that featured a new D.Va skin.
Previous seasonal events have added new loot boxes with themed skins, sprays, poses, etc. Several maps are often decorated to celebrate the new event. New Arcade Modes were added in the last two events as well. In 2016 Overwatch hosted three seasonal events over about six months: Summer Games (based on the Olympics), Halloween Terror, and Winter Wonderland.
If you’ve lapsed, or haven’t yet tried one of the biggest games of the year, now is a lucrative time to jump in. To further celebrate their Winter Event, Overwatch is giving out five free Winter Loot Boxes, just for logging in. You’ll have to do it before January 2nd, when the Winter Event ends.
The Winter Loot Boxes contain special unique loot that’s only available during the Winter Event. This includes unique new Winter and Holiday-themed skins for many characters. These skins, as always, are among the rarest loot.
Overwatch is also on sale right now, both digitally via Battle.net Shop and physically at Amazon, GameStop, and Best Buy. It’s discounted to $29.99, while the Origins Edition is $39.99. The Origins Edition is useful for fans of other Blizzard games, as it comes with a collection of digital goodies such as a Hearthstone Overwatch card back and a Baby Winston pet for World of Warcraft. It also includes five unique skins for Overwatch characters.
The Winter Event is the third Seasonal Event that Blizzard has run this year. Events include new loot and new Arcade mini-games. The Winter Event presents Mei’s Snowball Offensive, in which everyone plays Mei and hurls snowballs at each other.
Blizzard’s hero shooter has enjoyed widespread critical acclaim and commercial success. Overwatch has earned numerous Game of the Year accolades from prominent gaming sites, including here at Pixelkin. Stephen called it “a brilliantly designed game that is possessed of a level of polish that is rarely seen in games today.”
Tracer is queer!
Now that I have your attention, Blizzard Entertainment has, rather sweetly, confirmed that Overwatch’s most popular character and face of the game is queer through a new webcomic.
The comic, titled “Reflections,” tells the story of Tracer racing home during the holidays using her chronal powers. Through good deeds and a bit of luck she ends up with a gift for her special someone, who happens to be a woman named Emily, and the two share a tender kiss.
Naturally the internet is losing its mind.
Blizzard’s hero shooter Overwatch is one of the most popular games of the year. The fandom has exploded thanks to Blizzard’s colorful and diverse cast of international heroes and villains. The stories and setting surrounding the multiplayer shooter have been teased through short videos and webcomics.
“Reflections” is written by Michael Chu and drawn by Miki Montillo. It’s the tenth webcomic they’ve done, which typically focus on expanding one hero’s backstory.
A bonus treat is the penultimate panel, which shows a montage of scenes of other Overwatch characters celebrating the holidays in their own ways.
It’s worth nothing that Tracer’s sexuality has zero bearing on the game itself. This isn’t a BioWare RPG love-fest, it’s a multiplayer shooter. The revelation is being treated just as you expect in an increasingly divisive world: disgust, annoyance, support, and love.
No, a video game character’s sexuality shouldn’t warrant its own headline. But reading through comments (which I don’t recommend) you’ll quickly realize why this is a big deal. Gaming in particular often comes under fire for under-representing anything that isn’t the default straight white male. Overwatch has one of the most compelling character designs in years, with a wide range of body types and ethnicities. It’s natural that they would include a range of genders and sexualities.
Blizzard’s Michael Chu has previously confirmed that “they are definitely LGBT heroes” in Overwatch. That’s heroes, meaning multiple. “It’s very important for us to have diversity and inclusiveness of all types, and that includes LGBT characters.”
Here’s an official statement that Blizzard sent Kotaku:
As in real life, having variety in our characters and their identities and backgrounds helps create a richer and deeper overall fictional universe. From the beginning, we’ve wanted the universe of Overwatch to feel welcoming and inclusive, and to reflect the diversity of our players around the world. As with any aspect of our characters’ backgrounds, their sexuality is just one part of what makes our heroes who they are. From the very beginning of our work on Tracer’s story, it just felt right to make this an aspect of her character.