Bad news for Overwatch fans who were hoping that we already saw Hero 30 on screen in the recent Reunion short: Game Director Jeff Kaplan has confirmed that the white robot is not Hero 30 in a clip of an interview on FRAN's Twitch channel. Whoever that next addition to the cast of characters may be, they're already in testing and fully playable.
Blizzcon took place over this weekend and we were treated to a new animated short and the introduction of Hero 29: Ashe, the leader of the Deadlock gang and McCree's old friend. Ashe is joined in battle by her beefy omnic buddy B.O.B. who serves as her Ultimate in-game.
The Reunion animated short also revealed the contents of that mysterious white crate on Route 66. The crate contained Echo, an Android that is strikingly familiar to a character from early concept art in the game.
Many (myself included) speculated that Echo would be Hero 30. (I had hoped that Ashe was a red herring and we'd actually be getting the robot girl instead, but alas.) Unfortunately, Papa Jeff put the kibosh on any chances of that happening on an interview on the Twitch channel of Top 500 player FRAN:
"But I think there's somebody even more important who can do more for you and that's Echo. We're building her up to be more. We want her to be a hero. Now, to set people's expectations - 'cause I know immediately what they're thinking is like, "Well, Hero 30 is gonna be Echo!" Echo, we have big plans for her. Echo is not Hero 30. I can tell them that." -Overwatch Game Director Jeff KaplanIn short: we'll be getting Echo, but not in March.
As for who we actually are getting next, Mr. Kaplan stated that it's "just another character in our cast" and that Hero 30 is "full-blown playable in our playtests".
We also learned a bit about Echo's history based on an interview conducted by the /r/Overwatch subreddit. Some speculated that Echo was an avatar of Athena or something similar, but it turns out that's not the case. The misconception boiled down to a choice made by one of the concept artists:
"Originally, we had a different internal name for her, but something that artists do a lot of the time when they’re drawing characters is trying to decide how to use space, and Arnold felt like she needed an insignia on her - like, that the character had too much white so he had to put a logo on her. So he literally just took the Athena logo, at one point she even had the Vishkar logo, and it was just one of these things like 'I need to fill space'."The rest of the interview makes for a pretty good read, so you should definitely check it out.
"So he put it on there and we never even thought about it, so it was funny when people went back and mapped onto the logo and started saying “that’s Athena!”. And we were like, wait a second, Athena is Winston’s AI and the narrator of the game! Athena’s not running around doing hero stuff, like, that’s not her character. So we’re like “well, they got that because we put the Athena logo on there, whoops!” -Overwatch Game Director Jeff Kaplan
We also learned from a clip on Emongg's channel that the next six heroes for the game are already planned out and do include Echo; Mr. Kaplan made a point of emphasizing that the game needs "a lot more tanks and [supports]".
Overwatch has had a pattern of releasing heroes three times a year: in March, July, and November (at Blizzcon). Since Echo is not the next hero, the earliest we'll be seeing her is in July of 2019 barring any changes to that cadence. As for Ashe, fingers crossed that she'll be making her way to the PTR sometime soon.
What do you think of Echo not being Hero 30? What role do you think she'll be filling? Would you have preferred for her to be related to Athena in some fashion? Let us know in the comments below!