One of the great things about BlizzCon is that fans have the opportunity to peek behind the curtain ans see how things really happen. Say… For instance, how a new Overwatch Hero is brought to life. During yesterday’s opening ceremony, Blizzard announced the latest Hero to join the game’s lineup — a new healer with questionable scruples by the name of Moira. But, as is always the case with the opening ceremony, there are far too many games to talk about and not enough time, so players only got a brief look at the mad scientist.
But, that’s okay. Because while each game has to share the spotlight with all the others at the beginning they each get their own time later on, in panels dedicated to fans of each game. Each game gets forward — and sometimes backward — attention in the form of the “What’s Next” panels. The Overwatch “What’s Next” took place yesterday with a panel made up of the game’s lead writer Michael Chu, assistant art director Arnold Tsang, lead Hero designer Jeff Goldman, and assistant game director Aaron Keller.
Since Moira was announced earlier in the day, the developers opted to spend some time talking about the process of creating her, starting with the overall thought process in her creation. While Moira is one of several healers on the Overwatch lineup, she is the first one to not really be “good”. The lady’s a scientist, and apparently doesn’t really care what she has to do to make breakthroughs. She’s not out to conquer the world, but she’s not beyond making allies of those who are in order to reach her goals. Because of this, it was easy for Reaper to want to recruit Moira to Blackwatch. Of course, people like Moira don’t make the most loyal of allies, so once Overwatch was gone she shifted alliances slightly and joined Talon.
Getting her appearance just right
Fans might notice that Moira is a somewhat androgynous character, a trait that’s in line with her overall personality and general moral ambiguity. But, the Moira we see today isn’t exactly what the team started out with. She’s a bit more streamlined, and a good deal less Doctor Octopus.
Arnold Tsang, Overwatch‘s assistant art director offered players an in depth look at her overall design process, starting with the fact that Overwatch is filled with “benevolent” healers, including the “most upbeat, like positive DJ you’ve ever met”. With that in mind, they wanted something a bit more “ambiguous” and “shady.” This led to the designs you see here with the tentacles and other craziness.
The team liked them, but realized they were too complicated for the type of gameplay needed for this particular character. So they toned them down and tried designing a variety of weapons like the ones seen here.
In the end, they combined several features from all of these designs. For instance, taking the outfit from the design on the far left, the hair and face from the second to last on the right, and iterating on the final design on the right where each hand does something different.
Yes, Moira is a healer, but she’s a leech healer. So she uses each of her hands differently. And the look of her hands reflect that, with her damage hand looking like the hand of an old witch, and her healing hand looking normal. As for the rest of her outfit, it also reflects both her healing and damage abilities by changing colors with what she is doing at the time. The whole thing is designed to have a very sci-fi feel.
Tsang also showed off some of the concepts the team worked up for Moira’s ultimate ability. Of the three, they settled on the beam effect on the far left, but you can get a really good idea of how they got there by looking at the images.
They also highlighted some of Moira’s upcoming skins — because seriously, what’s a Hero release without skins? The first is her Oasis skin. Moira actually works for Oasis as their Minister of Genetics, so it’s a good skin to start with.
The other design is called “Glam” and is a tribute to glam rock. It’s pretty Bowie.
Once Tsang finished speaking about the art aspects, the team moved on to discussing Moira’s abilities and general gameplay. The mad scientist’s original gameplay concept involved her having a ton of health and the ability to leech health from others while feeding her own to her allies. As it turns out, this didn’t balance well because it made it possible for the players to effectively make themselves unkillable by simply leeching the whole time.
Her current skillset does take from that original idea. However, it tones things down a bit and offers more balance. The panel highlighted each of her abilities, three of which play off of the leech and heal idea. The final rundown is as follows:
- Weapon – Biotic Grasp: Primary and Secondary fires
- Primary Fire (Regeneration): A spray that pierces all allies and allows Moria to heal all allies within a cone area. Uses a meter system wherein the meter drains slowly as the ability is used and regenerates slowly over time when not being used.
- Secondary Fire (Decay): Drains enemies affected of their health, leaching some to Moira herself while filling the Regeneration meter.
- 1st Ability – Fade: Allows Moira to immediately disappear completely for less than a second. Also provides movement speed boost while in effect allowing her to get out of the line of fire.
- 2nd Ability – Biotic Orb: 2 Modes
- Primary (Regeneration): Throws off orb that bounces around healing all allies until it is gone. Has limited health, but allows for more long-range heals.
- Secondary (Decay): Works like Regeneration, except doing damage to enemies instead of healing allies. Shares a cooldown timer with Regeneration, so the players must make a choice on which to use.
- Ultimate – Coalescence: A super long range wide beam that both heals and damages at the same time, depending on who it’s hitting. Pierces all barriers, including shields.
The developers did describe the skillset as being potentially overpowered, but noted that they hoped this wasn’t the case. That said, it will be a bit before she hits the live servers, so some of what you see here may change a bit by then. To aid in making that judgement call, Blizzard has made her available for play on the floor at BlizzCon and have requested that players let them know how they feel about her.
As for those of us who aren’t there, we’ll just have to bide our time. That said, she looks pretty awesome and should be a great change of pace from the other healer Heroes in the game. Sometimes you just want to be a little bad… Or at least a little morally ambiguous.