Blizzard have finally unveiled the first new post-release hero for their hit team-based shooter Overwatch. Say hello to Ana Amari, support sniper and mother to the rocket-wielding Pharah.
While we already have a couple of snipers in the game, in Hanzo and Widowmaker, Ana sets herself apart with her wide range of support abilities. Her biotic rifle fires darts that either heal her allies or deal damage-over-time to her enemies, with a scoped shot hitting for more initial damage. A biotic grenade allows Ana to deploy an AoE heal which also harms enemies. Additionally, affected enemies cannot be healed for a short duration, while allies receive a boost to healing from all sources. Imagine throwing one into a contested point while Zenyatta uses his ultimate or Lucio pumps up the volume.
Ana’s other ability is a sleep dart that she uses to knock out a single target – though any damage received will rouse them from their slumber – which should be very useful for taking isolated enemies out of the game for a moment. Her ultimate, Nano Boost, is a powerful support ability that boosts an ally’s movement speed, damage resistance and damage output all at once. Imagine hitting a Reinhardt with it and having him clear out a chokepoint, or stacking one with Soldier 76’s ultimate for a fast-moving death machine.
As well as a gameplay introduction video, Blizzard have also released a short origin clip for Ana. In it, Ana relates her history with Overwatch to her daughter, explaining how, much like Soldier 76 and Reaper before her, she came to be presumed dead only to later return to the fight. It seems she had some kind of showdown with Widowmaker, leaving her gravely injured, and with a whole heap of regrets. It’ll be interesting to hear some of her lines when teamed up with a Reaper, Soldier or Widow, and hopefully there’ll be some nice insights into her relationship with Pharah.
Our first post-launch hero has long been suspected to be a support sniper, ever since a glimpse was caught of a sniper-y silhouette placed in the support category during one of Blizzard’s pre-release videos. And while we already knew Pharah’s mother, an original member of Overwatch, was called Ana, most expected this new hero to be called Sombra, thanks to easter eggs littering the game’s Dorado map. It’s now thought that Sombra is another character entirely – possibly one linked to Gabriel ‘Reaper’ Reyes, thanks to a voice line that can be heard if you play him on Dorado (“Where’s Sombra when you need her?”) and the fact that Sombra means shadow in Spanish. Perhaps she will be a later addition and have a playstyle leaning towards stealth?
Ana is currently live in the Public Test Realm on PC, and it will be interesting to see how Blizzard react to her wider use, and whether any changes will be made to her abilities prior to full release. Blizzard have been very proactive thus far with regards to character balance, not being afraid to jump in and tweak things like McCree’s fan the hammer or Torbjorn’s turret damage on console. D.Va is another character that has been discussed recently, with Jeff Kaplan musing on whether she needed a damage or survivability buff, and it seems the team have settled on the latter, with changes being made to her defense matrix ability, as well as some useful tweaks to her ultimate. As someone who plays D.Va quite a lot, I’m excited to get to grips with the changes. Zenyatta will also be seeing some substantial buffs, increasing his survivability and buffing his ultimate quite substantially. You can check out the latest patch notes here.
It’s unclear how long those of us on console will have to wait for both Ana and these balance changes, but in the meantime, with the changes already live to test on PC, we can at least check out how they’re received in the meantime.