The newest Overwatch hero came completely out of left field. (Or, to be more, specific, the moon.)
The unexpected hamster is even more surprising since ‘Hammond’ as a character has been the most anticipated new hero since Sombra and Doomfist. Ever since the Horizon Lunar Colony map was added, revealing that the only two escaped test subjects were Winston and ‘Hammond’, people have been theorizing that Blizzard will add a new chimp hero. These theories conflated with the jetpack cat meme that was born around the same time, further expanding the list of species fans were hypothesizing, and ever since Hammond remained one of the most prominent and long-awaited characters in a long list of anticipated potential heroes. The fact that his hamsterness didn’t leak in any way is honestly a remarkable achievement for Blizzard.
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It’s also something of a surprise how unique his new ultra-mobile kit is. Hammond’s tank, ‘Wrecking Ball,’ can swap seamlessly between ball and mech form, and comes with a grappling hook for gaining momentum to help him slingshot himself around the map. Wrecking Ball is the first hero to come with an ability bound to crouch; ‘Piledriver’ slams his mech into the ground knocking all nearby enemies into the air, which can combo really well with his ultimate, which leaves a massive field of proximity mines. Last but not least, Hammond can deploy a personal shield that gets stronger the more enemies that were nearby. Overall, his kit reminds me in many ways of a hybrid Doomfist/Junkrat. I can see direct parallels to Junkrat’s Riptire and after-death-grenades, along with Doomfist’s Uppercut, personal shields and mobility combos, so we can thank our lucky stars that Blizzard ultimately kitted him into a tank. Now that Brigitte and Moira rounded out the support category, Overwatch most needed a new tank character, albeit one that will likely function as more of an off-tank like DVa. Overall I can’t wait for Hammond to reach main and see the effect he has on the meta (even if it’s not looking like he’ll counter barriers, since I’m still waiting for somebody to do that).
Speaking of stuff recently added, Hammond is only one of three June 2018 additions to Overwatch that everyone’s talking about. The new endorsement feature is, in my opinion, the single best thing Blizzard has ever done for the game, I’ve never seen so many happy, positive people in all my games, and I’ve been able to effortlessly find awesome groups that always let me play the healer. My very first experience with the new system was with a group of 5 other players who wanted to 6-stack all healers in Quickplay. It was stupid fun but we were all invested, and we were all super encouraging until one game we finally won! That sort of thing would have never happened before this update, and now it’s a regular occurrence. If this is the sort of thing the Fair Play Alliance is coming up with, I’m excited to see what they come up with next.
GIF by Jay-of-the-days
But even that pales to what new Symmetra is going to do to the game. The coach of the current strongest Japanese Overwatch team said: “New Symmetra will definitely change the game to Overwatch 2“, and in all honesty I believe him. While her new turrets and ultimate are cool and dealt with several core issues affecting the character, it’s her new teleporter that will be turning the game on its heels. A PTR player named Andy b showed how many insane strats a coordinated team can pull off by sending unexpected teammates behind or above the enemy lines, and the possibilities are almost endless. While I likely won’t see them in my games any time soon down in gold, I cannot wait to see what crazy strats the professional teams of the Overwatch League and Overwatch Contenders can come up with.
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Last but not least, a lot of other hero changes have been added to PTR, and I love every one of them. Most heroes capable of dealing long-range damage have had their falloffs improved (except Widow), my personal favorite of the bunch is Soldier 76’s maximum long-range damage falloff being reduced from 70% to 50%, which is a badly needed change since his burst-damage niche has been extremely hindered by Brigitte’s new armor meta. Hanzo’s Storm Arrows have had their duration and cooldown nerfed, another change I can appreciate since most people agree they’re overtooled at the moment. And finally, several of Sombra’s timed abilities are now infinite-use; she can stay invisible indefinitely at the cost of no longer being able to block objectives while invisible, and her Translocator now runs until she chooses to return. Managing cooldowns was one of the most frustrating elements of her kit, and for a hero that already needs to focus on so many different things to do her job effectively, I hope these changes survive PTR and eventually follow Hammond into Live.
As a fan of mobility, positivity, and meta shifts, this was a great month for Overwatch and I can’t wait for Wrecking Ball to hit live. Though let’s be honest, everyone’s gonna be calling him Hammond.