Ashe, a sharp-shooting cowgirl, is the 29th hero added to the “Overwatch” roster. Photo courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.
Last week, Blizzard Entertainment’s popular video game “Overwatch” introduced its 29th playable character, a wild west outlaw named Ashe, with a video trailer and an eight-minute video short.
She was released for play on the Public Test Realm on Nov. 5, but her official release date for actual gameplay is unknown at this time.
Ashe is classified as a damage-type hero, meaning that her primary purpose within the game is to attack the opposing team— primarily with a rifle, but she is also able to throw dynamite or call in her assistant, B.O.B., who is one of the game’s robots referred to as omnics. While B.O.B. is not technically listed as a hero, he does function as an additional team player within the game.
When “Overwatch” was first released in 2016, it included 21 playable characters, with a wide variety of nationalities, aesthetics and abilities. The characters also have numerous alternate designs, or skins, often themed around holidays or other special events, which are usually obtained by opening lootboxes.
Some skins are simply different costumes for the characters, but others are given more specific stories, like the 2016 Halloween costume skins which were featured in a short comic. The release of new skins every few months is one of the elements that makes, and, more importantly, keeps, “Overwatch” so popular.
New designs for the first characters aren’t the only addition the game makes, though. The game’s other eight characters, released over the past two years, vary even more, including everything from hackers to hamsters.
Even though there’s such a wide array of character types, they all connect to the game’s main narrative and its original team in some way. Many of the characters released after the first 21 are related to them, or played some sort of significant role in their pasts.
For example, the new character Ashe has been suggested to have some sort of past connection to “Overwatch’s” first western-themed hero, McCree, but the nature of the relationship remains largely unknown for now and will probably be explored further in future comics or videos.
Establishing links between the heroes allows the addition of the new characters to both keep the game fresh by introducing different gameplay styles and stories, and to add more dimension to its world by expanding on the backstories of the older characters.
Additionally, the larger-than-life themes of “Overwatch’s” characters and the animated shorts and comics released alongside them allow people to engage with a storyline without having to play straight through an entirely narrative-based game.
While “Overwatch’s” gameplay and storyline are not entirely separable, players are able to choose how much or how little of the additional story content they want to consume. Generally, though, most people welcome the opportunity to learn as much as they can about their favorite characters.
“Overwatch” isn’t the only game that’s taking advantage of gradual expansions. Today, most video games are connected to the internet, and allow players to obtain new items or characters through updates or purchases.
The Nintendo switch game “Arms” was initially released with ten playable characters, and since then an additional five have been added to its roster through various updates. While the “Arms” characters don’t really share the depth and interaction of the “Overwatch” characters, they do provide a variety of personalities and abilities to appeal to many different players, and there’s a possibility of even more in the future.
Other games that allow players to customize their own characters also often introduce new items, such as outfits or weapons, to help players make characters their own. The expansion the internet has allowed is continually bringing video games closer to truly having something for everyone.