Overwatch: Baptiste’s background suggests a new Tank is coming soon

Fans of Blizzard’s online shooter Overwatch may soon have another hero to choose from. A new limited-time event centered around the newest character Baptiste launched on last week, and seems to hint at a new partner for the Haitian healer.

Overwatch has been criticized in the past for drip-feeding lore to its players, even during the yearly Archives events which take a look at the organization’s history. Blizzard is still taking its time doling out information about Overwatch and its members, but over the last few months the studio has released some short stories which expand the universe for one or more of the game’s cast. These coincide with a limited-time event during which players can earn several cosmetics for the character discussed in the story.  Both Ana and D. Va  have received this treatment since last year, and now it’s Baptiste’s turn.

Baptiste is the most recent addition to Overwatch’s cast of characters, the ninth added since the game’s release in 2016. His backstory describes a difficult past. Orphaned by the Omnic uprising, he wanted to make a difference and joined the mercenary group Talon before realizing their intentions weren’t as pure as he’d been led to believe. The new story explains in greater detail what Baptiste saw and did that made him want to leave Talon forever. It also introduces a new character named Mauga, one of Baptiste’s former squadmates while he was active in Talon.

Make way for Mauga

Mauga is described in the story as an enormous pacific islander, charismatic and far more intelligent than he lets on. He’s “a hurricane of a man,” a natural leader, though his temper can overcome him on the battlefield. Only Baptiste can calm him down when he’s raging, and the pair are a force to be reckoned with in combat. His art in the story depicts a giant of a man, rippling with muscles and covered in tribal tattoos. His untamed black hair has a shock of white above his forehead, and his facial expressions make it clear he’s not someone you want to cross.

If Mauga is intended to be a new character, we can assume a few things from his depiction in the story. The equipment he carries is described as very similar to that used by the Talon Heavy Troopers we’ve seen in the Retribution and Storm Rising PVE events, with massive twin chainguns which require a back-mounted coolant system to stay operable. This may give him an additional critical target, similar to the glowing section on Bastion’s rear when it shifts into turret configuration.

He also carries an energy shield, very likely a hardlight barrier like those used by Reinhardt, Orisa, and Brigitte. This shield causes a bullet to ricochet in the story, so there’s a chance it might have some properties similar to Genji’s Deflect ability. It sounds as though the shield will require a free hand to use, so he may need to put one or both guns away to activate his barrier. His weapons in the story have back-mounted holsters, and it’s not hard to imagine a gameplay mechanic where his guns cover the weak spot on his back when they’re not in use.

One other detail mentioned may relate to Mauga’s influence on other characters. He’s described as having a forceful personality, inspiring those around him to greater ferocity on the battlefield. This may translate in-game to an aura which increases teammates’ damage, or might increase their defense while they’re firing. It could even be his Ultimate ability, maybe something that increases his teammates’ rate of fire and prevents them from having to reload their weapons for the duration.

The story tells how Mauga and a Talon handler named Nguyen track down Baptiste and pressure him into a mission, years after he had left the organization. Talon sent several of his former team members to capture Baptiste after he deserted, but the medic overcame all of them, including his former training officer. No one leaves Talon voluntarily however, and the group kept tabs on Baptiste as he attempted to build a life for himself, helping others where he could.

Interviews with Overwatch staff have revealed that multiple new characters are in development for the game, and it looks very likely that Mauga will be the next hero to join the roster. Even if he’s not, several other characters have been teased in other media including Echo, a sleek feminine Omnic introduced in the Reunion short film, and the unnamed male Omnic which first appeared in the postscript to the Storm Rising event. If previous years’ schedules are anything to go by, we should get a look at the next new character sometime in mid-to-late July.

Thank you, Baptiste

Mauga isn’t the star of the story, though. Baptiste’s motivations are the focus, and it’s his perspective that shapes the direction of the narrative. It’s only appropriate that he’s the center of the in-game event, and players who participate in the “Reunion Challenge” will be able to unlock several cosmetic items for him from now through July 1.

Winning three games in any mode before the event ends will unlock a new player icon based on Baptiste’s new skin, winning six unlocks a pair of spray tags inspired by the story, and winning nine will earn players the right to wear his Combat Medic armor in game. This skin appears to be inspired by both military armor and biohazard suits, offering significant protection from germs and bullets alike.

Unfortunately, it also serves to make Baptiste very visible on the battlefield. Overwatch matches aren’t held to the standards of the Geneva Convention, so medics are often prime targets and standing out isn’t usually a good idea. Still, it’s a good-looking cosmetic item, and it’s nice to be able to earn some rewards without having to resort to the randomness of loot boxes.

Players who have linked their Blizzard accounts to the Twitch streaming service will be able to unlock some additional spray tags for Baptiste, all of them inspired by the short story. Up to six sprays can be earned by watching participating streamers during the event.

You ever get that feeling of Déjà vu?

Alongside the Baptiste event, Overwatch finally deployed its long-awaited replay feature, which allows players to better analyze games they’ve participated in. Inspired by the replay system used in the Overwatch League, this new tool allows players to review their ten most recent matches from any game mode. To access your matches, open your career profile and select the Replays tab at the top of the screen. You can view a match from any player’s perspective, watch from a top-down view, or control the camera freely. It’s even possible to add some special effects such as slowdown if you’d like to show off your skills for a highlight compilation.

Replays can’t currently be saved or shared within the Overwatch client, so you’ll still have to use a third-party recording program if you’d like to have someone else analyze your play. They don’t record anything other than game footage, but highlights and Play of the Game clips are still available separately. Replays will be replaced on a first-in, first-out basis as you continue to play games, and they’ll all be deleted whenever the game is patched.

There were several minor alterations to the game’s balance which went live along with the Baptiste event and replay system. Baptiste himself was the beneficiary of a couple of these changes. His Biotic Rifle now holds 12 healing charges, up from 10, and his Amplification Matrix ultimate now lasts two seconds longer than before.

Brigitte’s ultimate Rally armor was incorrectly providing more protection than intended when multiple types of armor were stacked on top of one another. This may have been the case ever since the character went live, but wasn’t noticed until recently. Rally will also no longer be provided to friendly characters if they’re behind enemy barriers.

Doomfist got a couple of minor changes to his Seismic Slam ability which should make it easier to land on enemies. He also won’t impact stairs anymore with Rocket Punch.

D.Va has received a pair of nerfs to her Defense Matrix ability. It now has a new visual effect which makes it easier for the enemy team to see what it’s covering, and the range of area it protects has been reduced from 15 meters down to 10.

McCree got a serious boost to his damage potential in this patch, which vastly increased his fire rate and reduced the recoil of his revolver. The kickback on his pistol animation was reduced from half a second to 0.42 seconds, which doesn’t sound like a lot but makes him feel much more threatening and easier to control.

Orisa gained the ability to deploy her barrier shield without interrupting her reload animation. It’s a minor change, but useful since Orisa has a very long reload.

Sombra’s translocator will now clear the anti-healing effect from Ana’s Biotic Grenades. Her translocator will no longer stick to slippery surfaces, so it may be a little harder to hide it in out-of-the-way areas.

Symmetra’s teleporter can now be used from slightly farther away, up to 1.5 meters from one meter. Per the patch notes, this is mostly a quality-of-life upgrade.

Torbjörn’s secondary fire (the shotgun blast) has had its damage reduced from 125 potential damage to 105. This is a reaction to the last patch which game him an additional 50 armor and made him much more difficult to kill.

The Assault (2CP) game mode got a couple of rules changes which should help the defending team win more often. The time awarded for capturing point A was reduced from four minutes down to three, and any defenders who die at or near point A will have a maximum respawn time of 3.5 seconds. This is intended to reduce the snowballing effect that capturing point A often gives attackers by staggering the respawn of the defending team. The reduced respawn time means defenders should be able to group up and mount a proper defense of the second point. In theory, this should make Assault games last a bit less long, reduce the penalty for wanting to defend point A, and reward effective defense.

Several other minor bug fixes were added, mostly relating to visual effects or specific character interactions. Many updates were made to the Workshop mode as well; for a full list of changes click here.