If Blizzard is known for anything, it's depth of story and ability to build up hype. The team battle shooter Overwatch, their most recently released title, is dripping with piles of lore and teases that could make almost any player nerd out with speculation.
Overwatch originally launched for Windows, Xbox One, and PS4 with a choice of 21 characters, in November 2014. Since then, the line-up has expanded to include two newer heroes, adding Ana the support sniper and Sombra the sassy hacker. Both were anticipated through hidden images in the game, hints through social media, and even Sombra with her grand entrance at BlizzCon 2016.
But as the saying goes, give them an inch and they'll go the whole mile. Lately, fans have been restless for more. This isn't without precedent considering Blizzard's team is throwing out all the stops to build up the next big reveal.
Many players have been looking at the rumored Doomfist, a champion that would wield a legendary gauntlet from the original launch trailer. But while the candidate isn't thrown out of the ring just yet, developers have confirmed that the majority is likely wrong. "24 is not who you think it is," Jeff Kaplan teased. The comment threw the community for a loop with the burning question: Who could possibly be the next Overwatch hero if it's not Doomfist?
That was the beginning of Efi Oladele's story. Released on February 21, an 'interview' with the character revealed this eleven-year-old inventor from Nubani received a grant to work on her next project. Efi hints in her responses that she wants to build something that will "make our lives better" and "keep us safe" similar to the OR-15 model robots, and that she has an idea already in mind.
The story elements could be considered minimal at best, a small chunk of flavor text. But in the larger scheme, it looks like Blizzard was hinting at something yet to come.
Throughout the past two weeks, small changes in the game have begun to appear. One that PvPLive pointed out includes the changes in airport screens with new flight information for New York and Paris. Of course, that was before it was destroyed with an OR-15 being thrown into it. The picture, taken supposedly by Efi Oladele herself, revealed that an 'unidentified assailant' conveniently attacked the airport.
[BREAKING] OR15 defense units destroyed in confrontation with unidentified assailant at Numbani airport. No civilian casualties reported. pic.twitter.com/3XuXbCCugh
— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) February 24, 2017
Of course, in true Blizzard fashion, a Public Test Realm (PTR) patch went live not long after the 'report' revealing that the in-game location is indeed destroyed and the Doomfist is missing. What this means for the players is that Blizzard isn't afraid to change their battle lobbies and maps, particularly to reflect the ongoing conflict in the world of Overwatch.
The most recent hype bomb was dropped just yesterday with a tweet from Overwatch with an image that speaks a thousand words. The checklist of parts for Efi's newest invention is accompanied by a doodle and a RAM stick with the AXIOM logo on it, an in-game tech company focused on "Building the Future". The logo can be seen strewn about the world of Overwatch, commonly associated with one particular model of robot similar to Efi's doodle.
[UPDATE] Genius grant recipient and Numbani local Efi Oladele posts curious image on her holovid channel, declaring: "Time to get to work!" pic.twitter.com/lQSzzD5ZT5
— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) February 27, 2017
Theories have been running rampant! Fetlock suggests that Efi could be creating the 'Successor', the next Doomfist as an Omnic android, a race of which has its own sentience. What if Ninjask92 on Reddit is right that little Efi is the next champion and she simply controls her robot in the background? Could the model of this AXIOM powered robot be the result of another OR-series four-legged spider tank like we saw in early development discussions?
As you can see, the rabbit hole can go pretty far for Overwatch. From connecting the Fashion Week in Paris taking place this week to the in-game posters, to making connections between the sprays to potential spoilers, it's safe to say that the Blizzard team is doing its job rather well. So well that many are starting to wonder if we're looking at a two hero reveal! One thing is certain, the community is excited to see who the next hero is and many of them feel that it could be coming very soon.
Share your predictions about Overwatch's next hero in the comments below or tweet us @OnMSFT.