Overwatch’s newest hero had a long journey ahead of him Overlook 2, at least from the perspective of when players first saw it – three and a half years ago, during the original game’s Storm Rising event – to when it was finally released last week. Like many heroes in Blizzard’s shooter, the new tank hero Ramattra is a collection of ideas that took a long time to come together.
The hero’s long gestation period is also a result of the Overwatch team wanting to sow Easter eggs and drop hints of what’s to come, even if the payoff is years in the future.
“It takes us a long time to create a hero on Overwatch,” art director Dion Sanders told Polygon in a recent interview. “Especially now that we are getting more and more heroes, it will take a while.” But Ramattra was “quite important to the ongoing story of the game,” Sanders said, noting “we need to, you know, release some when the time is right.”
Ramattra dates back to 2017, when Blizzard artists were designing Null Sector units. A lieutenant from that group, a monk-like figure holding a staff, stood out from the crowd, according to lead concept artist Qiu Fang. The sand-based powers of those Egyptian-inspired robots eventually evolved into nanites, which gave Ramattra his powers.
Ramattra’s lengthy development was further enhanced by its complicated nature, both in terms of its gameplay mechanics and narrative design. Playing in two different forms – Omnic and Nemesis – Ramattra brings technical complications and doubles the workload for the Overwatch art team, similar to two-in-one heroes like D.Va and Ashe (and BOB).
Ramattra’s dual nature in matches of Overlook 2 are a reflection of his personality, said lead designer Alec Dawson.
“If you look at him mechanically, we want to capture this hero [two] sides to him, in terms of what he’s willing to do to protect his people,” Dawson said. “[Ramattra] can be a bit calmer or more reserved, and you can tell when he expands his shield barrier [and] poke from afar. And then when he transforms, when he goes into his Nemesis form, you see a different side of him. You see some of that power coming out – which he’s actually capable of.
On paper, Ramattra’s abilities sound scary, possibly meta-breaking. He can switch between two forms, giving him two sets of attack and defense abilities, he can breach barriers, and his Ravenous Vortex ability will disrupt flying enemies like Pharah, Echo, and Mercy. He pairs well with a Lucio or a Kiriko who can give him a speed boost. But he’s also highly susceptible to counters like Ana’s sleeping dart or being flanked while in Nemesis form. Using it effectively requires skill.
“With the gameplay of Ramattra, we really focus on some skill elements, [like] when to take advantage and turn the tide of the battle,” Dawson said. “There’s a lot of focus on transforming into Nemesis, pushing through to the backline of the enemy and making sure that all goes well. [happening at] the right time. You have a lot at your disposal, but the focus is still on when exactly to transform, when exactly to work with your whole team and be that leader up front.”
Gavin Jurgens-Fyhrie, lead story designer and writer for Overwatch, said his writing for Ramattra’s backstory and ongoing narrative comes “from the kind of fascination I’ve had throughout my career with the interactions between machine and human intelligence,” topics he has investigated. in Wasteland 3, Torment: Tides of Numeneraand Horizon zero dawn.
“You have this character that was created to hunt and ultimately kill people in the Omnic crisis, that was his only purpose,” said Jurgens-Fyhrie. “He gained consciousness when he kind of woke up in New York and was forced to confront […] what he had done during the Omnic Crisis – in fact, he would lead countless Omnics to their deaths. These are Omnics who would never know consciousness like him, and this is something that drives him. It’s something that haunts him.”
As told in a recently released “Reflections” short story for Ramattra, the Omnic Ravager goes to Shambali to learn under the monk Mondatta, but experiences something of a second awakening. “He wanted to find his place in the world, to answer those questions like What is my goal?‘ said Jurgens-Fyhrie, ‘but also to understand how he could atone? How could he make the world a better place for Omnics, who are a finite race? We saw him try, and we saw the world fail him. Not only is humanity not making the same effort from his point of view, but many of the Ravagers – his Omnic model type – are dead. So we have someone who is no longer trying to make peace with humanity. He believes it is impossible. And in fact, he believes it is dangerous to seek peace with humanity.”
Sanders said players should see Ramattra not as a villain, but as an “antagonist.” Jurgens-Fyhrie added that players might agree philosophically with the Omnic responsible for all that death and destruction.
Players get additional snippets of Ramattra’s story and personality in his interactions with fellow Omnic Zenyatta – and fellow engineer Wrecking Ball – in Overlook 2, and players can absorb part of Ramattra’s narrative path to Shambali when they ascend the eponymous map. But Jurgens-Fyhrie said Blizzard is “far from done telling the story about Ramattra and Zenyatta.”
As for the future Overlook 2 heroes, Jurgens-Fyhrie noted that “we’ve already said we’re teasing a future hero based on certain things in [Esperança, the Portugal-set map]and hinted at voice lines in the game’s New York map that hold some clues. Hopefully for Overlook 2 players hungry for more heroes to play won’t take as long to get by as Ramattra.