After days of cryptic teasing, the new hero for Blizzard’s Overwatch has been revealed -- and it is definitely one of the sillier additions to the cast; a super-intelligent hamster named Hammond, who goes by the name Wrecking Ball. As it turns out, Hammond simply hitched a ride on the ship used by Winston -- a hyperintelligent gorilla and one of Overwatch's launch characters -- and wound up in Australia, where he retrofitted the escape pod into a deadly murder machine.
As some fans have noted, everything about Wrecking Ball warrants some eyebrow raising. Many at first thought his inclusion was a bizarre joke, while others claimed he was an oddity who doesn’t fit in the game, lore be damned. And that’s fair on some level; a shooter with its own world league featuring a playable hamster is something no one would’ve ever thought to happen. Not to mention that for all the diverse characters at play, there's only one other character who's a vessel to be used, and that would be the robot known as Orisa, who in the game's lore is controlled by a young girl named Efi.
But as is the case with Orisa and Efi, Wrecking Ball's inclusion isn’t really odd at all -- not in the slightest.
Blizzard may want fans to think otherwise, but Overwatch is definitely one of the weirdest games out right now. True to its superhero nature, its characters are a collection of strange character concepts and ideas, from the brothers of a Yakuza clan who summon colorful dragons from their bodies to an assassin that gained purple skin due to repeated experimentation. Its most famous character, Tracer, has to wear a special harness to keep herself locked in to the time stream, and Reaper is a man who turns into mist and has an apparently unlimited amount of shotguns on his person.
A super smart hamster that made his own robot of pure destruction isn’t that insane for Overwatch, or even out of the realm of possibility for superhero concepts in general. Anyone who thinks otherwise is simply refusing to give it a shot because it just sounds too silly.
Wrecking Ball aas released on the Overwatch PTR just hours after his announcement, and the reactions thus far have been fairly positive. By including him in the game, and with fans finding him cute and fun to play, the possibility for Blizzard to include even stranger heroes that didn’t get off the ground has opened up. Most fans of the game fans are aware of the infamous Jetpack Cat, a character game director Jeff Kaplan said had to be cut because the studio thought it was “too weird,” but at this point he can’t be any weirder than “hamster in a giant metal ball.” Fans were right to point out the irony in Blizzard deeming the cat too silly while allowing Hammond to be featured, and now this shows that the company may not be afraid to get weird.
There are a variety of heroes Blizzard created during the game’s development. Though some were reworked into characters that currently exist, others were cut completely. Zarya, everyone’s favorite pink-haired hunk, was originally going to ride a bear and wield AK-47s with an ultimate move that would see her bear pull out AK-47s. There’s no rule saying that ludicrous concept can’t be reworked into another character. Likewise, there was a crocodile with a jetpack that served as the precursor to the actual Jetpack Cat, and something could be done with that. Even something as silly as a hero that was a hockey player or the enigma that is Mama Hong have a better chance of being included now that a hamster has joined the cast.
Overwatch has quickly become a phenomenon, in part because its characters are ridiculous and larger than life while also being relatively grounded. Blizzard has the ability to add in whatever character it wants, and there’ll be fans that love them, no matter how silly they seem on paper. After all, if fans can still love Mercy after every rework that’s been done to her, they’ll accept a cat with a jetpack or a superhero hockey player.