New Overwatch Character Shows Blizzard Really Is Listening

New Overwatch Character Shows Blizzard Really Is Listening

After the initial cast of Overwatch was revealed, some folks lamented that the female characters in the team-based shooter were all svelte — including feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian. Today, Blizzard revealed two new characters, and one of them is a direct response to those types of criticisms.

Meet Zarya. According to Blizzard, she is a Russian soldier who is one of "world's strongest women." Here's Blizzard's explanation of Zarya, who was revealed during a PAX East presentation:

We've been hearing a lot of discussion among players about the need for diversity in video games. That means a lot of things. They want to see gender diversity, they want to see racial diversity, they want to see diversity along the lines of what country people are from. There is also talk about diversity in different body types in that not everybody wants to have the exact same body type always represented. And we just want you to know that we're listening and we're trying hard and we hope Zarya is a step in the right direction.

Well, she certainly seems kickass!

Her abilities also sound rad — click on the top left magnifying glass to take a closer look:

New Overwatch Character Shows Blizzard Really Is Listening

Previously, in response to the criticism to Overwatch's female characters, Blizzard said that they wanted to build a game that could be enjoyed by "everyone":

We want everybody to come and play. Increasingly people want to feel represented from all walks of life, everywhere in the world. Boys and girls — everybody. We feel indebted to do our best to honour that.

With Zarya, they're proving that this wasn't just talk. Awesome. It really is cool to see more body types represented in games, you know?

Zarya isn't the only character that Blizzard revealed today. There's also McCree, a badass cowboy gunslinger:

Curiously, one of McCree's abilities is called "Dead Eye," and it lets you take the time to line up headshots. Kind of reminds me of a similar ability in Red Dead Redemption, as it works in a similar way, and it's also literally called Dead Eye. I guess McCree kind of looks like John Marston too. Weird.

New Overwatch Character Shows Blizzard Really Is Listening

If you happen to be at PAX East, you'll also note that Blizzard heavily features its women characters in the Overwatch booth. Here are a couple of pictures, snapped by Stephen Totilo:

New Overwatch Character Shows Blizzard Really Is Listening
New Overwatch Character Shows Blizzard Really Is Listening


    Both character designs look really cool. I'm looking forward to having a crack at the game.

      Can't believe we are getting this and UT4; its like I've gone back in time to when arena shooters reigned supreme, and I'm loving it!

    Zarya's hot.

      I agree, strange Blizzard gets the spotlight when they had that sweet Barbarian with her thunder thighs, she was dreamy... but not nearly as hot as Zarya.

      I had no interest in this bland looking team shooter until now.

    I don't quite get how dead eye will work in practice. Is it that McCree has to remain stationary and it targets whoever remains in his FOV during the charge? I wouldn't think that would be too effective in a fast paced game.

      The announcement at PAXEast mentioned something about how he moves very slowly while getting ready to use Deadeye. Bit ambiguous at the moment.

      I don't think so. It sounds more like he have to charge it and then if anyone comes to his field of view, his gun works like the Smart pistol from titanfall.

      Could be really powerful if you are able to flank in a team fight
      Might take a second but duck out from around a corner and have that as the first thing you fire

    Sweet, I get my Sasha Kaidonovsky
    Blizzard are listening to me directly

    After the initial cast of Overwatch was revealed, some folks lamented that the female characters in the team-based shooter were all svelte — including feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian.

    I dunno if I'd say Anita's svelte as such, but she should be proud of what she's got :P

    Next they can surprise everyone by releasing a character that doesn't look like a rejected Pixar design.

    Last edited 07/03/15 1:04 pm

      But that's the style that the game is going for, and it looks good because of it.

        It looks like everything else because of it. Everyone's trying to ape Pixar these days, the style is everywhere. If the goal behind the Pixar art direction was to give Overwatch a unique style in the same manner as Team Fortress 2, it completely misses the point.

    Nice, I'm not sure how one could realistically put the expectation for an insane amount of choice for everyone on any game, though. I mean, black people in the game are all super fit and despite a new muscular woman, now there's no representation for a larger woman... How do you pick and choose who to represent and is that actually enough? Despite a more critical lens on female representation, this still isn't a lot of diversity holistically speaking. Perhaps the mere existence of multiple body types for women is representation and acknowledgement enough? I seriously don't know, I mean whose decision is it to add body types for representation purposes? Do fans decide? What if there are more calls to have bigger women, will they be lambasted for not respecting women despite clearly listening?

    It's cool, totally like the new character and I'm always for variety. I'm just trying to see this from the perspective of a company or a male designer who may create things from what they understand and is trying to empathise with another perspective despite having demands thrown at them. Sometimes, I think it might be better if we acknowledge that several thousand years of ingrained misogyny might be a tad difficult to shake and speak a little more empathetically when we ask for consideration. Ignorant people are not always evil but sometimes I don't think certain groups understand that. Nonetheless, this is cool and the new character seems like it had some real thought in the design.

      Thanks for your comment, you summed up my own thoughts really well. I think both characters are a great addition to Overwatch, but I still felt a bit... Odd... Over the whole thing. It's great that Blizz are listening, but I wonder what the next bought of criticism will be.

      Exactly, it's very difficult to say when something is 'not enough' or when you have finally reached the satisfactory amount of representation for this to be a respectful game. If you ever find a line, that will quickly become a fence which people will continually hop over and stop at simply to get that label on their game.

    Why does any muscled female character need to be from Russia... still a bit cliche'

      And this is why most developers are better off just doing whatever the hell they want. Even when they are doing it right they are still "wrong".

    This seems like some pretty shallow pandering to me. "You guys complained that all our females were skinny and sexy. Here, have a man with boobs and a girls head!"

      More like "here's a female Heavy with bad hair".
      Couldn't she at least be a different nationality?

      That reminds me of a Quake III glitch I had happen once where somehow we ended up with Sarge's head on Lucy's body.

    The character looks pretty neat and more variety is great. I would prefer though that Blizzard didn't make a point of it though, and instead simply include her among whatever other colourful characters await in the final game. Atm it's like the only thing we get to know about this character is that they're providing diversity to the team. It remind's me of that 'fully gay' mage guy that was presented for Dragon Age: inquisition; I haven't played the game so his sexuality is a shallow defining trait until I do. Then when I do, I'll be all like, "hey it's that gay guy." and that would be a bit of a sad start to participating in their character development.

    I really think that cowboy guy lacks like 1~2 abilities. He could really be buffed with some more minor skills like a whip or Molotovs - the kind of things you'd expect out of Red Dead Redemption 2. I mean compared to other heroes with all the jetpacks and over technology, this guy's only got a revolver and a flashbang.

    Anita Sarkeesian has issues about a female character. People complain about a character being cliche. Also in news just to hand, water is wet, Ellen Page is gay and vaccinations don't cause autism.

    I think she looks badass. I'm super stoked to check this out.

    Anyone getting a Pvt. Vasquez (from Aliens) vibe?

    I'd love to see Zarya use some of her lines...

    " Look, man. I only need to know one thing... where they are"

    Oh my gosh this game looks amazing! I'm looking forward to this tf2 rival.

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