After a week of teasing, Blizzard has finally unveiled the 30th hero to join the Overwatch roster: the Haitian battle medic, Baptiste. His origin story talked about a hero that dishes out bandages and bullets, which is a clever way of saying that Overwatch just got another hitscan healer. Of sorts.
In an embargoed briefing with press last week, the Blizzard team went through Baptiste's (whose full name is Jean-Baptiste Augustin) backstory and answered a range of questions about the hero, including some details about his past and how they expect him to function within the current meta.
The first distinction to make is with his weapon, which has two firing modes. The first is similar to Soldier 76's rifle, a hitscan-based weapon that fires in bursts of three bullets. The secondary fire is an area-of-effect healing projectile that's a little akin to firing a grenade launcher, or Junkrat's bombs.
The secondary fire has a magazine with 10 rounds and, Blizzard explained, is where the bulk of Baptiste's healing will come from.
Baptiste's passive is a large vertical leap that can be charged for up to a second. It only allows for vertical movement, not lateral. Because of the charge time, it's not really an escape mechanism like Ashe's shotgun is, but it's useful for getting to higher ground and positioning.
His first ability is Regenerative Burst, a healing ability that heals himself and nearby allies over time. It's not an aura like Lucio's heal, with teammates not required to be in close proximity to Baptiste. The downside is it's a slow heal over time, rather than a burst of HP like Brigitte's armour.
Baptiste's second ability is the Immortality Field, a deployable object that hovers mid-air that prevents heroes from dropping below 20%. Lead hero designer Geoff Goodman explained that there were still some collision issues to work out with the field - while it deploys on contact, the team still has to work out how it behaves with moving objects, such as rising platforms/elevators.
But because it's a floating object, it means the immortality field can't be deployed on the payload. The team also confirmed to Kotaku Australia that it can't be reflected by Genji, or absorbed before deployment with D.Va's defence matrix.
As for Baptiste's ultimate, it's an Amplification Matrix that doubles the healing and damage of all friendly fire that passes through it. It's partially why Blizzard reckons Baptiste pairs with Ana quite well, but the field can power up plenty of other heroes to break defensive positions, or retake a point.
In the same vein as Brigitte, Baptiste will be a 200HP hero. Baptiste, however, won't spell the end of the GOATS meta. Because of his AOE healing projectile, as well as his ability to deal with aerial targets, Baptiste works with the three tank/three healer composition quite well.
Whether his base damage output makes him a better fit than the existing supports, only time will tell. Goodman noted that Baptiste pairs with Ana quite well, which would make life especially difficult for teams that are heavily reliant on Pharah (as Team Australia was during the Overwatch World Cup last year) or Pharah-Mercy combos.
As for Baptiste's background, Blizzard explained that the Haitian combat medic was a former member of Talon. That much had been hinted at last week, when the official Overwatch account linked to a transmission from the in-game terrorist group. That missive mentioned a character called Cuerva, a Talon operative responsible for training Baptiste, and also tasked with returning him to Talon one way or another.
Baptiste is live on the public test realm now. A short video showing off his abilities went out earlier this morning, which you can see below.
"No dying on my watch."
Get your first aid on Baptiste's abilities and playstyle. Now healing on the PTR!
— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) February 26, 2019