The latest Overwatch hero to be revealed is Ashe, an outlaw, and those at BlizzCon have had a chance to preview her before she goes to the PTR next week.
In case it wasn’t obvious from her reveal, she’s a ranged damage hero with a boomstick sidearm and the ability to summon another hero – Bob – to the battlefield.
Rather than massively changing the game, she’s another option for players who like characters that fire from a distance and reward great aim. Her full kit looks something like this:
Ashe’s semi-automatic rifle fires quick shots, or she can use her aim-down sights for a more damaging, precise shot.
Ashe throws an explosive that detonates after a short delay or immediately when shot. The explosion from Dynamite also lights enemies on fire, dealing damage over time.
Ashe blasts enemies in front of her, knocking them away and propelling herself backward for added mobility.
Ashe summons her trusted omnic sidekick, B.O.B., who charges forward and knocks enemies into the air, then lays down suppressing fire with his arm cannons.
The Viper has a unique challenge in that it reloads one bullet at a time. This means that ammo management is crucial, as you might not want to reload to full all the time, instead interrupting the reload with a click when you’re only halfway done reloading.
Functionally she fulfils a similar niche to McCree. Strong at a range, but with area of effect potential using her Dynamite, she’s able to take out long-range threats (Pharah being a primary target for her) and also damage a whole team in a fight.
This all relies on her accuracy. The Viper is a precise gun, and a firing speed decrease when aiming down sights punishes missed shots, and inaccuracy when firing from the hip means you’ve got to be scoping in for long range fights. Her only escape is the Coach Gun, she also suffers from being a standout target for dive heroes given the long cooldown of it.
She’s going to be unfriendly for anyone who finds those challenging shots difficult. Her Dynamite explosive’s delay is long enough for anyone to walk away normally. For it to be effective, Ashe has to shoot it for it to explode early. A little minigame, if you will: shoot the dynamite, or probably die trying.
But she’s also a monster in team fights when played well. That area damage from Dynamite is huge, and the damage over time can send foes running. Then there’s B.O.B., who disrupts and deals damage, essentially transforming a teamfight from a 6v6 to a 7v6 without much input from Ashe herself, pretty much the only element of her kit that doesn’t require precision and good decision making.
What was clear in previewing her, though, is that it’s very easy to be a bad Ashe. Missing your shots means you’re never going to get damage off, which means you’re not going to charge up your ultimate, which snowballs into you holding your team back.
Ashe has no way to deal free damage, as Widowmaker’s mines can. Ashe has no way to stop an enemy, as McCree can with his flashbang. The precision required means you’ve got to be doing well, or you’re better off swapping out.
Her kit is, in essence, quite simple, to make up for it. There are few complex interactions, as her Coach Gun is an escape, her Dynamite is area damage, her ultimate is a panic button. But the gun is well designed – in an interview, Geoff Goodman referenced how Overwatch developers visited Treyarch and Infinity Ward to get a feel for how to design a gun like a Winchester rifle with aiming down sight mechanics – and popping the Dynamite at a crucial moment is a fulfilling, flashy play.
She won’t change up the game, nor will she enable the next iteration of strategy with a composition like GOATS. Ashe is going to sit comfortably within the roster of heroes, offer her own thing, and simply be a nice addition to the full roster.