We got the opportunity to speak with three key member of the Overwatch 2 development in an interview where we ask questions regarding the upcoming new hero that will coming to the game, Ramattra. We are joined by Alec Dawson, Dion Rogers and Gavin Jurgens Fyhrie.
Dion RogersGavin Jurgens Fyhrie
What are Ramattra abilities?
Alec: There’s a lot of information coming as Ramattra enters season 2 of Overwatch 2. But one of the things that we’ve been talking about is Ramattra having two different forms, making him the the first hero in our roster to do this.
His Omnic form lets him protect his teammates and has a staff as his weapon while his nemesis form transforms him into a larger and more menacing hero where he marches down on the enemy team.
Does Ramattra have a connection to the Iris, like Zenyatta? Does he expand on the lore of Omnic spirituality having a darker side to it as well?
Gavin: We don’t have much liberty to talk too much about Ramattra and Zenyatta and their connection to the Iris just yet. Though, I think it’s safe to say that both of them are very close.
However they came to know each other through the monastery. In fact Ramattra brought Zenyatta back to the monastery and introduced him to the Shambali. They became as close as brothers and I think that’s something that I’m really excited for players to see how they interact with each other.
Overwatch has transitioned from 6v6 to 5v5, does this actually change or affect the process of creating your heroes?
Alec: It does a little bit, I would say if we look at tanks in general you know what they’re capable of nowadays compared to what they used to be capable of. Overwatch One had some off tanks and there are some differences there and how they played out compared to the main tank.
So when we look at the tanks, we try to make sure that they have all of those capabilities within their kit. They might have some CC, they might have some things that they can do for themselves to keep them alive, things that get some of the changes like Orisa in OW2.
Ramattra’s development as a new Tank and Omnic. Was it a case of the story/art and character background inspiring the mechanics or vice versa?
Dion: For Ramattra is a bit of both. Usually when we start developing a hero in Overwatch 2, we are thinking of the fantasy of a hero we want to be. For example, with Reinhard it was about being a knight or a protector of the team. We always knew Ramattra would be a tank because the story we were developing for him is that he’s a protector of his people, so it felt right that he would be a tank.
But what you will find with his nemesis form, when he turns into this big hulking hero., making him this menacing character. That was part of the fantasy of Ramattra as we developed him.
Some of the art designs that we chose, we really wanted the two different forms in his Omnic form and his Nemesis form to feel very different from each other. But you’ll still get the sense of it’s the same hero.
Gavin: It’s really interesting because the first time we encountered Ramattra was back during the Storm Rising cinematic, where you see him as a mysterious Omnic who’s talking to Doomfist. At this moment with the launch of Ramattra, this marked the beginning of all the answers to the players questions that were asked so long ago.
Who is this character? What does he want? What is he doing with Null Sector and what does this mean for the world of Overwatch?
Dion: It takes us a long time to make an Overwatch hero in general. There was a lot of testing involved and bouncing around ideas. I remember a moment in time when Bastion used to be the ultimate generator, we had tried so many things with him, and we pass it on to other heroes sometimes.
We feel fortunate to be able to actually reach some of the goals or ideas we have because we’re given so much time to do the work.
Any concerns on queue times for the Tank role in Season 2? Given it’s already been a bit longer than it was in the original game, Ramattra’s release could lead to another spike.
Alec: That’s something we constantly talk about. When looking at queue times, especially with the support queues, we were figuring out how we could balance that out across all of our roles.
I think you’ll see in the future, we are looking at any more supports in the game to help balance that out overall.
Dion: We’ve increased the team size to be 3 times bigger than we used to be, so this helps us with our goal of releasing heroes periodically. But anytime we add a new hero to the game, people are going to gravitate to try to play that hero which will boost the time just a bit.
But it’ll level out as the hero sits in the game well. With Overwatch 2, we are going to increase how many heroes are in the game in a much frequent cadence than we did before. You can look forward to more supports to help even things out.
When it comes to designing new heroes, what are the first or the 3 main points that you consider?
Alec: I would say from our side it would be the hero’s kit first. Then we’re definitely considering the fantasy of the character and then finally where is this hero fit for the game’s needs at that moment.
Dion: I think you covered it, but sometimes it could start with a cool artwork we have. We look at that along the designers and narrative designers to figure out a story for the hero and what they do.
Designer would start prototyping ideas a bunch, drawing up a cool artwork and such or maybe the narrative team has a great story they want to tell through this hero. We start there but it’s pretty organic and you can see that three of us working closely on lots of things.
Gavin: The collaboration on this team is outstanding and I don’t think I’ve ever seen everyone so excited to work with each other, to share their ideas, to amp up each other’s ideas.
When we all get going and start brainstorming there’s usually a moment at some point, during one of these meetings where someone has an idea that’s possibly dangerous or maybe a little bit stupid. But and then it launches into something that catapults everyone’s imaginations even further.
That’s the sign of a team that just really loves brainstorming together, working together to come up with the best possible ideas that everyone is passionate about.
Has the balancing issues facing tanks in OW2 been at the forefront of Ramattra’s design and how can you further balance tanks going forward?
Alec: I think our approach to that is that we’re just going to have frequent balance changes and make sure some of those things come up.
I think we teased a few changes to Doomfist and you might see some changes to Junker Queen in season 2. So those are the things we are very actively discussing and acting on as well to making sure some of those tanks that aren’t performing well find their place in the game as well.
We want to look at how the new heroes performs in those first few weeks on live and see if there’s any adjustments we want to make. But we think Ramattra is going to land pretty well in Overwatch 2, where players will find his place in the game and finding their own playstyle. We think with his Nemesis form, he has something that’s quite unique that other heroes don’t have, and even has some added utility as well.
His punches can actually pierce through barriers and there’s some other little things he has that may make him a unique pick against certain compositions.
With Ramattra, what new side of the Omnic conflict will be explored or expanded upon?
Gavin: He is the leader of Null Sector, that force of Omnics fighting for Omnic freedom that you’ve seen throughout the course of overwatch’s story. So I think you’re going to learn a lot more about Null Sector, about what they’re fighting for, about why that fight is so vital for the Omnics people and more about how the world sees Null Sector.
When you envisioned this live service model, was Ramattra always the target for Season 2? Also, any changes to the specific Battle Pass Tier in which new heroes are unlocked moving forward?
Dion: We have a few heroes in progress at any given time whether they become a live hero. It’s determined through that kind of the development effort and we look at the state of the game and what we need from it, and we might move a hero back and forth because of this.
Ramattra was always in the plans of a recent hero that would be released during Overwatch 2, so season 2 was his chosen position.
About battle pass, another thing we’re always looking at is the approach to bundles and how people couldn’t acquire content for the game. Right now, it’s just things that we were thinking of what’s the best way for our players to acquire the things that they want in a game.
Could you talk a little more about the gameplay? What’s the ideal situation for him? Who has synergy with him?
Alec: Without going too much into detail, his Omnic form is really about the skill factor that we’re testing here.
In that Omnic form, there is a lot of poking and players need to decide when to switch into nemesis form. When they’re turning the corner or when they start rushing down the enemy team. That’s a really important decision to make.
As for synergies, Lucio does pretty well with him since he can speed boost him to get into those positions that he wants to get in. On the other hand, since Ramattra is a big target, think about who could take advantage of that. Maybe it’s someone that can flank him from behind or Ana’s sleep dart, things of that nature.
Ramattra is unique in the sense that he has two forms. What was the concept behind the execution of this ability?
Gavin: Ramattra is unique in that he has two forms and two approaches to combat. We have someone here who was what we call a Ravator unit, a unique type of Omnic created during the Omnic Crisis to fight humanity and lead the Omnics.
When the crisis was over and he went to the monastery, he tried to leave that life of fighting behind. He was built for war but tried to find peace and as we probably can guess it did not work out for him.
He saw that his people were being hunted by humanity, his people were in danger and the life of the Shambali and peace weren’t for him. So he turned to fighting against humanity on a more personal and smaller scale. He created the Null Sector with his allies and he kept on fighting but even still it wasn’t enough.
He didn’t have enough allies who at first doesn’t seem all that dangerous, he has a staff so he’s sort of reserved. As battle progresses things get harder, just like they got harder in Ramattra’s life, and you start feeling the anger in him that the fury beneath his words boiling up. You can hear the voice when it comes through to the point where he goes into his nemesis form, he’s letting players know the enemy players know that he’s coming for them.
It’s a frightening moment and that’s not even his ultimate, the gameplay is very much based around that moment of pulling back and pushing forward. That sort of moment where he attacks at the front but then goes deeper.
Do you have capacity and bandwidth to increase updates to fix or improve issues as they arrive to ensure there’s not an overly dominant meta or hero that are non-viable in the game?
Dion: A lot of the technology we made going into Overwatch 2 was to help us increase the growth of the team and the ability to update the game more frequently. We need to respond to things in a way that makes sense, so sometimes we have to actually temporarily remove a thing, so that we can prepare to fix it later.
We have a few things in it but part of the revamped engine with Overwatch is to allow us to make frequent updates. This goes across everything, not just balance updates but art updates, design updates, just increasing everything that we do but in a much easier way.
This is a goal of the game and something that we worked pretty hard technology wise, but it’s much better than Overwatch 1.
How does Overwatch 2 plan to appeal to a younger player base regarding new characters?
Dion: I think part of the appeal of OW2 right now is the fact that it’s free to play. So it’s a lot easier for a younger person to jump into the game in general. And there’s always a tone of the game that we’re really careful with when it comes to OW where it’s not overly gory. We want to keep the world feeling aspirational and hopeful.
I think this is something that’s attractive to the younger audience, especially how colourful the world is. In general, there is the idea that we could probably push, to grab a bit of the attention of but we want a game that feels great for any age to jump into.
Free to play helps with younger crowds so they don’t need to ask their parents for money to play this game. They can just totally jump in and knowing this we are careful with the tone of the game as we develop more of it.
Could you elaborate a bit on the concept behind executing on the Omnic version and Nemesis abilities?
Alec: From a gameplay perspective, the dual modes are distinctly different and that comes through the mechanics as well. He does have some different abilities depending on which form he is in, those ways to his primary fire and his secondary fire. So, you’ll not only feel that through the mechanical sense of Ramattra, but also visually as well.
I mean to touch on this a little bit but Ramattra while an Omnic form, he’s not too large, he looks pretty normal sized like a tank would. But when he transforms, you’re really going to see that visual change and his growth there and his whole silhouette just takes a different shape for that time.
As you add a new hero, you have to record new voice lines for the interactions. Are the voice actors signed up “for life”?
Gavin: This is gonna sound extremely corny but it’s true. Our voice actors are absolutely like family to us, we love working with them, we check in with them, we talk to them when we’re not recording sometimes, like really it’s always wonderful to work with them again.
As we create new heroes, we need to have at least those interactions when the match starts, or the pre-match conversation as we like to call them.
With a lot of different heroes, we’re always bringing back the voice actors we’ve worked with before to record new things. We’re consistently working with every single actor that we have and the cast keeps growing.
Support roles have the lowest play rate along with limited options. Are there any plans to balance or create new supports that can possibly compete or even replace Lucio in the meta?
Alec: We’re always balancing our heroes pretty frequently. I would say speed boost in particular is a thing we need to be pretty careful about in terms of stacking that and adding more options to it. If someone was to replace Lucio, it wouldn’t be because he’d have a better speed boost in Lucio.
We’re gonna keep creating new supports where they’re gonna have different utility and different abilities to make them fit into your compositions a bit differently than everyone else.
Focusing on Ramattra and moving ahead with Season 2, how is the team feeling about launch and the speed bumps thus far and how do you envision the future of Overwatch2 and it’s ongoing support and how does the team split between new content and fixes?
Gavin: The narrative is evenly divided on pretty much every writing task that comes up or constantly working on every aspect of both future content and existing content and bug fixes. It’s a very evenly handed and flexible team.
Alec: The hero team is constantly working on the state of the game as you see online, but a lot of heroes are in the pipe as well. There’s also some other progression systems we are working on, so there’s a lot going on with the hero team and some of the things that we’re working on where you’ll be able to see a bunch of heroes over the course of OW2.
Is there any chance of a future melee DPS hero to join the roster?
Alec: Yes, I would say there’s definitely a chance we’ll do some more melee hero, they’ll have their own sort of challenges obviously but it is a type of hero that I think Overwatch has a lot more room to explore with. I think it’s part of what makes Overwatch great is that we don’t just do guns all the time.
We do a variety of things and achieve different fantasies. We have Mercy in our game who is quite different with her Caduceus Staff, so I think we want to continue to explore things like that with our hero releases.
Can you talk about the design rule for Ramattra? All skins have two forms and ideally we can understand which form they’re in, even from a long distance?
Dion: When we first started to talk about Ramattra and a few other characters, especially with the design and narrative team, there’s some difficult heroes from a visual standpoint. For example D.va and her mech are essentially two characters, so every time we need to create a skin we need to make a skin that’s symatic between the her mech and herself.
We wanted to ease off on heroes that have two forms or two different models and then Ash and Bob came along, and now we have this other skin that was super fun to deal with, Then Ramattra comes up, but the fantasy was so strong on him.
The team gets decided about like we need and how to make this character great. He does have skins unique to his two forms, so when we work on a skin, we have to think of what he looks like in his Omnic form and how does that skin carry over to his Nemesis form, that’s the difference between silhouettes.
There’s a big difference that we need to take into account and in his case, there’s a difficulty in it because he still needs to remained as Ramattra even in that Nemesis form. We cannot lose his identity when we visually try to build that next skin for him.
It’s a really fun challenge to dig into and I think we’ve come up with some really fun and thematic skins that fit this hero with these two forms that he can do. There’s a uniqueness between the two of them, we just need to keep the theme strong, same for Bob and Ashe.
Fom a long distance, in his Omnic form, he looks like a tank where he’s a pretty big character just like Reinhardt since he has a similar height. But in his nemesis form there’s such a great change, it’s probably one of the biggest models we’ve made and there’s a distance we cannot go beyond because of the world of the game. It’s very clear to see him from a long distance.
Will Ramattra be launching alongside his own Mythic Tier skin at the end of the S2 Battle Pass?
Dion: We’re unable to comment deeply about this, but we are working on a lot of mythic skins. He’s a challenging hero so when we think about what we would do for his Mythic skin, I could just see all the technical challenges to pull it off, but it could be pretty fun to see Ramattra as a Mythic Tier skin.
What’s the next Mythic skin planned?
Dion: I hope one day we get through every hero having a Mythic skin. For Mythic skins, it’s not just that they’re above legendary tier skin for us, it’s our chance to try high fantasy ideas. Genji is just a beginning, we’re going to try all kinds of things with each one, we want to try something new.
Gavin: I think with this team one of the things I really love about it is how just basically wild everyone guesses with the ideas. I mean look at Junkenstein, it wasn’t just a story mission, it wasn’t just a reuse of that map. It was everything that it was plus people were putting in Easter eggs left and right.
It was just a wild time, that’s what this team loves to make, it’s just something well done with stuff around it that just inspires everyone and makes them excited, so that people outside the team could be just as excited.
Are you able to comment on Ramattra’s method of dealing damage? Does he have a firearm or shoot orbs like Zen and how different is it between the forms?
Alec: I briefly touched on it earlier, but he does have a staff and that does shoot projectiles in a stream. While in nemesis form he’s going to be punching his enemies. so you can sort of imagine what that looks like as well.
You keep referring to the twin forms of Ramattra as ‘His Omnic Form’ and his ‘Nemesis Form’, Are both forms still robotic in nature?
Dion: He’s definitely an omnic in both forms, Ramattra is an inventor so he is the one who done this to himself. He caused his nemesis form to happen and he just gets pretty hulked out, but I wouldn’t say it’s like a twin form of him, it’s still him. He’s just more menacing and scary and a lot of that comes through not only just visually but the VFX that changed with them along with the animations and the narrative changing though.
There’s a kind of a twist to the sound of his voice as he’s in Nemesis mode. He’s just very scary and the punches that Alec just mentioned, each one of those are delivered with this pretty intensive VFX. That’s what makes him scary on top of the visual change on him.
He just has so many additive things that when players see him, it’s either we get out of his way or put him down with a sleep dart.
Gavin: Like Dion was saying, he’s an engineer and it always strikes me as interesting because he was created to fight humanity and he decided he wasn’t deadly enough. He’s a guy that created his own new powerful way of attacking the enemy, by becoming incredibly huge and physically imposing.
For Ramattra’s ultimate ability, is it shared between both forms?
Alec: It is the same between both, but it will put Ramattra into nemesis form as part of the ultimate.
Is Ramattra’s survivability more in line with Orisa, Rein, Hog, Doomfist or Junker Queen?
Alec: Ramattra has some survivability, he has ways to protect himself and his team in both of his forms. They’re a little bit different and how they do that. So I would say he’s right around the middle in terms of survivability.
Are there any plans to rework other heroes in the future?
Alec: There will definitely be some, but I’m not sure it’ll be too that extent. There’s still stuff on our radar, where we might return to Moira and take a look at how we can add a little bit of utility to her. We’ve mentioned that we are looking at Brigitte and maybe changing her Ult down the road, if we find something that really hits us.
There’s going to be updates like that coming in OW2, you’ll see those mainly in the seasonal updates. But in terms of full scope reworks, I think we got the ones we really wanted to first do and there’s some that haven’t been confirmed yet.
Dion: We wanted to revisit heroes artistically with Orisa’s case, we wanted the African Warrior fantasy. We’ve kind of got a little closer to that. With Bastion, he was a transformera and we wanted players to feel like while they’re playing this character while he transforming a little more often than usual.
It’s because the art team wanted to take the chance to realize the full fantasy which we initially set out for those heroes. When Orisa was first introduced, it was our goal to create another anchor tank for the team so as we needed to evolve her a bit, that was our chance to fully realize the fantasy of her and the same with Bastion.
We’re always messing with Bastion actually, we made so many ultimate abilities to kind of create the transformer fantasy of him. I think we gotten much closer with this one and I think he’s really fun since he plays like a transformer now.
Would you recommend Ramattra to new Overwatch 2 players?
Alec: We talk about what hero should new players actually pilot early on. You see some of the players being completely new to Overwatch 2, they go through a solid experience and there’s actually a time in which heroes they get along.
I do think Ramattra has a number of abilities and there’s some complexity there, but at the same time there’s this feeling while you’re playing him, it’s unique compared to all other heroes.
Gavin: What I think really is wonderful about this game is if you are a player with mediocre skill like me, there’s so many heroes to try. There’s always so many new ones to try out, new gameplay style to test, there’s something fun to do.
Sometimes you want to be wrecking ball and you want to try to reach the stars in your little ball. There’s always something different. I would always stray away from saying this character is only for high scope players, or this character is not for new players or anything like that.
Try them all, what we to do is have players be who they want to do from a roster of super heroic characeters.
We would like to thank Alec Dawson, Dion Rogers and Gavin Jurgens Fyhrie for answering our question regarding the new hero – Ramattra for Overwatch 2.