This out of nowhere announcement is better than Sombra’s last year
Reaper, the king edge lord himself, is unabashedly my favorite character in Overwatch. I think his dark stylistic choices do a good job of balancing out some of the overly charismatic and bright characters, which are the ones you’re going to see at nearly every cosplay convention and emblazoned on t-shirts.
He’s also just fun to play. Out-flanking an entire enemy team and gunning them down feels great, even without having to resort to his ultimate, then retreating into the shadows makes for some awesome plays.
Moira might be a support, but I see a lot of the same shadowy hit-and-run type of play based on my time with her — and I think she’s going to work herself into my stable of choices.
Moira is voiced by the talented Genevieve O’Reilly, an Irish actress who currently portrays Mon Mothma in the new Star Wars films, and recently starred opposite of Tim Roth in the UK series Tin Star.
Hak Lee, who has the incredibly difficult job of technical animation at Blizzard (and thus is responsible for getting the heroes into working shape after their concept) told me that Moira was their biggest challenge yet. “The sleeves!” he explained, “the sleeves were nearly the death of us!” As legend has it, when Moira was created, the team was huddled around the concept art, fascinated by the idea. But Lee, watching in the background, was quietly wondering how in the hell he’d be able to actually animate her.
“It was a challenge,” Lee explained. “We’ve had capes, coats, skirts, all sorts of complicated fabric, but this time Moira really put us to the test. The main thing, and something we hope people notice when they play her, is how her individual arms look when you’re aiming up or down. Her sleeves move with how she’s looking, it’s fantastic.” For reference, Lee told me that legendary skins take anywhere from three to five months to create, so a character is a significantly heftier investment.
As it turns out, she’s connected to Reaper (Reyes) on more than just an aesthetic level. Blizzard notes that their stories are intrinsically linked, with a history in both Blackwatch and Talon. More of that is set to be revealed in the future but for now, we know Moira is a scientist that isn’t inherently “evil” or “destructive,” but rather dedicated to the pursuit of power. Okay so that seems a little evil to me, but I’m sure her story will unfold over time and we may start to see some different motivations. I’m labeling her as a nuanced augmentation zealot.
That scientific approach flows into her abilities. Biotic Grasp, her primary method of fire, allows her to shoot either a healing or destructive/leech beam out of her hands with a left or right click respectively. Her left beam will heal all allies in front of it (tied to a meter that drains to provide balance), and her right also steals a bit of health. Constantly swapping between them is key to surviving any given teamfight or one-on-one encounter.
Biotic Orb, her other big ability, has what I call a pinball effect. It’s a bouncing sphere of life (or death), as you can select a defensive/healing or offensive effect, but there’s a catch — Biotic Orb has a universal cooldown no matter what you pick. Again, deciding which one to pick at any given time is tough, but chucking a death orb into a tight tunnel is a great way to mop up some kills.
As her most Reaper-like ability, Fade isn’t actually a teleport, but has more in common with Wraith Form. She temporarily disappears (for less than a second) and moves faster, becoming invulnerable (!) in the process. She can’t shoot or act (like Reaper) — it’s a flashy, punchy power that you really have to predict if you’re going up against it. Her ultimate, Coalescence, just dispels the facade of having to pick between your duality and unleashes a giant Dragon Ball-esque beam that both heals and ticks off health. Oh, and it goes through barriers.
Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan joked that Moira is spelled “OPAF,” and the sentiment from several people I’ve spoken to (including some from other dev teams) sort of feels like that isn’t a joke. Overwatch‘s principal designer Scott Mercer even confirmed this to me today directly, noting that “yes, she’s a little…strong, is the word I’d use.” Mercer went on to say that the first thing they wanted to do is fulfill the fantasy of making her feel as powerful as she was in the lore, and they’ll tweak from there. “Look for balances in the PTR for sure,” he said.
As always, in a bubble, anything relatively unknown is always going to seem a little askew. We’ll find out just how much she’ll be tweaked when she reaches the PTR “very, very soon” before she hits the live version. I’ll be waiting when she does.