Overwatch healer Ana has become a fast favourite in the month (only a month!) since we’ve got to know her. Much of that is down to a very specific set of characteristics: the fact that she’s an Egyptian old lady in a medium not exactly stuffed with those; her fondness for firing health from a sniper rifle like some kind of goddamn red cross commando.
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Weird, then, that she originally had none of that stuff. In fact, Ana might not even have been a she.
Blizzard began with the knowledge that they needed another healer, since Lucio and Mercy were showing up in every game. That’s how they came to the Alchemist – a nebulous character whose on-the-fly pharmacy had them glug from a decanter and then jump really high, or provide an extra-long heal over time.
“It was sort of interesting, but it had a lot of problems,” hero designer Geoff Goodman told VG247.
Meanwhile, the team were struggling to place the personality of Ana, which they’d conceived independently. Her backstory positioned her as a crack sniper, but the game already had Widowmaker. Then inspiration struck – Ana could stand out and fill that waiting healer slot.
“One of the things we hadn’t really done was to aim your heals,” says Goodman. “Lucio is an aura, Mercy is a beam. Zenyatta is a little bit fire and forget. What would it mean if you actually had to aim?”
Within a couple of weeks the Alchemist was gone, subsumed by Ana’s unique charm: “It basically went like a rocket from there and never stopped.”
Have you stuck with Ana beyond your initial new-hero experimentation?