The latest hero to join Blizzard’s “Overwatch” is a combat medic with an intriguing past and such a diverse arsenal of weapons and abilities that internally he was referred to as gadget, Blizzard said in a recent interview. Baptiste goes live on the public test region servers Tuesday.
“His inspiration was that we wanted to make a medic character that is scrounging on the battlefield,” said Overwatch” senior designer of story and lore Michael Chu. “I’ve got this roll of bandages and I’ve got this device that I don’t know what to do with. I’ll try and figure it out.’ So we wanted to make this character that has an array of different gadgets and devices to help with healing and in different situations. When you’re playing this character you get a little bit of that idea.”
Baptiste is meant to play like a gadget-laden support character who is as capable of taking out as enemies as he is of saving teammates. His main weapon is a “pretty accurate” biotic launcher that fires in three-round bursts. The secondary fire for the weapon lobs grenades that heal allies near point of impact, but does no damage. It has its own ammo count so it won’t pull ammo from the primary fire.
Baptiste also has a regenerative burst, which heals himself and nearby allies over time, and wears exo boots which allow him to jump higher if he crouches before jumping. He also has the ability to drop a device that creates an immortality field. As long as the device is active, anyone within its sphere of protection can’t drop below 20 percent health, even healing those below that 20 percent when it’s activated. The effect lasts until someone destroys the device.
Chu said this is one of the most powerful heal abilities in the game, second only to Mercy’s resurrection.
The most interesting tool in Baptiste’s arsenal, though, is his ultimate, an amplification matrix that doubles the damage and healing effects of any projectiles that pass through it, including other ultimates. So something like Firestrike becomes a one-shot kill if it passes through the frame of the matrix. While the matrix doesn’t block enemy shots, the developers found that few people wanted to trade shots with enemies firing back at double the damage through the matrix.
During a call with press earlier this month, Chu also discussed some of the inspiration for Baptiste and his backstory.
Baptiste’s real name is Jean-Baptiste Augustin. The Haitian was one of the 30 million children orphaned by the Omnic Crisis. He enlisted in the Caribbean Coalition, a pan-island force formed in response to the Crisis, at a young age. Baptiste decided to become a combat medic in order to help people. After completing his service with the Coalition, Baptiste joined the Talon mercenary group and started putting money aside to set up a clinic in his hometown. But as Talon became increasingly brutal and started taking on assassinations, Baptiste left the group.
Because he had been with the organization for so long, Talon decided they couldn’t let him live after his departure. Baptiste, now 35, works to make-up for his violent past.
“What excited us about this character is that we’ve done a lot of characters that went from good to maybe shad,” said Chu. “We wanted to make a character that came from the slightly villainous side and turns out on the good side at the end.”
Baptiste’s backstory seems designed around the notion that sometimes a person’s situation forces them into making decisions they later regret.
“He is sort of like growing up in this world that was scarred by the Omnic Crisis and had this sort of glut of armed soldiers and people who are looking for employment,” Chu said. “A lot of his fellow comrades in arms we’re sort of absorbed into these different mercenary company and private military corporations, one of which is Talon.”
When Baptiste joins, Chu explains, Talon has a front that it is like every other mercenary group and it offers a chance for him to do what he’s always done. But over time, the group slowly grows sinister, essentially boiling the frog.
“Eventually he was like, ‘Whoa, how did I end up in this situation,” Chu said. “Innately he has good intentions.”
Chu added that while Baptiste was an important Talon soldier, an officer even, he didn’t have a leadership role like Doomfist or others in “Overwatch.”
Longtime fans of “Overwatch” may wonder if Baptiste’s design, both his look and abilities, are in any way connected to the original concept art for another healer in the game: Mercy. The original concept art for Mercy showed that she was a character that in some ways looked a bit like Baptiste.
Chu said he’s aware of the similarities, but that if there is any connection it wasn’t driven by an overt decision to recreate that original concept art as a new character.
“There was never a point where we were like, ‘We should take that art and make it into a hero,'” Chu said. “But there’s definitely a similarity there.”