Obvious joke aside, the latest hero introduced in Blizzard’s hero-based FPS, Overwatch, is quite the unconventional surprise. Swinging into battle is the destroyer called Wrecking Ball. The most bizarre aspect of this new character is that it’s a mech piloted by a hyper-intelligent hamster named Hammond.
Each hero in Overwatch is a fully fleshed out character with their own backstory and history that often intersects with other characters. In the world of Overwatch, the eponymous watchdog organization looks after the world and defends her against the dangers that threaten its existence. The organization was made up of extraordinary individuals, possessing unique talents and abilities. As a paramilitary organization, Overwatch has bases all over the the world—and even a few extraterrestrial.
One of Overwatch’s research bases is on the moon, where scientists performed genetic experiments on animals. One of the first heroes introduced in the game came from here. Winston is a hyper-intelligent gorilla who formed a close bond with his handler. It is he who reassembled the organization after its fall from grace.
Over the past few weeks, Blizzard revealed more story content, heavily hinting that more animals were being experimented on at the same time. One of these creatures was a hamster scientists had named Hammond. Unlike Winston, Hammond seemed to have no interest in the scientists, spending most of his time on the moon base breaking out of containment and spying on the other scientists. It was in this way that he learning how to build robots.
After an emergency killed most of the scientists on the base, Winston took an escape pod and blasted off to earth. Unbeknownst to him, Hammond had built a special pod for himself, and used a built-in grappling hook to hitch a ride. He crash landed in the badlands of Australia, which had been reduced to a Mad Max-style wasteland thanks to the devastation of the Omnic Crisis. He joined a robot battle league, outfitted his escape pod with machine guns, dubbed the pod “Wrecking Ball,” and battled his way to the top.
In terms of story, Hammond is the most far-fetched character added to the roster so far. While a talking animal has already been introduced, a genius hamster teeters closely to the suspension of disbelief. But how does his mechanical kit hold up?
Wrecking Ball is classified as a “tank” in Overwatch, and like most tanks, he is geared towards threat management. His machine guns do average damage with a bit of a spread—a unique take for a tank. The most iconic part of his kit is his grappling hook, an ability that allows him to traverse quickly and knock back enemies. By attaching his hook to the environment, Wrecking Ball can swing around at high speed, plowing into enemies.
Hammond can also retract all appendages and roll around the map like a hamster ball. This isn’t as fast as his grappling claw ability, but it can be used indefinitely. While unable to attack in this form, he avoids being vulnerable to a critical hit. The mech also has an ability called “Piledriver,” which was his signature move during his time in the robot battle league. While airborne, Wrecking Ball can drive himself straight down. This causes damage to anyone below and knocks nearby enemies into the air.
Hammond has outfitted his mech with an adaptive shield that gradually heals him. The more enemies in his immediate area, the more shields he gets. In addition, when enemies attack, their ultimate meters do not charge.
For an ultimate, Hammond releases a field of floating mines in his vicinity. The mines cause significant damage to any enemy that touches them and knocks them back into more mines.
My first thought trying Hammond out was that he was going to be a “high-skill ceiling” hero, not unlike Doomfist who I’ve spoken about before. Hammond’s style of play seems to be best suited for dive composition teams. His kit works well for getting in among the enemy (grappling hook/roll), causing chaos and disruption (minefield/piledriver) and retreating back to safety (roll/adaptive shield). His effectiveness depends on the player using his abilities correctly. Doing so will reveal a hero that can get into the thick of combat out of anywhere, disrupt any push the enemy is attempting, separate key targets, and locking down an area.
How will this effect Overwatch? I predict that Hammond won’t see a lot of use, similar to the previously mentioned Doomfist. But when he is picked, I can see him being the third pick of a triple tank dive team. Winston, D.Va and Hammond are all tanks that specialize in diving enemy targets, causing damage, and then retreating. Triple dive teams (where 3 heroes out of a team of six would speed into the enemy) were a popular composition in the game for a while. The drawback for dives is that most of the characters who could quickly get in and out of enemy lines were squishy: they don’t have a lot of hit points. Hammond could bring back the dive meta in a brutal way.
Wrecking Ball is now playable in Overwatch on PC, Xbox One and Playstation 4.