The unveiling of a new Overwatch hero at Blizzcon was no surprise; however, Ashe’s design and lore is unexpectedly conventional. With at least one other gunslinger, a pair of lawless renegades, and an omnic-operator duo already on the roster, Ashe doesn’t seem to contribute much from the outset. So, while players wait with bated breaths to see how the new heroine’s story unfolds and how she plays, let’s look at a few unconventional options OW could have considered:
Question: If OW needed another cowboy, why return to the American West when there are dozens of other countries with their own horseback travelers? From the steppes of Asia to the deserts of northern Africa to the foothills of South America, Blizz was spoiled for choice. In fact, if they were looking for a colleague not far afield from McCree, developers just had to follow the map south to Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina. Gauchos have a rich and storied history aligned with revolution, noble outlaws, and the pursuit of freedom on the frontier. Sound familiar? However, a gaucho carries a facón and takes pride in horsemanship that would give any Lipizzaner a run for its money. The facón waned in use with the advent of revolvers, but was still a weapon used for settling things quickly or with a certain degree of prestige. So, Ashe could’ve been a Latina knife-wielder with the occasional pistol and her “B.O.B,” a bucking omnic bronco.
Polynesia spans a range of Pacific islands that boast a variety of peoples; but, an enduring love of the sea connects them all. Many well-known Polynesian practices stem from thousand-year old traditions and ceremonies. Surfing was once a means of warrior training; and, it’s test of skill was often a measure of the elite. Additionally, fire knife dancing is thought to mimic combat practice and celebrate martial mastery. So, a warrior who slices effortlessly across the seascape and brandishes a flaming instrument of fury sounds cool, no? With a futuristic “hoverboard” of sorts, Ashe would be a nice parallel to Lucio in movement, and a fiery weapon would be a cheeky reflection of her name. But, would B.O.B. be a sentient sea creature or the omnic avatar of an island deity?
Rarely is truth more fun than fiction, but Bolivia has given rise to brutally fashion-savvy “Titans of the Ring.” The Cholitas Luchadoras are native to El Ato, Bolivia, yet have quickly gained a worldwide following with their flying moves and fatal flounces. The wrestlers promote greater gender equality and advocate for more accessible resources for indigenous peoples; so, living, breathing superheroes with real life alter egos. What if Ashe got tired of fighting chauvinists in the backwoods of Bolivia and decided it was time to pick a fight with the world? A rogue cholita who’d suplex anyone in her way? With a little bit of an R. Mika vibe (a great option for an alt outfit), Ashe and her grappler push-back abilities might’ve fallen in league with enterprising promoter and debuff master B.O.B.
Sami Reindeer Herder
Overwatch has a number of humanoid robotic types running around, omnic, mech, or kinda sorta hamsterball; so, one might have anticipated some innovation with B.O.B. With built-in sidekicks in mind, the Sami of Scandinavia seem like a great inspiration for a dynamic duo. The Sami are a venerable people who have been hunting, fishing, and farming parts of northern Europe and Russia since prehistoric times. And, they’re famous for herding reindeer. If anyone supplied Santa Claus with a healthy stock of sleigh-pullers, it’s likely the Sami. Historically, many Sami carried two knives, one large (similar to a machete or short sword) and one small, and hunters employed laminate bows. Thus, garbed in a richly colored gákti, Ashe might have been an exciting alternate to Hanzo and a close-quarters dual wielder, and B.O.B. would’ve stood out from the ranks as her tech-hybrid reindeer companion.
Whether snagging gunslingers from the Wild West or plucking samurai from the Warring States era, OW has a soft spot for great periods of history. Equally enthralling in the modern consciousness is the Roman gladiatorial arena. A roiling cauldron of slaves, mercenaries, and prisoners from Rome and its colonies, the arena paints a strict hierarchy of power and a thin line between life and death. The Roman empire spanned the breadth of the Mediterranean and branched into east Asia. Combatants, armed with an array of motivations and weapons, came from a diversity of cultures. Although female gladiators were rarities, they were subjected to much of the same training and trials as their male counterparts. Hailing from the bones of Dido’s Carthage, Ashe may have been an updated gladiatrix equipped with a net launcher and a shock trident. B.O.B., with his hulking stature, would make a great shield fighter to round out a devastating duo bent on gladiatorial revolt.
Icelandic or SE Asia Volcanologist
Favoring lands of fire and ice, water and fire, volcanoes fascinate the world over with their subtle creative capabilities and incomparable destructive powers. The volcanologists who wander crater rims and brave still bubbling new ground encapsulate awe and wariness. Although many enter the field with a passion for tectonic pyrotechnics, their observations contribute to significant advances in identifying and predicting eruptions, preventing loss of life and preserving communities. And, Mei sets precedent for such scientists as OW heroes; however, what if a volcanologist sought to save the world in a different way? Exposed to nature’s ability to renew through destruction time and again, perhaps Ashe would rue humanity’s hubris and seek to raze the land with fire and ash. A pyroclastic cannon could push back enemies or drop lava for an environment-altering AOE. As for B.OB., perhaps a relic of active crater exploration, able to retain and exothermically release heat at will, he would make a formidable contrast to Mei’s Snowball.
Ashe was likely created to expand McCree’s lore, much like Ana for Pharah. Ashe’s gameplay mechanics and the expansion of her role in the OW universe has the potential to make her as equally engaging a hero as the originals. Thus, Blizzard’s true test of design is ultimately more holistic than aesthetics; yet, greater diversity of any roster is and always will be appreciated. So, who would your Overwatch hero be? Have a better idea for a loadout or a B.O.B.? Ult up and comment below to let us know!