A combat medic with lots of healing gadgets

Blizzard’s team shooter Overwatch is hitting a major milestone today with the official unveiling of Baptiste, the game’s 30th hero. Baptiste is a support character described as a “combat medic” who uses an array of gadgets to aid his team in battle. That includes a device called an immortality field that prevents nearby allies from dying, healing grenades, and Baptiste’s ultimate ability, described as “a matrix that doubles the damage and healing effects of friendly projectiles that pass through it.” The reveal follows a few days of teasing, including a short trailer yesterday.

Baptiste joins an ever-growing cast of characters for the colorful shooter; last year saw the addition of the well-armored engineer Brigitte, a Wild West gunslinger called Ashe, and everyone’s favorite hamster Wrecking Ball. According to lead hero designer Geoff Goodman, the concept for Baptiste started around the idea of a “gadget healer” character.

“We were playing with various gameplay concepts around deploying gadgets / devices as a way to support and heal your team,” Goodman tells The Verge. “From a pure gameplay standpoint, this hero was built to both give support players new options and gameplay to support their team, and also to appeal to players who might not play support often.”

Baptiste joins a crowded field of Overwatch characters, and Goodman admits that it’s “an increasing challenge” to come up with new heroes that feel distinct. “We’re always wary about making heroes that overlap too much and don’t feel unique enough to stand on their own,” he says. That said, the designer believes that Baptiste’s unique healing abilities, combined with his combat skills — which include “an accurate hit-scan 3-round burst rifle” as a primary weapon — should provide plenty of new strategic options for players.

Right now, high-level Overwatch play is dominated by a particular composition that combines three damage-absorbing tank characters with a trio of healing supports. It’s known as “goats,” and it’s particularly prevalent in the Overwatch League at the moment. Interestingly, Goodman doesn’t see Baptiste fitting particularly well in this composition; instead, the new support hero might shake things up a bit.

“I think we’ll see Baptiste played with Ana for some longer range damage dealing and damage boost ultimate comboing,” says Goodman. “Ana can also fire through his ‘amplification matrix’ and get both boost healing and boosted damage, depending on who she hits. I also think its possible we’ll see Baptiste paired with Bastion, which can be really scary when you can buy him precious time with ‘immortality field’ and boost his already scary damage with ‘amplification matrix.’”

(Goodman says that the design team has “an open line of communication with [professional] players, which can be helpful to gain their perspective of the game. Ultimately though, we’re designing heroes for everyone and hope players of all levels enjoy playing them.”)

As for how Baptiste fits into the ever-evolving Overwatch lore, Blizzard describes him as a former soldier with a tragic childhood, who was forced to join the infamous Talon mercenary group. But when he realized the group was up to no good, he had trouble leaving.