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Summer normally means a new hero for Overwatch, and Blizzard isn’t one to disappoint. In fact, the developer is teasing a new hero, currently only known as Hero 31. Game Director Jeff Kaplan confirmed that Hero 31 is in development on a delayed schedule in the July 11 developer update.
While Jeff Kaplan is normally the type to drop juicy hints on upcoming heroes, he was tight-lipped during this update and previous public appearances. He did reveal one important fact, however: Hero 31’s gender.
“Hero number 31 is going to be awesome, but he is going to be released a little bit later than you’re used to,” Kaplan said, emphasizing the gender of the hero. While this doesn’t give fans any major clues as to who Hero 31 will be, it does narrow the field down quite a bit.
Who Hero 31 isn’t
Kaplan’s announcement that Hero 31 is male takes out a few popular fan choices for next Overwatch hero, but many of them were taken out of contention months ago.
Fans have been hoping to see Overwatch agent Sojourn, who played a large part in the Overwatch Archives Storm Rising event mission, join the hero roster. Another popular guess is Echo, a mysterious, ethereal omnic shown in the “Reunion” animated short at BlizzCon 2018.
Both of these hopes were shot down in April. While playing the Storm Rising mission with streamers, Kaplan explicitly said that those two were out of the running for Hero 31. “Echo is not the next hero. Sojourn is not the next hero,” Kaplan said. While he did state they were in development, he specifically stated they wouldn’t be Hero 31.
Junker Queen, the fearless and chaotic ruler of Junkertown, is another character fans have been clamoring for. In the same April streams, Kaplan said that the development team was “having fun” with her, but made no hints as to her status as a hero. The admission that Hero 31 is male takes her out of the running as well.
Who could be Hero 31?
There’s always the distinct chance that Hero 31 could be a completely random character that isn’t established in the Overwatch universe. Since we haven’t had any teasers for the hero, we can only work with what we know. Several male characters have starred prominently in events and Overwatch content and could be in consideration for Hero 31.
In June, a short story called “What You Left Behind” was released, which gave extensive lore to Hero 30, Baptiste. In the story, Baptiste returns to his hometown after years of being on the run from Talon, the criminal organization he joined and then left. The story includes a host of characters from Baptiste’s present and past, but a standout was his former partner in Talon, Mauga.
Mauga is a tall, smooth-talking, excitable character that’s prone to fits of anger and destruction. While he seems like a shallow, violent character, flashbacks to Baptiste’s past bring out another side of the man. At one point, Mauga understood the horrors that Talon was inflicting on others and let Baptiste escape from the organization. Mauga comes with built-in relationships to other Overwatch characters, such as Baptiste, and everyone currently involved in Talon, such as Doomfist and Sombra.
Several illustrations of Mauga were also released with the short story and the Baptiste Reunion Challenge. Mauga carries two large machine guns and is described as wearing “heavy” armor. This description resembles the destructive, merciless heavy assault enemies that are deployed by Talon in the Retribution and Storm Rising story missions.
Mauga is the most likely choice for Hero 31 as he’s walking in with lots of fodder for lore and with a built-in weapon and skill set, likely that of a tank character.
Maximilien is the wealthy, charismatic omnic that was once believed to be the head of Talon’s organization. The spring Storm Rising mission revolves entirely around the Overwatch strike team chasing and finally capturing Maximilien. It turns out that he’s just in charge of the money and isn’t as loyal to his comrades as many believed.
Maximilien gave up Doomfist’s location to the Overwatch strike team, which led to Doomfist’s eventual capture. With ties to both Talon and Overwatch and dramatic feuds within both organizations, Maximilien would make an interesting choice for Hero 31.
The only thing up in the air would be his possible skill set. Maximilien is, quite obviously, someone who doesn’t do much of the fighting for himself. Why would he ever get his hands dirty with so many operatives to do it for him? That said, Maximilien could have more tricks up his sleeve than we give him credit for.
At the end of the Storm Rising event mission, Mercy demands an introduction from a captured Maximilien. The scene cuts to a meeting in Anubis between Doomfist and a mysterious character, who lowers his hood to reveal…someone we don’t know.
Little has been revealed about this character since the spring event. What we do know is that the mysterious omnic is likely affiliated with Null Sector, the terrorist organization that featured in Uprising, the first Overwatch Archives event. Jeff Kaplan also teased that the meeting between Doomfist and this character happened in the past, but had implications for the future.
“We should all be curious about what Talon and this omnic have planned for the future,” Kaplan said. This mysterious omnic is, at first glance and by voice, male-presenting. It would be a choice out of left field, but it would give fans access to a character they know little to nothing about. Null Sector affiliation also brings up a lot of fun choices for hero skills, like hacks or the ability to call omnic fighters.
Most Overwatch heroes released in previous summers were announced in June and available for play in July. Hero 31 is on a delayed schedule according to Kaplan, but the team is working to make a “more awesome” hero in the meantime.