Two new characters have been announced for Blizzard’s upcoming first-person multiplayer shooter Overwatch – one of whom represents an increased interest of showing greater diversity in videogame characters.
Those two characters are McCree, a scruffy Western-style gunslinger with more than a hint of Clint-Eastwood-ness, and Zarya, a Russian bodybuilder with gorgeous hair, wing-tipped eyeliner and muscles that could, in all likelihood, crush a man.
McCree’s weapon is the six-shooter well known to wild-west cowboys, allowing him to take steady shots one at a time, or to fan the hammer and fire off a hail of bullets at his enemies. McCre’s ultimate ability, Deadeye, allows him to line up killshots by taking his time, focusing on his targets, and then executing them swiftly and efficiently.
Zarya uses a particle cannon as her main weapon; not only can she fire a short-range beam of energy at her targets, but she can also work defensively by employing barriers, either around herself in order to deflect incoming attacks, or around an ally, which has the bonus effect of increasing the effectiveness of her particle cannon. Zarya’s ultimate ability, Graviton Surge, allows her to fling a gravity bomb that pulls in enemies and inflicts damage on them while leaving them trapped.
Zarya is an attempt by Blizzard to include more body diversity in female characters, in response to a growing sentiment among gamers and games critics looking for inclusion and diversity throughout the medium of games. At a presentation at PAX East, Blizzard gave the following explanation of some of the reasons behind the character design for Zarya, as reported by Kotaku:
We've been hearing a lot of discussion among players about the need for diversity in video games. That means a lot of things. They want to see gender diversity, they want to see racial diversity, they want to see diversity along the lines of what country people are from. There is also talk about diversity in different body types in that not everybody wants to have the exact same body type always represented. And we just want you to know that we're listening and we're trying hard and we hope Zarya is a step in the right direction.
Overwatch will be accessible to players through a closed beta at some time during late 2015, and as of yet, a release date has not been announced. Expected platforms for the title are Windows and Mac. Until then, you can find out more about McCree, Zarya, and the rest of the Overwatch roster, over at the main site.