Introducing Echo | Developer Update

Jeff Kaplan introduced Echo in this latest Developer Update and announced that Echo is now on the PTR. He described her abilities and the Ultimate ability.

Echo is definitely going to change how we have been playing Overwatch these past years. She has Flight and glide, she can do boosted damage to players and even Barriers that are 50% health, she can stick bombs, and her Ultimate — like her namesake — duplicates an enemy player’s abilities and Ultimate abilities — and by doing so, her own Ultimate charge grows — meaning that Echo can cast her Ultimate very often.

Just imagine 3 tanks in your team when Echo copies the enemy’s tank. Or duplicating the enemy’s Mercy to have two resurrections in your team. From what Jeff described… it is going to be pandemonium. The transcript has been added below.


Hey, everyone. Jeff from the Overwatch team here. The time is upon us we finally get to talk about hero 32. I know hero 32 is the thing that you all are the most excited about, and we can’t wait to give you all the details.

So, as you know by now, her name is Echo; and Echo is that extremely cool-looking robot; and we should talk about her backstory a little bit.

So early on, in the days before Overwatch existed, there was a doctor by the name of Mina Liao, and she was from Singapore; and she was a leading expert in the fields of robotics and artificial intelligence; and she joined the Ominica Corporation and helped create the race of robots known as omnics.

This was one of the early things that she did, and she was extremely successful at it. Now when the Omnic Crisis happened, she had sort of a crisis of faith wondering “what did I do? Did I contribute to this? How can I help make this better?”

And she was shocked when Overwatch approached her and said: “We want you to join as one of our earliest members of Overwatch to help us handle this Omnic Crisis;” and she was wondering… well why me? Like I was somebody who helped start this thing inadvertently; and Jack Morrison basically said to her: “Who better to help us understand the Omnics than somebody who created them?”

So she became the leading expert on robotics for Overwatch and after the Omnics Crisis she started development on what she called the Echo Project; and it was sort of secretive for the most part where she was trying to create a better version of what a robot could be for humanity and for society; and she came up with a robot that had an adaptive learning personality. So it could take on different roles and help Overwatch strike teams out in the field.

Now, secretly, which she was also doing was giving a much higher level of artificial intelligence to the point where the Echo robot would learn simply by observing. So the Echo robot started to talk like Mina Liao and started to learn from all the Overwatch agents around her; and Mina Lee out during this time actually became friends with some of the Overwatch agents like Jessie McCree — who was oftentimes used to guard her and keep her project secret.

Unfortunately, Mina Liao was killed in an attack on an Overwatch facility, but the Echo project persisted. In fear that the project might go the wrong direction because of its adaptive learning personality it was actually quarantined at that point.

After Overwatch was shutdown, the United States government took possession of the Echo robot and then (as you all saw in the animated short Reunion) Jessi McCree kind of nudged Ashe into helping him free Echo, and then eventually releasing her and getting her back online so she could return to Winston (returned to Overwatch), and helped the crew defeat what was going on with null sector at the time.

So that’s her backstory. We think it’s really cool. You’re gonna learn a lot more about her over time. You can read her backstory in her website bio. If you want to see it in more detail; but let’s talk about her abilities.

This is where we all get excited, because our imaginations run wild with all the crazy things that this character can do. So let’s start with how she attacks. I should mention before I even get to that… she is a damage character.

I’ve heard lots of speculation on the internet that maybe she’s gonna be a support character… well, she is in fact a damage character; and she is maybe one of our most exciting damaged characters to play.

So her primary attack is called Tri-shot. She shoots in a triangular fashion three projectiles out of her hand, and they’re pretty deadly; and it’s a lot of fun to practice your accuracy and timing on those; and then she can also (as an alternate fire) shoot off what we call Sticky Bombs.

Sticky Bombs deploy a number of them at once. They are also projectiles and when they land on the target, they stick — as you might imagine; and then they explode after a short detonation period.

So this can be very very devastating. It’s also really fun to catch somebody as they’re turning around a corner… they think they’ve gotten away and you’ve hit him with the Sticky Bombs and you get the elimination after they’ve turned around the corner.

Now her primary ability is Flight, and this is a lot of fun. When she presses Flight, she gets initial boost a little bit forward, and then you have free flight for a short period of time. You can fly anywhere you want.

It’s similar too but also different than Pharrah’s boosters. You have a lot more control over the character, but you don’t quite have the same amount of uptime overall, because you can’t do some of the same hover maneuvers that Pharah can; but she has flight.

She also has an ability called Glide — which is very similar to Mercy’s ability when Mercy holds down the jump button after she’s in the air.

Now the difference between Mercy and Echo… Echoe’s Glide has Echo falling much faster, but able to move horizontally more. So if you think of Mercy as more of a parachute… and Echo more as a hand-glider… that’s what the gameplay feels like once you get the hang of it; and it’s a lot of fun. It gives Echo an extreme amount of mobility that we think you’re really going to enjoy.

Now as an alternate ability that Echo has… she has something called Focusing Beam. What’s really cool about Focusing Beam is that you pick a target that’s below half health… so if it’s less than 50% health, you do significantly more damage… and I mean, a lot of extra damage to targets that are less than 50% health.

It’s a great finishing move. It really challenges your situational awareness for who the low-health targets are, and it really helps Echo finish off a lot of different targets.

In particular, it’s great against a high hit point target like a tank who’s below half where often it’s hard to finish those targets off because they get healed. Echo can get that huge boost.

Another thing that we think you will be happy with and excited by is that the Focusing Beam actually also works on barriers that are beneath 50 percent health. So this is going to be a great way to burn those barriers down.

We know that a lot of times — especially for damage players — barriers caused a lot of frustration; and as a side small hint to those of you who maybe never knew this… when a barrier starts to crack, the first crack show at 50%.

So that’s how you can know — if you’re an Echo player — when to use that Focusing Beam. So all of that is really fun, but I think the moment that the community has been waiting for and that I am so excited to share with you is what her Ultimate Ability is; and I don’t think any character’s ultimate ability has played into the character’s name as much as Echoe’s.

What Echo can do for her ultimate ability — and remember she’s an adaptive learning robot — is she can choose to turn into any member of the enemy team and literally play that character.

So if the enemy team has a Reinhardt, and I’m Echo, I can use my ultimate ability on Reinhardt and then for a pretty significant period of time I get to play as Reinhardt also on the battlefield; and in addition to that, my Ultimate generation as Reinhardt during that time frame is extremely accelerated — to the point where, with some characters… tracer for example, we’ve seen it with Roadhog, Echo in the form of those characters can actually get off multiple ultimate abilities.

So, I know it all sounds crazy. If it’s too crazy, we will balance it back further than it is; but it is an extremely fun thing.

Now there might be some confusion. This is not a disguise ability where you just look like the enemy team’s Reinhardt, or look like the enemy team’s Roadhog.

It is very clear to both sides that it is Echo replicating that other member of the team. So if it’s an enemy team Reinhardt that Echo has replicated — to the enemy team it will look very red. If it’s on your team, it will look very blue.

Our audio director Scott Lawler did some really cool stuff with the voice lines where you hear both Echo and Reinhardt voice lines when she turns into those characters; and what we’re really excited for is seeing who you all decide are the best characters for Echo to use her ultimate on.

In our playtest, so far… internally, we spend a lot of time turning into the tanks. That seems very powerful, because for a brief period of time you’ll have three tank characters, and the tank Ultimates can create a lot of space and a lot of momentum; but we’ve also seen some really creative play on characters that have long cooldown, big powerful abilities.

So for example, sometimes we’ve seen Echo turn into the enemy team’s Mercy just to resurrect somebody on our side — so you can use that ability; or abilities like Baptiste’s Immortality Field. You can use that ability if you decide to be Baptiste.

So we’re really excited to see the different creative ways that you end up using this ultimate ability. We think it’s a ton of fun. We also did some quality-of-life UI work where we added an option not only for Echo, but for Ana as well, where if you want to pre-select a character to use your ultimate on and then confirm that you want to change into that character — so you don’t accidentally turn into the wrong enemy team character.

We’ve all seen this with Ana when she wants to boost someone on her team. She wants to boost… let’s say Reinhardt; and Lucio comes in front of him and then we get a boosted Lucio running around with Ana’s nano-boost.

We have added interface options for you to try that will hopefully improve this. You can use the old version if you want, as well.

So we think this is going to be really exciting. It’s obviously one of the things we’re gonna be looking at tuning and balance the most on the PTR; but it has created an amazing dynamic. Not only to have a character with the amount of mobility that Echo has, but also this amazing ultimate to bring into other characters from the enemy team; and we really think it speaks to the character of who Echo is, and who Dr. Mina Liao intended this robot to be.

So she’s now on the PTR for those of you who want to go and play her right now. We wish we could bring her to the experimental card, but unfortunately the technology doesn’t allow us to do that.

So we’ll do testing on the PTR for Echo. She will be going live soon, but it will be probably a prolonged PTR period because a hero takes a lot of testing, a lot of tuning, balancing, bug fixing; and we think when she comes into the game and you all have a chance to play her, it will be a completely different version of Overwatch; and we hope you love it. Thank you so much.

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BlizzCon 2019 Panel Transcripts

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BlizzCon 2019 Panel Transcripts

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