New heroes in Overwatch are always exciting. The game is called a hero-shooter for a reason, and Blizzard always delivers a great backstory in addition to their legendary gameplay design. While the introduction of new heroes such as the recent addition of Brigitte can upset the order of things a little, after a bit of tweaking, balance returns to the meta.
The newest addition to the already impressive Overwatch roster is Wrecking Ball. Aptly named for his outward appearance, his real name is Hammond. Blizzard describes him as “a resourceful tinkerer with remarkable mechanic skills”. This hardly does the little guy justice though – after all, a tiny hamster piloting a giant mech ball of death is a sight to behold.
Journey to the Ends of the Earth
As for his backstory; Hammond was one of the many experiments carried out at the Horizon Lunar Colony. Animals were given gene therapy with massive side-effects. In the case of Hammond, these were exceptional growth and high intelligence. Most of the test subjects were apes and primates, and only a few – like Hammond – were smaller animals. In order to escape the colony, Hammond taught himself the skills of a mechanic. Shortly after, when some of the gorillas who also gained high intelligence rose up and took control of the base, Hammond built a makeshift capsule he attached to a gorilla’s recently acquired spacecraft and was able to escape.
Once on earth, he detached the capsule and landed it in the Australian Outback. Eventually making his way to Junkertown (The same place where Junkrat and Roadhog are from) he began upgrading his little escape craft. Once his escape capsule was strong enough, he became a fighter in the local mech arena under the name Wrecking Ball. Using the winnings to upgrade his capsule even further, he was eventually able to escape and go on new adventures.
A Big Bruiser and a High Flyer
On to Hammond’s abilities: His Dual Cannons are automatic assault weapons. What makes his assault weapons unique is that they are the hitscan type, making him the only hitscan tank in the game. Hitscan means there is zero travel time for his projectiles, making it much easier to connect your shots with enemy heroes. His Roll ability increases maximum movement speed and the Grappling Claw allows him to rapidly swing around the map, which can also be used to knock back enemies and create space when needed. The Grappling Claw ability allows for some very high skill and dazzling plays. All three dimensions of the map now provide countless possibilities for playmaking, initiations, and escapes. It’s no wonder why Blizzard rates Hammond as a three-star difficulty hero.
Wrecking Ball’s Minefield deploys a large field of proximity mines around him which detonate on enemy contact. Another high skill cap ability is his Adaptive Shield, which creates a temporary personal barrier. The shield’s strength depends on how many enemies are nearby. The more enemies around Hammond, the stronger the shield. Players can use this ability to bait their enemies into a false sense of security and then make the turn. However, this maneuverer requires excellent game sense and knowledge of the absolute limits of your hero to successfully pull off.
Lastly, his Piledriver ability allows him to slam into the ground while airborne and launch enemies upward. This can be used, among other things, to interrupt other player’s actions or to break up a group of melee fighters close together.
He Came In Like a Wrecking Ball
As his appearance suggests, Hammond is a great tank and useful for breaking through the enemy front lines to soak damage and keep your supports and DPS classes safe. His Adaptive Shield makes him especially tough to kill. With a high starting HP pool, his shield gives him a lot of effective health. His movement speed increasing ability Roll, along with Grappling Claw are also effective escape tools.
While there are several viable playstyles possible, Hammond is an ideal front line tank. He can quickly roll into the enemy team, soak damage with his Adaptive Shield, then make a quick escape with the Grappling Claw. A fantastic disruptor and chaos maker, he is most useful as an aggressive bruiser causing havoc on the enemy’s backline.
Unguarded heroes with weak defences don’t have much of a chance against Hammond. If played correctly, his Grappling Claw can be used to sneak up on enemies by initiating from above, although this takes considerable timing and skill to execute properly.
His Minefield can stop enemies from reaching a certain location or funnel them into a trap, making him useful as a sort of crowd control – though this is by no means his primary use. Early playtesting is only scratching the surface of the countless combinations possible with Hammond’s abilities. One of the most popular combinations right now is initiating on enemies from above with the Grappling Claw, showering them with Minefield, and then using Piledriver to set off the mines. This deals a massive amount of damage to several enemies at once but is not easy to pull off. This hero will certainly take a lot of practice to master but will surely be one of the most rewarding characters to have in your hero pool.
As the 28th hero in Overwatch, the fans had some high expectations for Blizzard to get him right. Because of this, they were disappointed that Hammond was given a codename. While plenty of characters have one, lots of fans would have preferred for the hero to simply be called Hammond. Not just because Ham and Hamster make for easier call-outs, but also because the game’s first talking outer space animal (the gorilla that Hammond used to escape) was simply called Winston.
Another thing fans are a concerned about is gameplay balance, as Hammond seems currently overpowered. The last time this happened – Brigitte – fans felt she was originally overpowered in the “Dive” meta style. The Dive meta involves picking heroes that could quickly get past the enemy front line to blow up the supports. Hammond has not one, but two abilities that would allow him to do this. His Adaptive Shield also compliments this play style as it gives him a lot of effective HP to stay alive in the backline while bringing down the enemy supports.
Odds are, Blizzard will have to make some adjustments to the new hero before he feels balanced. Fans are already testing out the new skills and have found them to be powerful...but not easy to master. The Grappling Claw, in particular, takes some serious practice to get the hang of. This trade-off between highly effective skills and difficulty of execution will be most noticeable in amateur play. Alternatively, the seeming OPness of Hammond will be much more noticeable at the pro level. Since professional players have almost no trouble flawlessly executing their abilities, there isn’t much of a trade-off between the effectiveness of Hammond’s skills and the difficulty of using them properly. With Hammond, Blizzard surely has some work to do with the common problem of balancing heroes equally in professional and amateur play.
A Special Little Hamster
Hammond has a few particularities that make him rather unique. For example, he is the only character that has his own animation for when his ultimate ability is ready. Tiny Hammond who is piloting the Wrecking Ball from his little perch can be seen moving his hands on the buttons and levers to control the actual ball when the ability is ready.
Hammond’s quad cannons are hitscan types, making him a mid-damage, high-defense and high-mobility hero. His unique and extraordinarily fun abilities kit, along with the fact he’s a hamster driving a massive mech-style ball will surely make him a fan favorite for a long time to come. We are also very excited for his debut in the Overwatch League to see what the best of the best can do with Hammond’s razzle-dazzle repertoire of abilities.