We were fortunate enough to spend a bit of early time with Moira at Blizzcon 2017, and caught up with some of the Overwatch developers while there. Both the lead software engineer Tim Ford and senior effects artist Rachel Day sat down with us.
Day in particular had a busy leadup to Blizzcon getting the team uniforms ready for the Overwatch World Cup. In a rather interesting decision, not just the skins were modified to represent country colours, but even the effects and interfaces.
That creates lots of problems for someone like Day. She’s quite open about how we’re trained to see blue as the colour of ice, and red as the colour of fire (or enemy), so playing around with that gives her one less tool to communicate what’s happening. As a result, they had to change the “shape language” of some of the abilities.
Mercy‘s two beams, for example, were very similar other than the different colours.
After the release of Orisa, we saw the rise of the double barrier meta. Blizzard intended Orisa to be an alternative barrier provider so you could have a similar team makeup without having to choose Reinhardt. Instead, players just chose both.
“So if you wanted to hurt them, you had to break through both of those barriers first,” said Ford.
With that in mind, it makes perfect sense for Moira to be the next hero. Who knows — maybe Moira’s orbs and ultimate never used to go through shields, but now they do. She provides the perfect stalemate breaker for defensive-heavy setups.
The natural inclination of the enemy team to bunch up behind the shield is perfect for Moira. It just means her abilities will hit more of them. When you see Moira taken as a counterpick, you’ll have to start thinking about a different strategy. She probably won’t change the game instantly — but there’s a degree of guaranteed sustain damage if the enemy team doesn’t react.