When Overwatch’s 28th hero was revealed to be a hamster in a spherical, robotic killing machine, some people genuinely thought it was a joke. But this fuzzy-faced friend is very real, and after spending some time trying him out on the PTR, may stand as one of my favorite Overwatch heroes to date.
His ability to roll around the map and then shoot out a grappling hook to start swinging through the air feels completely unique within Overwatch’s roster. It’s wildly different from the Pharah’s flying, D.Va’s jets, and even Widowmaker’s own hook despite the visual similarities. Frankly, it’s hard to think of any FPS character that feels quite like the adorable Hammond the hamster.
Even better, Blizzard nailed the physics of his swing (sort of). It’s easy to immediately pickup Wrecking Ball and fly around the map, but the best players will be able to set themselves apart by finding crazy swings and tricky routes that only he can utilize.
My only problem with those great-feeling physics is that while they intuitively make sense to control, they make no sense whatsoever from a functional standpoint. Wrecking Ball’s grappling hook isn’t really a cable or a rope in that it doesn’t bend at all. It’s basically a hard pole between the ball and its fulcrum — a pole that can go through literally any object, allowing him to endlessly spin around certain spots.
This allows Wrecking Ball to do some weirder meanuevers that he otherwise wouldn’t (like latching to the center obstacle of a control point and spinning nonstop around it) and I’m sure increases his path options overall, but it comes off as a really weird-looking move. It’s weirder even than the fact that it’s being driven by a genetically modified sentient hamster.
Assuming a similar level of satisfying swings could be achieved, I’d rather have Wrecking Ball’s cable behave like an actual cable, colliding with walls and bending around them. That would limit the exciting but extremely strange infinite spins without really preventing too many of the current routes. It could even open the door to bending yourself around objects to crack the whip for a bigger boost of speed.
What Wrecking Ball can do now is cool, but it also seems weirdly unfair and completely unrealistic. Not that realism is ever what Overwatch is going for (again, smart hamsters and talking gorillas) but having an unbending cable repeatedly cut through a solid wall still seems out of place.
Apart from that, I am enjoying Wrecking Ball’s kit a lot so far — though I don’t think I’ll ever be able to refer to him out loud as anything other than Hammond. Like I said, there’s not really another tank option like him, and his ultimate’s ability to zone out whole capture points for a long time could actually change up the meta a bit.
Similar to the cable physics, I think Wrecking ball is definitely still in need of other tweaks. His damage seems significant given his extremely high health, and the big shield that extends it even further. But the core of this hero is so fresh and so so fun that I can’t wait until he hits the live servers.
Tom Marks is IGN’s PC Editor and pie maker. You can follow him on Twitter.