Overwatch Fan Squee Roundtable: Ana Amari, Support Sniper

The rumors were true! Blizzard’s latest addition to Overwatch has been announced, and it’s Ana Amari, support sniper and YOUR MOM (that’s a shout out to Pharah. Sorry, kid, you’re gonna have to deal with it). While Pharah might be less than enthused about her mother showing up to work, how do the fans feel? Here at Critical Writ HQ, we decided to get to the bottom of it by asking ourselves.

Adrian: My co-worker first showed me Ana while our boss was speaking in a team meeting, so I had no choice but to smile and nod quietly, rather than cause any disruption. I’m very excited and intrigued. What was your first reaction?

Ivonne: My first initial reaction was SQUUUUEEEE!!! Because Overwatch! But then I calmed down. Honestly, I was hoping for a Latin woman, because you don’t see many of those as heroes in video games. Latin women often just show up as sexy lampposts at the poolside of drug overlords or whatever. That said, Ana is a welcome addition. An older woman, a woman of color, and she’s lost an eye. I’m totally in and very excited!

James: My initial reaction was that she has a very Mad Max vibe, with the damaged, loose cloth draped over the top, it has a very lived-in feel, not like say, Widowmaker who looks like she drops in/out of missions. We don't normally see a relationship opportunity between parent/child, whilst both being adults; Ana seems quite doting, but Pharah is probably going to be more abrasive, I'd prefer them to be happy, because Genji and Hanzo are already doing the whole bad blood thing.

Adrian: You both touch upon a relevant topic in presentation and representation. First, it’s so often that the old, grizzled “I did what I had to do” veteran who kept his family at arms-length is a man, so it’s refreshing to see a mother and daughter’s relationship play out under those dynamics. I love the animosity and resentment Pharah is harboring for her mother, as it makes for a really intriguing story! Taking that back to what James said, Ana’s clothes look lived-in, and in my opinion sensible and functional for her job. Characterization has gone a long way to make the female heroes of Overwatch more than “sexy lampposts.” What do you think of Ana’s design, characterization, and skins?

Ivonne: What I love about Overwatch are the different kinds of female heroes and different body types. And now we have Ana. An older woman who’s both a mother and a freaking sniper, and who carries herself with a wise weariness, like she’s totally seen some shit, if you’ll forgive the language.

Much like broad-shouldered and large women (like Zarya), you don’t see older women celebrated in media in general, much less video games. I think she’s fabulous and ground-breaking. I would also like to point out that the internet, as full of dude-bros as it is, has had an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the old lady! This tweet is truth:

James: I find her alternative skins to be poor overall, except ‘Captain Amari,’ which is glorious and goes well with the Morrison skin for 76. The ‘Wasteland’ skin and the Witness me vocal line, tip the hat to Mad Max: Fury Road being a conscious reference point, we could tell that anyway... but having it lampshaded like that, feels like a wink and a nod.

Ivonne: The Captain Amari skin is 100% glorious yes, but as much as I love it (and the fact that it goes with the Jack Morrison skin perfectly), using it would also erase the tired old woman Ana, which is what makes that character unique. I don’t care too much for the other skins, though, so I wish she did have better ones. They are just OK.

Adrian: I love both Ana’s Epic and Legendary skins. ‘Merciful’ has a cool, clean look, and ‘Shrike’ just looks badass. It reminds me a bit of Tali from Mass Effect and armors sets from Destiny. The ‘Wasteland’ skin brings to mind Tusken Raiders from Star Wars. ‘Captain Amari’ is adorable.

James: I do have a slight issue because now looking back,  it's painfully obvious how sort of un-Arabian Pharah is. Without that comparison Pharah could go under the radar. Now it feels like she needs the developers to do another pass of her design.

Ivonne: Pharah’s skin are a whole other topic. I mean, I don’t think she’s completely un-Arabian. And I really like the Horus eye tattoo on her face. But of course, then you get the crazy and baffling decision on Blizzard’s behalf of having Native American totemic imagery in some of Pharah’s epic skins. I mean, don’t get me wrong, they are gorgeous. But what does that have to do with her character? And why don’t we have a Native American hero to use them instead? I admit, the pessimist in me waited for Ana’s epic skins to be just as tone deaf as Pharah’s in some way… I was relieved that they weren’t.

Adrian: Yes, Pharah’s ‘Thunderbird’ skin is a real conundrum for me. It looks amazing, I want it, but it’s crossed the line into cultural appropriation, where heritage becomes a costume. There’s another example of this with Roadhog’s ‘Islander’ and ‘Toa’ skins. They look wonderful and are very well-done, and part of me is thrilled to simply see Asian-Pacific culture in a mainstream, AAA game, but it also reminds me of how Blizzard has handled Islander and Native cultures in World of Warcraft. It’s a real problem how people of color are so typically “goblinized” in fantasy and science fiction media.

Now, Hindu leaders are asking Blizzard to remove the ‘Devi’ and ‘Goddess’ skins from Symettra’s skin library as it “trivialized Hinduism’s highly revered goddesses.” These are all contributing reasons why I’m feeling pretty satisfied with Ana’s skin options.

Click here to check out Ana's 'Legecy' prequel comic!

“I forgot to mention before, her heroic stance seems like she is cradling the rifle like a baby.” - James

Adrian: Have you had a chance to play as Ana on the PTR? From early reports and videos, it seems like she’s quite effective. How do you see her being used in matches?

James: I haven't tried her, I'm a XP hound and just play the regular servers. Send help ;)

I see her as utility healing like Zenyatta (but much better), her other abilities are mixed between disruption/(de)buffing. She doesn’t have any special mobility abilities and her effects last for a duration so I don’t think she needs line of sight all that often. I’d certainly play her by moving round the back of a payload for protection.

Let's look at her talents:

Sleep Dart: Potentially has a 50% uptime in an ideal situation, taking damage wakes the target so splash damage from Junkrat or Pharah will be a problem. 5 seconds of nap time on Reinhardt, not much competes with that ability.

Biotic Grenade: AOE and boosting team healing looks good for making an unbudgeable Roadhog with his 300 self-heal, both are low mobility characters so they can stick together better than Mercy who likes to fly from teammate to teammate.
Blocking healing makes a big scare for enemy Roadhogs and 4m AoE makes it risky to crowd round a payload, but good for your own team.

Nano Boost: Holy smokes, that is a boost:

Damage: +50%
Damage: Reduction 50%
Speed: +30%
Duration: 8 seconds

Mercy's damage boost was also raised to 50% in the PTR, I'm drooling at a combo like that, especially since Caduceus Staff doesn't have a cooldown, it makes such a combo on-the-fly practical.

Be very interesting if an enemy sleep dart can effect a Nano boosted character.

Ivonne: I haven’t played on the PTR, but early Youtube videos have shown her making Genji a stronger faster murder machine, which is not a buff he needed. Ana buffs other characters and their ultimates, and I kind of have a feeling that she may get nerfed in the future. But for now, I look forward to playing “Mama Bear” in live. And if you haven’t checked out the videos and comic that Blizzard released for Ana, you should do so! They are beautiful!

Adrian: I can’t wait to play as Ana, get her ultimate, and miss the shot and waste my ultimate. It’s going to be glorious!