Blizzard just revealed Overwatch's next hero, a sniper support named Ana—not Sombra like many of us assumed. We learned Ana is Pharah's mother and that she'll be using a sniper rifle and grenades that can both heal and deal damage, along with a tranquilizer gun, but hard numbers and details were more sparce.
Since the initial reveal, Ana's official hero page has gone live on the official Overwatch site, shedding more light on the game's next support. Additionally, Yahoo Esports' Dylan Walker sat down with Overwatch principal designer Scott Mercer to talk in more detail about Ana's abilities.
First off, not explicitly made clear in her gameplay trailer, Ana's Biotic Rifle doesn't deal all of its damage or healing on impact. Shooting allies triggers a heal-over-time effect, and shooting enemies triggers a damage-over-time effect, meaning you won't be instagibbing people from a distance like Widowmaker. Mercer says both effects tick quickly, but it's still an important distinction.
Her Biotic Grenade heals allies and hurts enemies much faster than the rifle, and Mercer said Ana "can throw it at her feet if she needs to heal quickly." Additionally, allies hit by the grenade will heal a whopping two times as fast from all sources for a short time, and enemies won't be able to heal at all. "It's pretty powerful," Mercer said, in what might be the understatement of the year as Roadhog mains everywhere shudder in terror.
But one of Ana's scariest abilities is her Sleep Dart, which Mercer revealed puts an enemy player to sleep (basically the same as being hit by Reinhardt's ultimate) for a jaw dropping six seconds. That's a ridiculous amount of time, but Mercer also explained that "if you damage them during that six seconds, they will wake back up." So it's an incredibly strong effect, but requires coordination with your team so they don't instantly wake up the people you knock out. "You can do it against Bastions that are deployed and it's so satisfying," Mercer said, much to the delight of newer players I'm sure.
I originally thought Ana's ultimate, Nano Boost, was an AoE effect for nearby teammates, but Mercer explained that it's a targeted ability that buffs one ally, though he didn't specify its duration. "It kind of just super charges a teammate, turns them into a complete monster." In addition to getting a speed boost (which Walker clarified does indeed stack with Lucio's speed boost) and a damage buff, the affected teammate takes half damage, which Mercer points out can make tanks like Reinhardt nearly unstoppable.
Walker asked the very important question of how Mercer thinks Ana might affect Overwatch's meta, and Mercer seemed unsure. "Since she does pretty good damage with her sniper rifle too," he explained, "does she have a role as maybe a third support?" It'll be interesting to see where she lands, and no doubt comforting for some to hear that her sniper rifle will be able to contribute a decent amount of damage on its own.
You can also read our own recent interview with Mercer, in which he discuss the past, present, and future of competitive play.