Ashe will be Overwatch’s 29th hero, but her sidekick BOB may just be the ultimate star of BlizzCon. BOB, which stands for either Big Omnic Butler or Big Omnic Bodyguard, according to Blizzard’s Michael Chu, is Ashe’s loyal sidekick and her ultimate.
At BlizzCon, Heroes Never Die sat down with Aaron Keller, assistant game director, and Hak Lee, technical artist on Overwatch. We talked about a lot of game aspects, but one topic that kept coming up was, well, BOB.
Without BOB, there is no Ashe
The cinematic team did such an amazing job bringing Ashe to life as McCree’s outlaw nemesis that the gameplay team knew she needed to be an in-game hero as well. While there are a couple of things that they focused on for Ashe, like building her around her Viper rifle and the ability to wield dynamite, they also knew that BOB needed to be in her kit. Once they nailed down her standard kit, it was just a matter of making BOB technically work.
“There was a moment during development where a majority of the team was convinced that we weren’t going to be able to make Ashe, and we almost stopped development on her,” says Keller. “Having Ashe and BOB onscreen at the same time is incredibly resource intensive. The character team stepped up and became heroes and did a bunch of work proving out that we could actually make the character. At that point, we knew we could do it, and the team jumped on it and we raced to the finish line.”
Not only does BOB work normally in regular games, but yes, you can pull out 12 BOBs in an all-Ashe No Limits game... but your frame rate might struggle as a result.
BOB is (mostly) a hero
BOB can contest points, get healed, get Zarya shields and Brigitte armor, and is, in nearly every respect, a hero. There’s just one problem: He can’t be resurrected by Mercy. Once BOB is dead, he is out of the fight until Ashe can charge her ultimate back up and call him again.
“Bob is a character that you can nanoboost, he can take points, and you’ll have to choose whether you want to stay out his line of sight or focus him down,” says Keller. BOB has the ability to completely transform a battlefield. He charges, knocks players up and back, and then fires his arm turret for 12 seconds or until death.
“Our players always catch on faster than I expect them to, and Overwatch is a game with amazing, incredible moments that can happen when two teams come together and ultimates start going off,” says Keller. “It gets a little bit crazy and chaotic but really glorious, and BOB is a top tier ult to cause some of those moments in Overwatch.”
BOB helps ensure Ashe isn’t just another Widowmaker
Widowmaker is going to be one of the easiest points of comparison for Ashe; they’re both mid-to-long range snipers. There is overlap between the two of them, as Keller acknowledges, but Ashe has a shorter range and less damage. This means there are maps with shorter sightlines where Ashe can come out of play, but she won’t be able to ever one-shot with Widowmaker’s efficiency.
More importantly, Ashe was designed to contest points. Not only do her Coach Shot and dynamite give her a bit more to do in melee, but she can just send BOB out to the payload or point while she waits for her team to rally. If you want a team-focused sniper, Ashe is your gal, and it’s all thanks to big ol’ BOB.
BOB is going to steal Plays of the Game
Sorry, everyone, you’re going to see Plays of the Game that are centered around Ashe running or picking up health packs while an unseen BOB just racks up the kills. This is part of why the team ensured Bob had such a great model with his own presence in Ashe’s Play of the Game intros and her victory poses; he’s half the team, after all, and sometimes he’s going to be the one making the big plays.
BOB is lethal around ledges... mostly
The well on Ilios and the edge of Route 66 are going to be brutal places to deploy BOB, because he knocks everyone around him back after his initial charge. The problem, Lee warns us, is that players who attempted this in testing often misjudged BOB’s momentum... and sent him down the well instead. Oopsy daisy.
There are omnic hair salons (this is canon)
This is how BOB was able to get his glorious mustache, and maybe one day we’ll see other omnics follow in his fashionable footsteps. Hak Lee was able to confirm that there are omnic hair salons in game, and the team has established that omnics have a bustling fashion industry. Add in the fact that BOB sweats grease, and he’s just the most charming addition to Overwatch in recent memory. Sorry, Wrecking Ball, we’re all about BOB now.