What REAPER Could Have Been – Overwatch Development


Hello, everybody! Disciple here with Overwatch Curios! Overwatch’s announcement trailer was the
first the world would ever see of the world, and as such, Blizzard chose to use some of
it’s most iconic characters for the video to deliver the strongest first impression
possible. Out of the 4 heroes featured in the trailer,
one in particular stood out as the iconic villain of the trailer, and the animated depictions
of his abilities captured the interest of viewers worldwide. In continuation of our what could have been
series, we’re going to take a look at the history and development of Reaper, from his
initial concepts in a previous project to his current form we have today, as well as
all of the changes that occurred between those two points to give the Overwatch world it’s
most classic evil villain in the world. The history of Reaper stretches back to Blizzard’s
cancelled Titan project. Much like some of Overwatch’s original heroes,
Reaper was a character Blizzard thought could work perfectly in this new world. In Titan, the reaper class was a character
very eloquently described as a creepy killer with dark powers. Even in his earliest concept art, a lot of
the visual characteristics of Reaper today can be seen taking form. He wears a dark hood and cape, with heavy
armor on his legs decorated, if that’s what you would call it, with skull shaped designs. Even his bandolier of grenades can be seen
wrapped around his waist. However there’s several key differences
of the earliest concepts for Reaper compared to that of Reaper today. https://i.imgur.com/tv5elNL.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/TC9FSN4.jpg First of all, he’s much more grotesque and
ghastly than today. A hunched over pose is common in these early
concepts, and his body shape is withered and malformed. However this first concept shows him wielding
a scythe in one hand instead of a second shotgun, which adds an extra element of creepiness
to him. It’s a fun visual theme and something that
likely had more complex interactions in a game designed originally as an MMO. For example, in an RPG environment, it’s
quite possible the scythe could be used to activate certain abilities that could apply
things like debuffs or crowd control to the enemies hit, however it makes less sense in
a shooter and is why it was scrapped. Generally speaking, there’s little point
to using a melee weapon when you’re hobbling around with a shotgun, as a shotgun is going
to deal it’s maximum damage at short distances. https://i.imgur.com/gzqO9N4.jpg As concepts continued to get fleshed out for
the Reaper, he was eventually given a second shotgun. And in the subsequent concept art, he became
even more mutated. He wears less armor, his back arches more,
he appears even more malformed, and a lot of his flesh can be seen. In this you can see how the Reaper is literally
stitched together. Certainly a creepy killer if you ask me. ( https://www.dropbox.com/s/fe435zo9zlw9d7k/IMG_2148.JPG?dl=0
) Eventually, Blizzard would do away with this
hunched form, and instead begin drawing Reaper upright. He would be portrayed much more shadowy and
wraith-like in contrast to his mutated appearance of old, as the team began to dial in on the
exact visual tone they wanted to set for the character. Heavy cloaks and robes would be adopted to
hide virtually all of the character, which was likely not only a visual choice. It was important in the beginning for nobody
to know who exactly Reaper was in the game world, so drawing attention away from any
human components of the character meant that they could preserve the mystery of both Reaper
and Gabriel Reyes. Now in terms of character design, Reaper went
through several different weapon changes throughout his development, specifically in the Overwatch
stage of production. However, at one point in time, Reaper actually
used a grenade launcher instead of the dual shotguns. While Blizzard eventually decided to stray
away from this concept, there’s still traces of that element today. First of all, Reaper still wears a bandolier
with grenades outfitted onto it around his waist. The concept was apparently entertained for
quite awhile too, because even in Overwatch’s announcement trailer there are multiple scenes
of Reaper using a grenade launcher during the fight with Winston and Tracer at the museum. It’s kind of terrifying to think of how
lethal Reaper could be if he still had access to a ranged source of damage like a grenade
launcher through one of his alternate abilities, and for that reason alone it was probably
pulled as a means of providing more counterplay against him
in game. Another weapon type considered for Reaper
was dual-wield sub machine guns. This early idea for Reaper would’ve probably
seen him functioning more like a flanker in the game, utilizing his shadowy abilities
to sneak around undetected and attack enemies from behind, whereas traditional Reaper play
today is more focused on death balling with your team and forming a concentric wall of
murder. However in the end, Blizzard would again return
to the concept of dual wielding shotguns, stating that they wanted Reaper’s weapons
to feel more powerful and threatening to the enemy to capture the essence of their vision
for the character, and shotguns were the perfect fit to bring that to life. As one of the original characters for Overwatch,
Reaper was around during the early development phase as Blizzard began planning out character
progression systems to place into the game. In the original form of Overwatch’s progression
system, as you played certain heroes, you would level them up. In turn, a World of Warcraft style of progression
system unlocked, with players choosing different talent trees or perks to augment or enhance
the way a hero played. These trees would continue to expand based
upon previous choices, unlocking further options as you continued to level up any single hero. One of these first concepts for Reaper was
that when he entered Wrath Form, he would heal to full health. While Wrath Form is already a strong tool
that offers Reaper the ability to reposition or sustain longer until support arrives, being
able to heal to full health simply by using the ability was grossly busted, as Jeff Kaplan
points out. Not only would Wraith Form give Reaper a means
of quickly repositioning during a fight when he had just acquired his ultimate, but he
could be sure that when he activated the ability that he would be at his maximum health when
doing so. Yet another talent option for Reaper was to
passively double the range of his shotguns. This was another terrifyingly powerful customization
option. Jeff goes on to say that the biggest problem
with this first version of the character customization system wasn’t just some of these crazy ideas
that were super powerful, but how difficult it became for players to keep track of things. It’s relatively easy to keep track of a
Reaper and know what to expect from him in a match today, however when every Reaper you
face could potentially have a different loadout, information can’t be visually conveyed quickly
enough to the player in a shooter setting. Since Overwatch is such a fast paced game,
the team decided to scrap these additional abilities and perks from the game and instead
focus on delivering specific, concise information to the players. Reaper would also see changes to his voice overs in game during development. When originally showed at Blizzcon of 2014,
his catch phrase was “Time to reap”. Despite being such an edgy character, the
team found the voice line to be a little too cheesy, and would instead land upon the phrase
“death walks among you” to really drive home that theme of badassery and mayhem. In the end, Reaper saw a wealth of adjustments
and changes in the time between conception and completion. With ideas ranging from crossbows to claws,
Blizzard spent a ton of time dialing in on one of it’s most iconic villains in the
Overwatch world. During the early days of development, they
had a lot of time to explore different options and themes, which we’ve only just scratched
the surface on. However from ghoulish mutation to ghastly
apparition, the core concept of Reaper’s development was always to deliver this shadowy
assassin capable of maneuvering around the map quickly and living to tell the tale. If you happen to be new to our channel here,
why not hit that subscribe button if you liked the video so you can catch all of our newest
content as it comes out. And until next time, peace!

21 thoughts on “What REAPER Could Have Been – Overwatch Development

  1. New reaper ability idea !
    Mouse 2 right (mouse click)
    He pulls out 2 smg from his cloak/cape
    After when ammo is gone he pulls new ones ๐Ÿ˜€
    Inspiration from video 3:02 ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. The Reaper at 2:50 completely shits on the current in-game Reaper. Why, Overwatch? Every one of the current Reaper skins would look 500x better on the model at 2:50 ๐Ÿคฌ you could have that model with the exact same gameplay and abilities as the ones in-game now

  3. Are you sure they changed his voice line from "I'm here to reap" cause it was cheesy?
    I have a feeling it's because it sounds a bit…rapey.

  4. Great info! I really appreciate all the info and history of Reaper. Took a recent liking to the character and now main him! I was really wondering why he had a granade launcher in the animated short but not in game…. The more I play him, the more I see how that would just break the game balance! Mostly because he's already terrifying at close range! ๐Ÿ˜‚

    Once again, great video and thanks!๐Ÿ˜‡

  5. what do you mean if reaper had duel wielding SMGs hed be more of a flanker? HE IS A FLANKER a reaper moving with his team isnt really doing his job xD

  6. i would be dam sad if my Reaper would turn into a skinny ghoul with a scythe

    thank the Talon he became who he is now

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