Following the reveal of Hammond in Overwatch, fans learned that making the character a hamster was an extremely divisive decision within the development team, with some developers all for it and others believing it would ruin the game’s lore. I proudly and resolutely consider myself to be aligned with the latter category. Mechanically speaking, I think Hammond (Wrecking Ball, whatever) is an interesting and fun addition to the experience’s gameplay. As a character in the overall narrative of Overwatch, on the other hand, he is a horrible addition, and with the character’s recent introduction into Competitive Play, this may be my last chance to complain about him before he ceases to be relevant.
Ever since the introduction of the Horizon Lunar Colony map, murmurs about Hammond have swirled around the game’s community. Evidence of the character popped up all over the map, leading many to believe he would eventually be added to the game as a playable character. The evidence pointed to Hammond being some kind of animal, and given the lore behind the Horizon moon base, nearly all of us reasonably assumed that it would be some kind of ape. Well, we were right about him becoming a hero, but dead wrong about his species.
Upon learning that Hammond was a hamster, I couldn’t shake this sense of insufferable smugness emanating from the developer, like the team just pulled a fast one on us. It is true that the hints they left on the Horizon map could apply to either a hamster or an ape, but my hatred of the character doesn’t stem from a feeling of being bamboozled. My problem with Hammond is the damage he does to the lore. Overwatch is an admittedly cartoony game, but the story of this world that Blizzard developed has tackled some heavy topics. War, death, and racism are just a few of the serious subjects explored by this universe, so while the game itself can get a little goofy, the driving narrative behind it is reasonably deep and relatable. The weight of this backstory makes Hammond the hamster completely incongruous as a character, feeling more like a joke just for joke’s sake.
One of the biggest arguments in favor of Hammond being a hamster is “Hey, Overwatch already has one animal, why not more?” But this argument is flawed, both narratively and scientifically. First of all, why the hell was Hammond being experimented on on Horizon? As far as we could tell, every other animal on the station was an ape of some variety, so not only was Hammond there for seemingly no important reason, but he was also one of their prime test subjects? Of course, this could be explained away with any number of dismissive reasons, but it still leaves a sizable scientific issue. Gorillas’ intelligence is known to be extremely close to that of humans, relative to most other animals, while the intelligence of an average hamster isn’t even in the same league. Hell, it’s not even playing the same sport, and yet we are expected to believe that “genetic therapy” gave this creature intelligence comparable to humans. And some of the smartest humans, apparently, given the advanced mechanical skill necessary to make Wrecking Ball. His brain may have grown from the therapy, but not that much.
While we’re talking about Hammond’s unrealistic limitations, let’s take a look at Wrecking Ball again. We can estimate that Hammond is, at most, two feet tall, following the growth from his genetic therapy. Now, Wrecking Ball has to be 6 to 7 feet when in mech form, and accounting for the small space in which Hammond fits, we can assume its 80 to 90 percent pure machinery. From here, let’s consider its weight. The real-world M134 Minigun weighs approximately 90 lbs, without ammo. One of Hammond’s two Quad Cannons is easily bigger than one M134, making a Quad Cannon likely more than 100 lbs, and again, that’s not counting the 80 rounds of ammo he loads in each. That’s over 200 lbs just for the two machine guns, but you throw everything else into the mix, and that mech has to be nearing half a ton.
The point I’m laboriously getting to here is that Wrecking Ball is heavy as hell, and even if Hammond built the suit as granularly as possible, some pieces would simply be too heavy for him to lift. Now, you could argue that humans make structures out of material too heavy for us to lift all the time, but I remind you that the majority of this suit is made from Hammond’s lunar escape pod, the pieces for which we are expected to believe he got by stealing them and running them through the ventilation of the base. I acknowledge that excuses—however weak—could be made for each one of these inconsistencies, but my point is, had the developer gone for a more believable character like a chimpanzee, we wouldn’t have to have these inconsistencies in the first place. It honestly feels like Hammond being a hamster was a last minute decision just to be “quirky,” story be damned.
Even if you set all of this aside, Hammond simply doesn’t fit in the roster. The excuse that Winston is also an animal doesn’t consider the fact that Winston was the outlier. Despite the evolution of Winston’s intelligence being light years more believable than Hammond’s, the borderline unbelievability was what made him unique. He sits (or sat) on the fringes of what was acceptable for Overwatch heroes. Now, Hammond’s presence has shifted Winston into normality, leaving the outliers open for more Hammond-levels of nonsense. Blizzard once discussed an idea for a hero that was a cat in a jetpack, but claimed that it was too far fetched. As Hammond is essentially a version of that, not only can we no longer take what the developer says at face value, but there is also no longer a leash for the more nonsensical hero ideas coming out of the studio, whether they fit the theme of the game or not.
Despite my resentful complaining, I’m not going to lose any sleep over Hammond. At the end of the day, this is Blizzard’s game and the team is free to do what it wishes, as long as it is at peace with the holes in Hammond’s story and the damage he’s done to the weight of the game’s lore. I think Hammond is a great addition to the game, but a severely disappointing addition to its story.