Upcoming Overwatch hero Venture explores dimensions of gender and mobility
The core of Overwatch 2’s charm lies in its roster of diverse, larger-than-life heroes (and villains). The long-awaited tank Mauga may have taken the headline during the BlizzCon Opening Ceremony, but the What’s Next panel promised one more character in each of Overwatch’s three roles. Mauga will arrive in the game in Season 8 on December 5, but the next hero to join the roster will be Venture. Venture will arrive in the game in Season 10 (which is expected in April 2024), fills the damage role, and is Overwatch’s first non-binary character.
Venture is described as a “swashbuckling archaeologist,” and eschews the whip and fedora of the archetype in favor of some snazzy goggles and an explosive projectile drill. That drill also lets them burrow underground, where they’re impervious to attack, before bursting out with a leap that damages their opponents and can clear a variety of shorter walls. Rounding out their kit is a dash that’s usable anywhere — on the ground, in the ground, or in the air! Their ultimate was, sadly, left un-previewed for now.
The BlizzCon panel didn’t dig into much beyond Venture’s mechanics, but I don’t begrudge the developers for this. Gender diversity is still novel to a significant portion of the audience, particularly those from cultures that don’t have traditional roles beyond “man” and “woman.” Given the time constraints of a convention panel, I can understand the choice to simply emphasize their pronouns and leave a deeper exploration for a later date.
When that day does arrive, I hope that they give Venture room to show that side of themself. Other LGBTQ+ characters have had more broadly familiar identities; it might not be ideal, but it’s easy enough to slap a gay pride flag behind Soldier 76 and get the message across. By its nature as a shooter with scarce PVE content, Overwatch lends itself to that sort of telling rather than showing. There’s precious little downtime for the characters to chat outside of the ready room at the start of a match, and the more complicated aspects of the characters and the world as a whole get relegated to the cinematics and peripheral media.
Venture needs such a highlight to fully communicate who they are, and show the audience that gender is more than a question of pronouns and presentation. Did they realize they were incompatible with a gender assigned at birth, and find the opposite label similarly inaccurate? We were told that they’re Canadian: are they a member of the Inuit or First Nations, and identify as sipiniq or aranu’tiq? Non-binary encompasses those understandings of gender, as well as the rejection of gender entirely, and shifting genders, and multiplicity of genders. With Venture, Blizzard has an opportunity to share understanding of a topic that often gets only shallow mention.
Venture isn’t the only character on the horizon. A support, code-named “Space Ranger,” will arrive in Season 12; she’s a Mars colonist with “no end of vertical mobility” and a smart submachine gun. The Season 14 character wasn’t named, but careful viewers might have noticed an extra icon among the tanks while Venture was shown at the character select screen, slotted between Sigma and Winston — it might finally be Soundquake, first name-dropped in the original cinematic trailer.
Look for all three of these to be playable in 2024!
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