Update March 02, 2017: After a long series of teases and hints, we've finally found out that it isn't Efi that is joining Overwatch, but her giant four legged robot companion, Orisa.
Built as Numbani's new protector, Orisa is a tank hero who fights from the frontline to break through the opponent's defensive line and push forward to victory. Thank God we're not seeing as a small child running into a fight with gorillas and trained killers.
For find out about more potential heroes planned for Overwatch, click here.
Update February 27, 2017: Blizzard have tweeted out another tease for the next Overwatch hero, lending more weight to the theory we wrote about earlier.
In the latest tease, Efi is writing a to-do list to build her next robot, complete with a box of Lucio-Ohs cereals for sustenance.
[UPDATE] Genius grant recipient and Numbani local Efi Oladele posts curious image on her holovid channel, declaring: "Time to get to work!" pic.twitter.com/lQSzzD5ZT5— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) February 27, 2017
The first thing is an OR-15 chassis. These are the robots recently found smashed up at Numbani airport. These are clearly being used as the basis from which to craft the body, so that means it's a humanoid robot.
Next up is a Branford arm - perhaps because she figured the machine would need strong melee and this specific model of robot, assuming the Branford is a robot, will provide that strength. After all, she did just witness someone, possibly Doomfist, wreak havoc in Numbani airport.
Then there's a Fusion Driver, which, I mean, come on, we all need one of those when making a robot. Additionally, the reactor Efi is after is the same as what Zarya's gun presumably uses. I mean, she has a spray and everything.
The next bit is the most interesting, though. The paint colours she needs. Combine those colours with the post-it doodle on the top left and what do you get? Something very similar to this:
Read the update below to see more background on this robot above.
Update February 27, 2017: People are still looking for hints about the reveal of the latest Overwatch hero, and the latest in-game discoveries are pointing to a big unveiling tomorrow, coinciding with Paris Fashion Week.
This is all based on some posters dotted around the Numbani map. Specifically this robot dude on a poster about the fashion event.
Then this advert shows the robot again, also detailing the three locations the event will be held: Numbani, New York, and Paris.
When the PTR was updated and Doomfist's gauntlet was stolen from Numbani on Friday, the departure boards showed a bunch of destinations, with New York and Paris marked as delayed.
Since then, another update has changed those two destinations to 'on-time', leading people to believe the hero reveal will coincide with the start of Paris Fashion Week tomorrow.
Get your tin-foil hats on and prepare for a possible reveal tomorrow, February 28.
Update February 24, 2017: Following Blizzard's earlier tease, there's some suspicious stuff going down in the Overwatch PTR.
Remember that tweet earlier from Blizzard? The one with the smashed up robots in the photo taken by Efi? Well, it's in the update below if you want a look. Either way, that carnage is now in the game - in the PTR, at least.
It's a right mess. Not only that, but it seems someone has swiped Doomfist's gauntlet in the confusion. Maybe it was even the gauntlet that made that massive smash in the wall.
Have a look at our Imgur album for more shots of the scene.
Elsewhere, there was a private video added to the heroes playlist on the Russian Overwatch channel, but it's been taken down. The reveal is coming soon, whatever it turns out to be.
Update February 24, 2017: Blizzard have released another Efi Oladele tease over on Twitter, showing off the aftermath of a battle at Numbani airport, perhaps caused by some kind of machine.
The tweeted image shows a bunch of OR15 defense bots all smashed up - one of them so badly that it got put through a wall.
[BREAKING] OR15 defense units destroyed in confrontation with unidentified assailant at Numbani airport. No civilian casualties reported. pic.twitter.com/3XuXbCCugh— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) February 24, 2017
Had a look? Good. Now check out the bottom right of the image to see who's credited for taking the photograph. It's only Efi.
Perhaps she's taken her creation to see what it can do and she's snapped a photo to show the world what it's capable of.
Here's what one Overwatch fan had to say about the whole thing:
Update February 23, 2017: It's beginning to seem more and more likely that Overwatch's next hero will be Athena, Overwatch's AI announcer.
Last night, Athena showed up a couple of times as a silhouette in a slide during Jeff Kaplan's DICE speech, after all. Because this post has been such a crazy ride, we'll lay out the story so far in easily digestible bullet points below.
- Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan said the next hero wouldn't be Doomfist.
- Blizzard released a faux interview with Efi Oladele, an 11-year-old robotics and AI expert. Was she the next hero? Probably not.
- This caused people to begin looking back for clues, uncovering some concept art and a clue in the Sombra origin short, both of them pointing to some kind of metallic spider-tank.
- Obviously the community, and us, started thinking the spider-tank was Efi's creation and would take her place as the next hero.
- Jeff Kaplan gave a speech at DICE and said the spider-tank wasn't who everyone thinks it is, suggesting it's not going to be the next hero.
- Jeff Kaplan said that Efi "will play a part of the next playable character's story".
- So, who could it be? Well, it could be Athena, Overwatch's announcer AI. She would make a fitting support character, and Efi would be a perfect candidate for making her a body. Perhaps she was Athena's creator all along.
Check our Overwatch heroes list for more theories and clues.
Update: Jeff Kaplan has confirmed that Efi is something to do with the next Overwatch hero, though it won't be her we're playing as.
In an interview with Polygon today, following his talk at DICE, Kaplan said: "Efi will play a part of the next playable character’s story, but that character has not been confirmed."
That means it must be some kind of robot, though perhaps not the spider-tank, which Kaplan also put to bed tonight. Read about that in the update below.
Update: I'm pretty sure Jeff Kaplan is just trolling us now. Kaplan just gave a speech about Overwatch during a DICE keynote, and a couple of times throughout the talk he was backed by some hero art, including a couple showing a spider-tank.
The thing is, Jeff took a minute to point out - in a comment directed at the Overwatch subreddit - that the image is "not the hero you think it is".
Elsewhere, he was also backed by this piece of art.
Who's that on the right? Frankly, I don't know. I don't even know what's real anymore. Why are you doing this to us, Jeff?
Oh, and there was also a silhouette of Athena.
Jeff. Jeff, mate.
Update February 22, 2017: The spider-tank theory gains some ground with new revelations.
As the community start digging around for more Efi information, the spider-tank idea is starting to gain ground. Overwatch has actually had them in various capacities for a number of years.
In fact, as far back as 2014, a spider-tank hero was clearly being considered. In the Overwatch Origins panel during the reveal BlizzCon, where Blizzard explained the world, art and theme of Overwatch, a piece of concept art can clearly be seen that features a Mercy damage boosting a very stompy spider-tank.
Here's an archived version of the panel, sadly in rather poor quality, and you can see the art at around the 11:25 mark. That same piece of art isn't available anywhere else. It was a gameplay proof - something to show what the game may look like without actually rendering any models.
On top of the Sombra trailer, the 4chan 'leak', spider-tanks showing up in the Russian omnic crisis and old concept art it's all just about adding up. Or: it's the best played self-distraction the community has done since the Skycode. We'll likely find out more in the coming couple of weeks, building to origins and gameplay trailers for our new character - be it Efi herself, Anchora or another creation - when the next PTR goes up around March 8.
Update: Efi could well have been teased as far back as November, 2016, with a cryptic hint showing up in a Sombra animation.
During the Sombra origin story, embedded above, the hacker hero taps into an interface (1:20) that shows a web of Overwatch heroes, all connected to characters they have relationships with.
Just to the left of Sombra, you can see Doomfist's gauntlet, which is connected to a spider-like mech, itself connected to the Numbani flag. Could this be Efi's creation and therefore be the actual hero we play as, not the 11-year-old girl herself?
There was also a supposed leak - potential spoiler warning - earlier this year that got all the Year of the Rooster event stuff right. It also claimed Doomfist wouldn't be the next hero.
Instead, it says, we will be getting Anchora, a female omnic quadraped that will join the game as a tank. The machine apparently has a West African accent.
This would certainly explain how Blizzard plan to get around letting players shoot a kid, if the kid's autonomous creation is instead taking her place on the battlefield.
Original story February 21, 2017: Blizzard recently said that Overwatch’s 24th hero wouldn’t be who we think it is, ruling out Doomfist for the slot. Still, we were all pointed to that hero because of hints about his gauntlet being stolen, along with other cryptic teases pointing at Numbani, a fictional African city in the Overwatch mythos.
It looks like we were all dead wrong however, as Blizzard are teasing a character right now, and they’re certainly not Doomfist. Hell, they’re not even a man. They’re not even an adult, even. Efi Oladele is a chile prodigy robotics and AI expert.
It'll be interesting to see whether she becomes the next hero or if one of her creations takes her place. After all, I can't see Blizzard letting players gun down an 11-year-old as Soldier 76. Of course, there could be some solution that sees her protected, perhaps ejected to safety once her machine is decomissioned.
Here's what she looks like:
Here’s the fictional interview Blizzard just released, which is sure to contain some hints as to what her abilities will be.
I'd like to start off by congratulating you, Efi. This is a tremendous, well-deserved honor. How do you feel?
Amazing! I wasn't expecting it at all, so it was a big surprise. At first, I thought it was a joke—like one of my friends playing a trick on me. It's been a week now and it still doesn't seem real, but I'm very happy about it. Much better than winning the science fair.
How did you get into robots and artificial intelligence?
Well, I've always been interested. After my mom and dad got me my first robotics kit, I became obsessed with putting together little drones. When I started to get good at it, I tried to build robots to do my chores and help around the house. My parents think it's cheating… It's no fair! (laughs)
I want to create things that make our lives better. And someday, my dream is to build something that can keep us safe, like the new OR15s! I think that would be great.
It's amazing what you've been able to accomplish at your age! How do you do it?
I'm not sure how to answer that. I just do it! I guess I'm very lucky that my parents put up with it. Robots can be messy, you know. And expensive.
Speaking of which, do you have any plans for what you're going to do with your grant? New computer? College tuition?
Oh… I have an idea…
It's a secret for now… but my parents are taking me on a trip to celebrate! It'll be my first time flying, so I can't wait.