Overwatch Devs Explain Why Terry Crews Isn't Doomfist's Voice (And Other Inside Stories)
Terry Crews, fighting games, Doomfist bug fixes, and the surprise response to healers at Comic-Con.
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Overwatch, and Blizzard in general, had a huge presence at this year's Comic-Con. Hearthstone led an ice cream social with visits from the Lich King and Jessica Nigri and the Blizzard merch booth was full of new stuff (like that $450 D.Va statue), but it was Doomfist who grabbed the most attention. Blizzard recently pushed the character out to the test realm on PC, and the company sponsored the first-ever Doomfist cosplay with an elaborate, incredibly impressive costume. The devs even devoted an entire panel to discussing how Doomfist was created. But one important question was left hanging after the panel: Why didn't Terry Crews end up voicing the long-teased character?
Terry Crews is a bombastic, larger-than-life figure, and just one month ago it seemed like a foregone conclusion that he would voice the one Blizzard character with a name to out-badass Garrosh Hellscream. Crews talked about visiting Blizzard, he put out a public audition tape for the role, and he even got Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's endorsement. But the part ended up going to veteran actor and director Sahr Ngaujah.
Crews is still front of mind for many fans, and although he didn't come up during the Q&A portion of the panel, his name was yelled out more than once by a few members of the audience. So, during our follow-up conversation, we asked Blizzard's devs why, after so much hype, Crews didn't end up as Doomfist. Blizzard senior designer Michael Chu explained, "We love Terry. Terry's awesome. He came and visited us. We had a great time. But when we were looking for Doomfist, we were looking for something very specific given his role in the game and everything. When we were early in the audition process, we heard Sahr, who's the actor who plays Doomfist, and he just blew us away immediately. Once we heard his voice, it was like, 'Holy crap. That's Doomfist.'" Chu particularly praised the number of "flavors" Sahr is able to bring to the role, and Sahr's ability to, "...bring all these different aspects of the character to life.
While that doesn't rule out the possibility of Crews taking on another role in the future, it does explain why he might not have been the best fit for what Blizzard has planned with Doomfist.
The after-panel discussion also turned to other topics that were only briefly touched on in the presentation, like the possibility of a Blizzard fighting game. During his presentation, Overwatch lead designer Geoff Goodman called Doomfist, with his unique, melee-focused combat, an "ode to the fighting genre," and the concept art for the character was a direct homage to fighting game art. But could that ever lead to something more?
"I was working on World of Warcraft originally, when WoW was shipped," Goodman said, "and I remember the questions then in a lot of interviews were like, 'Well, you guys are like a RTS company. How are you gonna make an MMO?' Then we're working Overwatch, and then when we shoot Overwatch, it's like, 'Well, you guys are the MMO company. How are you gonna make an FPS?' It's just sort of funny. It just goes to show, we can do these genres. We play the games so much. We love these games so much. Who knows? Maybe someday we'll see a fighting game. That'd be sweet." Of course, this doesn't mean that Blizzard is gearing up to enter yet another new genre, but the design team sounds like it's always up for a new challenge.
But the current challenge is making sure that Doomfist fits into the full game. We asked the developers what the main takeaway from Doomfist's run on the PC public test realm has been, and the response was immediate: "Bugs. Lots of bugs."
Goodman explained, "We fixed pretty much all of them. It was heads down for a while and lots of, 'Oh, my God. We're not gonna make this deadline.' It was pretty much all hands on deck to fix a lot of bugs. He's a complicated character. He's not just like a guy with a gun who runs around and shoots all of the characters. Doomfist has so many inner working parts and very complicated mechanics, so it lent itself, unfortunately, really well to bugs."
But sometimes those bugs can lead to interesting features. According to Goodman, there was a persistent bug in PTR that, after he removed it, he received feedback from players in the forums that they actually thought the mechanic it had inadvertently introduced was fun. He was able to reintroduce the slightly modified "bug" so that, "When you're doing the rocket punch, you can hit space and cancel it out and leave a little bit of extra distance."
Finally, and perhaps the most surprising moment of the Overewatch panel, was the raucous reaction from the audience after two different fans asked when the next healer character would be added to the game. Were the devs surprised? Goodman answered, "I don't know. I was surprised that it came back-to-back with multiple people." He laughed, adding, "I wasn't expecting that." But he went on to say, "Adding another hero would be awesome. There's so much potential, especially healing in a game like Overwatch, because it's a very unique mechanic...Ana is so different than any other healers, and we have a bunch of prototypes in place playing with different mechanics. There are certainly healers in the prototype mix, so it'd be fun to maybe come up with them pretty soon, hopefully."
While some of the devs answers raise even more questions, they made it a point to get across that they actively listen to their players. As Doomfist heads into the full game on July 27, you can be sure Blizzard devs will be on forums and social media answering questions, and just generally seeing what peoples reactions to the new character are. And maybe if people keep yelling out in panels about wanting Terry Crews in the game, that could eventually happen too.