I’ve had a certain suspicion about Baptiste from the moment Blizzard first teased him. Without knowing a thing about his abilities, I predicted he was based on the Team Fortress Classic medic due to his character design and the grenade launcher-esque weapon he was holding. With the release of his new skin for the Baptiste challenge, the inspiration is even clearer. Allow me to compile the various ways Baptiste seems directly inspired by this old forgotten character:
Overwatch’s history with Team Fortress Classic
Team Fortress Classic was a very influential game from the ’90s made by Valve Corporation. It also was one of the world’s earliest esports, and one of its most famous characters was the grenade-slinging, flag-capturing, aerial dogfighter Combat Medic.
Jeff Kaplan has stated that the Team Fortress series was one of the major influences when his team was designing Overwatch. In this documentary, he mentions that he used to spend hours playing Team Fortress Classic.
Most of the pieces of Baptiste’s kit share similarities with the TFC Medic’s arsenal. The Medic was the only class to wield the Super Nailgun, which fired accurate low-damage long-range pellets at a steady rate. Baptiste’s Biotic Launcher fills a similar combat role, albeit with a three-round-burst accuracy mechanic that differentiates his gunfire a little more from Lucio’s.
The most famous weapon in TFC Medic’s arsenal is the versatile Concussion Grenade. It did no damage but allowed the Medic to send himself careening through the air. Professional medics would use the Concussion Grenade to zip through the map maintaining the high ground and bypassing vertical obstacles. Baptiste has two elements to his kit that call the Concussion Grenade to mind: His Biotic Launcher fires utility grenades that deal no damage, and his Exo Boots similarly allow him to jump great heights.
A history of inspiration
Overwatch is no stranger to borrowing heroes from other games. Doomfist’s design harkens to fighting games with his melee-oriented play style that specializes in comboing abilities together. McCree’s revolver feels like something straight out of Counter-Strike. Lucio’s wall-riding and musical motif make Jet Set Radio feel like his tutorial. Torbjorn, Mercy, Pharah, and Widowmaker show clear inspiration from Team Fortress 2, though Widow in particular already has more in common with the TFC Sniper than TF2‘s kiwi mercenary. Since the original Team Fortress Sniper is the first FPS character in history to use headshots, it’s an appropriate inspiration for Overwatch to take.
But as someone with hundreds of hours in Team Fortress Classic, I’m really glad to see Overwatch also pay lip service to the class that helped create the entire concept of healers in shooters. The Team Fortress series was the first to include different playable characters with specialized kits that prioritized a single battlefield role. These days, Overwatch has continued blazing that trail by creating a more versatile roster of FPS medics than I’ve seen in any other game. The Team Fortress Classic medic may have been left behind by decades of advancements in class-based game design, but thanks to Overwatch his presence will never completely be forgotten.