D.Va is a fictional player character who appears in the 2016 video game Overwatch—a first-person shooter developed by Blizzard Entertainment—and related animations and literary media. She has also appeared as a character in Blizzard's crossover title Heroes of the Storm, and as a gameplay announcer in StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void. In the English media, she is voiced by Charlet Chung.
Artwork of D.Va alongside her mech suit
|First appearance||BlizzCon 2015|
|First game||Overwatch (2016)|
|Voiced by||Charlet Chung (English)|
In Overwatch lore, D.Va is a pro eSports gamer named Hana Song (Revised Romanization: Song Ha-na) (송하나) from Busan, South Korea. Within the Overwatch narrative, she and other gamers were recruited by the Korean government's Mobile Exo-Force of the Korean Army (MEKA) to help quell the robotic Omnic uprising, translating their video-game-playing skills over into controlling weaponized mech suits. Within the game, D.Va is a Tank character, able to deal a stream of damage and nullify incoming attacks for a short time. If D.Va's suit is destroyed, she can eject from it and stay alive long enough to call in a new suit. Her ultimate ability allows her to self-detonate her suit, dealing heavy damage to all enemies in line of sight, sufficient to eliminate most characters in one blow.
D.Va has been well received by critics and players, and she has been seen as a positive female model for younger gamers.
Development and designEdit
D.Va was first announced in October 2015 at BlizzCon; along with Genji and Mei, she was one of the last heroes introduced into Overwatch prior to its official release. Voice actress Charlet Chung provides both the English voice for D.Va, as well as her Korean dialogue. D.Va is designed as a tank character who uses a pink exoskeletal mech suit in battle. Mobile for a tank character, D.Va was also designed as "skirmisher."
One of Overwatch's initial hero concepts was that of a piloted mech, with both the mech itself and the pilot on foot being part of the hero's skill kit; they ultimately settled on the pilot ejecting the mech at critical damage and fighting outside, unprotected. D.Va and the mech were designed by artist Arnold Tsang borrowing from anime and manga references. Initially, they had a cat-based theme around the various stickers and artwork on the mech itself, but later changed this to a bunny, as they thought the short-range booster rockets made it look like the mech was bunny-hopping.
Soon after the game's release, D.Va was noted for having a low damage output; the game's principal designer, Geoff Goodman confirmed that "D.Va's damage is definitely on the lower side, much like Winston's. They are this way for a similar reason: They are both very mobile and hard to kill." D.Va was also noted to take more damage than other tank characters when facing multiple opponents in the game due to her lack of a shield. Goodman attributed this along with her low damage output to the character balancing developed into Overwatch developers, stating, "every character in the game has strengths and weaknesses, it's part of what makes the teamplay work well." Goodman revealed that early in her development, D.Va was able to deal more damage, but that this damage output was lowered because "the way that played out is that she would fly into someone's face, destroy them, and fly away. There was little that person could do because [of] her mobility." Despite agreeing with feedback calling D.Va underpowered, Goodman expressed that improvements to the character "are unlikely to take the shape of increasing her damage output significantly," adding that "the goal is that she should be a viable aggressive initiation tank, much like Winston can be." The discussion of buffing D.Va came at the same time as a discussion on nerfing the character McCree, who had been noted to eliminate tank characters too quickly; game director Jeff Kaplan explained that D.Va's buffs would take longer to develop and implement. Kaplan did however detail that the development team would be exploring improvements to her damage output and survivability, although would only "probably pick one direction or the other." Eventually, her ultimate ability was buffed, with the cost and explosion delay being reduced, in addition to the removal of the possibility for the activating player to be killed by their own ultimate ability. Her "Defense Matrix" ability was also changed to be toggled on and off at will with a resource meter, rather than being a single-use ability with a cooldown.
In August 2017, in response to their observations of the meta-game, Blizzard planned to introduce changes to D.Va to be tested in the Public Test Realm (PTR) server and evaluated before full release. Namely, the developers found that D.Va was being used more frequently to soak up damage through her Defense Matrix and was not being played offensively. The revamped skill kit would increase the rate of energy depletion of the Defense Matrix, effectively reducing its use time by half, but would allow her to use her main weapon while boosting. The update also added a new Micro Missiles ability that launches a number of small missiles that do damage in a small area on impact. Kaplan said that the overall goal of D.Va's ability retooling was to "reduce her reliance on Defense Matrix and make her more fun to play," and stressed the changes were not meant to nerf D.Va overall. These changes were added for all players in a September 2017 patch.
Blizzard considers D.Va the most difficult character that they must develop around when adding new game modes or other features; as described by assistant director Aaron Keller, "she breaks everything" due to having two different forms that they must account for.
D.Va possesses a tank role in Overwatch; she is suited in her mech which is equipped with twin Fusion Cannons that do not need reloading. The Fusion Cannons deal substantial damage at close range, but consequentially slow her mobility. D.Va also comes equipped with Boosters and a Defense Matrix; the Boosters quickly move her in the direction that the player's reticle is facing, potentially allowing for short periods of flight, and additionally lightly damaging and knocking back enemies that come in contact with her while boosting. D.Va's Defense Matrix absorbs incoming enemy projectiles heading toward her. She can also fire a volley of Micro-Missiles that have a small area of splash damage upon impact.
Once her mech suit runs out of hitpoints (HP), D.Va ejects out of it, equipped with only a Light Gun. Though more vulnerable while outside the mech, she is a considerably smaller and more maneuverable target in this state. D.Va can also eject out of her mech suit as part of her Self Destruct ultimate ability, which causes her mech suit to explode and deal massive area of effect damage shortly after ejection. Once the mech explodes, D.Va can use her second ultimate ability, Call Mech, which simply allows her to resuit into her mech. This can be done immediately after using the Self Destruct ability, but otherwise has a cooldown period that can be sped up by damaging opponents while on foot.
In Overwatch lore, D.Va is Hana Song, a 19-year old former professional gamer going by her gamertag "D.Va". D.Va was known for becoming the No. 1 ranked StarCraft II player in the world at age 16, and maintaining an undefeated record prior to her retirement from gaming in order to defend her homeland. During the in-universe Omnic Crisis event, an omnic monster rose from the East China Sea, destroying coastal cities including those in South Korea and its neighbors. The South Korean government developed the Mobile Exo-Force of the Korean Army (MEKA), a mobile armored drone unit to combat the omnic monster, although each battle resulted in a stalemate. The omnic continued to adapt to the MEKA's drone networks, turning them against the Koreans. The South Korean government struggled with finding pilots for new mechs, eventually turned to the country's professional gamers, thought to have necessary reflexes and instincts to effectively operate the mech suits' advanced weaponry. Based in Busan, D.Va was one of the pro gamers drafted by South Korea's government. Known for being fearless in combat against the omnics, she would develop a global following as she began live streaming her combat encounters. Within MEKA, D.Va is supported by Dae-hyun, a mechanic and D.Va's childhood friend, and takes orders from Myung, the MEKA's commanding officer.
D.Va's story is the focus of the animated short "Shooting Star", released in August 2018, coinciding with a new control map based on Busan. The short shows the origin of D.Va's Self-Destruct ability, being forced to use it to fend off a wave of attacking Omnics to protect Busan.
As Overwatch lore heralds her as a world champion StarCraft II player, D.Va was added as a gameplay announcer for StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void, originally as part of a gift bundle, including announcer and player portrait features for attendees of BlizzCon 2016.
D.Va was added to the roster of heroes for Blizzard's cross-over multiplayer online battle arena game, Heroes of the Storm, in that game's version 2.0 update released in May 2017. D.Va was the fifth Overwatch character added to that game. Additionally, those who played Heroes of the Storm during the "Nexus Challenge 2.0"—Heroes' version 2.0 launch event—received cosmetics for D.Va's character in Overwatch.
D.Va has been positively received by the game's community. Kotaku reported that the game's fan base created a meme of the character; the meme, dubbed "Gremlin D.Va" often features chibi-like fan art of the character, in which D.Va is portrayed as a "cherubic" version of herself indulging in gamer stereotypes, such as eating Doritos and drinking Mountain Dew. An August 2016 Overwatch patch included a new emote for D.Va in which she sits in her mech playing a shoot 'em up game while eating chips and drinking a soft drink, alluding to the Gremlin D.Va meme. Lead hero designer Geoff Goodman stated, "we love Gremlin D.Va," when speaking on Blizzard's favorite fan interpretation of characters.
In terms of critical reception, Tech Insider's Steve Kovach called D.Va his favorite character. Kotaku's Kirk Hamilton positively received the buff she received in July 2016, writing that it "transformed her into the high-flying terror I’ve always wanted her to be."
In South Korea, D.Va has been used as a representative of the National D.Va Association, a group of South Korean Overwatch players that support women's and LGBTQ rights, which was formed to protest against former South Korean President Park Geun-hye. They chose D.Va to represent them, both due to her South Korean nationality, as well as in light of cheating accusations laid against Geguri, a teenage female Overwatch player that Blizzard cleared. With D.Va highlighting that women can be equally good at video games as males, due to her in-universe professional eSports player status, the group uses both images of D.Va and her pink bunny logo as part of their demonstration material. Some of this demonstration material appeared during international coverage of the 2017 Women's March in January 2017.
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