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Heroes of the Storm is celebrating Overwatch’s fifth anniversary with new skins for Johanna, Raynor, Stitches and Valla.

While Raynor has the Soldier: 76 skin, Johanna represents Reinhardt. Meanwhile, Stitches gets to cosplay as Roadhog and Valla becomes Reaper.

Connecting the Nexus with Overwatch

Blizzard revealed that a team of Heroes of the Storm artists created these new skins. Senior artist Andrew Kinabrew also provided the reasoning behind these hero and Overwatch skin choices. He noted that Raynor received the Soldier: 76 skin due to similar game mechanics.

Heroes of the Storm celebrates Overwatch anniversary with new skins
Valla as Reaper concept art. | Provided by Blizzard Entertainment

“Another thing we noticed is that Valla’s Strafe ability has a lot in common with Reaper’s Death Blossom ultimate, so we thought it would be really cool to see what a ‘Reaper’ Valla would look like,” Kinabrew said in the interview.

Additionally, Stitches and Roadhog have similarities in terms of kits, as both characters can use a hook to pull enemies toward them.

Stitches as Roadhog concept art. | Provided by Blizzard Entertainment

Reinhardt versus Brigitte

As for Johanna, the Heroes of the Storm team debated between Reinhardt and Brigitte.

“We love Brigitte, and she would have been a cool skin, but we fell in love with Reinhardt’s armor when we first laid eyes on it, back before his debut in Overwatch,” Kinabrew said.

Heroes of the Storm celebrates Overwatch anniversary with new skins
Johanna as Reinhardt concept art. | provided by Blizzard Entertainment

The team also had the idea of giving Johanna a flail as well, as Brigitte has one along with a shield. However, the team went another direction because the extra animation and effects would mean a huge delay.

“Weighing those decisions is a reality of game development, but we’re really happy with the final version of Johanna’s Overwatch Crusader armor. We hope our players think it’s awesome too,” Kinabrew said.

The ultimate crossover

Heroes of the Storm brings different characters from Blizzard’s franchises together. While Johanna and Valla hail from the Diablo universe, Raynor is from StarCraft and Stitches is from World of Warcraft.

Kinabrew noted that, due to the team’s experience with crossovers, it was easier to find the balance between designing the Overwatch skins while still keeping each Nexus hero true to their unique selves.

Raynor as Soldier: 76 concept art. | Provided by Blizzard Entertainment

“It also helped when we could use a hero’s personality to push the theme too,” he said. “Johanna’s demeanor could fit well within the Crusaders of Overwatch. Soldier: 76 is just another name for Raynor in StarCraft. Pair similar traits and these things generally work themselves out.”

Alongside these new Overwatch skins, Johanna, Raynor, Stitches and Valla received reworks in terms of their basic abilities, heroics and talents.


Amy Chen is an esports journalist and enthusiast who specializes in in-depth interviews and breaking news. A University of Toronto and Humber College graduate, she is passionate about building up the Canadian esports industry. Her current favorite games are Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm, and she has always had a soft spot for World of Warcraft!


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