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Posted on 13 May, 2022

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William Petras
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Derek Duke

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Initially pitched as an MMORPG called Titan, Overwatch shook multiplayer first-person shooters, bringing refreshing ideas to the table. In the near future, The United Nations form Overwatch, an international task force, against the uprising of the Omnics, sentient androids who rose against humanity. Fighting each other using colorful characters, players will discover each hero’s quirk and personality.

In Overwatch, Heroes represent the whole world

Launched in 2016 by Blizzard Entertainment, Overwatch surprised players with the uniqueness of its characters. Hailing from every nation around the planet, each hero brings something new to the table. For example Tracer, the cheerful Brition zipping around the maps using time travel, is very different from Reinhardt, the German knight donning a massive power armor. In addition, the game is a celebration of humanity’s different cultures. Much like Netflix’s Sense8, Heroes are representatives of the countries they come from. They use tropes typically associated with their respective cultures, but the game never reduces characters to stereotypes. Moreover, this idea of collaboration is true for the evil factions as well. In fact, Talon, the mysterious villain of the game, is a mirrored organization to Overwatch, employing specialists like French femme fatale Widowmaker or Mexican hacker Sombra.

Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment © 2016

Uniqueness through Gameplay

Overwatch maintains its heroes’ diverse identities using different skills and playstyles. Like its MOBA brother League of Legends, the game separates characters into classes. While these classes help to focus the role each hero has on the battlefield, no one plays the same. For instance, Roadhog is a tank as much as D.Va is. Roadhog, however, is a Mad Max-inspired juggernaut grabbing players with his meat hook, while D.Va is a Korean e-sports star using a high tech mech to keep enemies at bay. Furthermore, players’ own different experiences come into play. Some heroes disregard typical shooter mechanics, allowing people who never ventured into competitive shooters to still have fun. For example, Mercy is a support that doesn’t require pinpoint accuracy. Her ability to lock on friendly targets with a healing beam or resurrect fallen allies makes her one of the most popular heroes.

Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment © 2016

The characters are the stars

While critics praised the game for its quick gameplay, Overwatch’s story hooked players around the world. Although the main storyline hasn’t progressed much, the lore’s strong point is in the characters. Using comics, voice lines or short cinematics, heroes are given motivations and relationships. Stories are different in tone and scope, based on the characters and their experiences. For example, Swiss combat medic Mercy and Japanese ninja Genji started flirting thanks to their constant collaboration. On the other hand, Russian soldier Zarya has issues dealing with Omnics, who destroyed her birthplace. Overwatch was also one of the first games to have its poster character part of the LGBT community, as a comic explored Tracer’s relationship with her girlfriend. The stories told in the game deal with remorse, fear of the unknown or family drama, but they never lose focus of Overwatch‘s positive ideals of cooperation and unity.

The Future of Overwatch

Following the success of the game, Blizzard quickly organized a competitive e-sports tournament. For a time, Overwatch was the most played game in South Korea. In 2019, Blizzard announced Overwatch 2. Following the players’ request for more coop content and a proper story mode, the sequel will feature a campaign in which players will band together instead of fighting each other. Moreover, owners of Overwatch will still be able to play in classic modes with Overwatch 2 players, maintaining the ideals of unity and cooperation of the franchise.

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