Overwatch is a fantastic bit of IP from Blizzard Entertainment. The game itself is a global phenomenon, rivaling their earlier successes with Starcraft, Diablo, and of course, Warcraft. But there is much more to Overwatch than what is first plainly visible. Though the game is a straightforward team-based multiplayer first-person shooter, there is, in fact, a great deal of story behind everything the player sees.
The world of Overwatch is, unlike today's penchant for dystopian futures in games and TV, a utopia of sorts. Mankind has advanced in leaps and bounds, discovered and harnessed the power of AI, globalized to the point of having a working world government, and has, to a certain degree, dealt with the effects of climate change. But that is not to say the world does not have its own problems.
These, and other stories, are told in tidbits - in game dialogue between characters, throughout the game and in out of game cinematics, weaving together an entire universe filled with lore. Let's check out a few of the images from the game and the cinematics and delve into the world of Overwatch!
15 Omnic Crisis
Enter the Omnic Crisis, where it all began, which takes place 30 years before the start of Overwatch. A group of rogue AI, known in this universe as Omnics, believing humanity to be taking unjust advantage of their labour, begin to attack cities at random. The world government is incapable of stopping them, and, in tatters, announces the "Overwatch initiative." The organization, created specifically to achieve global peace, hires a series of "oddities, scientists, and soldiers" - many of whom are playable characters in the game. The battles are long and hard fought, but in the end, victory is won. This image depicts one of these many battles - potentially, the battle at Eichenwalde.
This visual comes from the "Bastion" cinematic and features Reinhardt's master, Balderich, as he defends his fellow soldiers from a slurry of Omnic gunfire with his Crusader shield. Reinhardt is, like his master, a tank character, and one of the mainstays in the Overwatch universe.
14 Overwatch Ascendant
This image, taken from the Overwatch opening cinematic, shows the Overwatch organization during its heyday. Some of the characters here, such as Mercy, Winston, Reinhardt, and Tracer, are all playable in game, but others, such as the two soldiers in blue, are merely Overwatch agents, wearing the trademark blue uniform. After the Omnic Crisis ended, Overwatch was responsible for dealing with any global threats - such as the King's Row Uprising perpetrated by an Omnic terrorist unit known as "Null Sector." They were loved worldwide and had many adoring fans - even children, who had posters of their favourite agents on their wall and had dreams of joining the organization's ranks as adults.
That was before things went terribly wrong.
13 Doomfist's Gauntlet
This image was taken from the Opening launch trailer for Overwatch. Originally a throwaway name and a throwaway weapon, designed only for the cinematic, Doomfist and his gauntlet have become shrouded in mystery in the last year. Terry Crews has been attached to the name as a potential voice actor for a new playable character - but it all began here, with this gauntlet. In the cinematic, Tracer and Winston are defending it from the hands of two Talon operatives, Reaper and Widowmaker, who are trying to steal it.
Who is Doomfist - was he a member of Overwatch, or possibly Blackwatch? Was he a rogue operative? There are many clues hidden throughout the game, including three banners in the Numbani map that have three separate depictions for Doomfist - as Saviour, Scourge, and Successor - the last one only being a silhouette. Could the name simply be a moniker, a title passed down from one hero to the next? We don't know now, but chances are, we're going to find out.
Overwatch becomes fractured with infighting between the two main organizations within it - Overwatch and Blackwatch, the covert ops. This leads to a piece of legislation put forth by the global government that deactivates Overwatch permanently. The details around the in-fighting and the destruction of the headquarters are shrouded in mystery, but the lore points to a rivalry between Gabriel Reyes and Captain James Morrison, the respective leaders of Blackwatch and Overwatch. In the years that pass, the agents are spread worldwide, joining mercenary groups, retiring, and so on.
Others pick a more sedentary lifestyle, such as Winston, who continues to live in the Overwatch Gibraltar base. While there, an attack by the terrorist group Talon occurs, and Winston is forced to defend the base and stop them from downloading the whereabouts of all past members of Overwatch. In doing so, he is given the option of recalling all past agents. At the very end of the cinematic, he relents and presses "Connect," sending a message to every past member, thus, breathing new life into the organization's sails.
11 Shimada Clan Infighting
This image comes from the "Dragons" cinematic, which deals with the trials and tribulations of the Shimada Clan, a powerful yakuza family in Japan, which had two sons who vied for power - Hanzo and Genji. Both sons are playable characters, but this piece of lore deals with their complex relationship. The image is of a story weaved throughout the cinematic, about two dragons of japan, who were brothers, and often fought for power. Literal metaphor alert. The older dragon kills the younger, wreaking havoc on their surroundings.
In reality, Genji Shimada was defeated and almost destroyed but he was found and saved by Overwatch, and given a new cybernetic body. From then on, he fought for Blackwatch - until his return to Shimada Castle in Hanamura and confronts his brother once again. This is all in the cinematic itself. Where these brother go from there remains to be seen, but what is certain is that they will play a pivotal role in the story that has yet to come.
10 Volskaya Industries
Out of all the nations that took part in the Omnic Crisis and the subsequent war, Russia was arguably the hardest hit. The cities were in ruins, the economy was in the tubes, and the collective hatred for Omnics was stronger than any other nation. Volskaya industries, the countries largest corporation, was set up afterward, and made a series of giant, piloted omnics, or mechs, in order to ensure the countries safety going forward. But the greatest weapon the company created was undoubtedly the Particle Cannon - the mainstay weapon of the tank character, Zarya.
But little does the public know, that technology for this weapon did not come from the company's scientists, but from a backroom deal with the company's owner and a certain, unnamed Omnic. For a country that hates Omnics, this information, if it were to get out, could shake the industry to its core. This particular image comes from Sombra's announcement cinematic, where she uncovers this revelation and uses it as blackmail for yet unknown purposes.
This image, another from Winston's "Recall" cinematic, shows the terrorist group, Talon, in full, terrifying force. Little is known about this group, about what they want, who they are, or where they come from. The only playable characters who are confirmed members currently are Reaper, who was once Gabriel Reyes, Widowmaker, and Sombra.
While their intentions are unclear, it is an obvious fact that they desire the names and locations of all ex-Overwatch agents. It may be possible that some of the mystery surrounding the dissolving of Overwatch as well as the betrayal of the Volskaya Industries CEO in using Omnic tech is directly related to this group. Is it just instability that they want? Surely an event or new cinematic will go into greater detail and reveal more of their backstory down the pipes.
Blackwatch is the diametrically opposed organization to Overwatch. Though it works under the umbrella of Overwatch, it is essentially, the black ops, the covert operations. Led by Gabriel Reyes, who was an erstwhile friend of Overwatch's captain, James Morrison, it was populated by the less savoury members of the organization, including Genji Shimada, McCree, and presumably, Amelie Lacroix, who became Widowmaker. These men and women were tasked with everything that Overwatch could not be seen doing - they worked in the shadows, engaged in guerilla warfare. This might be what led to the fracture between the two groups, as one stole the limelight from the other. Overwatch was praised, and only seen doing overtly good deeds, leaving the dirty work to the covert ops.
7 Overwatch King's Row Uprising "Null Sector"
After the Omnic Crisis, before the fall of Overwatch, there was an uprising in King's Row, London, where a group of rogue Omnics, self-identified as "Null Sector" and encased in trademark, purple armour, took a number of people hostage in the Electrical Works building. The events leading up to this uprising began when an Omnic-sector of London was built, with the combined enthusiasm of both London's mayor and the local Omnic population leaders, to promote synthesis between the two populations of man and machine.
Null Sector took the stunt as an affront to Omnic rights and as a result, attacked the city, taking the mayor and other high up government members hostage. As a result, Overwatch was deployed to deal with them. This marked the first time that Tracer, or Lena Oxton, was sent on a combat mission - and to her hometown no less. While the end result was positive, it underscored the fact that despite the Omnic Crisis being finished, the relations between the two groups were far from perfect.
6 Zenyatta And The Shambali
This image is taken from Tracer and Widowmakers cinematic: "Alive." After the Ominc Crisis, the Omnics were free to live as they pleased, as individuals and not slaves. This led to the rise of several robot-oriented religions, the most popular being the Shambali. Tekartha Mondatta is the most famous of the Shambali's practitioners, a Dalai Lama sort of figure, who preaches peace between the two peoples. As a result, he was targeted by Talon, for reasons yet unknown, though political instability remains a possibility. One of the playable characters, Zenyatta, is a practitioner of Shambali and one of Mondatta's most ardent followers. Central to the Shambali is the belief in harmony - the Iris, being a deity of enlightenment, is what all practitioners aspire to understand. In this sense, they are much like Tibetan or Nepalese Buddhism, and in fact, the Shambali's main temple is situated in Nepal.
5 Chronal Accelerator - Tracer's Life Force
Lena Oxton, who became Tracer of Overwatch, was a pilot of an experimental jet, created by the British Royal Air Force to "teleport." While testing the jet fighter, the teleporter malfunctioned, and she was believed to have been Killed in Action. In actuality, it scrambled her cells across several different timelines (think: The Flash). She was only saved when her friend in Overwatch, Winston, developed a Chronal Accelerator, that, when attached to Tracer, keeps her stationary and in a single timeline. Without it, she would phase in and out of realities and times ad-hoc. This accelerator also allows Tracer to, to a certain degree, wield time and space as a weapon, allowing her to jump past enemies, and rewind her own time to a fixed point.
4 Omnic And Man In Harmony
This particular image is taken from the opening Overwatch cinematic, depicting the leader of the Omnics shaking hand with the leader of the UN, watched over by the members of Overwatch and Blackwatch. After the Omnic Crisis, the two parties struggled to put the past behind them and enter a realm of global peace. While tensions remained (particularly in Australia and in Russia), there were significant successes, such as in the city of Numbani in Africa, where the two peoples live in harmony. The relations are complex, but figures such as the recently assassinated Tekartha Mondatta were instrumental in weaving this tenuous peace. Talon, it seems, is intent on breaking this peace.
3 Australia Is The World Of Mad Max - Roadhog And Junkrat
Nowhere did the Omnic-human relations go worse than in Australia. After the Omnic Crisis, the Australian government granted the Omnics a large plot of land in central Australia where they could build their own cities and were free to live their own lives, separate from society. However, locals who lived nearby found the idea of being near Omnics despicable. A series of escalating raids and battles between Omnics and the Australia Liberation Front ensued. A human terrorist organization (where playable characters Junkrat and Roadhog were both members), led to the entire region being destroyed by a nuclear blast. The subsequent hellscape was lawless, letting vigilante's such as Junkrat and Roadhog live as warlords in the Australian outback.
2 D.Va The Gamer
One of the most popular character's in Overwatch is Hana Song, or D.Va - who was a world renowned professional Starcraft gamer in Korea. While D.Va was too young to have experienced the Omnic Crisis, she has lived in the fallout of it. She became the number one player in the world and maintains an international fanbase - even sponsoring several Soju brands.
Much of Korea, her home, was destroyed - as a result, the Korean government launched an initiative to take a number of professional gamers and put them in experimental M.E.K.A's, or Mobile Exo-Force Korean Army suits, as the first line of defense. D.Va became one of the best pilot's of the suits. These suits were originally drone controlled, but because the Omnic's were capable of hacking these drone's, the Korean government was forced to turn to human pilots, picking gamers for their reflexes and initiatives.
1 The Second Omnic War?
This image was taken, once again, from the Overwatch opening cinematic, and depicts the first Omnic Crisis in Russia. However, in the timeline of the game, there is a second Omnic Crisis taking place in Russia. While it has yet to spread across to other nations, and the details of it are unknown, it has become clear that the Omniums have reactivated and are on a murderous rampage. According to the game, the casualties, though the crisis has just begun, have already reached 15,000.
The government, in response to the crisis, began ordering more of the Svyastoga giant mobile suits from Volskaya Industries, ramping up production to combat this sudden onslaught. The company is also in the process of designing and building a smaller, more combat ready suit - similar to the Korean M.E.K.A., although this mech uses a railgun and a Crusader-type shield. The Russian government also began to propagandize the crisis, turning Omnic-human relations worldwide, sour. What will come next cannot be known, but likely, the newly recalled Overwatch will be heavily involved in sorting it out.