over watch‘s announcement trailer, released in 2014, was bombastic and beautiful, and garnered a fervent following. Players loved the bright designs, strong characterization, and optimism inherent in the setting. The game’s launch and subsequent cinematics only cemented this fan base. people loved it ship figures, Imagine their missionsand Daydreams about future lore. over watch was so widespread and iconic that it even revolutionized the Rule 34 scene; the game was everywhere, everywhere, everywhere.
Then, just as suddenly, it disappeared. The lore slowed to a trickle after 2018 and eventually came to a complete halt, along with major additions – we haven’t seen a new hero since 2020. Now, on the threshold of surveillance 2‘s PvP into beta and a new Overwatch League season, the game should be poised for a triumphant return. Instead, it’s on shakier ground than ever, and other developers snatched momentum from Blizzard and rode it instead.
Open the floodgates
over watch didn’t invent the idea of building a hero shooter around strong characters shown through cinematics. valve Team Fortress 2 and his “Meet the Team” cinematics still hold up nearly 15 years later, and are far less complex and elaborate than over watch‘s trailer.
but over watchThe utopian near-future and diverse cast of attracted a fanbase historically underserved by the first-person shooter genre. Communities of women and queer gamers rallied around the game; Some of them were mostly there for the gameplay, while others were mostly there for the lore and characters.
over watch was a legitimate cultural phenomenon during its heyday. The great cinematics, vivid character design, and hints at a larger narrative inspired a huge fan base. People cosplayed over watch characters and their skins, created fan art, wrote lengthy fanfiction epics, have collaborated on 3D animations of their own original heroes, and more. This Players were the heart of over watch fanbaseplay the game and let it stimulate their imagination.
The influence of over watch is evident in many of its competitors. Character rosters feel more important than ever; Just having a variety of weapon types with mysterious backstories is no longer enough. Apex Legends, Rainbow Six siegeand Appreciation are all great examples of games where a character’s aesthetics, personality, and background are just as important as their gameplay. Other developers are now creating and promoting characters like Appreciation‘s Neon, a Filipino speedster; Rainbow Six Siege‘s Transoperator Osaand nonbinary Apex Legends character bloodhound.
over watch would lose to these other titles for years to come, not because of its roster or lore, but because of the lack of consistency around it.
Plot, pace and purpose
over watch setting up big, dramatic dominoes — and then just gesturing at them and saying, “Pretty cool, huh?” Big mysteries have been staged from day one, such as a dramatic showdown at Overwatch’s Swiss headquarters. In the 2016 movie Recall, Winston presses the big red button to restart Overwatch. We don’t see Overwatch actually going on a mission until the 2019 movie Zero Hour, which sets up campaign content that currently has no release date.
My personal turning point was the Storm Rising Archives event in 2019. This lore event culminated in a robot guy meeting Doomfist, the leader of the Talon terrorist organization. He agreed to join the cause, then took off his hood to reveal… just like a robotic dude. I haven’t seen him before or since. Instead of solving anything with the current cast, there’s a random new character with many more mysteries. I had waited months to find out and all I really had left was to wait for more answers. I could not anymore.
During over watch stumbled, games like Appreciation and Apex Legends jumped into the gap. Appreciation is said to be releasing six new heroes a year, but more importantly, Riot has shown it can sustain a fandom.
Appreciationin particular, creates a pleasant “gift” that fans can safely theorize about and imagine characters. There is big story-heavy movie sequences, but they’re also peppered with smaller bits meant to set the moment. You can see Raze dance through their hometown and take one Manga-inspired look at Yoru’s typical day. A January film entitled “Warm Up” features part of the cast hanging out and doing target practice; There are no narrative missions, no confrontations, no epic storyline. It’s just fun banter and action. Nothing is held in stasis, waiting for the story to come together perfectly.
In the meantime, over watch Fans daydreamed about bits of the game’s canon while awaiting the next installment in the story, only to later have to contradict their notions of past or present as the storyline progressed from reveal to reveal. Questions asked about Reaper back in 2016 were answered in a 2022 novelization, but many fans were unhappy with the answers.
Too little too late
At the end of 2021, Blizzard finally moved over watch Plan ahead. The company released a series of comics featuring cowboy outlaw Cole Cassidy, previously named Jesse McCree, reuniting the gang. The character was renamed in October when Activision Blizzard removed references to developers and employees following a sexual harassment and gender discrimination lawsuit.
There was that too 2020 tracer comic, with a cute supporting cast, done by an artist I really love. But it’s too late! You can only bang on the pot with a ladle long enough to promise me the good slop and bring only spoonfuls before I go and find another trough.
over watchThe lore of has stalled for so long, and their fandom so willing to make a meal out of the crumbs scattered over the years, I feel like the fans’ version of the cast is more concrete than actual canon . A Reaper short story came out and I was just kind of amused the whole time. I do not know who this guy is, but he’s not a reaper me.
It’s possible that Blizzard can reclaim the magic with it surveillance 2‘s updates and upcoming PvE campaigns, and it’s also possible that the train has left the station. There was a short, bright moment in my life when I really loved over watch. Now I’m just vaguely frustrated with the franchise. It only takes so long to ask players to wait before they just give up altogether.