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For a game that’s just an online multiplayer shooter, Overwatch sure does have a lot going on in the lore department. Believe it or not, underneath all that FPS action sits an original story that’s somewhat grounded in reality, which for Blizzard, is very unusual.
For decades now, they’ve been spinning tales that span outer space to deepest darkest hell. Overwatch on the other hand, differs greatly to their norm, simply because it’s Blizzard’s first ever story that’s set right here, on our very own blue planet. Though, it’s not the Earth you and I know today. Overwatch is set in the not-too-distant future, a few decades or so, meaning there’s still a huge element of fantasy at play.
Ever wanted to know what exactly is going on? Of course you do! Here, let me break it down for you into easily digestible bits.
The Omnic Crisis
Approximately 30 years into the future, technology is better than ever, and humankind has managed to create proper artificial intelligence. These A.I. robots, known as Omnics, manufactured by large A.I. factories, called Omniums, were designed to improve manufacturing and such and create worldwide economic equality.
The Omnic and Omnium became commonplace across the globe, and for a while, everything was peaceful and quiet. And then, it all went horribly wrong.
For unknown reasons, the Omniums worldwide decided to go rogue. They began manufacturing militarised robots, and war broke out. Thus began the Omnic Crisis.
The establishment of Overwatch and the end of the Omnic Crisis
Being completely taken aback by this unexpected attack, the humans had no proper counter-measures in place. Desperate to stop the war, the UN put together an international task force to battle the Omnic threat. This team was known as, *drum roll*, Overwatch.
Overwatch consisted of the best of the best that the world had to offer. The original team had five key members; Gabriel Reyes (Reaper), John “Jack” Morrison (Soldier: 76), Reinhardt Wilhelm, Torbjörn Lindhorn, and Anna Amari (Pharah’s mother).
They fought the Omnic for many years, and eventually, managed to put an end to the war. Finally, the world was at peace once more.
Except, it wasn’t really. Though the Omnic Crisis was over, there was still conflict happening globally.
Overwatch meanwhile, now recognised for their role in saving the world, are catapulted into stardom. The team transitions from strike force to worldwide peacekeeping organisation, and bolsters its ranks.
Winston, Dr. Angela Zeigler (Mercy), Lena Oxton (Tracer), Genji Shimada, Mei-Ling, and Jesse McCree become part of the gang. Gabriel Reyes goes on to establish Blackwatch – a covert branch of the organisation, and John “Jack” Morrison, lauded for his huge contribution to the war against the Omnic, gets promoted to strike commander.
This promotion doesn’t sit too well with Reyes. Why was he overlooked? Tension begins to rise between him and Morrison as a result. This, as you’d expect, begins to spark conflict within Overwatch itself.
To make matters worse, allegations begin to mount externally. Missions fail, and there are claims of corruption and mismanagement, weapon proliferation, human rights abuse, and more.
Was this all fact or a ploy to dismantle the organisation? The latter obviously, but the final nail in the coffin comes compliments of a battle between Reyes and Morrison.
Overwatch is shut down
The two fight at Overwatch’s Swiss base. The resulting explosion is believed to kill them both (spoiler – it didn’t).
Sadly, after two decades of serving the world, and attempting to keep the peace, Overwatch is shut down. The organisation is forgotten, and becomes nothing more than legend.
The surviving members all go their separate ways. Some become mercenaries, some continue the fight, and others, well, they wait for the days of heroes to return…
So what now?
What happens after all of the above? It’s not crystal clear, but we have some clues to go on at least. For starters, we all know that both Reyes and Morrison survived their battle.
The former now masquerades as the character known as Reaper. All that’s known about his agenda is that he is hunting down former Overwatch agents.
Morrison meantime, has taken on the persona of Soldier: 76. He is a vigilante, on a mission to find those responsible for Overwatch’s fall.
What about the others?
Thanks to the first Overwatch animated short, “Recall”, we know that Winston is in his laboratory, waiting for the glory days of the organisation to return. He has a backup plan in place should Overwatch ever need to be called back into action. He puts off initialising it many, many times, but finally gives in to the urge to get the gang back together when he is attacked by Reaper, who is on the lookout for ex Overwatch member contact details.
Shortly after this, we see Widowmaker make an assassination attempt on the Omnic leader Tekhartha Mondatta in the next short, “Alive”. She’s fails at first, thanks to Tracer. Unfortunately though, her bullet eventually finds its mark, and the leader is killed. This I’d imagine, is fuel for the fire that is another huge Omnic uprising. I don’t know where this occurs in terms of actual timing, but a second crisis does end up taking place in Siberia.
In “Dragons”, we see Genji battle his brother, Hanzo. Genji, as you may (or may not) know, is a former member of Overwatch. He comes back to tell his brother that he has forgiven him, that the world is changing, and that it’s time to pick a side. There is clearly some war looming. Whether that’s against the Omnic, or Reaper, or both, remains to be seen.
In the final animated short for season one, “Hero”, we see Soldier: 76 in action. He goes up against a Mexican gang known as the “Los Muertos”. Is he there to dish out justice to help the locals? Sure, but there’s obviously something bigger going on behind the scenes too. We never find out what it is exactly, or if they are somehow tied to the fall of Overwatch. Hopefully Blizzard will give us answers in due time.
Oh, and let’s not forget the original Overwatch cinematic trailer, which as far as I know, is actual lore. In it, we see Winston and Tracer battling Reaper and Widowmaker over something called Doomfist. Not much is known about it yet, but you can bet it’s very important, and will make an appearance sometime in future.
On top of all these shorts, Blizzard are releasing comics regularly too. They don’t necessarily flesh out the overall Overwatch story however. Instead, they give a closer look at the characters themselves, giving some insight into what exactly they are up to.
McCree for example, is on the run, and Reinhardt, one of the original Overwatch members, is getting on in years, and his armour is battered and worn. Despite that, he continues to serve the innocent, and dispense justice.
So what now?
Simple, we wait. The story from Overwatch is far from complete! The existing lore, though already quite lengthy and detailed, feels more like a teaser than anything.
What is Doomfist exactly? What are Reaper and Widowmaker up to really? And will Overwatch ever reform and kick ass like it did in the good old days? Blizzard, stop teasing, and tell us everything!
Don’t miss out, make sure you get your hands on Overwatch!
Last Updated: May 23, 2016