Overwatch/The World of Overwatch

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November 7, 2015: The World of Overwatch - BlizzCon 2015 Panel Recap at Overpwn.com[edit | edit source]

Panel Developers

  • Chris Metzen - Creative Director
  • Michael Chu - Senior Game Designer
  • William 'Bill' Petras - Art Director
  • Jeff Chamberlain - VFX Supervisor

The World of Overwatch

  • Story doesn't exist within gameplay so they had to come up with a different method to develop the lore
  • Watchpoint: Gibraltar. An old Overwatch base built into the side of a cliff, currently inhabited by Winston
  • Dorado. In Mexico set during the Festival of Lights, a celebration of the end of the Omnic War
  • King's Row. Built by Omnics but English government refuses to recognise their rights and this has led to increasing tensions.
  • Hollywood. Even the great director Halfred Glitchbot is not immune to anti-Omnic feelings and needs heroes to protect him
  • Numbani. The only city built with cooperation between humans and Omnics in mind, but even that is under threat by Doomfist - 'he can level skyscrapers!'
  • The question "can humans and robots live together" still causes issues around the world and is one of the key elements of the current Overwatch fiction

Volskaya Industries

  • "What's the story of Russia" is the focus behind this map
  • Russia was the first country invaded at the start of the Omnic Crisis
  • While America responded with supersoldiers and Germany responded with their heavy armour, Russia responded with mechs
  • Russia did not benefit in the same way as many countries from the assistance of Overwatch, they had to go it alone
  • Fearlessly proud and independent due to this struggle and this is brought through the architecture throughout Volksaya
  • Needed to be visually beautiful. "Winter Wonderland" was made a key theme behind the level design - still has to look like real life Russia
  • Inside the factory you can see the huge mechs being built
  • People find it odd that Russia decided to respond to the Omnic threat by building more mechs so the design team needed to address this - partially done by posters found throughout the level

Imagery & Character

  • Original poster release including 3 more heroes than were initially in the game was entirely intentional and designed to get people guessing
  • Several heroes are located within each level: Roadhog was in King's Row long before his release, as was D.Va in Hanamura
  • Each hero has their own attitude - Hanzo is immensely arrogant, Tracer fun, Mei apologetic
  • There are also key relationships between them, Tracer & Winston are best friends whereas Hanzo and Genji have a significant history together

Hero Introduction

  • Soldier 76 - secret vigilante
  • Lucio - a fake album brought out to reveal his DJ personality
  • Roadhog & Junkrat - wanted poster was the key theme to hint at their criminality. Needed to be like a bunch of police sketches so they got them done by people that didn't really know what the characters looked like
  • Both junkers brought out via the 'A Moment In Crime' fake reality show. Felt like the best way to introduce their unique characters, abilities and backstory.

Traditional Approaches

  • While the gameplay doesn't tell the story they are doing what they can to get it out there
  • Comics! One of the big projects they're working on right now is an original graphic novel that tells the story of the first Overwatch strike team that saved the world
  • Soft reveal of the back story via character skins in the Origins Edition
  • Reyes is Reaper
  • John 'Jack' Morrison and Gabriel Reyes the first two members of Overwatch
  • Gabriel Reyes really more of a self focused superstar, would rather do things his own way rather than necessarily follow orders - he was the initial leader
  • Pharah's mother one of the best snipers in the world and part of the initial strike team alongside Morrison, Reyes, Reinhardt and Torbjorn.
  • Going to support the story with comic shorts
  • First ones appear to feature the junkers Roadhog and Junkrat alongside Reinhardt


  • Introductory cinematic one of the best things they've ever done - Metzen
  • They want to do more
  • Guest Jeff Chamberlain to discuss cinematics & storytelling
  • Story telling has been done outside of the game, not only in Overwatch but in all other Blizzard games as well
  • Working on a series of animated shorts
  • Shows Winston as a young gorilla
  • Soldier: 76 without his mask
  • Winston's 'father' Dr Harold Winston makes an appearance
  • "There's always the peanut butter"
  • Shorts are not contiguous, you can view them separately or all at once - you won't need to watch one to understand another


  • Q. Will there be a giant artbook?
  • A. Blizzard are doing what is essentially a source book that will be included in the collector's edition. Features characters, gives some background and looks at environments.
  • Q. Does Blizzard exist in the Overwatch universe? D.Va being a Starcraft player suggests so - will we ever see a Blizzard map?
  • A. NOT OFFICIAL: They 'may' have drawn a couple of pictures of 'Blizzneyland' as a map concept. For obvious reasons they're unlikely to actually use that name! Blizzard definitely exists in the world though.
  • Q. Are any of the characters gay?
  • A. Yes. Unable to go into any more information at the moment as they're just starting to build the world.
  • Q. Given no limitations and unlimited resources, what would you do with the game & story to expand it and which character would you focus on? (question from McCree!)
  • A. Jeff - Bastion, has a very cool backstory and they can't wait to tell it. Bill - Zenyatta, would keep it very mysterious and artistic. Michael - Hanzo, since the release of Genji he's very interested in the dynamic and story between the two and how it made each of them. Chris - would conquer the world with all the heroes and have the story live for hundreds of years.
  • Q. As the story progress, will the levels we currently see change or will we add more levels & locations to expand the lore?
  • A. They're constantly discussing it. On the Numbani map there is a news ticket that they could update to reflect the animated shorts. They're likely to both create new maps and update existing ones though.
  • Q. What did the British do in their side of the war?
  • A. Wait and find out (they don't know)! Tracer has her own abilities that are unique to her and don't reflect the British response to the Omnic Crisis.
  • Q. How much did the heroes actually interact while Overwatch was active?
  • A. Hard to grasp. 30 years ago there was the original Overwatch strike team that fought the Omnic Wars. After that the world adored them so much they expanded exponentially, getting more and more resources and recruiting more and more members. Three stages - 'The Golden Age' of the original strike force, 'The Height' where it's potentially hundreds of agents that define the group, and 'The Now' where it ceases to exist and the agents have scattered and gone their own ways. As such some of the characters never interacted. Some are villains. Some are new that were never part of Overwatch but were inspired by them - they could even form a new Overwatch.
  • Q. Cinematic trailer mentions a character called 'SoundQuake' - who was he, will we see him, how is he going to be developed?
  • A. Wait and see! They're still developing them. Doomfist was also mentioned and he's further along the path.
  • Q. Is there any significance to the numbers on Junkrat and Roadhogs pictures?
  • A. Could have something to do with the treasure Junkrat is looking for, can't say more.
  • Q. Do they have any plans to work with any of the larger comic companies?
  • A. They want to do as much of it internally as possible. Blizzard want their own control and their timescales don't tend to work well with other businesses
  • Q. Is there a history between Tracer and Widowmaker?
  • A. They definitely don't like each other - there may be more to it than that but they couldn't possibly answer at the moment
  • Q. What character do each of the panel associate with?
  • A. Jeff - hard to pick one, but his favourite is Winston. Bill - pieces of each he associates with, wishes he was as smart as Winston or as calm as Zenyatta, but associates most closely with Zenyatta. Michael - Junkrat as he has terrible jokes! Chris - Soldier: 76 as he's an old tired soldier. Also Genji, you'll understand when you get a better feel for his story.
  • Q. Why doesn't Winston like his glasses broken?
  • A. When the animated shorts come out you'll understand where the glasses came from, who gave them to him and why they mean so much to him.