The Overwatch Lore Disconnect

Before I get into what I’m going to get into, let me first say that I’m a big fan of Overwatch. Personally, I find the gameplay fast, fun, and filled with exciting moments. The moment to moment action is very satisfying and the matches don’t drag on, resulting in me constantly saying something like “Just one more game.” I love most, if not all of the characters, as they all bring something unique to the table, and the fact that you can switch as much as you want during a match really adds a tactical element to the game.

Still, there is something that is nagging at me about the game. Something I can’t seem to wrap my head around.

Overwatch characters

For a while now, Blizzard has been setting up this universe by creating some really interesting lore. It first started a few years ago with the debut CG trailer which featured Winston and Tracer defending a museum filled with artifacts from Overwatch’s history from “bad guys” Widowmaker and Reaper. The trailer, like most of what Blizzard puts out, was amazing as it featured fantastic animations and great character development. It did its job in that I wanted to see and know more. As many of you know, Blizzard went on to create more backstory trailers for a handful of their characters, which again, were amazing.

For people who love lore, there’s a ton of material you can read through on the official site including character biographies, stories detailing the events of Overwatch and its downfall, and other really interesting elements like digital comics. In my opinion, it’s all really well made and compelling stuff.

It’s interesting to me then that the main game doesn’t really deal with any of this. For a game whose marketing uses the phrase “The World Needs Heroes,” it’s an odd disconnect. I mean, even the opening cut scene that greets players every time they boot up the game talks about how the world is in trouble and the former members of Overwatch are trying to get the gang back together to do something about it. The moment to moment gameplay doesn’t touch any of this at all.

Overwatch retro

At its core, Overwatch is a multiplayer shooter, so players pick from various characters and fight each other in objective based modes. This means that traditional allies like Tracer and Winston can be on opposite teams and end up killing each other over and over, it’s not important to the gameplay. However, it is still strange considering all we know about these characters and their backstories. There’s no real “good guys” versus “bad guys” in the game as anyone can be selected and put together on a team. It’s not like Call of Duty, where one team is a particular military group and the other team is a completely different one.

Players looking for a story mode, or some sort of explanation as to why everyone is fighting each other rather than saving the world, won’t find it here. Why are these groups fighting over a payload? Why are former Overwatch agents killing each other? Why is no one saving the world as the marketing materials suggests they should be doing?

Am I reading into these things too much?

Again, I’m a fan of the game. I don’t feel misled or anything like that, nothing like that at all. Overwatch (the game) is exactly what Blizzard has promised it would be, I knew that going in, and I’m more than satisfied with it. Still, I can’t help but wonder if something bigger was originally planned with Overwatch and either it was cut out at some point, or maybe they’re planning something for the future. I understand that Overwatch was born from the cancelled “Titan” project so maybe much of this was taken and repurposed from that.

I don’t know, it’s just kind of odd that the marketing materials don’t align with the gameplay as it currently stands. Either way, it’s worth keeping an eye on, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Blizzard add more and more stuff over time. Overwatch is a game that holds my interest and I enjoy playing it, so even though I’d love to see more story elements in here, it’s not a dealbreaker by any means. Just something I’ve thought about and wanted to discuss with you all.

What do you think? Does the gameplay and lore disconnect bother you or is it not important considering the game is fun to play? Let me know your thoughts on this one.

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6 Responses to The Overwatch Lore Disconnect

  1. Hatm0nster says:

    A massively successful game like Overwatch is certain to spawn a sequel, if not a series in its own right. It may be that this game is simply meant to introduce us to the characters. That said, it would be nice to see more of the world and narrative that we saw in the backstory trailers.

    • 100% agree. I hope Blizzard continues to explore the possibility to expand upon this through the free DLC they’ve previously confirmed. With that said though, the game is fun either way, so if it takes a sequel to make it happen then so be it.

  2. C. T. Murphy says:

    I hope they add PvE eventually. I wouldn’t mind packs similar to the raids in Hearthstone, only with a focus on a single character.

  3. Pam says:

    I find it really strange that the actual game is completely lacking in story and lore. Making players go outside the game to read up on characters and events kinda reminds me of Destiny. And nobody wants to be like Destiny when it comes to story.

    I try to compare it to Heroes of the Storm. It’s similar, but with Heroes the characters already existed. Unless you’re completely new to Blizzard you probably know something about at least some of them. With Overwatch, they’re all completely new. Also, putting the characters on good and bad sides makes it strange when you can play (and switch to and from) any character you like.

    I think a PVE mode would be greatly beneficial. A chance to learn not only the mechanics of each character but also a little about them could make me want to play the game (outside of the handful of matches I’ve done now).

    • Absolutely agree. I half expected the tutorial mode to kind of do a deeper dive into the world, instead of the very basics of game mechanics.

      My hope is that something comes along through the various free DLC that has been promised for the game.

      There’s so much potential here, so I hope Blizzard capitalizes on the opportunity.

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