The few folks that have the opportunity to play the Overwatch beta know the gameplay is incredibly fun, yet doesn’t touch base on the background or story. Nonetheless, Blizzard has created an interesting history on the heroes and how they came about.
The story began a number of years before Overwatch even existed. In a futuristic Earth, humans constructed powerful robots to aid in industrial equality. Mass produced within large facilities called Omniums, these robots were called the omnics, and they possessed a unique A.I which was created to mimic a human soul. Omniums were stationed across the globe by countless nations to produce omnics to serve and live alongside humanity.
The omnics and humans co-existed for many years until the impossible happened; the Omniums became corrupted for a motive still uncertain. The omnics banded together and rebelled against humanity with the purpose of destroying mankind. With advanced technology and A.I, the omnics were a strong force to be reckoned with. Earth was under attack by a myriad of militarized robots resulting in the disastrous start of what we know now as the Omnic Crisis; one of the greatest threats to the survival of humanity since the Cold War of the 20th century.
The government put forth massive effort to subdue the raid of unstoppable machines, but failed time and time again. Cities were destroyed and lives were lost. Mankind was losing hope with no sight of a solution. The world just needed a hero… or heroes.
It was then that Gabrielle Adawe, secretary-general of the United Nations, recruited a team of the world’s best soldiers to counter the rebellious robotic army. This team was to be called Overwatch, and their purpose was to save the world.
Overwatch began as a small band of accomplished and skilled individuals with military backgrounds. Gabriel Reyes was chosen as the official leader with John Morrison as second in-command. As veterans from the soldier enhancement program, they were previously augmented by scientists to acquire superhuman abilities such as everlasting toughness, teleportation, and much more.
Also recruited to the lineup of Overwatch were Wilhelm Reinhardt, Torbjorn Lindholm, Lena Oxton, Angela Ziegler, and many other soldiers from different parts of the world. Some nations designed specific strategies against the robots, such as South Korea’s MEKA program which hired professional gamers to pilot strong and complex mech suits. Each of the chosen soldiers contributed unique and skilled abilities that when teamed together were able to accomplish the impossible. This band of superhuman individuals were able to put an end to the Omnic Crisis after many battles. A peace treaty was recognized between the remaining omnics and humans.
Putting an end to the Omnic Crisis was a huge step in history and therefore Overwatch were deemed famous and beloved heroes of Earth. The team continued to expand and recruit for other purposes such as space exploration, medical advancements, and climatology. Not only that, they continued to protect the world against terrorist threats.
Sadly, this chapter of the story doesn’t have a happy ending. Jealousy and resentment destroyed a friendship between the two leading members, Morrison and Reyes, when Morrison received a promotion from the UN as Overwatch’s first official commander. This left Reyes feeling slighted and angry. Some members sided with Morrison while some with Reyes which built an undeniable rift in the Overwatch team. To top it off, allegations from the media were growing, accusing Overwatch of corruption, negligence, weapon proliferation, human rights abuse, and more. Once admired and loved by the world, Overwatch were now being protested.
Before the UN could finish investigating these claims, the Swiss Headquarters were destroyed in a mysterious explosion and Morrison and Reyes were suspiciously amongst the casualties. Evidence suggests that an impending battle broke out between the two leaders, resulting in a fire that caused the devastating explosion. Rumors circulate that Morrison’s body was never actually found, and some suggest that he’s still alive and under the alias of Soldier: 76. Regardless of rumors, these overwhelming occurrences resulted in the demise of Overwatch. The team officially disbanded after 30 years of service. The government even went as far as to ban any further Overwatch activity with the Petras Act.
Present day, old members now act as independent mercenaries who choose to work off the grid. It will never be as it was before, but a small piece may be recovered by Winston, who wishes to someday resurrect the nobility that the team once stood for. Corrupted omnics still pose a threat to society with the possibility of a second wave sweeping Earth, but Winston is powerless with the Petras Act and no leadership to aid the team in protecting mankind.
Gathering all the facts that Blizzard has given us, my take on the story is that Gabriel Reyes is risen from the dead as Reaper, and is vengeful as ever. He wishes to perpetuate the rift between Overwatch and hunt down any remaining members, much like we watched in Blizzard’s first animated short “Recall“. Considering the rumors that Morrison’s body was never found after the fatal battle at the Headquarters, it seems that he murdered his old friend in cold blood and then fled the scene, now hiding under his new face armour and the alias Soldier: 76.
Can Overwatch rebuild and continue to fight the omnic threats? Can Winston recall the team despite the careful watch of the government? Will Soldier: 76 and the Reaper have one final battle? There are still a lot of questions left unanswered around the lore of Overwatch, but Blizzard has more in store for us. Currently in the works are a series of animated shorts, digital comics, and a graphic novel – all dedicated to continuing the adventures of Overwatch. More information will be revealed soon!
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