Overwatch, the newest game released from Blizzard Entertainment, has successfully launched amid much fanfare this week. So far, it seems to be living up to the hype, and as a property of Blizzard – the same company that brought us World of Warcraft, for anyone living under a rock – it comes as no surprise. While many players are content with simply logging into the first-person shooter to annihilate their opponents, some enjoy examining the backstories of their favorite characters. Whether it’s for roleplaying purposes or simply for immersion, read on for some favorite picks.
You really can’t read even the smallest bit about Overwatch without stumbling across the game’s flagship hero, Tracer. This girl is cheeky, upbeat, and sports an accent to match. She was one of the youngest ever inducted into the international peacekeeping force, Overwatch, due to her exceptional flight skills and didn’t hesitate to test their newest program, the Slipstream. As fate would have it, the prototype malfunctioned during flight, disappearing and taking her along with it.
When she returned, she suffered from “chronal disassociation,” which is a complicated way of saying she was unstuck in time. She would vanish for hours or days on end and, while it’s impossible to say where or when she went, it’s easy to see how this could bring a person down. But not our Tracer. She remained cheerful and positive, holding out hope until Winston, her teammate, devised a brilliant solution. Now she can control how time interacts with her; rather than holding a grudge against the organization that devised the Slipstream, she was the first to answer Overwatch’s call to reassemble.
We already mentioned Winston above, and if you’re familiar with The Planet of the Apes, you’re halfway to understanding his background. His plays out almost as a “what if” scenario: what if one of the test subjects had not followed Caesar, but decided to side with humanity?
Winston is raised on the Moon with other genetically engineered gorillas. Displaying an intellect far superior to his brethren, one of the scientists took him under his wing. He was taught about human ingenuity, allowed to work side-by-side with the scientists on their projects while spending his days gazing down on the Earth. The other gorillas, probably having read The Planet of the Apes (no, not really), threw together a rebellion, killing the scientists and taking over the colony. Winston wanted no part in it and escaped to Earth, where he became a member of Overwatch.
After Overwatch’s disbanding, Winston is the only one to stubbornly stay on. He retreats to one of the organization’s hidden facilities, acting as a keeper of secrets and watcher of world events. With the death of the scientists on the Moon, Overwatch becomes his new family, and he struggles to not contact them. Once events force his hand, however, he is the one who brings the team back together.
Genji began life as a playboy, living off the assets generated by his family’s illegal activities. While he had full knowledge of their illicit trade, he didn’t care, choosing to spend his time spending as much of their money as possible without lifting a finger. That all changed when his father died and the empire passed to Hanzo. The clan demanded he actively join them, and when he refused, Hanzo killed him.
Or so everyone thought. As he lay dying, he is taken in by Overwatch. Under the care of Mercy he is granted his cybernetic body with the understanding he will use the upgrades and his skills as a ninja to take down his family’s empire. Consumed by vengeance, he does just that, but when his mission is complete, he takes the opportunity to disappear. He is disgusted by his form, repulsed by his cybernetics, and has no true purpose in life.
That’s when he meet Zenyatta, the robotic monk. Under his tutelage, he comes to accept who and what he’s become. He eventually forgives his brother – who had also forsaken their clan – and re-enters life with a new purpose.
Believe it or not, Gabriel Reyes began life as an Overwatch agent, the crème de la crème of potential recruits, along with his buddy, Jack Morrison. While Morrison would easily climb the ranks and receive copious amounts of public recognition, Gabriel would come to head the black ops side of things, his achievements remaining undisclosed. Thus began the rift between the two once-close friends, and Gabriel allowed jealousy to consume him.
Using the assets of the black ops division, Reyes instigated a rebellion within Overwatch. This culminated in an explosion that appeared to kill Morrison and take him right along with it. Instead, Reyes survived, albeit with a body that was irreversibly altered. Now his cells decay and regenerate at an advanced rate; unlike a certain merc with a mouth, Reyes became dark and brooding. Dubbing himself “Reaper,” he uses his newfound abilities and training to hunt down the remnants of Overwatch, using whatever means at his disposal – including terrorist allies – to assassinate those he finds.
Unlike Reaper, whose darkness was a choice and fully embraced, Amélie Lacroix’s story is the epitome of tragedy. Love, choice, and identity were stripped entirely from her, forcibly turning her into the cold-blooded assassin she is today.
Amélie’s beginnings were unremarkable enough. What we do know is that she was the wife of an exceptional Overwatch agent. This man was so phenomenal that the terrorist organization Talon repeatedly tried to kill him. Each attempt ended in abject failure. They knew, however, that there might be one way to get to him: his wife. Amélie was abducted, broken, and then trained to kill. It is unknown what techniques were used against her, but to wipe her personality entirely, it must have been brutal. Overwatch was permitted to find her, and she was returned to her husband without any outward signs of distress. No one knew she had been turned into a sleeper agent, and two weeks later she murdered him in his sleep before disappearing.
Talon then trained her further, also changing her body so she could become a perfect killing machine. Widowmaker now follows orders without question, becoming one of Overwatch’s most dangerous opponents. Somewhere deep inside, though, there is evidence that sweet Amélie might still exist, horrified by her transformation and actions.