At this point, with Overwatch’s fourth anniversary just passing us by, I don’t need to tell you anything about the game. Its charming characters and esports scene began to dominate popular gaming moments after its release and, almost miraculously it has stayed at the forefront of gaming across its lifespan. And with a sequel on the horizon, it is clear that Overwatch is not going anywhere. But then again, this is no surprise with the game coming from Blizzard who are known for their endlessly popular franchises—I mean, World of Warcraft debuted in 2004 and still has around seven million active players sixteen years
But just because Overwatch is ubiquitous, it doesn’t mean there aren’t things we’re still discovering, so strap in as we hurtle through 15 things you, or at least we, didn’t know about Overwatch.
Jeff was there from the very beginning
Lots of us will know that Overwatch emerged from the aftermath of Titan, an MMO Blizzard that had been developing for over seven years before it was dropped. When this project fell apart most of the team was relocated across Blizzard’s various IPs, but a small group of around 40 staff was given the task to come up with a new game concept that utilized some of Titan’s design in a few months.
And, you guessed it, Jeff Kaplan was the head of that very team and remains at the forefront of Overwatch seven years later. The relationship we all have with Jeff as the game’s director is rather unique, with most community outreach being recorded and presented by the man himself, making him a real fan favorite—especially given he is almost as charming as the Overwatch heroes himself.
The first time you could play Tracer wasn’t in Overwatch. Although Tracer serves as Overwatch’s poster-girl, the first time players actually got a hold of her was in Blizzard’s MOBA crossover game Heroes of the Storm, where she debuted two weeks before Overwatch’s open beta. That said, playing her in Heroes of the Storm doesn’t bring you the thrills of speed the first-person perspective brings, so it can hardly be considered the same thing…
Tracer was a man?
The prototype for Tracer was ripped right from Titan’s ‘jumper’ class, which originally saw players make short jumps around the map. As the jumper was brought adapted by the newfound Overwatch development team, their abilities quickly morphed into what we are familiar with today, but the big difference was that the character model depicted in most of the concept artwork was male. Now I don’t know about you but | can’t picture a male version of Tracer. But that’s not to say that changing the ‘jumper’ to be female was an easy feat.
Female Tracer was too sexualized
One of Tracer’s original victory poses, first seen on Blizzard’s promotional materials, seemed to draw far too much attention to her behind, pulling in criticism on Blizzard forums from fans worried about over-sexualization.
However, Blizzard quickly responded, with Kaplan himself apologizing profusely and the team swiftly changed the victory pose to a slightly more modest, but still hugely characterful, position. And, to my eyes, it’s all the better for it.
If you thought Tracer was over-sexualized…
Although Tracer’s misrepresentation was quickly picked up on by fans, and rectified by the team a similar problem, this time concerning the French cat-suit clad Widowmaker. On the release of the game, some players noticed a strange interaction with Widowmaker’s derriere when she used her ultimate—it inflated and bounced around. Needless to say, by the time this was picked up, it was gone.
Blizzard was called out by the President of the Universal Society of Hinduism
To top off Overwatch’s history of misrepresentation, in July of 2016 Rajan Zed, the president of the Universal Society of Hinduism urged Blizzard to remove or alter two Symmetra’s Devi and Goddess skins. This was due to society finding the portrayal of Hinduism to be somewhat inaccurate and promoted misconceptions about the religion. That said, the skins are still in the game today, meaning this is one of the few occasions when Blizzard hasn’t taken notice of representational issues. Perhaps if Zed has posted on the Blizzard forums there may have been a different result…
Overwatch was made for the community, not for esports
Returning to the design philosophy of Overwatch, it is important to remember that although the Overwatch League has taken over much of the game’s outreach, the game was originally crafted for the community. Unlike many other Blizzard games, we’re looking at you Starcraft, Overwatch didn’t factor competitive play into its initial design, with competitive game modes debuting within the game months after the initial release, and the professional esports scene developing over the following years.
This is probably why Overwatch succeeded at taking the hearts of gamers and non-gamers alike, as its overarching principle is to enjoy—putting it in opposition to fps competitors like Counter-Strike and Call of Duty. That said, they also had a lot more in mind for the community.
The story was always going to be cross-media
From very early on in the process, Jeff and the team had decided to tell the story of Overwatch across various mediums. Deciding on this early on allowed the team to make sure the game focused on fun gameplay experiences, without force-feeding narrative, while also ensuring that the peripheral story-based content felt essential to the franchise, not merely supplements or spin-offs.
As such over the years we have been graced with graphic novels, literature, and short films which all build on the characters we love and interact with within the game.
Bastion is not a Robot [Omnic]
Ok, we’re slightly cheating here as Bastion is a Robot. But the beeps, boops, and whirs that inject the character into him are not of computational origins. Blizzard artist, designer, and regular voice actor Chris Metzen breathes this life into Bastion’s metal casing. Of course, they are heavily edited audio clips, but at his heart, Bastion does have some human in him.
Torbjérn is the most important hero in the game’s development. This is the part where most of you curse us forever suggesting it, and that 1% of you who are Torbjorn mains thank us for finally giving you some recognition.
But seriously, Torbjérn, like Tracer, finds his origins in Titan as the tech-heavy a dwarf who, then, drew the line between Blizzard’s high-fantasy of Warcraft and neo-futuristic Starcraft—which turned out to be the same style Overwatch took.
As such, after Torbjérn’s character model was perfected, he became the reference to ensure the design principles remained consistent across the entire game. So, next time you enjoy Overwatch’s lovely aesthetic, remember that was all thanks to Torbjorn.
Jetpack cat made it into the game
“Jetpack Cat” is the affectionate nickname given to a canceled hero which caught the hearts of the community. In short, it was a cat who was strapped into a jetpack who would occasionally paw at the controls. You can immediately see why people loved this off-the-wall idea so much. However, the character was “scratched” when the inevitable design difficulties and outright absurdities of the characters finally kicked in.
There were things you didn’t know about Overwatch. Overwatch is a game that has a very huge background, development history, and fanbase. If you liked the article, be sure to check out OverBoostPro for more guides, cool stories, and help with the Overwatch experience.