Review: The Overwatch Lore

Omnic Crisis

Type: Reason For Things to Happen

Rating: “Very Omnic Indeed”

Every character profile in Overwatch contextualizes the character in something called the “Omnic Crisis” without explaining what it is. It sounds like it would be something cool because the root “omni” comes from the latin “omnislash” which means “totally sick” but when Overwatch says it they just means robot. It is very hard to determine this from context because not only is the root of this word not something that means robot, but the suffix on Omnic sounds like an adjective so when a character is an omnic monk or there’s an omnic crisis it just sounds like they were very omnic, like super omnic. This is the most backwards possible take on the rule that made up words should have roots in real words, because the root has nothing to do with what’s made up.

They are called Omnics because they are robots made by the Omnica corporation, which is a recursive loop of silly worldbuilding, but there’s actually one clever thing about this which is that calling yourself the Omnica corporation with a straight face is like a breath away from calling yourself Uber, so this corporation that nearly ruined the world with sentient robots is Uber for grey goo and AI, and now all of the robots are essentially called Ubers, which is hilarious, and so accidentally clever and so un-Blizzard that there’s no way it was on purpose.


Me and my boyfriend

Type: Thing You Can Shoot With A Gun And Still Be T For Teen

Rating: If She Got Silicone I Got Silicone

I’m cheating so I can keep talking about this. Omnics (from the root “Omnic” meaning “made by the Omnica Coroporation”) are the originators of the Omnic Crisis and are designed to be bad guys you don’t have to feel bad about killing, but they also have souls so actually you are supposed to feel bad you monster? But they also shoot them all the time on screen like it’s nbd? That moral ambiguity is the subtle power of video games.

They definitely designed the character Zenyatta, a monk who is a robot, and decided every robot should have the glowing forehead things, and I guess some have them in eastern religious configurations and are monks, because it’s not a video game if you’re not wondering is this ok? How racist is this? Blizzard is inviting you to not think about that and instead imagine a world in which people were racist against robots, and how that would be bad. These are trying times and video games are here to remind us that fake racism is bad and real racism doesn’t exist.

The other important thing about Omnics is that people are fucking them. Hell yes. This is probably the most correct bit of lore because it’s the truest to life. Honestly they’re really soft and cute—I like the mix of plastic and and glowing things. I like the idea of being a robot a lot, yes because human bodies are so exhausting and fallible, and so adversarial to achieving a comfortable let alone ideal sense of health and self, but I also like the idea of being visually abstracted? Identifiable as human in the same way that cartoons and toys are. I don’t know if that would actually work but I like the minimalism of it. If they’ve got silicone too I’m in baby.



Type: The Namesake Of The Game

Rating: Over

So the titular Overwatch of the title is supposed to be some paramilitary strike force but this image is the funniest thing I have ever seen because these protesters seem to think Overwatch was named literally and actually what they’re protesting is the concept of watching people. WE DON’T WANT TO BE WATCHED and STOP WATCHING slay me. I could keep going all day but how about ABOLISH WATCHING NOW, WATCHING IS OVER, WATCHING? NOT ON MY WATCH, LIST OF THINGS THAT ARE OVER: WATCH, HEY WHAT’S THE TIME? LET ME LOOK AT MY WATCH—OH GOOD HEAVENS, LOOKS LIKE IT’S OVER O’ CLOCK.

I want to believe this illustrator was not told what Overwatch was and had to really quickly think up a reason people would be mad at it but more likely is they did not want these slogans to be “stop being an unaccountable international paramilitary strike force.” And that’s the thing that truly breaks Overwatch because it wants marketing to be a cute Pixar short about cartoony superheroes that are going to inspire the fuck out of some children but they’re doing that in order to advertise a game about shooting people with guns.

Not a lot of superheroes have guns, other than Gun Man, and who remembers him and like the whole thing about him is he’s not much of a hero because he shoots people. There’s this trailer where Soldier 76 acts like Batman but it doesn’t work at all because he just fucking shoots everyone. And like sure they were drug dealers and robot racists and none of them died on camera but I think on some level the point of superheroes is to abstract violence so we can enjoy emotional and ideological conflict without confronting the terrifying reality of actual violence but guns bring that right back.

Overwatch dares to ask the question if maybe a paramilitary task force is good, actually? Like maybe that’s what the world is really missing right now.


Type: Playable Fictional Character

Rating: The Real Chuunibyou

You have no idea how happy I was when I went through the Overwatch Wikia and couldn’t find the slightest explanation for why he is a cyborg cowboy. That rules so much I honestly can’t believe it. They gave him this backstory as an arms dealer and black ops agent which is even better, like they had to fit him into the world of Overwatch but why is he a cowboy was the least important part of that. I feel honestly bad for making fun of Reaper because McCree is absolutely the real larper edgelord. He honest to god just decided he wanted to look like a robot cowboy. That’s so sweet I love him.


Type: Committed Life Partners

Rating: Mechanically Erotic

Mercy and Pharah are married and it’s only because of game design, which I find very beautiful. It’s as romantic as the Medic and the Heavy from Team Fortress 2; it requires so much commitment and trust and support from both parties to protect each other and survive and that’s inherently intimate. Healers are service tops almost by definition but it’s particularly pronounced because Pharah is so fragile and mobile, she flies around like a bird, and Mercy can fly when she follows her and keeps her on a leash. Pharah needs a lot of care and support, and Mercy can fly off and heal someone else, so she has to work a lot harder for her healer’s approval. When Mercy’s damage boosting she’s telling Pharah she really believes in her and when she heals she’s saying baby you did so good, I’m proud of you.


Type: Exs But They’re Not Over it

Rating: Gagging For It

Overwatch I really think you should try making cartoons for everyone and not exclusively for dads who want their kids to think they’re cool.

Teacher, Visual Novel designer, and Editor-in-chief of ZEAL, a magazine of alternative criticism, comics, and more.

Teacher, Visual Novel designer, and Editor-in-chief of ZEAL, a magazine of alternative criticism, comics, and more.