Player Paul: “Overwatch” is love, “Overwatch” is life

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Blizzard Entertainment created a diverse cast of unique characters for "Overwatch." Credit to "Overwatch" official website

Paul Capoccia, Community Editor

“Overwatch” is special.

Develop Blizzard Entertainment’s latest title is special not just because it is an addicting blend of first-person shooter chaos and methodical, strategic team planning, but also because of what can be described as an entirely immersive backstory.

This backstory is made all the more impressive by the fact that “Overwatch” is an exclusively multiplayer game with no campaign or story-based action.

Typically, online shooters have an accompanying single player mode with them, sometimes called a campaign or story mode. However, these rarely translate into the multiplayer mode. Storylines are ditched, characters become nondescript and there is no meaningful banter among characters.

“Overwatch” lacks the luxury of a story mode to develop characterization, and it still manages to thoroughly flesh out each character in a few ways.

Each playable character has an incredibly unique look based on his or her gender, nationality, occupation and allegiance. Each gives off an immediate feel; the really large pig man with a hook just gives off an evil vibe, while the medic in white seems simply pure.

There are allegiances among the characters as well. The cloaked assassin appropriately named Reaper sides with a French villainess Widowmaker, the aforementioned big pig Roadhog allies himself with lunatic junker and criminal Junkrat, and Brazilian disc jockey Lucio discusses his admiration for Japanese pop sensation D.Va.

Aside from appearance, there are also a few mechanics within the game to build up the world of “Overwatch.”

During matches, players are able to put up stickers relating to their character. The sticker may be the character in a fan art pose or an item pertinent to the character, like a banana for the gorilla of the group. It becomes a fun activity to post these all over the walls while waiting for rounds to start.

Additionally, each character has individual voice lines and motion expressions. From flexing muscles to screaming battle cries in their native language, these quirks help flesh out the cast of characters.

This is where “Overwatch” separates itself.

Using only a few seemingly simple mechanics in an all-multiplayer game, Blizzard Entertainment has created an all-encompassing, brilliant world around a colorful cast of characters.

Simply from a few voice lines here and there, players can understand that one of the medics lost her eye in the war (though she has come to terms with it) while fighting alongside of the other war veterans against some of the other characters.

As if this all were not enough, Blizzard Entertainment has released a few animated shorts about some of the characters, putting a bow on some storylines while increasing awareness about others.

The diverse cast they have created, with emphasis on how each is strong from his or her gender, nationality, occupation and powers, has changed how I view gaming.

Many shooters base their indiscriminate, copy-and-paste characters on only masculine men, on political allegiances of the United States versus Russia or even just man (and almost exclusively men) versus aliens. Not “Overwatch.” “Overwatch” embraces and utilizes the world’s diversity that it finds within its gamers.

Utlimately, gaming is about far more than the controller and the screen, the ranking up and the killstreaks. It is an all-inclusive medium. It is a constant reminder that the other five people on my team could be in five different countries, be a man or woman, boy or girl and could have any number of political allegiances.

At the end of the day, though, we are all heroes, as the characters are called.
And in the words of the healer character Mercy when she revives her teammates, “Heroes never die.”

Contact the writer: [email protected]
Twitter: @PaulCapocciaTWW