10 – Blizzard has released dozens of 360 degree models of the characters, their guns and props. They did this to help cosplayers recreate their favourite heroes.
9 – The character Sombra was officially revealed on the 4th of November 2016. Leading up to the official announcement players began noticing some incredibly complex codes that hinted at a new character. This meticulous alternate reality game sent players down digital rabbit holes around the internet, deciphering and decoding clues in what is now known as the Sombra ARG.
On July 12th, 2016 a video for the new hero Ana was released. If you pause it at the 1:16 mark a series of hexadecimal values can be seen. A Hex to ASCII translation gives off gibberish but if a XOR cipher with a constant value of 23 is applied on top, a Spanish phrase reveals itself. In English it says ‘She who has the information, has the power…Sombra’.
A week later, during a developer update video, viewers noticed vertical bar codes flash briefly on screen. These codes could be turned into more hexadecimal values that if put into a binary dump would visually form a QR code. When scanned, the code revealed another Spanish phrase that translated to: ‘Was that easy? Well, now that I have your attention, allow me to make things much more difficult’.
A series of other clues lead players to several glitched images known as ‘datamoshes’. These images were ran through difference checking tools, revealing two ASCII skulls. These skulls lead to a video which lead to a website called amomentincrime.com. Players found that if you emailed email@example.com an auto-responder replied with more clues. After yet more puzzling references, players noticed that if Bastion stood next to the ‘Sombra protocol’ terminals on the Dorado map, he would emit a series of strange beeps. This was found to be Morse code that translated into a Vigenere cipher. This lead players to a password protected website. On the website was a phone number, when called a woman could be heard listing a series of numbers in Spanish. The numbers allowed players to access the site. A message was then discovered detailing a hack on in-game Russian company Volskaya Industries. This finally tied into the reveal trailer that announced Sombra’s existence.
The Sombra ARG is far more detailed and complex than I’ve been able to document here. If you’re interested I suggest Googling Sombra ARG for a mind boggling read. Hats off to the Blizzard game developers for creating such a meticulous and complex side quest and double hats off to the Overwatch community for solving it all.
8 – According to in-game lore, 19 year old D. Va is a former Star Craft 2 pro, in fact she was ranked number one in the world three years running. She took a step back from the world of professional gaming to focus on the safety of her homeland.
7 – There are more than 7000 voice lines recorded for Overwatch. These memorable little quips have been translated into twelve languages, that means around 84,000 dialogue lines have been recorded for the game. Hiring the right voice actors and the countless hours taken to record the lines is surely an impressive feat, one that continues to grow as more updates release.
6 – In the early stages of development, Lucio, one of the support classes, possessed a very different ultimate ability. He was able to slow down time decreasing movement speed for both opponents and friendlies. He could then scoot about picking off targets at his leisure. The dev team scrapped the idea as it hindered the flow of the game too much, particularly for allies.
5 – There’s a bit of debate over this one but the visuals speak for themselves. Allegedly, Blizzard based Zarya off one of their employees. If you take a look, the tank class hero bears a striking resemblance to one of their 3D artists Tamara Bakhlycheva. They’re both Russian and sport a stylish pink doo. However, several forums have claimed that it’s purely coincidence and it’s not an official likeness. If that’s the case, I think it’s more than likely that the character designers for Overwatch took inspiration from their surroundings whether they were conscious of it or not.
4 – Ever wondered who the oldest and youngest Overwatch heroes are? D. Va is the youngest coming in at 19 years of age while Reinhardt is the oldest, repping the ripe old age of 61 and still kicking.
3 – Pharah, who was originally called Rocket Queen, has a rather interesting cultural heritage. Having served in the Egyptian army as part of her backstory and sporting an Eye of Horus tattoo, she has always clearly identified as Egyptian. However, Blizzard ran into a bit of controversy when they released new Pharah skins that boasted Native American signets. Her armour bears clear Native American patterns and the skins are called ‘Thunderbird’ and ‘Raindancer’. This sparked allegations of cultural appropriation.
However, Kotaku directly asked Overwatch game directer Jeff Kaplan about her heritage and whether she’s of mixed race and he replied, ‘That’s what we’re driving towards. All the hints are there, so we’ll see’.
Whether her complex cultural heritage was planned from the beginning is unclear. Right now these comments seem like an easy patch for flagrant cultural appropriation.
2 – Blizzard initially forgot to trademark the term Overwatch. Development was already well underway when they realised another company, who was bringing game-like elements to paintball, was already trading with the name Overwatch. After a few hearty legal discussions and I’m sure some well cashed up handshakes, an agreement was made. Thus giving Blizzard full trademark rights to the term Overwatch.
1 – As of writing this Overwatch has ticked over 30,000,000 registered players worldwide. With the combination of amazing gameplay, dedicated fanbase and the constant stream of free DLC, it’s expected that this number will continue to grow in the coming months and probably even years.