Overwatch presents us in a world blessed with technological advancement and a golden age of exploration, where the vast unknowns of space are within reach, and robotics are a normal part of life.
In truth, for a game with no campaign and seemingly little backstory, there is an insane amount of lore available if you’re willing to look hard enough.
From in-game dialogue to the beautifully produced shorts Blizzard releases, we are slowly finding out more and more about this world and its inhabitants – all while shooting each other in the face, of course.
So, without further ado, here are the five darkest character backstories you may not know:
Mei-Ling Zhou joined Overwatch as a scientist trusted with finding the reason behind the planets increasingly worsening and unexplained climate. As a leader in her field, Mei had founded and championed cutting edge technology that lead to the betterment of the environment in Asia and beyond; protecting at-risk areas.
She was stationed with a crew at Watchpoint: Antarctica. With the weight of the world on their shoulders and technology at their fingertips, the crew began their work.
Though, one day, their facility was struck by a catastrophic polar storm that sent Mei and the rest of the crew into isolation. Stranded from the outside world with seemingly no way to escape, they began to ration. But before long supplies were dwindling, and people were afraid. In a final breath of hope, the team entered themselves into cryostasis to await rescue from Overwatch.
But rescue never came.
Years after the team cryo-froze themselves, Mei’s pod opened. She stepped into her former facility, believing Overwatch to have come to save her. But instead she found nothing. Her crew, her friends, were trapped in their pods. Their chests still and eyes empty. She was alone.
Physically, Mei had not aged a single day. Though her age was now 40, and the world around her was much different to the one she had left. Overwatch had disbanded, her research and studies were no more, and the worlds climate had tumbled into a place far beyond her worst fears.
Not wanting to give up on a life lost, Mei decided to continue her teams work on her own. In their memory and her hope, she travels the world with a portable version of her climate-manipulation technology; helping anyone she can.
Before he was Soldier 76, he was Jack Morrison.
Joining the military at 18, Jack quickly rose through the ranks and was recognised for his force and courage, and was invited to join the Governments not-so-secret ‘soldier enhancement programme’ – designed to morph humans into beings with super strength, speed, and agility.
Gladly accepting his new augments, Jack and his fellow altered soldiers were put to the test in the Omic Crisis. Struggling to beat the Omnics, the government set about forming a super group – Overwatch. Two friends from the enhancement programme were chosen to take part: Jack, and his close friend Gabrel Reyes. In unity and strength, the twosome fought with Overwatch and were able to overthrow the Omnics, ending the crisis.
Jack was praised greatly for the victory, and was held up as a symbol of hope and promise. He was promoted to Overwatch’s first official commander, and saw a bright and valliant future for humanity. But his friend, Reyes, was passed over. Envious and with a darkness creeping inside, Reyes began conducting a rebellion within Overwatch. The hostility Jack faced at the hands of his former friend had no explainable beginning, but steadily worsened until the two came to blows at Overwatch’s Swiss HQ. An explosion shook the facility, decimating it.
Jack was buried soon after. Reinheart Windhelm spoke highly of him at his funeral, and he was mourned and missed by many. Statues of him were erected, with the bright future he envisioned living on in the Overwatch members’ hearts.
Years later, the world is subject to a series of attacks at former Overwatch facilities, financial institutes, and various other corporations. Each time an attack took place, no one perished, but former Overwatch technology would appear missing.
Those present at the raids would describe a man possessing incredible strength, military like training, and speed beyond anything they had ever seen.
They called him Soldier: 76. Though those in Overwatch know him by a different name, one long since buried.
Reaper is believed to be hunting and systematically attempting to eliminate former Overwatch members.
A ruthless and bloodthirsty mercenary, what few bodies are left from his rampages are pale and empty: husks drained of life, their very souls ripped from their bodies. He is described as a remorseless killer, moving through battle like a shadow and decimating everyone he comes across.
Though his motives behind the killings are unknown, the targets are no coincidence.
Before he was Reaper, he was Gabriel Reyes.
Friend turned enemy of Jack Morrison, he was believed to have been killed in the blast alongside Jack in Switzerland before rising from the ashes as Reaper.
Though the true nature of how he gained such a form is a mystery, it is suspected that Reyes’ lifeless corpse was dragged from the wreckage by Mercy and subject to her experiments with resurrection.
At Mercy’s hands, it is believed that Reaper regained physical form, but his genetic alteration was far from smooth. With her process still un-perfected, Mercy left Reaper in an altered genetic state; his body decaying rapidly, but regenerating just as fast. He is left in a state of perpetual limbo, neither alive nor dead. Forever subject to consuming the souls of others to sustain himself, and blaming Overwatch for his state.
Genji Shimada wasn’t always the badass shuriken wielding cyborg we see in game. Before joining Overwatch, Genji lived a life of luxury backpeddling off of the success of the Shimada Clan’s illegal dealings in arms, substances, and assassinations.
With little interest in joining the business himself, Genji preferred to spend his days training as a ninja and his nights as a playboy. Many within the Shimada Clan considered Genji to be a little too carefree and a liability, his older brother Hanzo included.
Following the death of their father, Genji and Hanzo saw the Shimada Clan fall into their young hands. Hanzo demanded Genji take a more active and leading role in the family business, fore-fitting his former party life in the process.
Genji refused, which lead to a violent fight between the two brothers. Believing Genji to be too far gone, Hanzo left his brother to die.
He lived on, however. After being rescued by Dr. Angela Ziegler, known to Overwatch as Mercy, Genji was put through an intense process of cyberization in order to bring his body from the brink of death. In exchange, Overwatch planned to use Genji as a living weapon in their ongoing attempts to overthrow the Shimada Clan.
Blindly programmed and at constant war with what he had become, Genji set about systematically destroying his family empire.
With his mission complete, Genji distanced himself from Overwatch in search of purpose and meaning to a life he could not come to terms with. Along the way, he met Zenyatta who offered wisdom, companionship, and benevolence to the wayward cyborg. Initially rejecting Zenyatta’s aid, the two eventually came together with Zenyatta being a mentor to Genji; helping him find peace and acceptance as man and machine. Knowing his soul and humanity were in tact, Genji came to see his robotic body as a gift.
In a time long past, Widowmaker was known as Amélie Lacroix; loving and devoted wife to Gérard Lacroix – an Overwatch agent who lead the groups fight against terrorist organisation Talon.
Talon had tried many times to eliminate Gérard with no success, and so chose to turn their attentions to Amélie. Talon kidnapped her and subjected her to intense psychological and neural reconditioning. Over time, they broke her completely. Stripping her of her will, eliminating her personality, and reprogramming her as a sleeper agent. When they were done, Talon released Amélie; leaving her to be found and rescued by Overwatch. Assuming her no worse for wear, Overwatched reunited Amélie and Gérard, letting them return home to a normal life.
Two weeks later, Amélie murdered Gérard in his sleep.
With her mission at an end, Talon began the process of turning Amélie into a living weapon to use at will. They changed her physiology, slowing her heart and turning her skin blue; and began stamping out any semblance of humanity left within her, eradicating her ability to feel human emotion and training her in covert arts. With every trace of Amélie buried, Widowmaker rises from the ashes.
With nothing but murder and violence left in her wake, Widowmaker becomes an enemy to the friends she once held dear. But when the fighting stops, and she is alone, Widowmaker returns to Paris – leaving a single rose on Gérard’s grave as Christmas dawns.
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All Characters and stories are property of Blizzard.