For a long, long time all we knew of Sombra was a massive ARG. It ran for months and it very nearly turned the community off the character entirely. You can see our full record of it below, if you're into that sort of thing.
Update November 2, 2016: Here we go again - the Overwatch Sombra ARG has kicked off once more after new clues surface for the hacker hero.
Even though it's clear the proper Sombra reveal is probably destined for BlizzCon now, there are still people trying to uncover more information via the ARG. Tonight, some have even managed to uncover more clues, resulting in the r/Overwatch Discord going offline due to traffic.
On the Lumerico site, ARG hunters have found a way to get the admin page to accept commands, uncovering little snippets of info that have been hiding, presumably all this time.
To have a nosey, you need to login to https://lumerico.mx/login with 'MJimenez/d0r*NuLw9'. Then head to https://lumerico.mx/admin, for the admin panel. Here, you can type 'override' into the console and you'll be asked for answers:
- Favourite Movie = some like it bot
- Favourite Cookie = nuevas sabor delicias
- Secret = OpenAnything1.1.0
- By typing "help" a list of new commands appears
- There is a file called payload, which requires an activation code to execute
- By displaying the html file (cat mnt/d_ilqh_nhb.html), the terminal shows a key that can be decrypted to mean "somekeysareshapedaslocks.index."
The Overwatch subreddit thinks that it's a kind of simulated DDoS attack, where everyone has to type in 'exec payload' into the DOS command box that appears, followed by this activation code: U2FsdGVkX1+vupppZksvRf5pq5g5XjFRIipRkwB0K1Y96Qsv2Lm+31cmzaAILwytX/z66Z - taken from the Tracer Trail way back at the beginning of the ARG.
Doing that takes you to a screen showing a line of dials, along with an energy graph and a number total next to a skull. In the fiction, it seems like the ARG is asking players to overload a nuclear facility.
Blizzard have since posted this tweet:
[BREAKING] LumériCo network security breach underway, power outages reported across Mexico.— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) 1 November 2016
- Suspect unidentified
- Portero: "No comment" pic.twitter.com/cVgBhUiSf4
Since then, the front page of Lumerico and all of its pages have been updated to glitch out, and a new message is displayed on the front page. According to this handy Reddit summary the source code has also changed, pointing to a new purple text page. That points at the Volskaya Industries website, another in-universe corporation with a map based around them. It seems that may be Sombra's next hacking target. Some believe we'll see the fallout from that tonight, but with BlizzCon all of 48 hours away, it will probably be there. According to this thread and our own checks in-game, she's also made her first appearence in the form of a Day of the Dead spray.
As always, thanks to the Game Detectives. Their irregularly updated Wiki page can keep you up to date, the subreddit continues to investigate and their Discord is the hub of discussion around the whole thing.
Update November 1, 2016: Not the official reveal many are hoping for today - there's still time - but Sombra has made an appearance. A few Blizzard gear store leaks ahead of more BlizzCon items being added once the show opens has given a glimpse at some official concept art.
Posted to the Overwatch subreddit and quickly downloaded before the gear store link , the art shows the purple-clad character standing on one of the game's maps. It confirms other leaks of her appearence from October, as well as giving a couple of hints at her weapons of choice.
Here's the image, with higher quality over on Imgur:
If you're wondering about its legitimacy, the signature at the bottom reads John Polidora, whose LinkedIn shows he's been working on Overwatch concept and character art for the last couple of years. While the links to the gear store have now been taken down, it was originally displayed as an art print according to some comments, likely for a poster, and based on BlizzCon's passed, was meant to go live on the site after the opening ceremony.
Speculation is now rife as to what it may tell us about her abilities. There's always been an assumption that Sombra's hacking ways would manifest in-game as some sort of mind-control, and the energy whips and coded legs rather keep that in mind. The robot she's standing on is from the background of Volskaya, the Russian omnic laboratory / construction facility that forms one of Overwatch's capture point maps. It's a far cry from Sombra's usual hangout in Dorado, Mexico but could simply be for decoration,
Since our last update, the results of Sombra's actions have appeared on the official Overwatch blog and more emails have appeared on the Lumerico.mx site. The same three logins will give you a glance at them if you're interested, and Google translate is still proving as useful as ever.
This is one of two gear store leaks in the past few hours, the other showing off some Necromancer class art for what could be a new Diablo III expansion or major patch.
Update October 26, 2016: Turned out "early" meant "Tuesday" for the Overwatch Sombra ARG, which continues to develop without any major reveals.
After the few months of inconsistency from the Sombra ARG, it now seems to have fallen into a holding pattern. Each week we get a few small updates, and a message to keep waiting. This go round it involved more email updates to the lumerico.mx website, a new login, a mysterious admin panel and the start of an in-universe Mexican revolution. She's been busy.
Last night's developments started later than usual, with new emails popping up and an update to the omnics.txt file, an Overwatch universe version of the robots.txt file websites use to tell search engines what their site is about. It's a reference to the Mayan calendar, obviously, and translates to morse code, of course. It became EXECUTEATTACK, similar to the TAKECONTROL phrase found earlier in the ARG, leading to an equally similar webpage. In English, that reads:
"The moment has come. These emails exposed the truth about Portero, initiated the revolt, and have convinced people of Mexico to support our cause. Now is the time to strike. Convert his precious inauguration on November 1 to a large movement against it. I need you to do one thing:
"Get access to the email security chief and seek some form of help in the attack. You may see her contacting Portero soon. I've changed her password: d0r*NuLw9"
The security chief's login, MJimenez, was worked out from further emails. Logging in with those details has its own long chain of emails, as well as access to the Lumerico admin panel. There are a batch of dials and readouts for the power plant's output, as well as a terminal. Unfortunately, the source code points to the dials being random and the terminal having no possible inputs. While things like 'clear' and 'exit' won't produce an error message, anything other than default commands for jQuery - the framework on which the interactive terminal is built - will return a message that the terminal is offline, as explained in this thread. For this week, that seems to be the end.
Elsewhere, the Lumerico news page was updated with a hacked message about the president of the company, Guillermo Portero, being corrupt. Digging around in his emails reveals that he's been working with the Vishkar company, Symmetra's employers and general big-bad-corporation as revealed in her digital comic. There are also emails from him demanding the news be removed from their website, while his IT staff explain that they aren't able to due to errors in the system.
It all points to November 1, when the Lumerico plant is supposed to open and the final stage of Sombra's attack will take place instead. This, logic would suggest, is what happens on the actual in-game Dorado map - a bomb or EMP being taken to the center of the power plant by a group of insurgents, as security personnel attempt to stop them and the plant is disabled by the Sombra Protocol as written on all the screens. Obviously in the action-figure world that is the actual games of Overwatch we play, the two sides are replaced with superheroes, but it does all line up.
What's likely is November 1 will see the actual, final, final, actual end of the ARG, a few days before BlizzCon. Between now and then more emails are likely to appear, and will no doubt be tracked by the Game Detectives subreddit if you want to keep an eye on it. Those waiting on an actual reveal, other than the wait to BlizzCon you've likely already accepted, will maybe see something - an in-game story or comic, for example - come next Tuesday.
Update October 24, 2016: It's Monday, which is officially "early next week". Come on Blizzard. End it.
Things have been all quiet on the purple undercut front since last week, when Overwatch's Sombra - the next character, if you're just joining us (run) - told us to check back "early next week" for the next stage in the ARG. Well, that's now, and it's about time this whole thing gets wrapped up, isn't it?
The current theory is that Sombra will be infiltrating the Lumerico facility via a keyboard and an espresso machine - stay with me - probably not literally hidden inside, but who knows anymore? Once inside she'll release some of their darker secrets to the public in the hope of getting the power plant shut down and the organisation investigated, or so she claims. It's rather muddying the waters of what was assumed to be an upcoming villain, but on the flipside it probably is going to be an act of cyber-terrorism.
The GFlores email account (which you can get the login for below) on lumerico.mx has had a couple more updates since last we took a look, explaining that some dodgy code was found in the networking division's mainframe, and showing how the staff of the powerplant is reacting to Sombra messing around with their systems. Or, well, us messing around with their systems. She's some sort of superhero hacker queen but she needs the bickering nerds of the internet - most notably the Game Detectives Discord - to help her break in? Think she needs a tech upgrade.
That Discord, incidentally, will be where it all kicks off again at some point tonight or tomorrow, depending on when Blizzard feels like dropping another hint - Tuesday is patch day, but Monday is sooner and people are mighty impatient. Plus, as stated before, it's very unlikely that she's being patched in before BlizzCon next week.
Update October 19, 2016: It's another day, so obviously more Sombra stuff is happening, which also means nothing is happening at all. The numbers, Mason.
Now ARG hunters have deciphered the beeps on the Bastion door in Dorado, leading them to even more clues and potential dead ends. Can we have Sombra now, Blizzard? Please?
Here's the video with the beeps:
The Game Detectives Discord solved the morse code, coming up with 'SQOFJFBNITIZWGDXSDO'. They put that through a Vinegere Cipher with the passphrase being '[email protected]:[email protected]@', and got 'ACCESSWWWLUMERICOMX', which means 'www.lumerico.mx'. That passphrase was taken from a previous part of the ARG. Are you still following?
At the Lumerico site there's a phone number at the bottom. Calling it apparently results in a Spanish voice saying, "5 2 4 1 3 23 4 14 8 6 18 17 23 21 18 15". These numbers converted to letters is "E B D A C W D N H F R Q W U R O", and once shifted 23 spaces it spells out "B Y A X Z T A K E C O N T R O L"
HyzerBlade solved this as a trasposition cipher with the key 52413 - the first words spoken by the Spanish woman on the phone. The hunters uncovered this message, since translated to English:
"I'm congratulating you for getting in here. I only wanted to know if you were ready or not.
"(Hey, it's really difficult to get good help lately... you should see some of the clowns I'm working with). For now, let's continue with the true challenge: taking down Lumerico Corp president Guillermo Portero. Why?
"Because he's a greedy and corrupt man, and an abominable thief. His plan of bringing in line the most powerful and biggest zigurat the 1st of november us nothing more than a deceit, an elaborate plan by his gang to become even more influential in the people of Mexico and get more money. And who's gonna pay for that? Common people, the ones that are always forgotten.
"I've started upgrading my protocols so that they are used to take down the Lumerico Corp infraestructure and Los Muertos are also trying to go against the revolution. Meanwhile, search the Lumerico Corp site for info we can use against the motherfucker, or better, get his username and password so that hundreds "not so favorable" facts about the president start popping up.
"I was able to get the username and pass of a Lumerico Corp employee, start here:
If you use that username (GFlores) and password (g#fNwP5qJ) at the bottom there to login to the Lumerico site, you get access to a bunch of emails. There's too much text to post here, but check the emails on Pastebin, if you don't want to log into Lumerico. The ARG folks went from there to finding alogin and password for the President of Lumerico, GPortero, and got into his emails. This was from a git repository shown in the source code of the Presidental Bypass site, that when downloaded had decruptable information with a password inside.
Inside the President's email was a whole lot of nothing for about half an hour, until Sombra (using a maintenance account) sent a secret email aimed at those finishing the ARG. It reads, in Google Translated Spanish:
"I see you have been able to infiltrate in your mail.
"Do not worry, he can not see this email, I've hidden from view if you connect from one of the known IP addresses.
"I need a little more time to set the next group of potocolos. Stay tuned early next week. I'll take a few dirty rags in their emails to be filtered to the public "accidentally". We'll see how they react to the media."
So. See you Monday, we guess? For our thoughts on the Sombra ARG in general, slightly out of date as they may be, have a look at the video above.
Update October 18, 2016: Well it's 8pm and something has happened, but we're not sure exactly what it means just yet. Bloody ARGs.
The Sombra countdown on AMomentInCrime.com hit 100%, and it flashed up with the following message:
... Protocol v1.95 Shadow started ...
... finished Transmission - ending load ...
... Charging complete. Bastion Unit E-54 committed ... ... Completing connection ..."
Additionally, the garbled code has reappeared on the Battle.net forums.
We're not entirely sure what any of this means, but tucked inside the source code of the Sombra countdown on AMomentInCrime.com was this "v220.127.116.11.324" - this matches up as the next Overwatch patch from the current version of 18.104.22.168.32374. Sombra being next ain't exactly news though.
Nothing seems to be happening for now, which is a bit disheartening after so much buildup. It's still possible a patch could drop tonight, of course, but it doesn't look likely.
The good news is, we'll have a roundup on our weekly show, Overwatch This: Episode 4, tomorrow.
Update October 18, 2016: Sombra may finally make her appearance today, but we've heard that before.
The longest hype-campaign for a single character ever put into a videogame may finally come to an end, or at least a more satisfying conclusion, at 8pm BST / High Noon Pacific. On current estimates, this is when the Sombra countdown/up on AMomentInCrime.com will hit 100% and, hopefully, reveal a little more about the purple-poser and her hacking ways - it's just not clear exactly when.
Despite grumblings around the mis-management of the ARG, excitement is once again reaching a fever pitch within the community. This thread is the hub for all panic / mindless refreshing now that we've reached over 99% - 99.4648% at time of writing. The increase rate has slowed slightly in the last couple of days, likely when Blizzard realised a miscalculation was going to have things finish when none of them were in the office. As mentioned in the comments there, the new increase rate of 0.0031% every few minutes puts the finish time at some point tonight for the west coast US (and Blizzard).
When? Well this person claims it will be at 7pm UTC. That's 8pm British time or, yes, midday Pacific. If this all turns out to be a McCree skin, well, it's probably the best bit of high-profile trolling this side of the Rick Astley AMA.
Last week on Overwatch This we discussed what we were likely to see - with Joel fairly positive a hint of ankle and a "coming soon" would be the limit of what we see. Have a wathc of it above. At this point, anything short of a PTR release is likely to be disappointing for some, but we'll take a trailer.
Honestly, it looks like we'll take anything:
More to follow - hopefully - in a few hours.
Update October 11, 2016: As Halloween Terror grips the Overwatch community the PTR has yet to be re-enabling, suggesting our hacker friend Sombra may not be trick or treating with us tonight.
The potential release date for Sombra onto the PTR after it was taken down last week has not come to pass, however the amomentincrime.com countdown is still holding steady for an October 18 finish. Perhaps she'll appear as part of next week's Junkenstein-flavoured Brawl?
Update October 10, 2016: Leaks, hints and countdowns are all merging into one ahead of what people are suspecting is a reveal tomorrow.
Sombra may finally make her debut tomorrow. The patch currently on the PTR is expected to drop in the usual Tuesday slot, bringing with it a few balance changes and the Overwatch Halloween skins and cosmetics. However, after a spate of leaks combined with general hopeful impatience of the community, it's now thought that the long awaited Sombra will release tomorrow.
This is believed to be what she'll look like:
It fits with the general style of Overwatch characters, and looks exactly like a win-pose. The low-def background - and obviously phone-cam picture - are a little off, but it's an exceptionally convincing fake if it is. Moreover, the design matches pictures of un-named characters we've seen before, and the colouration hits the shade of purple we've seen official hints use. The chance of this being a deliberate leak is low, but the timing of it points towards tomorrow.
On the flip-side, the Moment In Crime countup isn't going to hit 100 before tomorrow evening, and still looks on-track for the end of the month. It also doesn't make much sense to bundle content drops up like this, especially with a show the size of BlizzCon just a few weeks away. Releasing things when they're done is one thing, but holding them for your biggest show of the year with an adoring crowd is another. Plus, generally, this sort of thing needs some beta testing to iron out bugs on a wider scale.
Will she pop up tomorrow? Only time will tell. More hints are, at least, almost certainly guaranteed. In the mean time, you can watch our run-down of what's coming in the patch above.
Update September 9, 2016: After a couple of weeks, the progression timer is still slowly ticking up. Meanwhile, a few hints have been discovered in-game.
Sombra resolutely refuses to appear. Beyond frustrating a few avid fans confused why the ARG is both taking so long and lacks their involvement, she's also began to show up with in-game mentions, but there's no hint as to her being closer to a reveal. The assumption is that in two long months she'll be revealed at Blizzcon on November 4.
On Reddit, one user spotted that the ticker text on Numbani had changed. It now describes an on-going hacking spree. Newspapers in Dorado have similarly altered with the same message. Other in-game media has changed as well, with Volskaya's TVs now showing a live feed of further Omnic attacks. Some are linking this to Sombra hacking Omnics, others think it's just the story moving forward in other ways. Some of these changes have apparently been around for a while, but only just been highlighted.
Meanwhile the count-up timer on AMomentInCrime sits at 26 and some percent. This is a cause of some frustration for people, and so far the ARG does seem poorly designed in terms of going live too early. Even if the announcement is due at the end of this month, that's far too long a wait to watch a countdown. While it has given us information as to the announcement date, it's unsatisfying beyond that. Still, there's an argument it's better than nothing.
If anything actually changes, which looks unlikely at this point, we'll keep you updated.
Update August 25, 2016: A countdown clock serving as the latest part of Blizzard’s Sombra ARG has finally ticked over, revealing a new element in the latest Overwatch mystery.
As we detailed yesterday evening, a time stamp linked to the original forum post that sparked the latest part of Blizzard’s Sombra ARG for Overwatch was spotted to be counting down, not up.
Yesterday evening, said clock hit zero and, in tandem, resulted in an update to the AMomentInCrime.com website. The site now sports a black background and purple text, text which - when translated from Spanish - reads:
... Connecting ...
... Protocol v1.9 Shadow started ...
... Transmitting information assets ómnicos ... 4%
... Terminating connection ...
Speculation across the internet suggests the percentage, which currently sits at 4% but has taken many hours to reach that number, is ticking up only when fans solve more of the puzzle. It’s certainly not moving fast, that’s for sure.
In addition, hidden in the webpage’s source code now sits the sentence “Bien hecho, ya tienen mi clave. Hackear este programa de televisión no tuvo chiste. Espérense a lo que sigue.” Loosely translated, that comes in at “Good job, you have my key now. Hacking this TV program was easy. Wait for what is next.”
We’ll be keeping an eye on just how fast that percentage level ticks up over the coming days.
Update August 24, 2016: Yet more developments in Blizzard’s Sombra ARG for Overwatch, with fans on Reddit piecing more of the puzzle together ahead of a mysterious reveal.
Said reveal appears to be linked to the original forum post that sparked the latest bout of intrigue. The post’s timestamp is counting down, rather than up, pointing towards some kind of unveiling in little over an hour.
As an aside to all this, yesterday’s line of inquiry (which you can read in full below this update) led to curious email written in Spanish and featuring a run of strange numbers delivered when you sent a blank message to [email protected]
At the time the email left fans scratching their heads, though further investigation by Game Detectives suggests said numbers are in fact time stamps which, when matched with the skull decoded from the original forum post, delivers a 5x5 table full of 25 different characters. If that wasn’t complicated enough, when this grid is used as a key for the Bifid cipher it delivers a string of different numbers and letters:
j . 7 F 5 7 O , N L v : q j . 7 B : , 1 q v @ B 1 j 5 i v B : ,
12 21 42 54 53 42 24 32 45 15 33 34 44 12 21 43 14 34 32 55 44 33 22 14 55 12 53 31 33 14 34 32
1 2 2 1 4 2 5 4 5 3 4 2 2 4 3 2 4 5 1 5 3 3 3 4 4 4 1 2 2 1 4 2
1 4 3 4 3 2 5 5 4 4 3 3 2 2 1 4 5 5 1 2 5 3 3 1 3 3 1 4 3 4 3 2
11 24 23 14 34 22 55 45 54 34 43 23 22 42 31 24 45 55 11 52 35 33 33 41 43 43 11 24 23 14 43 22
It doesn’t end there, my friends. This string is actually leet-speak, which when translated delivers the phrase “Sombra Information is power Sombra.” Nope, I’m none the wiser. Nevertheless, we can expect more when the aforementioned clock reaches zero at around 12.20pm PST / 8.20pm BST.
Previous Update August 24, 2016: Blizzard has teased Overwatch fans with yet another hidden message, this time appearing as a glitch on the Battle.net forums.
The long sprawling code appears a few seconds after loading up a post on the forums - a post that initially reads “la que tiene la información; tiene el poder” in Spanish. Roughly translated, that means “she who has the information, has the power” - a phrase which has previously featured in messages concealed in the Sombra ARG.
However, when the screen glitches out a few seconds later, the aforementioned code sprawls across the screen - a code which, when run through base64, reveals a skull that looks especially similar to one uncovered in a previous puzzle.
Similar, but not identical. Indeed, Overwatch fans on Reddit quickly found which characters differed between the two skulls, lined them up, and then ran them through caeser-23 cipher (23 because Sombra is Overwatch’s 23rd hero) to uncover yet more Spanish, this time in the form of: LESPROMETIUNJUEGO ... CREOQUEUSTEDESLOSDETECTIVESDEJUEGOSLOLLAMARIANUNTRAILHEAD ?BLZGDAUSA-AMBAS-CALAVERAS.HTML
A quick translate reveals said code means "I promised you a game... I believe you Game Detectives would call it a Trail Head (?BLZGDA) use both skulls." The Game Detectives discord quickly added what appears to be a URL at the end of the previous Spanish phrase to the end of Blizzard’s standard image sharing site and uncovered a video as a result.
This video, in fact, which appears to show the vitals of a Janina Kowalska, believed to be a psydonym for Ana Amari, the latest hero to be added to Overwatch’s line up. Think you’re done? Nope. Hidden in the video’s description when downloaded is yet more Spanish - “Parecen estar muy interesados en estos "héroes". ¿Tal vez les interese conocer algunos detallitos que he averiguado sobre ellos?” - which translates to “They seem to be very interested in these "heroes". Maybe interested to know some details that I found out about them?”
What’s more, the heart beat flashing away in Janina’s vitals is actually morse code, which when decripted spells out “a moment in crime” - a reference to a fake show Blizzard used in an Overwatch YouTube trailer back in September last year. Again, folks went to AMomentInCrime.com, which features a block of (yet more) Spanish text - Spanish text that, in English, reads:
... Connecting ...
... Protocol v1.3 Shadow started ...
... Sneaking up automatic email response tracks ...
... Terminating connection ...
Still with me? We’re not quite done. Perhaps most interestingly, the email address associated with AMomentInCrime.com - [email protected] - which was initially tweeted out with said YouTube video last year has now started sending replies to anyone who drops it a mail, as hinted in the message. These replies feature a load of codes. Like, loads of them, and no-one really knows what they are. Oh, the mystery.
Update August 19, 2016: We sat down with Blizzard's Aaron Keller, assistant game director on Overwatch, and asked him what we all want to know - what's going on with Sombra? Here's what he said.
Well, we had to ask, y'know? Don't shoot the messenger, okay?
First we asked Keller straight up about what the deal with Sombra is and how the ARG was going. He was cryptic, to say the least, explaining that "it's really difficult to say, because it's so mysterious. There's really nothing I or anybody else can do to control Sombra, she's - she's her own person. I can't say."
Alright, no dice. We tried a second angle, asking what it was like to make an ARG, particularly versus a normal videogame. Oh, how smart we thought we were.
"Yeah, that's true, it could be - the ARG is actually so secretive that I don't even know what it is myself," he laughs. "It's like CIA-level material, so I couldn't really comment on it."
'Nothing here' you may be thinking and anybody with all their screws tied in would think the same. However, having delved the depths of the Sombra ARG, what Keller says here is reminiscent of what Kaplan said when asked similar questions on streams in the past couple of months. Specifically, the mention of the CIA.
A clue? A coincidence? Endless grasping at straws? There's an army of slightly desperate solvers who will find the truth soon, no doubt, but that's what we got. Good luck.
Update August 12, 2016: The Overwatch Sombra ARG may have come to an end as the mysterious lady herself challenges solvers to play a real game. We can think of one she'd be good in.
The longest character reveal process of all time may finally be finishing as Overwatch's 23rd hero comes out of the shadows. The Sombra ARG crew on the Game Detectives Discord found and deciphered a number of new clues hidden in webpages last night, translating to the above picture.
The latest adventure began on the Overwatch profile page (which you can access by logging in on the official site), where a new achievement had popped up on people's profiles named simply ?. Here's a picture:
In the source code of that page, around the area that denotes the achievement, is a comment with a spanish phrase followed by a code. It reads "Vientos, nada mal. No obstante, me aburro. Intentemos algo nuevo en la misma dirección" - "Damn, not bad. However, I'm getting bored. Let's try something new in the same direction" in English - and then "uczihriwgsxorxwunaarawryqhbrsfmeqrjjmu 5552E494 78T3 4VM9 OPL6 IS8208O913KRlrx."
This was decoded using a Vigenére Cipher, a fairly basic way to encode messages that involves swapping letters based on a pass phrase. The pass phrase for this used the heroes seen in the Summer Games trailer with various cardinal directions in the background - 'tracer-torbjorn-winston-symmetra-dva-mercy-bastion-genji-mccree' without the punctuation.
That spits out a URL hosted on Blizzard's image server, leading to this image:
This is another datamoshed image, similar to the one found that was used to point the community away from their ramblings earlier this week. Unmosh it from the screenshot of the Overwatch map Volskaya it originally was and you get an ASCII image of a skull - very Hackers - and another Spanish phrase: "Parece que te gustan estos jueguitos... por que no jugamos uno de verdad?"
This translates to "It seems you like these little games... Why don't we play a real one?" but doesn't seem to lead anywhere further. Some believe the ARG is over - or at least we're meant to wait for Sombra to leave another clue - while others are convinced there's information hidden in the layout of the ASCII of the skull.
Equally, there are mysteries left unsolved. The achievement and datamoshing clue were created after the ARG began, meaning the original intention of the compass images hasn't been discovered. The Tracer trail has also never factored into any of this, and will have its own passcode. It's of note that the community wasn't lead to anything particularly satisfying. Some would have expected a trailer or at least screenshot of Sombra.
Either way, this is probably the end of the story until Blizzard give us more. They're at Gamescom in force so we'll try to get the answers.
Update August 9, 2016: After a busy week of investigating by the community, Blizzard ended up dropping new hints to get them back on track.
Perhaps the only thing better than watching an ARG go right is watching one go so wrong the organiser has to step in to keep everyone sensible. That's exactly what's happened with Overwatch's Sombra clues and hints, when the community spent the better part of the last week doing the ARG equivalent of staring into the sun and asking why their eyes were bleeding.
In the simplest possible terms, players believed that looking directly into the sky while standing on a control point on the Dorado map - the center point of much of the Sombra hints - was creating a pattern of shadows that could be interpreted. This was being combined with looking directly down on one of the Nepal's control points to create some sort of cipher and, well, it was all total nonsense. Artifacting was causing the shadows in the sky, but to get everyone off the trail, Blizzard had to step in.
Rather than just sending a tweet, they did at least continue the theme of a mysterious character, presumably Sombra herself, communicating with players through coded means. The Overwatch website was updated with a new screenshot that was obviously corrupted. This was using a technique known as data moshing, which hides information in images to produce artistic effects. When extracted, it came out as this:
"Por que estan mirando al cielo? La respuesta no esta sobre sus cabezas, esta detras de ustedes. A veces, necesitan analizar sus logros previos."
Which in English becomes...
"Why are you looking at the sky? The answer isn't over your heads, it's behind you. Sometimes, you need to analyze your previous achievements."
Quite the telling off, and obviously a reaction to the sky code. Before this, many had already assumed it was nonsense as no part of it seemed to be turning into identifiable data, but this refocused the Game Detectives Discord into looking elsewhere. Final progress has still not been made on the code seen in Tracer's trail, but based on that message it will involve previous riddles.
The squad of people now working on it are being careful not to allow this to happen again - each bit of information needs to lead to another, rather than simply trying things for the sake of it. They are now starting to hit up against a problem of time, with Gamescom looming large next week and likely where we'll see the next batch of Overwatch reveals.
Update August 3, 2016: While the code hasn't been cracked, more clues have been found.
The Sombra ARG is approaching mind-losing territory as the community has spent 24 hours repeatedly digging through the same trailer. It's not all been for nothing, however - a series of numbers, letters and directional arrows have been discovered at various points throughout the video.
Only appearing in the North American version of the Summer Games trailer, seen below, here's where and when each one is:
- 0:17 - East, on a billboard in the background.
- 0:19 - the letter C on one of the steps behind D.Va.
- 0:21 - An arrow pointing upwards on one of the points of a temple.
- 0:22 - An arrow pointing downwards on another roof side panel.
- 0:24 - A compass pointing south east on a wooden slat.
- 0:30 - West, on the plating behind Symmetra.
- 0:34 - South West, written on the wall behind Bastion, in the tunnel.
- 0:46 - NE, written on a ship behind Windston.
- 0:47 - Arrow pointing NW, again behind Tracer.
You can see a full album of screencaps of these on Imgur. The majority of the decoding and clue-hunting is happening on the Game Detectives Discord, subreddit and associated Wiki, who have been spending all day hunting down different bits. They also spent most of this morning trying to decode soundwaves that turned out to be total gibberish, so don't go too hard on the poor folks, they're trying.
No solution has yet presented itself as various passwords for the code in Tracer's trail are still being attempted. The majority now wait for a stroke of genius or another clue from Blizzard as to where they should look.
Chances are things will come to a head at or before Gamescom, when it's expected Sombra will be revealed.
Update August 2, 2016: Blizzard are teasing something in the latest trailer for the Summer Games Overwatch update, and it's safe to assume it's for the next hero, Sombra.
If you pause the new Overwatch trailer at exactly eight seconds, you can see some garbled code in the speed trailer coming off Tracer. Reddit has been going mad trying to decipher it.
According to the Reddit thread, it's an encrypted code that's been 'salted' similarly to how modern passwords are stored along with random characters to make sure the encrypted version is different, even for two people with the same password.
Still, we have no idea what it actually means. Here's the code if you fancy a crack:
U2FsdGVkX1+vupppZksvRf5pq5g5XjFRlipRkwB0K1Y96Qsv2L m+31cmzaAILwytX/z66ZVWEQM/ccf1g+9m5Ubu1+sit+A9cenD xxqklaxbm4cMeh2oKhqlHhdaBKOi6XX2XDWpa6+P5o9MQw==
You can also see it at the eight-second mark in the trailer below:
Reddit cracked the last code, which was just as complex. The payoff was that it spelled out "SOMBRA", so maybe don't get too excited, eh?
Update July 12, 2016: The first new Overwatch hero has been revealed, a medic sniper who will take the game's total roster to 22.
The new character is Ana Amari, Pharah's mother and decorated Overwatch hero of yesteryear.
You can see Ana Amari in action over on the new Overwatch hero reveal trailer post. She can sure hold her own against the favourites.
Update Jun 7, 2016: Jeff Kaplan says that new Overwatch characters will be added to the game one at a time, rather than in batches.
We know that the next Overwatch characters - and maps to go along with them - are to be free. Exactly how and when they'll make it to our hard drives is less certain. Even Blizzard aren't sure, as in an interview with Eurogamer, Jeff Kaplan says that they're still working out the cadence with which they should update.
"We have a gut feeling from when we added new maps and heroes to the beta," he says, "But what we want to do is release our first new maps and our first new heroes and then get a sense from the community as to like, was that too much? Was that too little? Is it better to release them this way or that way? We feel like we're going to learn a lot from those first few updates that happen.
"An example from the beta is that we felt like our release rate was pretty good for the most part, but we widely on the team felt like releasing Mei, D. Va and Genji all at the same time was way too disruptive for the game. That was a lesson that we learnt. When we come out with our first new heroes post-launch, we're going to do them one at a time for a while, until we feel the game really stabilises."
This is interesting to hear, as there have been widely-approved threads on community forums says that they would prefer this batch method to one at a time, so every game doesn't devolve into six-or-more of the hot-new-thing whenever they're patched in. It's possible Blizzard could counteract this by releasing alongside balance patches, maps and other changes so people are drawn in different directions.
What they're trying to avoid, says Kaplan, is the problem of people immediatey demanding all of the new characters be removed for being broken, or bad designs, because all the change at once makes them harder to deal with.
In the same interview, Kaplan said that the community hasn't yet found all the clues regarding new characters. "[Blizzard] have put a lot of hints, all over the game and out of the game, so I would say it's about time that people are concerned with who Sombra is. I hope they keep researching more and find more hints that are out there."
When asked specifically whether that meant we haven't found everything yet, he said "No. No sir." Time to get hunting through files, exploring maps and checking behind the code equivalent of the bins. Kaplan also said he wasn't surprised when many were positive we would see the reveal of Sombra during the Soldier: 76 cinematic, Hero, just before launch day.
Original story May 23, 2016: If you’ve spent a little time in the Overwatch community the past few weeks, you’ve likely heard whispers of characters called Sombra and Athena. The latter is the game’s version of TF2’s Administrator, passing judgement on everything that happens in the game, while the former is a tantalisingly teased character who appears in several maps and one bit of dialogue.
With the chance to sit down with game designer Michael Chu, I figured it was time to put the question direct to the only people with answers - all that was offered was more ambiguity.
The Overwatch community has built up the idea of Athena being a character over time, seeing flashes of her teased in maps and stories. I asked Chu if this community input had affected the squad at Blizzard in how they saw her developing:
“Well she is a character!” he laughed, before I clarified if that meant playable. “It’s interesting because we always - from the beginning we had this idea that we wanted the announcer to be a character, and not just the random voice of god. We really wanted her to be a character, and so the first way that we were able to evidence that was in the Recall short - and yeah, that’s where she is... right now.”
There was a definite hint that info could be forthcoming there, but the answer was expectedly mysterious.
When I asked specifically about rumoured support-sniper Sombra, Chu was even more cryptic: “I’ve heard of some… thing, or some person or some code,” he chuckled. “But no, no I don’t have anything to tell you.”
That’s the official word on new characters from Blizzard. At least we know we won’t ever have to pay for them. Can you decipher any more from these quotes than us? Let us know in the comments below.