Blizzard have revealed that in the wake of Sunday’s ‘Alive’ featuring Widowmaker and Tracer, there will be two more Overwatch animated shorts released before the launch of the game. The expanded multi-media universe (it is very definitely 2016, isn’t it?) will also get six digital comics in that time - I would assume telling a single, long story. Speculation is already rife on which characters will be featured in each, as well as the story implications of what we've seen so far.
If you’re planning on playing in open beta at the start of May, you’re going to need to decide which is the best Overwatch character.
The news actually popped up on Saturday, buried deep in a Facebook comment on the official page. Along with the numbers news, they weren’t forthcoming about which characters would be taking center stage, but a close look at preview footage from Blizzcon plus a few logical assumptions means the community think they’ve sussed it out.
You can clearly see two so-far unrevealed storyboards in that trailer - one featuring samurai brothers Hanzo and Genji, the other Soldier: 76. There’s also very high quality renders of their character models shown, plus some footage that is very clearly their signature abilities, particularly Hanzo’s swirling double-dragon arrow. They also have less time dedicated to them, and less completed footage, than either Recall or Alive, so it would make sense that they were debuting after those two. On that same token, there's more from Hanzo/Genji than S76, so I'd expect that one first. Lastly, both are storylines that have already been heavily hinted at by Blizzard as Things To Resolve Soon - Hanzo and Genji’s rivalry and mutual hatred, plus Soldier: 76’s backstory.
Meanwhile, the answer to questions about Widowmaker and Tracer’s relationship, plus why exactly the sniper was so happy every time she spawned onto London-based map King’s Row, came in yesterday’s debut of Alive.
While I think the animation is high quality, and I really like how these stories are being told, Overwatch’s voice acting and dialogue is not keeping up with the quality of everything around it. I get that it’s deliberately stereotyped, and that it’s not easy to find a cast who can pull off well recorded, heavily-accented lines, but some of it is getting unbearably cringeworthy. Given the Saturday morning cartoon theme, maybe that’s just par for the course, but Blizzard have done better in the past.
Anyway, more to come soon. Overwatch’s open beta starts May 5, or on the 3rd if you pre-order. It runs until May 9, at which point no more Overwatch for anyone outside Blizzard HQ before release on the 23rd. At a guess, we’ll get another animated short for the start of open beta, then the comics filling the gap, before a final short to hype the release. Expect a ludicrous media blowout around that time - this is Blizzard’s biggest release in years, and the first time they’ve gone all in on multi-platform at release time since they were called Silicon & Synapse.