A closer look at the extensive lore behind Overwatch

By Olivia Richman


Oct 22, 2019

Reading time: 6 min

Despite being a highly competitive FPS centered around battling other teams and players, Overwatch has a surprising amount of lore. In a game where you basically protect a moving vehicle as it makes its way through the map, the story behind the maps and the heroes protecting those payloads is complex and sometimes emotionally gripping. 

There’s so much lore to explore that it can get a little overwhelming. Here’s a closer look at Overwatch’s backstory to give you a better understanding of your chosen hero, their motives, and their abilities. 

Earth, 30 years in the future

Many of the maps you see in Overwatch are a blend of recognizable landmarks combined with flashes of vibrant, advanced architecture and technology. There’s flying cars, teleportation, and robots. In 30 years, sentient robots will mingle with citizens on every corner of the earth. These robots are called omnics. 

While first created to bolster manufacturing and the ecnonomy, it soon became clear that the omnics had plans of their own. Soon, robots were plotting to overthrow the human race. Protests and uprisings plagued cities all across the world. 

A solution was needed. The omnics had to be stopped. But how? 

Overwatch is formed

The United Nations came together to form a team out of the world’s best soldiers and the most advanced technolgoy. The team was called Overwatch and it was led by a military veteran Gabriel Reyes, now known as Reaper, and an enhanced soldier and close friend of Jack Morrison, or Soldier: 76. 

The team started off small. There was Gerard Lacroix, Torbjorn Lindholm, Reinhardt Wilhelm, Ana Amario, and Liao. These were Overwatch’s founders. Together, they hoped to stop the omnic uprising and save the world. 

The human race weren’t the only ones to suffer at the hands of the ongoing war. During the Omnic Crisis, Bastion units fought on the frontlines in the hopes of maintaining peace. But the robots were soon turned against their human creators, becoming the omnics’ rebel army against their will. After the war, many were destroyed, a horrific reminder of the terrifying war that killed both humans and omnics alike. 

But one Bastion survived. Hidden in the forest, Bastion soon awoke to an entirely different world. 


When the small Overwatch team finally defeated the omnics, they were met with adoration from all over the entire world. In response, Overwatch expanded and added new agents with the goal to keep the peace. Soldier: 76 soon became Overwath’s first official commander once the Omnic Crisis ended. 

Blackwatch and the Venice Incident

Behind the scenes, Blackwatch was Overwatch’s covert operations arm, formed at the end of the Omnic Crisis. 

Reaper led a group of Blackwatch agents, including Genji Shimada, Jesse McCree, and Moira O’Deorain, on an operation now known as “The Venice Incident.” 

After a series of attacks at the hands of Talon, one of which resulted in the destruction of the Blackwatch Rome Facility, Reaper and Soldier debated how they wanted to go about a response. An Italian businessman with deep ties to Talon, Antonio, was found to be responsible. But how would they retaliate? 

At Reaper’s instructions, the Blackwatch team arrived in Venice and set up survaillance around Antonio’s manor. Their original plan to infiltrate the mansion was changed when they saw Talon soldiers patrolling the property. Once they made their way inside, the team reached Antonio’s office, who immediately told them that kidnapping him would be a public relations disaster for Blackwatch. 

“You’re right,” Reaper said, who then shot Antonio dead. 

Blackwatch was soon revealed to the public for the first time. Magazines talked of the Blackwatch’s once-secret operations, with headlines including torture and murder. They were soon placed on suspension. 

Overwatch is disbanded

Like many stories, this one didn’t end perfectly. Reaper felt as if the command position should have been his, and a conflict soon developed that rippled through the entire team. But the organization faced opposition from the outside as well, and citizens began to not trust Overwatch anymore. 

But it would take more than that for Overwatch to give up its cause. An accident led to the destruction of the organization’s Swiss headquarters, with Reaper and Soldier both inside. They were pronounced dead and Overwatch was disbanded. 

While their end was met with investigations and distrust, their legacy never died. When the world around them began to crumble once more, an intelligent gorrilla named Winston attempted to bring the team back together. Now an independent organization, Overwatch is full of heroes who continue to fight for the world’s future. 

This later group of heroes was the inspiration behind Overwatch’s Archives event earlier this year. Storm Rising follows Genji, Winston, Mercy, and Tracer as they chase Talon financer Maximilien through the streets of Havana. 

What is Talon? 

You probably put together by now that Talon are the “bad guys” in Overwatch lore, an international terrorist organization. In the organization’s early years, their front-facing persona was that of a group of paid mercenaries. Of course, once some people found out what Talon was all about they left to join Overwatch or fight for peace on their own. This includes Baptiste. 

Not everyone was so lucky. 

Widowmaker was once married to Gerard Lacroix, one of the original members of the Overwatch. Amelie Lacroix was kidnapped by Talon operatives and subjected to an intense program that broke her will, depleted her personality, and reprogrammed her into a sleeper agent. 

She ended up killing her husband in his sleep. After the assassination was complete, Widowmaker became one of Talon’s greatest living weapons. 

Blackwatch’s killing Antonio did nothing to stop the powerful Talon group from spreading chaos and war. In fact, it made it worse. 

After Antonio’s death, a new recruit named Akande Ogundium killed his mentor and took on the moniker Doomfist. He quickly rose through Talon’s ranks thanks to his dogged pursuit of his mission to engulf the world in chaos. Having a powerful gauntlet attachd to his arm didn’t hurt either. 

When Winston and two other new Overwatch agents Genji and Tracer joined forces to take Doomfist down, the powerful leader was sent to prison. But that didn’t last too long. Doomfist was able to escape with help from Reaper, who had joined Talon after his alleged death. It’s unclear when he officially joined Talon, but many speculate he was a part of the organization during his time in Blackwatch. 

Doomfist soon reclaims his gauntlet after defeating Numbani’s defensive omnics and sets his sights on Overwatch once again. 

This is also the event that inspired Numbani resident Efi to create Orisa, a protective robot with a heart. 

Overwatch heroes continue backstory reveals

While that is the main storyline of Overwatch’s intensive lore, there’s always more being revealed as more heroes are added to the game. Along with their addition to the roster, most Overwatch heroes receive a complete backstory and sometimes a short video as well. These often open up an entirely different side of the backstory that completely changes players’ perspective on the aforementioned events. 

Genji was the youngest son of the master of the Shimada ninja clan, living a life of luxury. Since he cared more about pursuing women over the family business, the clan grew weary of Genji and his father for protecting him. But once his father died, Genji’s older brother Hanzo demanded that he become more active in the empire. When Genji refused, there was a violent confrontation that left Genji on the brink of death. 

Genji was rescued by Overwatch, where he was given a cyborg body by Dr. Angela Ziegler, better known as Mercy. Transformed into a living weapon, Genji was at war with himself, disgusted with the mechanical components that kept him alive. That’s when he met Zenyatta, an omnic that helped him to be at peace with his new existence. 

Then there’s Mei, a scientist who began an effort to stop the drastic climate change thought to be accellerated by the great abundance of omnics on earth. During one of her expedeitions, Mei-Ling Zhou and her fellow scientists were taken over by a deadly snow storm. In hopes of surviving, Mei and her colleagues cryogenically froze themselves, waiting to be rescued. She was the only survivor. 

These are the types of stories that make Overwatch fans feel a strong connection to the game, despire there being no real campaign mode to speak of. But it has also left many players wanting more. Luckily, the extensive Overwatch lore may be used in a future Blizzard title that takes place in the Overwatch universe.


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