While Overwatch itself doesn't have in-game cut-scenes or a single-player story mode to speak of, Blizzard has worked to build the game's universe and lore through other means. There are plenty of Overwatch comic books and short stories that go a long way in providing deeper insight into the characters and expanding on their backstories, but perhaps the most effective way Blizzard has told the game's stories is through its animated shorts.
Blizzard has produced a number of Overwatch animated shorts in the years since the game was first revealed, all of which showcase specific heroes and provide players with more context for what's happening. A new short has been released since 2019, but the ones that Blizzard has released give fans of the hero-shooter plenty to chew on.
While not officially labeled as an "animated short," the first Overwatch animation was revealed at BlizzCon 2014. It establishes the general concept of the Overwatch universe, showing two kids in a museum talking fondly about the disbanded Overwatch hero group. Suddenly, the kids find themselves in the middle of a fight that sees Overwatch agents Winston and Tracer take on Talon operatives Reaper and Widowmaker.
Reaper and Widowmaker are apparently attacking the museum in an effort to get Doomfist's gauntlet. The kids manage to get their hands on the gauntlet and use it to give Winston and Tracer an assist in the battle. Eventually, Winston and Tracer are able to win the fight, successfully preventing Reaper and Widowmaker from making off with the gauntlet.
The first official Overwatch animated short dropped a couple of months before the game's launch in May 2016. Entitled "Recall," the short sets the stage for Overwatch's story, detailing the origin of Tank hero Winston as he initiates the Overwatch Recall.
The titular Overwatch was essentially a group of superheroes that fought on the side of humanity in an event known as the Omnic Crisis. A black ops arm of the Overwatch group that carried out assassinations and other secret operations, dubbed Blackwatch, was outed to the public. Due to its connection to Overwatch, the United Nations made the decision to effectively shut down both groups.
Winston, a gorilla who was raised on the Horizon Lunar Colony and given vast intellect and the ability to speak by the scientist who raised him, now lives alone at Watchpoint: Gibraltar. In the short, he is reminiscing about his childhood and his time with the Overwatch team. However, the base is suddenly attacked by Talon forces led by former Darkwatch member Reaper, as they try to steal data on the world's Overwatch agents.
Winston is able to fight them off, zapping Reaper and sending the Talon forces fleeing. Then using the AI Athena, he makes the decision to recall Overwatch, reuniting the group in the face of new threats.
In the Overwatch universe, there is a great deal of divide between humans and Omnics, worsened by the Omnic Crisis. However, some individuals have ben attempting to restore relations between humans and Omnics, with a key figure in that movement being the monk Tekhartha Mondatta. An influential spiritual and political leader, Mondatta became a target for the villainous Talon group, and so they sent their top assassin Widowmaker to kill him.
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