Most FPS games at least have a semblance of story in the gameplay. We understand who the two sides are, what their positions in the conflict is, and its members.

One thing I don't understand is, why are the heroes of Overwatch fighting? Overwatch is long dead; S76 (aka, Jack Morrison) is proof of this. Most of the Overwatch heroes have drifted away to join other gangs or simply vanished off the grid. The rest of the heroes are former outlaws and enemies of Overwatch.

Regarding Cinematics:

  • The trailer Alive shows us Mondatta's assassination. A poster in King's Row mourning Mondatta (omnic gandhi) is proof that the game takes place after that. Widowmaker is part of Talon, and Mondatta is her first confirmed kill.
  • The trailer Recall shows us Winston "getting back into the fight" after Reaper attempts to steal some data. But there are some other elements I am heavily confused about.
  • Blizzcon's 2014 trailer shows Tracer and Winston stopping Reaper and Widowmaker from retrieving Doomfist's Gauntlets from a museum.

Regarding Maps:

  • On Hollywood, defenders are apparently trying to prevent a limousine from getting to its parking spot. There's a voice from inside the limousine that sounds like some actor (sounds like Tony Stark oddly)
  • On Dorado, attackers escort a truck containing some EMP device to the factory in the city.
  • On Numbani the defenders are preventing a vehicle containing Doomfist's Gauntlet from reaching the museum?

And on some other maps, it becomes increasingly unclear exactly why the heroes are fighting and what for. On Watchpoint: Gibraltar we are pushing some rocket car to an oil rig? And on the capture points, it's still unclear why we're trying to capture Volskaya Industries, Nepal, Ilios, etc.

What exactly is the conflict here? Are the bad guys, Reaper, Widowmaker, the members of Talon, are they becoming more deadly?

  • 6
    In games like TF2 it's a little more clear what the conflict is. We know it's BLU vs RED, two organizations dedicated to monopolizing the world's supply of gravel, and they are headed by the Mann brothers, Red and Blu.
    – childe
    Commented May 6, 2016 at 3:49
  • 8
    Blizzard has stated that the game play is separate from the lore. and they are basically making up the lore as they go along. Good luck trying to make any sense of it.
    – Dragonrage
    Commented May 6, 2016 at 4:31
  • 3
    Let's just hope that Overwatch will release with a (single player) campaign mode in which we can experience each character's story.
    – Nolonar
    Commented May 6, 2016 at 7:15
  • There are so many things in this question that I know nothing about, despite playing Overwatch for a few hours last night. Overwatch is a person? Mondatta? Bad Guys? There are bad guys?
    – DCShannon
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 0:45
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    @DCShannon Mondatta is basically robot gandhi. He was fighting for omnics to be treated equal to humans, but was assassinated by Widowmaker in the trailer Alive (something Tracer failed to stop). Widowmaker is the former wife of the head of OW gerald lacroix who was reprogrammed into an assassin (who also killed the same guy)
    – childe
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 0:56

6 Answers 6


From an interview with Michael Chu, a Senior Game Designer on Overwatch (emphasis mine):

If you look at a game like World Of Warcraft, the Horde/Alliance split is such a big deal and such a defining aspect of the game. But Overwatch, pretty much from the start, we didn’t want to restrict ourselves that way. Because the game is so much about having the flexibility to play all these heroes and finding all the ways they play well together or against each other. Because of that we decided that the gameplay of the Overwatch universe wouldn’t be bound by that.

Our story justification – what I usually tell people – is that I think of it as, it’s clearly not canonical, but I think of it as how in comic book stories sometimes Iron Man and Captain America fight each other. Maybe in this instance on this map they’re fighting – for some reason they have some ideological difference or something that’s bringing them against each other.

But I think ultimately it was important for the game that you were able to play whatever characters you want. Blizzard has this development philosophy which is ‘Gameplay first’ and this is definitely an example of where we’ve gone with that.


Overwatch's story comes in the form of the media surrounding the game, including short animations and comics. Prior to the release of the game, Blizzard Watch was keeping up to date with all the individual media pieces and putting the story together, such as this great article about the origins of Reaper.

To give a short answer: They are fighting because it's fun for us outside of the game's narrative. The characters in the game do fight within the story narrative, for many reasons, but it is triggered with the creation of Omnics, robots created to serve humanity. Eventually the Omnics rebel and Overwatch helps to bring them back down again. Certain team members are rewarded with promotions for their performace in the war, which does not go down well with others in the team. (I'll let you read about the rest for yourself on Blizzard Watch.)

A side note: To add the story of Overwatch in to the game would make no sense logistically, at least not in the games current state.

Some of the characters in this game are bad, and I mean bad (go take a look at Widowmaker's origins.) And then we have Tracer and Winston and Soldier 76: staples of the good in the world. And then there's some in-between, some who do or do not agree with the Omnic-Human harmony but cannot decide how to take a stance. (A number of character combinations activates dialog between characters at the start of the game. Some of these characters make derogatory comments to other Omnic characters in the game.)

But outside of the games narrative, we need to be able to use a mixture of these good and bad characters to build teams together. To segregate the characters in to teams would ruin potential builds and effect game play.

The way Blizzard is handling the story is awesome. At the end of the day there is a narrative, and it is being given to us within beautiful videos and brilliant comics.

  • 3
    Please clarify whether the Omnics are turning red or rebelling: "Eventually the Omnics go rouge" : )
    – JamesCW
    Commented May 29, 2016 at 4:27
  • I'm a little confused by this; don't the events of OW take place after the Omnic Crisis?
    – childe
    Commented May 29, 2016 at 9:29
  • 2
    There's some useful information in here, but there's also some opinions I totally disagree with ("the way Blizzard is handling the story is awesome", for one). Be careful of adding opinions to your answers if you have any interest in upvotes.
    – DCShannon
    Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 23:43
  • 2
    @JamesCW if you watch the Bastion short youtu.be/to8yh83jlXg you'll note Bastion (and other siege automatons) do indeed turn red when in "war" mode. So yes, he is indeed "[going] rouge" :D
    – Doktor J
    Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 18:24
  • 2
    @DoktorJ well played sir.
    – JamesCW
    Commented Oct 18, 2016 at 15:32

There is a story but that is completely ignored in the game there isn't any explanation to why they are fighting.


Winston recalls Overwatch because he feels the world is in trouble and it needs them. The "Are You With Us" video shows quick cuts of several violent incidents, including buildings on fire and under attack. It is not clear what is causing the violence.

source: Overwatch Cinematic Teaser | "Are You With Us?"

  • 2
    So there's story in teaser trailers, but not in the game? Great. Good job, Blizzard.
    – DCShannon
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 0:46
  • 1
    @DCShannon You know that Team Fortress 2 (which also does this) was a major influence on Overwatch, right?
    – Powerlord
    Commented May 9, 2016 at 20:04
  • 3
    "and then, um, Team Fortress 2. In a lot of ways, especially when it launched back in 2007, was as perfect of a design of a team-based shooter as you could ever achieve. I mean, visually, from the gameplay mechanics, from the balance, from the maps and the modes... it was just a brilliant, brilliant game. " - Jeff Kaplan, lead designer of Overwatch (you can watch the video for more comments on Overwatch design)
    – Powerlord
    Commented May 9, 2016 at 20:13
  • @Powerlord I heard that game was an influence, but I didn't play it much and didn't know anything about the trailers containing the story. That's disappointing that multiple games have done this now. Hope that practice ends in the future.
    – DCShannon
    Commented May 9, 2016 at 21:09
  • @DCShannon TF2 doesn't so much have a story as it does a thin in universe justification for the gameplay that's reflected in some of the level art. If someone considers it a perfect design for a style if game, they're pretty clearly hiding the game's story as superfluous to the design of the game. Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 3:56

Apparently, each map does have an objective in the story, from what I've heard, but I have no idea where people found them.

  • On King's Row, attackers are anti-Omnic terrorists that must escort an EMP bomb to kill all Omnics in London.
  • On Dorado, IIRC, the attackers are delivering weapons to the gang seen in the Hero short.
  • On Numbani, the attackers are escorting the Doomfist Gauntlet back to the museum. Defenders are looking to steal it.
  • On Hollywood, the attackers are escorting an Omnic movie director (Hal-fred Glitchbot, the same guy who has his name on some of the posters in the attacker spawn) to the filming scene of his next movie. The defenders are anti-Omnics. Yes, it's stupid.

That's the only ones I know.

As of why they're fighting, shit's going off the hook like shit and the hook were having a violent divorce due to tensions between Omnics and humans and rising crime everywhere. Overwatch's activity has been made illegal years ago, but that's not gonna stop them from doing something to make the world a less awful place.

  • 1
    Those scenarios sound pretty plausible. Where'd you hear this?
    – DCShannon
    Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 18:43

Disclaimer: somewhat speculative.

I think there were a lot of reasons in the now cancelled "Project: Titan". Discontinued and stripped down to it's shooter core, all the reasons are more or less gone now. They kept the cool places, heroes, skins and what not but couldn't really find a place for more story outside of the comics and short films.

  • I cannot find the source of the article, but I remember reading in numerous places that when Blizzard scrapped Titan they fully scraped it. The team working on it were entirely disappointed with how it turned out, and on a separate occasion they started to design Overwatch and used it as a redemption. A sort of 'last chance' if you will.
    – ShadyBaby
    Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 13:07

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