We Could Always Use More HeroesTags:
June 8, 2016 by Travis Anderson
Like many a poor soul throughout the world, I have been held in the rigid jaws of a little game called Overwatch for the past two weeks. Before that a mix of sickness, motivation drain, and traditional, country grown laziness kept me from writing anything on this site. We should still blame the game, though. That sweet, sweet digital smack…Anyway!
Speaking of Overwatch, I got caught up on the idea of how iconic and recognizable their characters had become even before the game was released. Here’s a new shooter, created by a beloved company, yes, but one who has never tackled an FPS before. Do their other IPs have great characters that are well-known? Definitely, but those characters grew and developed over years of games, books, comics, and constant feeding of the media beast. What do we know about Overwatch, the world or the characters? Quite little, actually, and yet all these heroes feel familiar, like a trusted gamepad or worn-down keyboard.
Numerous factors have probably gone into creating that feeling in players and fans. Blizzard wanted us to get excited about being able to play these characters, desire to learn more about them, and stoke the fires of our anticipation for when we finally got our hands on the game itself. I only started getting obsessive about the game a few months before its release. I can’t imagine how rabid people were to finally play as Mei or Genji or Zarya who had been following since this was announced. Not only that, we have a myriad of other games and media that have trained us dorks to get hyped for particular types of characters. Reinhardt’s a giant armour clad knight with an energy shield. Winston’s a science loving gorilla who can talk and swing into a primal rage. Genji is a cyborg ninja. A. Cyborg. Ninja. Come on!
No matter the reasons, I remain impressed and entertained by the fact that with so little written information and – at least until streamers started showing off the game – Blizzard made us fall in love with heroes we knew pretty much nothing about. Thanks to fantastic designs, bright colours, and a Saturday morning cartoon feel that should make anyone feel like a kid again, it was a forgone conclusion that this game was going to steal our hearts. And our money.
Damn loot boxes.
Even though I’m a writer, I have an intense love and awe for those who can draw. Concept art is something I can pour over again and again because it’s just so beautiful to me. It inspires me and makes me happy, to see imagination come to life. Overwatch is a game that, while I might get angry and annoyed during matches, legitimately makes me happy. I don’t really know the last game that I could say that of.
When I look at the characters and the world, even though it’s only a game, I can’t help but think of one word: hope.
There’s hope in the designs and personalities of characters like Tracer and Winston. There’s hope in the colours and brightness of the maps. There’s hope in the setting itself, a world torn apart by war looking for the heroes it cast aside, but who can no longer hide away and let people suffer. It’s brimming with it, and I love that.
Blizzard has outdone themselves and they did most of the heavy lifting before the servers ever went live. They’ve created new icons for a new generation of gamers. If we’re lucky, it’ll be a hopeful one.