After four years, it feels like Blizzard is finally starting to figure out interesting means to dish out Overwatch lore to make it feel meaningful while the game itself has its cast push cars from one side of the map to another. Between animated shorts, webcomics, and short stories, Overwatch’s story has taken many forms, but now, with the novel Overwatch: The Hero of Numbani, I feel like I got a more holistic sense of who a character was in a way that almost nothing that’s come before has been able to pull off.
The Hero of Numbani by Nicky Drayden follows Efi Oladele, a kid genius in the Nigerian city of Numbani. Fans of the Overwatch game will know her best as the inventor of Orisa, the tank hero who protects teammates with deployable shields and strengthens their attacks with her Supercharger ultimate ability. The book follows Efi’s journey from prodigy to her creating of one of the heroes of Overwatch, and by honing in on a character’s personal journey, makes the series’ world feel bigger than it ever has, as if it’s full of people with drive and goals rather than just concepts for the next character to push payloads, capture points, and throw a wrench in the meta.
While Overwatch 2 will presumably bring some forward momentum to the main plot when it launches…eventually, The Hero of Numbani sits on the sidelines. Which is probably why Blizzard went this route to tell this story in the first place. So it got me thinking, what are some untold stories in the Overwatch universe that might not fit in Overwatch 2’s campaign, but could make for a solid novel in the future? Let’s run through a few ideas:
Soldier: 76’s messy, angsty breakup
Anyone who knows me knew we’d start here, but if Overwatch really does want to expand more on its queer relationships, this is probably a decent way to do it. As we learned in the Bastet short story, Soldier: 76 was in a loving relationship with a man named Vincent. However, Overwatch’s sad gay dad is married to his work, and it resulted in a schism in his relationship that never recovered. While it seems like Jack “76” Morrison still holds a special place in his heart for Vincent, I doubt we’ll be hearing from him in Overwatch 2, short of some kind of brief reunion between the two after everything is said and done.
It’d be great if we could get a novel that followed Soldier through his early days at Overwatch, get a sense of who Vincent is, and watch their relationship cave to the pressures of being the leader of a team of superheroes. Let me have it, Blizzard. I need this particular tragic, gay love story.
What happened between Genji and Hanzo?
We’ve known for a long time that brothers Genji and Hanzo had a falling out that resulted in the latter believing he’d killed the former. We saw them meet back up in the animated short “Dragons,” and we gather they fought over the direction their family’s criminal empire should go, with Genji wanting to disavow the family business entirely. That sounds like a decent enough set up for a book, yeah? Given that Overwatch 2’s story is moving things forward and Genji has already rejoined Overwatch, it feels unlikely that we spend a ton of time hashing out these two’s family drama. Short of maybe a reconciliation, Hanzo as a character exists more on the outskirts of what’s actually happening in the Overwatch world, anyway. So making him the star of another novel sounds like a good way to give him some spotlight.
Reaper has a family, right?
In the Bastet short story, Soldier: 76 mentions that Reaper, the edgelord, dual shotgun-wielding baddy, had a family at some point, and in the Reflections webcomic, we saw him watching them from the shadows during the holidays. Who are these people? How did they react to Gabriel “Reaper” Reyes turning into a shadow monster that would make a Hot Topic manager blush? How did they handle the fallout of Overwatch that Reaper may have had a direct involvement in? Do they know about Reaper and Soldier’s love affair? Okay, the fan fiction may have gotten to me on that last one. But overall, Reaper is a character who is shaped mostly by his anger and hatred in the fiction, so it would be great for him to get a book that really delved into what his life looked like before he put on the mask.
Sombra has been a pretty enigmatic character for much of her appearances in Overwatch lore. She’s part of the villainous Talon organization, but she seems to be operating on her own terms, even undermining some of the group’s operations in pursuit of her own goals. But Sombra is more than this anti-hero, she was once a young girl during the Omnic Crisis that was the catalyst for this whole thing, so it would be dope to see how she went from an orphaned young girl into one of the most powerful hackers in the Overwatch universe. Maybe make it a framed narrative where she deals with something in present day and see how it ties to some events of her past, yeah?
What is Symmetra even doing?
Symmetra is another hero in Overwatch who is just kind of vibing on the sidelines in terms of the overarching story, so it’s about time she got some real, hefty lore to go along with her distinctive background in the universe. The turret-deploying, hard-light manipulating hero has only really had one notable lore spotlight with the A Better World webcomic, and even that didn’t do a great deal to connect her to what’s actually happening in Overwatch, to the point where it’s hard to say what she’ll be doing when Overwatch 2 comes out. If there were ever a character who could use a novel to flesh out their story, it’s Symmetra.
It would be a crime for me to not mention Zenyatta, who is at the top of the list of characters who are in desperate need of some story content. While I agree this omnic healer needs some love, based on Overwatch 2’s trailers, it looks like he’ll be featured alongside his pupil Genji in the upcoming game. And in general, it seems like that’s his role in the story: Genji’s master. I’d love to learn more, but these are some more pressing storylines on my mind. Plus, Zenyatta could possibly be featured in the Genji/Hanzo book I mentioned earlier.
While these are the stories that stick out in my mind, Efi and Orisa’s origin story would not have been the first book I would have expected to be written as part of this new initiative. Blizzard seems like it’s got a lot of time to kill between now and Overwatch 2, so if this is the form new story content comes in for a bit, I’m ready and eager to see more heroes get their due.