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Overwatch’s basic lore questions, answered by an expert

Why is Widowmaker purple? Is 76 /really/ off the grid? Cass answers some basic Overwatch questions.

Look, Overwatch is a wonderful and beautiful world, filled with fantastic and interesting stories. I love fantastic and interesting stories, and gosh darn it, I love Overwatch. But man, there sure is an overwhelming amount of lore for this game that it is hard to keep up. I will never know everything I want to know about Overwatch. But do you know who does? Do you know who knows more about Overwatch lore than I could ever even have questions for? Cass Marshall, site lead of Heroes Never Die.

If you doubt her cred as a Overwatch lore master, don’t. Just read this piece about Widowmaker’s lore, or this one about Talon, oh or this one about Horizon, or all of these.

There are things that I have always wondered about Overwatch, and I am going to get some answers today. Here are some basic-ass Overwatch lore questions that Cass has kindly agreed to answer for me:

Why is Widowmaker purple? I mean, I always assumed she was some kind of weird monster/mutant/alien but then I saw an old picture of her as a not purple person and also she can’t be an alien if she is French. What gives?

Widowmaker is French! Amélie Lacroix was once a ballerina who was married to Gérard, an anti-Talon operative working for Overwatch. Talon kept trying to assassinate Gérard, and he kept surviving the attempts. Eventually, they tried something new: they kidnapped Amélie and neurally reconditioned her to become a Talon agent. Amélie was “rescued”, went home, and everything seemed normal for two weeks... until she ganked her husband and returned to Talon.

From there, they continued to recondition and adapt her. One of the changes is that her heart beats dramatically slower, which turned her blue (or purple, depending on the lighting).

Is she blue? Purple? I can see both.
Blizzard Entertainment

Why can Reaper turn into smoke? OK, so Reyes (which I believe is Reaper’s real name [thanks Origin bundle skins]) was like a human man who worked with Morrison (Soldier 76) back in the Overwatch days. But now he can turn into smoke ... and teleport places ... and grow shot guns from his love handles. I don’t expect that last one to be explained in lore, but surely the other two are?

Related, how did 76 die/not die? He has that wicked scar and the whole “tombstone of Jack Morrison” spray. What is the whole deal behind that? Also is he, like, actually fooling anyone with his whole Soldier 76 thing, or are people just humoring him because he is old?

Gabriel Reyes was the head of Blackwatch, Overwatch’s black ops division. He was apparently jealous that Morrison got the head position of Overwatch during the organization’s golden era—and the glory and statues that came from that—and according to characters like Mercy, this led the two men (who had once been good friends) to grow apart.

So, while Morrison hung out in the spotlight, Reyes was doing some dirty work. In the Uprising comic, Reyes’s Blackwatch are the dudes on the ground. Morrison’s wrapped up in red tape, but he’s still the guy getting the praise. Reaper’s pretty pissed about this, even snarling at Ana that she always took Morrison’s side.

We don’t know what, exactly, happened at the Swiss HQ (besides a massive explosion) but we know that Morrison walked away presumed dead but mostly intact. Reyes came back... wrong. The most likely culprit for this is Mercy, who asks Reaper: “What happened to you?” and Reyes spits back: “You tell me, doc.”

As for 76, most of the cast doesn’t know his identity. They banter with him in the lobby, but those are “what if” scenarios. So far as we know, the only people who know about 76 are Talon and Ana. Otherwise, he’s off the grid, chasing down Reaper, who’s chasing him down.

He’s got you in his sights.
Blizzard Entertainment

I know my boy Zenyatta is an Omnic, but why does he have telekinesis? I mean, just being a robot doesn’t mean that you can float around and throw big metal balls without ever touching them. Seems suspect (I hope the answer to this one isn’t just “magnets”)

Zenyatta’s a monk, my dude! He worships the deity known as The Iris, a benevolent God who sees human and machine as equal. Mondatta was preaching about The Iris during Widowmaker’s short Alive, and it seems to be a religion with a lot of populist support. When Zenyatta ults, that’s him forming the Iris through the power of religious devotion. Presumably the rest of his abilities come from his faith as well.

We’ve only seen two members of the Shambali, the omnic monks who celebrate the Iris and devote themselves to healing the world after the Omnic Crisis. Zenyatta has sick powers and Mondatta got shot before he could do much of anything. We don’t really know if every Shambali is rolling around with this kind of power, but maybe they are!

How old is Tracer? She was part of original Overwatch right? But Morrison is now a 10,000 year old dad (and rockin’ it) and Rein and Torb aren’t in their prime either. While we are at it, wasn’t Mercy also part of Overwatch forever ago (she has an OG skin that released during the Omnic crisis event). What is the secret of their youth? And while we are at it, do you know how old gorillas tend to live? Cause it seems like Winston has been around for a minute as well and I worry about him with all that peanut butter.

Tracer is 26, and by the time she came into Overwatch, the organization was heading towards the end of its golden years. Morrison and Ana were getting older, Blackwatch were doing what they wanted (which was the scandal that would eventually bring the United Nations down on Overwatch), and Tracer had just recovered from the accident that synced her out of time.

The reason she’s perceived as much older is there’s some universe art from earlier on in Overwatch where she’s receiving medals along with the old guard, who are depicted as much younger. That was a continuity error! She’s pretty young.

Who is Pharah’s dad? I was very excited when I thought that Solider 76 and Ana had a thing back in the day, and that thing led to Pharah. But now I think the whole “76 is her dad” thing has been debunked. Also Ana seems to have a current thing with Rein maybe? I mean, they flirt in that weird way that old people do all the time in game. Please explain to me the love triangle that seems to be Ana, 76, and Reinhardt and how it all relates to Pharah.

We actually know who Pharah’s dad is and he’s... this guy!

Blizzard Entertainment

Don’t recognize him? He’s presumably the same as... this guy!

Blizzard Entertainment

Yeah, Pharah’s dad is just some guy. We don’t know a lot about him besides the fact that he was involved with Ana to some degree and he likes hockey.

Is there magic in Overwatch? Like actual magic, not Metal Gear Solid science magic? Most things seem explainable by “science” but still, some things are a little fantastical. How close are we to actual magic and will it ever exist?

There are some things that are close to magic. Hanzo and Genji’s dragon powers are kiiind of in that realm. Everything else is based in “science”, even if that science is along the lines of “Mass Effect” fields and it makes no sense. There are no mages or wizards running around the world of Overwatch.

Is Reinhardt a king? I appreciate his German enthusiasm and his commitment to old knight armor, but is he royalty? Where has he been since OW died out? He has that swanky castle ... has he hung out with Ana there?

Reinhardt was part of an order called the Crusaders, a power armored, rocket hammer bunch of paladins who protected Germany. The Crusaders got wiped out during the Omnic Crisis at Eichenwalde. If you watch The Last Bastion, you can see how that battle went down from them. They retreated into the castle, and then got wiped, all to protect innocent human life.

Reinhardt is the last Crusader, and his armor (and body) are slowly breaking down. At this point, he rolls around with his squire, a young woman named Brigitte. They just kind of wander around, save people from gangs, and occasionally hang out with Torbjorn and his six hundred kids. He might have answered the Recall put out by Winston to restart Overwatch; we don’t know.

Is there a good lore reason for adding new characters to the roster? This is a super dumb question, know that going in, but has Blizz done a good job of making it feel like there is a reason that these new folks are popping up here and now rather than years ago?

There’s a ton of characters who can show up still. Overwatch was a huge organization, first of all. When Winston hits the Recall, we see a ton of names pop up, and we only recognize a few. All of those people got called back in to Overwatch. Not all of them answered, but they all got the ring-a-ding.

Also, Overwatch is a weird world. There’s a ton of room to explore. Zarya is a Russian hero, Mei’s a climatologist, Junkrat and Roadhog are career criminals... At this point there’s an essentially limitless amount of space to explore, and we’re going to find tons of new characters everywhere we look.

Will Overwatch and Talon ever have a reason to team up for some kind of hate-filled reunion tour? Is there a greater threat out there? Cass, I basically just need you to tell me who the Thanos of the Overwatch universe is.

Ryan, I have one question for you. How do you feel about... the Illuminati? Okay, maybe they’re not the Illuminati, but there is an all seeing eye out there who chased Sombra underground. We don’t know what’s up with them, but they’re probably super bad news!


Cass, I wanted to believe that you conducted thorough research for all of this, but in my heart of hearts I know that you just typed it all from the top of your head. I can’t wait to see what happens in the future of Overwatch and see all the new characters that pop up here and there. Thanks for answering my questions, even if I have a whole suite of new ones. I feel like you really buried the lead on all of Torb’s kids for example ...