I acknowledge that we have been truly blessed to get not one, but two short videos set in the Overwatch universe last week. First, we were treated to The Plan on August 21st, a delightful little short starring Junkrat and Roadhog, foreshadowing the new map Junkertown (and its mysterious Queen).
The Plan isn’t a cinematic, so its not sorted with Recall, Alive, Dragons, Hero, The Last Bastion, and Infiltration. In fact, it looks a lot like something you’d see in a really high graphic settings round of Overwatch, albeit with a much greater range of animation.
Then, on August 23rd, Blizzard released the actual cinematic, Rise and Shine. It’s a gorgeous, nine minute piece of animation telling the tale of Mei waking up at Ecopoint: Antarctica and making her way home to join the new, Winston led Overwatch.
Both of these are really good, but, well... There’s something tickling the back of my mind. I honestly think The Plan is a better video than Rise and Shine. Of course, this isn’t an objective truth. In fact, our game play lead Ryan Gilliam disagrees with me, and is all about Rise and Shine. We discussed our thoughts on both pieces of content, and which one we thought came out on top.
Cass: So, here’s the thing: I’m legitimately amazed at how well The Plan turned out. Every single animation, from Roadhog’s careful pause before he snaps his fingers around the fuse, to Junkrat’s... everything is just carefully planned, with no wasted movement, no redundancy.
Rise and Shine is absolutely gorgeous, but it doesn’t bring a lot of new information to the table. We knew about Mei’s past from her bio and environmental cues in Ecopoint: Antarctica. The big reveal is that Mei’s re-joined Overwatch, under Winston, and that’s cool, but is it worth a whole cinematic?
Add in a lot of dialogue that seems unnecessary, and Rise and Shine comes across as one of the weaker cinematics. Compare it to The Last Bastion, which gets across everything it needs to without a word. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m super glad we have Rise and Shine now that it’s here, but it’s not at the top of the list of stories I think need to be told in Overwatch’s universe.
Meanwhile, The Plan is fun, snappy, and a total blast the whole way through. I don’t know whether it’s a test run for new content, or a one-off, but I absolutely want more videos in this kind of format and style.
Ryan: I would love to get around this without bashing The Plan at all, because I still think it is great. However, I have to say that I find that much Junkrat to be pretty dang cringy at times. In character certainly, but cringy. So while I really loved The Plan and watching these two idiots fail spectacularly at everything, by the end of it I really just wanted Junkrat to shut the hell up.
Rise and Shine may not bring much to the Overwatch world, but it doesn’t need to. I have already proved in spectacular fashion that I am an Overwatch Lore Novice, but a reveal of something greater didn’t really matter to me here. Instead, we kinda just got this very awkward scientist who loses everything in a flash, only to science things back together.
I don’t love Mei. She isn’t even close to my favorite character or personality, but the choice to place an entire short around her waking up to find all the others dead and her willingness to not give up paints her in a different light for me. Instead of just being this very talkative girl in a parka, she has a heart that we see here. To me, that means something, and I think it will help color the way I see her in game. The moments in these pieces that make the characters seem human are the ones that matter to me most. It pinpoints why people think Overwatch is so special.
We may not agree, but it’s awesome that Overwatch is a big enough world that we can get two shorts that cover radically different characters and environments. It’ll be a while yet before our next cinematic, but hopefully we can get smaller and more consistent shorts along the way.