BlizzCon 2018 gave Overwatch a brand new hero in Ashe, and a beautiful cinematic that posed more questions than it answered. One of the new characters that captured the audience’s attention was Echo, the elegant omnic. In the Reunion cinematic, we are introduced to Echo after McCree liberates her containment pod from the Deadlock Gang. After cracking open a history book and diving into the lore, it looks like the enigmatic Echo might be more important to Overwatch’s lore than we think.
Echo’s character design is gorgeous; with that much development and thought put into her, she has to be important. During an interview at BlizzCon 2018, lead designer Jeff Kaplan stated that she was “very important”, and the teams had “big plans for her.” However, he also mentioned she will not be the next hero added to the game. She may not be coming up next, but we can guess at where she came from.
If you look at the emblem on Echo’s forehead and her visual design, it’s possible her technology was developed by the Vishkar Corporation. There’s another possible origin for her that hasn’t been explored: the omnic bazaar on the Temple of Anubis map. The bazaar contains several scrapped omnics that share a striking similarity to Echo’s design. There may be multiple version of Echo; the one we see in the Reunion cinematic may just be unique by way of the chip McCree placed on her torso. Temple of Anubis was the first map to be developed for Overwatch; it makes sense that a major plot point would lead us back to its lore.
Upon closer inspection, the top of the scrapped omnics’ heads reads “caution.” When it comes to Blizzard Entertainment, things tend to carry more meaning then they may let on, much like the Sombra ARG or the posters teasing D.Va and Doomfist before their official announcement. With that in mind, why should we be “cautious” of what should be some scrap metal being sold for auction? And why of all the maps are they on Temple of Anubis? Disguised as an archaeological dig site, the temple also conceals the entrance to an underground research facility that holds the “god program,” Anubis.
In the fifth Overwatch comic, Pharah: Mission Statement, it is revealed that after the Omnic Crisis, Overwatch imprisoned multiple powerful AI’s — one of which has broken out and is causing pandemonium in Egypt. Long story short, Pharah and her Helix Security agents stop the AI and save the day. This is a major plot point Overwatch has been leaving open and now, Echo may further flesh out this story.
The AI Anubis has little story, but it is already silhouetted in themes of advanced technology, A.I, omnics, and oddly enough — souls. With the obvious ties to ancient Egyptian mythology, we can begin to speculate on what lead writer Michael Chu has in store for us. For example, in Egyptian mythology, Anubis is a god usually associated with the afterlife, embalming, and mummification. One of his more important roles was ushering souls into the underworld by way of weighing their hearts. While loosely tied, the A.I, Anubis controls the consciousness — or soul — of multiple omnics, even going so far as to having one omnic shoot itself in the head.
Echo’s introduction into the lore of Overwatch poses multiple questions for the writers to explain. Ashe’s reaction in the Reunion cinematic to Echo’s “shell” was that of surprise. Could it be that these shells are fairly rare and or have been outlawed at some point in the world of Overwatch? Or perhaps knowing McCree and his ties to Overwatch, Echo has more history to her than meets the eye. Where did Jesse McCree find the chip and why is he entrusted with it? What history does Echo have with Overwatch that she would be more important than McCree?
And most importantly of all: what connection, if any, does she have with the “god program,” Anubis?
With all of the information on the table, here is my working theory.
Echo is an “echo.” She is presumably the consciousness of someone close to Overwatch organization or Jesse McCree implanted into an advanced omnic “shell” that was banned after the first Omnic Crisis for moral and safety concerns. While she more than likely quite adept at fighting, she may have also been a part of the science and engineering team, which explains her connection to Winston. Echo also represented more to Overwatch than just another member of the organization. She represented a positive human and omnic connection that acts as a foil to the Modus Operandi of the terrorist organization, Talon, but also a large part of an ongoing battle in Russia with the Second Omnic Crisis.
The only other clue to work through is the scraped omnic chassis that are on display on Temple of Anubis. I think because of how close they are in proximity to the “god program,” Anubis, these “shells” were branded with “caution” on their heads to help security officials keep them away from the A.I’s control. The last thing you need is an evil A.I with some advanced technology giving him an avatar to physically impact the world around him. And here is where you’re going to need your tin foil hat.
As an overarching plot hidden by the struggle between omnics, humans, Overwatch, Talon, and all of the other factions in the world, the A.I, Anubis, will escape again. It has been presumably dormant for some time, since the results of Pharah: Mission Statement, but has shown to be strong enough to escape once, who’s to say it won’t again? As one of the only remaining “shells,” Echo is going to be hunted by Anbuis so that he corrupt or upload his own programming and control Echo.
And it will be successful in doing so.
With a physical vessel, Anubis will set it’s newly found eyes on Russia, where the Second Omnic Crisis is ongoing. There it will begin to infest all of the lesser omnics and lead a massive attack that will force international intervention from the newly recalled Overwatch organization and the seedy terrorist group, Talon. This will usher in Blizzard’s shift into more story-driven content as the world of Overwatch plunges into a massive three-way conflict.
Jeff Kaplan was right when he said Echo won’t be the 30th hero added to Overwatch — if this theory is correct, Anubis will be.