The new Overwatch cinematic is absolutely gorgeous, and delivered a few more intriguing glimpses into the utopian world of the game. Add in some cute character moments and a great action sequence, and it feels almost ungrateful to complain about Shooting Star ... especially when you consider it’s our first cinematic since Honor and Glory in November, and we most likely won’t get another one until BlizzCon 2018. That being said, there are some intriguing signs as to where Overwatch’s story could go next, and the flaws in Blizzard’s lore delivery are more apparent than ever with this cinematic.
Let’s start with the pros: There was a very simple story with a very simple moral here, and we’ll discuss that more in-depth later, but we learned a lot with some subtle clues. While the announcer is bragging about the star studded life that D.Va lives, she’s working on her mech, alone with her assistant Dae-hyun. She eats chips and drinks soda, but it’s portrayed more as neglect in pursuit of mecha excellence instead of a cute character quirk. While the nation celebrates her, she’s alone in her workshop trying to escape her demons.
And oh yes, she has demons. The flash of combat that juts its way rudely into the narrative, and the look of horror on D.Va’s face as a teammate yells: “I’m hit!”, or the grim little smile she has when she says “D.Va engaging!” suggests that there’s something serious going on under the surface. It’s not as blatant as the (very excellent) The Last Bastion, but it doesn’t need to be; not every short needs to be The Last Bastion.
Add in the finale, where we hear that she “emerged without a scratch”, but then we see her wearing multiple casts and working hard on her mecha. All of this says volumes without having to stop and gesture widely at the audience like Rise and Shine did. The first watch is almost painfully simple: D.Va needs to learn how to work with her friends! The second watch shows that D.Va is a soldier being left out to dry in a deadly situation. That’s compelling and frankly leagues ahead of Rise and Shine or even Honor and Glory in pure storytelling and worldbuilding.
Speaking of worldbuilding, the rest of D.Va’s MEKA squad are already fan favorites, and of course they are. D.Mon would make an amazing second MEKA character in the game, and I want to know more about King, Casino, and Overlord. With just a few screencaps, Blizzard made me excited and curious about a whole new cast of characters. I like D.Va just fine, but Shooting Star makes me desperate to know more about her.
Unfortunately, this leads directly into our cons.
Shooting Star is kind of a prequel; it’s also the first Overwatch cinematic in some time that doesn’t either set up the threat of Talon or bring a character into the fold of Winston’s new Overwatch. That’s fine! Not every thread needs to lead back into the main Overwatch “A-plot”. But what plot is this? D.Va ends the cinematic in the same place she was before it — marooned and isolated from the rest of the cast.
Does the short set up compelling motives and reasons for D.Va to join Overwatch? Yes, I imagine she would be happy to have an organization of friends she can trust with more resources to protect her home.
Do I see her heading there before the end of the year? I don’t think so. We’re seeing comics and lore slow down substantially. I don’t think this is the end of Overwatch, but at the same time, cinematics like this work best if they’re building momentum towards a conclusion. Instead, we’re getting big drops of information months apart. We’re still puzzling over mysteries from, say, Reflections, the Christmas comic from 2016.
I want to see more Dae-hyun, D.Va, and the MEKA squad. Shooting Star gave me a reason to care about these characters and connect to their challenges. Now, the ball is back in Blizzard’s court. How will they follow up on this cinematic? As long as the answer isn’t “radio silence”, I’ll remain optimistic.