Overwatch (group)

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This article is about the in-game organization. For the article about the game, see Overwatch.
"Conflict. As the world teetered on the brink of anarchy, a new hope arose. An elite international taskforce charged with ending the war, and restoring liberty to all nations. Overwatch. Soldiers. Scientists. Adventurers. Oddities. Guardians who secured global peace for a generation. Under its steadfast protection, the world recovered. And today, though its watch has ended, its soaring ideals of freedom and equality will never be forgotten."
Overwatch
Flag of Overwatch.png

Leadership
Petras (director)
Gabrielle Adawe (founder)
Gabriel Reyes (commander, formerly)
Jack Morrison (commander)
Affiliation
United Nations
Headquarters
Overwatch Headquarters, Switzerland
Type
International task force
Standing
Reinstated

Overwatch was an international task force formed during the Omnic Crisis[1] over thirty years ago.[2] It championed the ideals of heroism, sacrifice, and nobility.[3]

History[edit | edit source]

Origins[edit | edit source]

Overwatch triumphant

Overwatch was created at the behest of the United Nations during the Omnic Crisis.[4] A war against robots was unlike any humanity had fought before, and no single country was successfully holding its territory, but it had been observed that some soldiers and strategists were thriving in this new style of warfare.[5] As the nations of Earth struggled against the omnics, the UN pooled together their best soldiers and technologies to form an elite strike unit.[3][4]

Overwatch was that unit, consisting of "scientists, soldiers, adventurers, and oddities,"[1] and was intended to carry out asymmetric warfare against the omnics. Gabrielle Adawe was one of the key architects of its formation, while command of the unit was given to Gabriel Reyes, a member of a super soldier program carried out by the United States. However, while Reyes had overall command, Overwatch's overall structure was molded by Jack Morrison, who moulded the unit into a truly cohesive fighting force.[4] The other founding members were Ana Amari, Liao, Reinhardt Wilhelm, and Torbjörn Lindholm.[5]

Finding their strength,[4] the Overwatch strike team targeted the omnics' command and control protocols. After great sacrifice and heroism in a series of dangerous raids, they destroyed it all, rendering the omnic armies inert.[5] They had saved the world, and earned its adoration.[3] For his services, Morrison was given the position of Overwatch's first official commander, while Reyes was passed over.[4]

Post-Omnic Crisis[edit | edit source]

Golden Age[edit | edit source]

Overwatch members at an IJC event

In the years that followed, Overwatch was transformed into an international peacekeeping force.[6] New resources and funding were given to the unit, giving it far-reaching global influence.[4] Over the following decades, it helped to maintain peace, inspiring an era of exploration, innovation, and discovery,[1] its range of research including space exploration, medical research.[4] and climatology. In this particular regard, a series of eco-watchpoints were established to monitor the planet's changing climate.[7] Rogue omnics, terrorism, warmongering dictators, none of them could stand for long against such a capable, dedicated force. Overwatch made global stability its goal, and the world was happy to have them.[5]

Overwatch grew into a global institution,[2] and new agents were recruited.[4] Those that grew up during this period are referred to as the "Overwatch Generation," as they were given a legion of heroes to look up to.[4] For these children, Overwatch was a symbol of hope, and they were taught that they represented the best of humanity,

Overwatch maintained a global communications network,[8] and possessed one of the most advanced armories on the planet.[6] New agents were brought into the organization as existing ones retired.[3] It carried out operations against the terrorist group Talon[9] and the ninja Shimada Clan. In the case of the latter, to its knowledge, it successfully dismantled it.[10] It took a militaristic approach to maintaining this peace however, which generated some internal tension.[11]

Twilight Years[edit | edit source]

An anti-Overwatch protest

Twenty years after its founding,[4] Overwatch's influence waned,[1] and the organization came under suspicion of corruption and sedition.[2] A series of allegations were made against the group, including negligence resulting in high-profile mission failures; corruption and mismanagement; weapons proliferation; human rights abuses; and more.[4] Overwatch had never had a shortage of critics; even in its glory days, many voices called for severe restrictions on the agency's mission, insisting that such a powerful group of individuals needed careful oversight. Rumors of black-ops missions, carrying out tasks like assassination and kidnapping, were dismissed by the public as paranoid fantasies. But as time passed, criticism became harder to shrug off, and the agency seemed to be tone-deaf to public concerns. Controversial missions stoked public outrage until it reached a fever pitch, and some of Overwatch’s most famous and celebrated agents were forced to retire in disgrace.[5] Protests broke out, the people claiming that Overwatch was the source of the world's turmoil.[12] One event labelled "the Venice incident" led to a slew of inquiries into the organization. When it was discovered that disgraced scientist Moira O'Deorain had been working for them, high ranking Overwatch officials disavowed all knowledge of her activities.[13]

Years later, Olympia Shaw reflected that if that had been the end of it, many might have accepted these missteps as the unavoidable signs of an aging, bloated bureaucracy, suffering under monolithic leadership that desperately needed a change in direction. The truth, however, was much darker.[5]

King's Row Uprising[edit | edit source]

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The Fall[edit | edit source]

The existence of Blackwatch is revealed

In the final years of Overwatch's existence, a top secret division called "Blackwatch" was revealed. There were stories of assassination, coercion, kidnapping, torture, and worse. Governments called on the UN to shut down the "aggressive and repeated violations of many countries' sovereignty."[5]

A special UN committee launched a lengthy and highly secretive investigation into the claims. As the UN investigation proceeded,[4] and public distrust swelled,[5] Overwatch's Swiss headquarters was destroyed in an apparent accident. Among the casualties were Morrison and Reyes. The UN steadfastly maintained that there was no foul play behind this event, but anonymous reports indicate that a rebellion tore the group apart from within. On one side was Morrison, determined to hold together what remained of Overwatch. On the other side was Reyes, whose agenda remains unknown to this day. A battle raged between these men deep within Overwatch's base. At some point, their fighting triggered an explosion that destroyed the facility, killing both of them (supposedly), and numerous others. Angela Ziegler, head of Overwatch's medical research, commented in a UN hearing that the outcome was inevitable—Reyes and Morrison had drifted further and further apart, as Reyes had remained bitter that Morrison had been given the position of field commander instead of him.[4]

Disbandment[edit | edit source]

The UN committee, coupled with the loss of its headquarters and key members, were the two death knells that signaled the end of Overwatch.[4] In the wake of such an incident, little could remain hidden. The full transgressions of Overwatch's shadow operations became known, and even the most ardent defenders inside the organization bowed to the truth and called for its dissolution. The United Nations could do nothing but shut down Overwatch.[5] The group gave into the pressure[2] and it was eventually disbanded,[1] thirty years after its founding, left in disgrace,[2] its agents now the target of derision and suspicion in the media.[4] The Petras Act deemed any Overwatch activity illegal, and liable to prosecution.[14]

Few people at the time doubted it was the right call. The world had never been more peaceful—the biggest threat to global stability and growth was, in many minds, Overwatch itself. Its time had passed.[5] Security privatization became more common in the wake of Overwatch's end, Helix Securities being one example.[15]

Post-Overwatch[edit | edit source]

Overwatch remembered

In the five years since, mystery remains as to the nature of Overwatch's fall (at least within the general population). Suspicions exist that someone took it over to its detriment. But since its end, the world has become a darker place.[3] Tensions between humans and omnics had never been higher. Local political leaders accused certain corporations of using covert operatives to "persuade" government officials into accepting exploitive deals, and when that failed, of hiring mercenaries to enact more permanent solutions. Shadow organizations operated with impunity, often leaving a trail of dead civilians in their wake.[5] Overwatch continued to be memorialized,[16] and some former Overwatch members attempted to "get the band back together".[8]

Resurgence[edit | edit source]

Soldier: 76[edit | edit source]

Overwatch bases were raided by a mysterious individual known only as Soldier: 76, who recovered technology and incapacitated, but never killed, those assigned to watch over the installations. Olympia Shaw, through anonymous contacts within the UN, was given the classified UN reports that detailed the true nature of the destruction of its headquarters, and the role Morrison and Reyes had played within the blast. She concluded (correctly) that Soldier: 76 was indeed Jack Morrison.[4]

Recall[edit | edit source]

Talon operatives conducted a raid on the abandoned Watchpoint: Gibraltar, hoping to gain access to the Overwatch agent database. They were foiled by Winston, who initiated an agent recall. Agent Lena Oxton immediately responded.[14] The two went on to foil an attempted heist of Doomfist's gauntlet by Reaper and Widowmaker.[16] It was this incident that was the last straw for the United Nations, as their actions had followed weeks of similar vigilante activities (Soldier: 76 included). The next day, the UN delivered its statement; "the United Nations has not authorized any Overwatch operations. The organization’s charter remains revoked." Further questions were met with hostility or silence. Governments across the world, ranging from Russia to the United Kingdom, gave similar condemnations. In a poll conducted by Atlas News, most people expressed anger at the thought of Overwatch agents having gone rogue, but nearly 75% of the respondants answered that they were "uncertain" as to what Overwatch's return would mean for the world.[5]

Further Actions[edit | edit source]

Some of the Overwatch agents apparently re-organized themselves into a recognised unit; it was called in to protect HAL-Fred Glitchbot as he came under attack by anti-omnic forces.[17]

Known Bases[edit | edit source]

Overwatch's logo, often emblazoned on official vehicles, equipment, and bases.

Watchpoints[edit | edit source]

Known Members[edit | edit source]

Overwatch championed the greatness of individuals, regardless of their point of origin.[3] Known members include:

Command[edit | edit source]

Agents[edit | edit source]

Engineers[edit | edit source]

Scientists[edit | edit source]

Other/Unknown[edit | edit source]

Members faced mandatory retirement from combat operations once they reached a certain age (late 50s at the latest).[2]

Recalled Members[edit | edit source]

Members that were recalled to serve Overwatch following the reinstatement by Winston. Asterisk denotes members confirmed to have rejoined.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Jeff Kaplan has described the Overwatch group as being "something like the United Nations if it had a really crazy army with talking apes in it."[8]
  • Overwatch's flag is composed of the Overwatch logo over a blue background. This arrangement is confirmed as the group's official flag in loading screens for Watchpoint: Gibraltar and Ecopoint: Antarctica, along with it flying on flagpoles in-game. It was also seen in the official Cinematic Trailer.

Videos[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Overwatch: Game, Blizzard Entertainment. Accessed on 2014-11-26
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Reinhardt, Blizzard Entertainment. Accessed on 2015-02-15
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 2015-11-24, BlizzCon 2014 – Overwatch Unveiled Panel Transcript. Blizzplanet, accessed on 2015-03-03
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 2015-07-07, Fading Glory: On the Trail of Jack Morrison. Blizzard Entertainment, accessed on 2015-07-07
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 2015-05-24, Overwatch is Back: Uncertainty and Hope After UN Confirms Vigilante Activity. Blizzard Entertainment., accessed on 2016-5-25
  6. 6.0 6.1 TORBJÖRN, Blizzard Entertainment. Accessed on 2015-03-09
  7. Mei, Blizzard Entertainment. Accessed on 2015-11-07
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 2015-03-06, PAX East 2015 Blizzard Panel | Blizzplanet (1/2). YouTube, accessed on 2015-03-20
  9. Widowmaker, Blizzard Entertainment. Accessed on 2014-12-14
  10. Genji, Blizzard Entertainment. Accessed on 2015-11-07
  11. Mercy, Blizzard Entertainment. Accessed on 2014-11-26
  12. 2015-07-07, Soldier: 76 Origin Story | Overwatch. YouTube, accessed on 2015-08-03
  13. Moira, Blizzard Entertainment. Accessed on 2017-04-11
  14. 14.0 14.1 Recall
  15. 2017-07-04, TALON INVOLVEMENT CONFIRMED IN PREVIOUS ATTACK ON HELIX FACILITY. Blizzard Entertainment, accessed on 2017-06-18
  16. 16.0 16.1 2014-11-07, Overwatch Cinematic Trailer. YouTube, accessed on 2014-11-30
  17. 2015-11-07, THE WORLD OF OVERWATCH. Blizzpro, accessed on 2015-11-17