Blizzard is delivering on their promise of four pre-launch cinematic short trailers for Overwatch by releasing 'Hero', which focuses on a misadventure with Soldier 76.
Blizzard is launching Overwatch today. The online multiplayer FPS was announced all the way back in 2014, born from the ashes of the now canceled MMO Titan's demise. Two years of teasers, character reveals, betas, controversies, and anticipation later, Overwatch's servers are set to go live today at 4:00 PM PDT worldwide. But before they do, Blizzard has released one final pre-launch animated short, titled "Hero" and starring Soldier 76.
"Hero" is somewhat of a self-contained story, in that it doesn't tie directly into the events of the other three animated shorts Blizzard has released up to this point. Taking place in the Mexican city of Dorado, which is also a map in Overwatch, a young girl sets out from her home to buy a bag of flour. Similar to the events of the initial Overwatch announcement trailer, the girl gets caught up in a larger conflict and Soldier 76 ultimately... well, it's right there in the title.
Larger ties to the Overwatch universe aren't clearly stated within "Hero," but can perhaps be implied. Those familiar with Soldier 76's history will have a better understanding regarding his reservations about heroism. The posters featuring Overwatch heroes along with the graffiti hint at the current world perspective on the organization. And of course the encounter with the Omnic is a symptom of the political climate regarding the sentient robots. It's clear that there's much more to the world of Overwatch than has yet been explored.
Altogether, the "Hero" video may not have been as exciting as the three other animated shorts Blizzard has released for Overwatch, but it will surely have its fans. There's clearly a targeted marketing towards a younger audience, both girls and boys, but also embracing older audiences with the more mature themes regarding racism, ethics, and heroism. Mix that with animation work from the talented team at Blizzard and it's difficult to believe they could make a bad video if they tried.
To be fair, the video has stirred a bit of controversy regarding its writing. Having an older white soldier punch a Mexican gang member with a burning pinata is hardly a political statement, but it's arguably an image that some might find offensive -- especially given the upcoming election in the United States.
Blizzard hasn't commented on whether or not another animated short will be arriving for Overwatch in the weeks following launch, but they do have plans to make more. In today's live Q&A with Overwatch Director Jeff Kaplan, he referenced another "Season" of animated shorts in the works. Kaplan did mention that Roadhog is likely to make an appearance, but left the rest a mystery.
Overwatch is launching today at 4:00 PM PDT on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Retail copies of the game were sent out early so players might be able to redeem their game keys or install their game early.