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Elaboration ’bout Overwatch cohesiveness

So what is it about this whole “cohesive world” thing that I get so excited about with Overwatch? To answer that I need to explain why I consider Overwatch to be a cohesive world whilst I scoff at the mere notion of calling LOL or DOTA2 cohesive worlds.

What makes my glue cohesive?

DOTA2 is a world filled with heroes from many walks of life, it is a magical world reminiscent of a high fantasy landscape. There are wizards and warriors and spiders and maniacs with dendrophobia. DOTA2, or just DOTA, is a mod of Warcraft 3, which is why DOTAs’ heroes looks like they could have been Blizzard made. Someone thought of a cool mod/custom map to make and poof, we had DOTA. It did get some cohesiveness just from the fact that the assets used to build it had a innate cohesiveness with each other. But it is mostly a “superficial” cohesiveness. It is true that some heroes have connections with each other outside the one you create in-game during a match, but often it is very loose. Also, regarding the fact that the heroes comes from many walks of life, it is a mess. We have a Greek god, manifestations of high concepts/cosmic energies, a spider that want everyone to leave her kids alone, wizards, warriors etc. etc. It is a big mish-mash of colors and ideas. Here is where I say that we see that the glue isn’t strong enough, everyone is so different and their narrative power levels are super unbalanced. Also, no one seems to have a reason for fighting in during the match, why would they fight for either the Radiant or the Dire? (To be fair, this last complaint is overly nitpicky, since the game would suffer if you could only use some heroes with either team or if some heroes couldn’t be used in the same team. Gameplay should in these kinds of games always come first)

So I picked out 3 reasons why I think DOTA2’s glue isn’t as sticky as it should be.

  1. The games world wasn’t thought out from the beginning and is just a throw together.
  2. The “lore”, the info about the heroes, isn’t connected, some of it is but most isn’t.
  3. How can the more humble heroes stand up against literal gods? The power differences aren’t explained.

LOL also suffer from these points, although in a lesser extent. LOL’s world isn’t in the same way a party mix, since the world the fighting takes place in is thought out. The story of LOL, if I don’t remember wrong, is that lords in a kingdom is struggling for control off the throne, which is done by summoning champions from different worlds to fight and represent them in a alternate dimension. This little bit of story gives a “logical” explanation to why the heroes are so different, and why they are fighting. Thought to be honest, I think this is a lazy way to explain everything and it feels more like an excuse than a actual reason, but it works, which they should get some credit for.

The power differences still aren’t explained though.

Sticky, gluey Overwatch.

Overwatch doesn’t have these problems, since their lore is cohesive from the get go (and it is better and more interesting than LOL’s lore). The world of Overwatch is our own but a alternate version of it. In the Overwatch world, technology has come a long way, so long a way that it almost destroyed mankind. Mankind created self supplying factories that started spewing out death robots. This is called the Omnic crisis, and it is very important for the Overwatch universe, since it explains everything! (Not everything but many of the things)

To fight of the machine onslaught humanity created counter measures, and people from all walks of life had to take up the fight against the machines, or else they would perish. This explains why we have a former professional athlete running around with a lazor spewing gun, this explains why we have two psychotic killers equipped weapons made of scraps. Because they were just like everyone else in this world effected by the Omnic crisis.

Why do the heroes have such awesome, superhuman abilities, because it is only technology, just the very advanced sort.

How can they fight on an even playing field, because no one is a god, they are all just humans (except Zenyatta and Bastion) and they have been fighting the same kind of things. And they are all connected due to the fact that they are all earthlings, and they have all experienced the Omnic crisis.

What does this world consistency mean?

The good thing about a consistent/cohesive (maybe I should have used consistent instead of cohesive) is that if done right, nothing in it will feel out of place. Overwatch have a talking gorilla that have lived on the moon, but it doesn’t feel out of place nor random, it feels like something that truly belongs to this world (will get to that in another post). What it also means is that the game and the world can evolve alongside each other. When a new hero is introduced in Overwatch, we will learn more about this world and this characters relation to the other heroes. When a new hero is introduced in LOL, we learn about that hero.

I am not saying that LOL or DOTA2 are bad games because their worlds aren’t as consistent as Overwatch’s , because both of are wonderful games and they can do things story wise/narratively that Overwatch can’t, but as I wrote in the last post, I want to see what Blizzard will do with this.

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Sumtjin ’bout Overwatch

This game is super nice and in some aspects all I wished for. Not only because it is very fun to play and looks amazing (even with my crappy graphics card). No, it is because it is cohesive, so incredibly cohesive. One glance and you can see that there is a unified vision behind its presentation.

As some of you who reads this might know, I have complained about DOTA 2 and LOL not having a cohesive style. Not that their art style is a scrambled mess, cause it isn’t, both their art styles and visual presentation are very cohesive. But the worlds they present aren’t. DOTA 2 just began as a mod of Warcraft 3 and later on they decided to create a story to it so it isn’t weird that they have everything from Greek gods, to internet trolls. LOL opts to use the little more cohesive world idea of having the heroes/champions being pulled from different dimensions to fight. Which to me is a bit cheap, but I can buy in to, it also allows the creators to make whatever they want, so kudos to them for that.

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However, with Overwatch I am seeing for almost the first time a Hero/Champion based game with a cohesive world vision that bleeds in to all the facets of the game. (Yes I am sure some other games have done this before (Tannhäuser for example) but I use this as an example because it’s big, popular and won’t be discontinued any time soon).

Why this excites me is because I am really looking forward to see what Blizzard will do with it. Will it they further the metaplot of the world later on? Maybe rework some of the old Heroes or give them new skins that reflect the story?

The story progression will probably mostly be delivered through comics and CG-trailers as they have up to this point, but even in game we get snippets of information about the cast. Will they down the road ad more “fluff/lore”-voice lines to heroes? I have no idea what Blizzard will do with this new amazing IP so I’m just giddy to be along for the ride.

Pic found here.

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