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OVERHYPE: From Russia With Mechs

by - 4 years ago

A new teaser image from the Overwatch team resuscitates the hype train leading into gamescom on Thursday.

So what can we extract from the image alone, since there isn’t actually an interview for us to analyze? Let’s get started:

Right out the gate, this could almost certainly be a character reveal, except for the part where doing another Russian character after announcing Zarya seems like an odd choice. Granted, it wouldn’t be the strangest thing to have two Russian women in play, since it helps to overturn the Western bias that games have generally had throughout history, whether they’re developed in the West or not. The bottom line? Consider me dubious of the possibility that Katya is a new character.

Second, there’s the bulk of the screenshot that showcases a new map. That console with the spotlight on it definitely looks like either a capture point or a payload destination, and I’m leaning towards the latter given how the layout looks. The fact that the final stretch of the map would be under the eyes of a giant drydocked mech certainly delivers on the spectacle of the place.

The headlines help build the narrative we already know is at the heart of Overwatch: the conflict between man and omnic continues even post-Crisis, and historically, the Russian response to any opposition seems to be “can we outgun it?” Hence, giant mecha.

A note on the name Svyatogor: at first I suspected this would be the name of a real world location, just as the Grand Mesa map teases from the S:76 campaign suggested. However, some research shows that “Svyatogor” is the name of a giant out of Russian folklore, his name a derivation of “sacred mountain.” To me, that indicates that Svyatogor is the name of the giant mecha there in the background, one of a line of mecha that are being built specifically to fight the omnium. Of course, aside from the set decoration, that leaves us with no idea what this new map is called, but it probably is not Svyatogor. (Editor’s note: *breathes a sigh of relief that casters won’t be butchering that name when ID’ing a map*)

In the ticker, the three items tell us a few things:

  • “…[na]med executive of the year”: This is probably a reference specifically to Volskaya herself as a way to build up her character. Whether she’s playable or not, it’s likely she’ll still be a notable character in the Overwatch narrative.
  • “Doomfist exhibit opening Numbani Unity Day”: Doomfist, you’ll remember, is the guy with the gauntlet who “could level a skyscraper”, as referenced in the original cinematic. That gauntlet was also the target for Widowmaker and Reaper, and the dialogue between the two boys established that Doomfist and Winston had thrown down in the past. The shoutout to Numbani references that imgur link that showed up some time ago, as well.
  • “Next: Catching up with fmr. champ Aleksandra Zaryanova”: Name-dropping Zarya only emphasizes that there’s probably a link between her and Volskaya. Looking back to Zarya’s bio, it references that the hostilities of the Russian omnium are what propelled her into the self-defense forces, so the specific concept of Russia becoming the location of a new Omnic Crisis seems to be in the offing here.

All of the stuff we’ve been seeing in these teases since the reveal of Soldier: 76 have one thread in common: the interaction between humanity and the omnium is at the core of many of the stories taking place in the world of Overwatch:

  • Numbani is a city where man and omnic live together in harmony.
  • The track titles from Lució’s album reference the omnium several times.
  • Russia is a flashpoint of renewed omnic aggression.

I don’t expect that we’ll have the answers to all of these questions on Thursday, but we’ll certainly get a few. And as soon as we know those answers, you’ll know them too.


Bringing bad news from the burning western wastes of Arizona since 2013, Crow is also a dad, guild officer, game designer, and sci-fi/fantasy author. Follow him @unlimitedblack for memes, pictures of his kid, and occasional design insights.

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