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by - 4 weeks ago

UPDATE: The main @PlayOverwatch feed tweeted this out as well, indicating declassification on April 11th. Original article follows.

So this just came over the feeds from the Australia/New Zealand Twitter:

There’s a lot to unpack here, but here’s the short version:

  • April 12 is next Wednesday.
  • Yes, that looks like an alternate Tracer appearance.
  • Yes, that also looks like a view from the initial defense spawn in King’s Row.

Backstory: we know that part of the narrative for Overwatch has to do with the rising tensions between omnics and humanity. The “Alive” short gave us a window into that with Widowmaker assassinating the Shambali leader Mondatta at King’s Row, and the entire scenario of King’s Row as a map (offense secures and delivers a bomb to the omnic underground residential zone) complete with graffiti demanding that omnics don’t deserve human rights doubles down on that. Winston’s slideshow of current events in “Are You With Us?” includes a shot of police in riot gear at King’s Row as well.

So here’s what we can extrapolate from this image: clearly some flashpoint event takes place King’s Row, triggering the uprising being detailed in this report. As for each overlay, let’s tackle each individually.

A poster demanding robot registration: registration acts in comicbook universes are generally not a good thing for the people getting registered, whether they’re mutants in the X-men or superheroes in general in the events leading up to the comic version of Civil War. A government demanding registration of a certain population is a government demanding to have an up-to-date list of where all of those people are located, ostensibly to track their movements for surveillance purposes at best and internment at worst.

The piece of concept art in the upper right depicts a location that might be named “Turing Green SWO”. The subtitle reads “Building an Omnic Future.” At first blush, this appears to be a poster for a proposed project that is likely intended to be a relocation program for omnics, which is clearly intended to look as nice and non-threatening as possible. However, there are a couple important notes to this that make it much more menacing.

“Turing” is almost certainly a reference to the Turing test, an evaluation meant to determine if a machine had the ability to exhibit intelligence indistinguishable from a human. Invoking the name of this test hints at least tangentially to the lingering question of whether or not omnics are intelligent to the same extent that humans are, but the brightest interpretation is that omnics, by virtue of their artificial intelligence, are walking Turing machines.

Another much darker element of the name comes up when you remember the originator of the test, Alan Turing. An English computer scientist and mathematician, Turing worked as a codebreaker for the Allies during World War II, and his contributions in breaking Nazi ciphers was critical to the Allies’ success. However, after the war, he was prosecuted for homosexual acts (since homosexuality was illegal in Great Britain at the time) and the resulting punishment for the crime led to his death a short time afterward. He was 41.

So yeah, the place being called “Turing Green” can be read very benevolently, but Turing’s death as a direct result of him being outed as gay turns it dark really fast, since it’s not difficult to read shades of the struggle for recognition by the LGBTQ community in the omnic struggle for rights and representation. The fact that the place is/was very likely intended to be effectively an internment camp for omnics doesn’t make any of it smell better.

Admittedly it doesn’t show up as well in the still, but the silhouette of the character shown here makes it pretty clear that this is intended to be Tracer. Now, whether it’s an alternate outfit that Tracer is wearing or (as some have theorized) an omnic version of Tracer, that’s certainly up in the air until we get a more clear image to work with.

To hang on the notion of omnic-Tracer, that’s got a lot of people talking about Team Fortress 2‘s Mann vs. Machine, a PVE cooperative “horde mode” that was introduced to that game a few years back, where mechanized versions of the game’s nine classes were unleashed in waves against the players. The idea that Team 4 would create an “omnic uprising” event where players have to contend against mechanized versions of certain heroes would be the most obvious conclusion, but Blizzard is anything but obvious. At this point, this is only wild speculation.

The last image we have is of the tube station that acts as the first defenders’ spawn in King’s Row. The lighting is different, but you can still clearly see the subway tracks. There is a display on the left (which in the video you see switches between different images over time) that isn’t there on the live servers, so it’s clear that we’re seeing at least a modified version of the King’s Row map. Given how the Junkenstein’s Revenge map was a modified version of Eichenwalde, that’s certainly not a surprise at all.

So what we know right now honestly isn’t much, but this teaser is still packed with a lot of information that we’ll get to think about for the next few days. If anything new shows up, we’ll be here to let you know.

Crow Tomkus