Would an Overwatch graphic novel have limited lore and fan fiction?
Players and fans of Overwatch were excited about the release of its first graphic novel, Overwatch: First Strike. Sadly, the release was cancelled November 16, 2016 and fans never got to experience the 100 page, full-length graphic novel. Why tease players with beautiful content and storytelling and then pull the plug? Lead developer Jeff Kaplan said that they pulled the plug on Overwatch: First Strike for you. They did it for the fans. Kaplan explained that the reason the team stopped working on the graphic novel was because they felt it would have put a limit on Overwatch lore and fan fiction.
As it stands, Overwatch lore is open-ended and allows for players to imagine all of the possibilities of the past lives of the Overwatch. While the writers and developers have revealed little lore in the game itself, lead writer Michael Chu and team have revealed bits and pieces of lore outside of the physical game. Overwatch has twelve comics readily available to read for free as well as video shorts on their media page. And recently, developers incorporated new character skins that shed light on who the character was in the past. “ First Strike was to tell the story of the origins of the Overwatch operation. The story would focus on the founding of Overwatch and the exploits of Jack “Soldier: 76” Morrison, Gabriel “Reaper” Reyes, and Ana Amari. Because First Strike was an idea since the early development of Overwatch, releasing the graphic novel, Chu believes, would tether those characters to a specific storyline and take away from the infinite possibilities of what could have happened. It especially would not make sense to release the graphic novel when so much has changed since the concept of the graphic novel was born. And every piece of lore, story, and even the cinematic trailers, has captivated us. Can you imagine the story being different than it is now?
Releasing the 100-page, beautifully executed graphic novel would not have necessarily limited Overwatch lore—not if they are sticking to a specific event. Personalities are comprised of many variables and knowing who Ana Amari was before the Omni Crisis does not have to be limited to the first few days of the founding of Overwatch. That just seems silly to me. Then again, Kaplan and team have done a spectacular job of keeping players intrigued with their methods. Perhaps he does know best. And it’s quite comforting that the Overwatch developers are putting players’ entire experience ahead of simply releasing some cool product to make money.
Kaplan and team could use so many avenues in order to continue to expand lore, leaving various options open. Canceling the graphic novel, in essence, was a good call. We know that we will see more story content release in the form of comics and animated video shorts as well as character skins and maps. Who knows? Maybe the contents of First Strike will be a future campaign. Players are never kept waiting for too long. And in the meantime, we can still have our imaginations. After all, as Brandy “The Battlesheep” Erb says, “In the end, there is no limit other than our own imaginations.” Besides, they do still plan on telling that story at some point.