Overwatch is a game of Pixar movie sets, complex yet digestible hero classes and chirpy bastard robots who spew bullets into chokepoints till they’re eaten alive by Oriental dragons. But above all else, it’s a game about family – a family that lives at the intersection between official Blizzard canon and the crude, loopy or touching sitcom sketches, apocryphal romances and in-jokes thrown together by the most besotted Overwatch fans.
That’s a disgracefully syrupy angle, a really mushy take on a rigorously built game, but we can all be excused a bit of mushiness at the end of the year, when daylight is a distant memory in more ways than one. And besides, the brilliant thing about Overwatch’s family dynamics is that they’re also, to a degree, the dynamics of play.
Take Soldier 76, Overwatch’s founding member and its go-to Call of Duty guy. When I pick him I’m not just my team’s dependable all-rounder but its – the kind of dad who hides in the garden shed with his radio most weekends but can always be relied on to show up for every last after-school dance rehearsal or, as the case may be, help a wounded Lucio see off a rampaging Roadhog. This is the vision of Jack Morrison that has been handed down by artists like – equal parts official backstory and Tumblr gag – and you’ll always find him at the heart of the group, keeping everybody on target and intact. Conversely, when I play D.Va I’m Morrison’s tearaway brat, a belligerent gamer toddler after the example of who never lets a shot go unanswered and is partial to spamming the bunny emote on top of the payload.