In a short amount of time, Overwatch has taken the gaming world by storm and captivated millions around the globe. No matter what part of the world you live in or what language you speak, it’s a game that is accessible and extremely easy to love. Its accessibility is frequently stated to be one of the main reasons as to why it’s so popular, but just what makes it so accessible? What makes it so appealing that it has rapidly developed such a passionate fan-base filled with people that love few things more than to constantly talk and create content about it? When combined, there’s many wonderful aspects of Overwatch that make it such a joy to experience, but it feels like if there were to be one overarching aspect to pick as the key to its success, it would be its colorful nature.

The World

One of the most immediately inviting aspects about Overwatch is its world which is so visually pleasing to the eyes of the players. Particularly in the first-person shooter genre, many games contain worlds that are often bleak and dark; Call of Duty, Halo, Battlefield, Titanfall, DOOM, and Medal of Honor are all fitting examples. Having these types of worlds is just fine, but a bit of color might make things a bit more interesting sometimes! Overwatch has utilized the genre that it belongs to, subverting the common expectations for a game of its genre in order to set itself apart. Rather than paint a gritty universe, it features a world that is proudly vibrant and saturated in many ways.

When thinking of Numbani, it’s easy to immediately visualize the lush greens and unique architecture of the sleek buildings of this gorgeous African city. The Temple of Anubis is vastly different with its more ancient Egyptian architecture and its golden browns and yellows; it’s nothing like the frigid Volskaya Industries with its cool colors, abundance of snow and machinery. Hanamura features a bright mix of colors during the day, containing some lovely pinks because of the cherry blossom trees that originate from Japan. Dorado contains a variety of warm colors that contrast with the blues of the night, illustrating the life and vibrancy of Mexico that is present even after the sun goes down.

Instead of making all of its settings look and feel similar in order to create a world that feels tied together, Overwatch creates a cohesive world that shows locations that vastly differ from each other through different color schemes and cultural influences, making them individual and appealing to those who wish to see something new in the first-person shooter genre.

(Image source: Blizzard Entertainment)

The Characters

In a roster of 22 characters (as of the writing of this article), the game manages to make every single one feel unique through the colorful personalities among these charming individuals. Widowmaker is sassy and unafraid to deliver biting remarks; she is ruthless and spares no room for emotions. She’s technically a villain, but she has a tragic past that explains why she is who she is now. In contrast, Lúcio loves to have fun and fights to free people from capitalism and social injustices. He’s warm and often likes to cheer his team on before a match starts, telling them that they’ll all do great.

Ana is a mother and a warrior on the battlefield, sniping and putting enemies to sleep while reminding her squad members to “take your medicine” when she heals them. She has killed many not because she enjoys taking lives but because she wants to make the world a better and safer place for the ones she loves, especially her daughter Pharah. On the other hand, Reaper loves to kill and his character is that of an archetypal assassin, but he has more layers to him than that. His deadly seriousness and desire to see his enemies “die, die, die” is almost comical as he roams around the battlefield in his black cloak and mask, shouting exaggeratedly voiced lines. Tracer is cheery and overwhelmingly optimistic no matter the circumstances, freely laughing on the battlefield despite the danger. She’s very different from Symmetra, who is a more reserved perfectionist that refuses to afford carelessness in her work and on the battlefield.

The personalities of all the characters are vibrant and immediately leave an impression on the player. As a result, they all come across as fascinating in their own ways and their personalities and different ways of being encourage the player to feel like sticking to only one is missing out on the game’s charms. Each hero has their own color to them, and knowing their personalities – their quirks, their strengths, and their weaknesses – makes it all the more fun to play this game.

(Image source: Blizzard Entertainment)

The Diversity

One of the main reasons as to why Overwatch is so beloved is, without a doubt, the racial diversity among its characters. Many people, including myself, might not have given the game a second look had it not stood out from other shooters through its diversity. Through its plot, the game presents a realistic portrayal of the world in which people from different races, heritages, and cultures are featured.

There’s Mei, a Chinese climatologist; Pharah, an Egyptian soldier; Ana, Pharah’s mother and an Egyptian warrior; D.Va, a Korean professional gamer and mech pilot; Symmetra, an Indian architect; Lúcio, a Brazilian DJ; Reaper, a Latino-American assassin; Hanzo, a Japanese bowman; and Genji, Hanzo’s brother and a Japanese samurai. The diversity will only increase in the future with Sombra – likely the next new hero – being Latina. Overwatch makes sure to convey its global scope through its various stages and through the characters you can play as in those stages. It’s refreshing, inclusive and can be extremely meaningful for those who aren’t used to seeing or playing as themselves.

This degree of representation is rarely seen not just in video games, but also in most pieces of media out there throughout all mediums. In a day and age in which most people have a console in their house, anyone can play video games so it’s vital to represent people from all walks of life. That is all the more important for a company as visible and beloved as Blizzard, and the company has recognized this and fully committed to make an earnest effort to represent everyone. Diversity is always an ongoing process, and regardless of perhaps a few missteps here and there, they’ve done a great job at creating a colorful cast that feels alive.

(Image source: Blizzard Entertainment)

It’s safe to say that Overwatch is as beloved as it is because of an effective combination of various things, but it’s worth looking deeper into why these things are effective in the first place. It’s through the colorful nature of the game – reflected in its visuals and settings, characterization of the playable heroes, and their racial diversity – that the game is so accessible to so many, leading to its success. It’s great to see a game that proudly shows its colors to the world as much as Overwatch does, and it’ll only grow to reflect more colors and become more vibrant as time goes by and the world gains more heroes.

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