'Overwatch' Lead Writer Explains Why D.Va Isn't a 'Starcraft' Pro Anymore

The world of Overwatch is filled with hidden details the average player might know nothing about. Just hopping on Xbox, PS4 or Battle.net, you would have no idea that Roadhog and Junkrat almost nuked Australia, Winston grew up on the moon or Torbjorn has nearly a dozen children. These hidden-in-plain sight secrets are told outside of the virtual arena through comics, animated shorts and short stories that give the heroes of Overwatch a depth that doesn't necessarily add anything to the gameplay. These stories give fans the opportunity to step inside the minds of these champions of justice or destruction, creating a personal connection with their hero avatars.

"It's hard to do a linear story in the game, so we do more of the voice lines and environment art," Michael Chu, lead writer for Overwatch, told Newsweek at a LEGO event in downtown Manhattan. "With a short story or comic we can go for more traditional stories, different characterizations for different things."

Chu is in charge of filling out the world of Overwatch and making the characters feel like more than generic good or bad guy stereotypes. To keep the backstories of 29 heroes and other side characters in check, the development team has a book with all of the character's relationships, details and history pre-written. It's the only way they could keep these threads and stories consistent, though that doesn't mean there still aren't mistakes.

D.Va was originally described as a Starcraft player who, according to a 2016 blog post, "became the #1 ranked player in the world at the age of 16." During a 2015 Blizzcon panel Chu said that D. Va "was a multiple-time world champion at Starcraft ." In January 2018, Chu tweeted that "It's a common misconception, but D.Va wasn't a StarCraft pro before joining MEKA." Chu admits they decided to retcon the lore because "we wanted her to play another game where it would make sense that she would be good at piloting a mech." (It's called "The Sky is Yours" and you can see it in the PC Bang on the Busan map). Starcraft is still an important part of D.Va's life; her father was a former Starcraft pro and the two connect over the game.

"With every bit of the character's backstory, we want to tell them in interesting and dramatic ways in a comic or short story," he said. "The easiest thing would be to just write you the whole story of every character."

Ensuring the Overwatch world makes sense can often be a topic of conversation at the Blizzard Irvine campus studio. When the dev team was working on the Blizzard World map, they tinkered with the idea of having an alternate reality Overwatch squad inside the game "with a blue haired Tracer lookalike and a monkey that wasn't a gorilla," Chu said. The idea was eventually scrapped, for being a bit to "on the nose."

Soldier:76 Vincent
Soldier:76 looking at a picture of Vincent in 2016's Reflections comic Blizzard

The most recent piece of lore added to the Overwatch mythos was the Bastet short story. Starring Ana and Soldier:76, the pair of old friends discuss their history together as they prepare to take down an Egyptian mob boss. "At the end of the year, we were talking about stuff we could do at the beginning of the year and we had this idea to do this Bastet thing," Chu said. What started out as a small news article quickly grew into a 14-page short story diving deeper into the thoughts of an Ana on the run and a wounded Soldier:76.

Bastet sparked controversy among Overwatch fans by introducing Vincent, a love interest from Soldier: 76's past. . Vincent has been a part of the grisled veterans backstory for years and was hinted in the Reflections comic released in 2016. Overall, Chu was happy with how it was received. "Back with Tracer and now Soldier, I always expected people to be positive. I wasn't disappointed, I was happy with the way the community embraced it."

He adds that the timing was right, too.

"It wasn't until this story that we had an opportunity because Bastet is really about letting go," Chu said. "It was a perfect opportunity that fit the story to kind of go into it."