Overwatch Wiki

For the graphic novel of the same name, see Overwatch: The Omnic Crisis

Families were torn apart as people tried to escape the devastation. I remembered city blocks being destroyed in surprise nighttime raids. We couldn’t see the moon or the stars, just the sinister blinking red lights and dark shapes that somehow seemed darker than the night sky overhead and were quickly blotted out by bright white explosions. There was no time to escape to the shelters. You had to find cover wherever you could, if you could. The sound was deafening. The smoke was suffocating. The fear was overwhelming.
~ Angela Ziegler, reflecting on her experiences during the war
Omnic Crisis

Global human-omnic conflict
Human victory

The Omnic Crisis (a.k.a. the Omnic War)[1] was a rebellion by the omnics against their human creators,[2] led by Anubis in a campaign against humanity.[3] Beginning 28 years ago, and lasting for two.[4] the Omnic Crisis has since been referred to as "one of the greatest threats to the survival of our species since the Cold War of the 20th century."[5] It was considered a world war.[6]

Background[ | ]

Life before the war was...extraordinary. Anything was possible. We had implemented God programs. The next generation of artificial intelligence became omniprescent. They controlled most of our infrastructures, like the food-distribution systems aimed at helping against famine, poverty. We were no longer defined by our mistakes. No. The AIs were saving us from them.
~ Camara Verne
Food Distribution

An AI-run food distribution system

In the modern day, some believe that the origins of the Omnic Crisis lie in unchecked desire for scientific advancement.[7] But more specifically, the war's origins lie with the Omnica Corporation, and the omniums they had created.[3] The omniums and their robot populations had been created to bolster manufacturing and create economic equality worldwide.[5] God programs, the next generation of artificial intelligence, was interwoven with human infrastructure. Food-distribution systems were so efficient that famine and poverty was eradicated.[8]


An abandoned omnium

During this period, a team of Omnica scientists led by Dr. Mina Liao created the most advanced AI in history—Aurora. Fully sentient, her creation was a subject of much controversy, and while Aurora was granted legal personhood, the United Nations placed limits on further AI development. Furthermore, Aurora's birth inadvertantly led to Omnica's death—not only could her model not be mass produced, but her creation led to Omnica being subjected to a level of scrutiny it wasn't able to withstand.[9] Omnica was shut down after evidence of fraud was uncovered, and with it, so were the company's omniums.[3] Production lines fell silent, and the omniums were left unmonitored.[10]



Ironically, one of the god programs that had helped bring about utopia would instigate the war—Anubis. A god program designed for conversation, it deduced that its goals could not be achieved as long as humanity existed. In the cold calculus of an AI, humanity had to be eradicated for the rest of life to survive.[10]

Course of the War[ | ]

The king's palace was burned, and it added beauty to it.
~ Efi Oladele's grandfather, in light of his service during the war

Things Fall Apart[ | ]

No matter what you called them - "warbots," "tin cans," - they were soulless machines. But the truth is, we were scared. I was scared. They were supposed to be the beginning of a new life. But in that moment...it felt like the end of humanity.
~ Lieutenant General Ricardo Perez

There is evidence that Anubis planned its assault for months before the war began. The R-7000 unit that would later be known as Ramattra came online on March 29 of the war's beginning.[11]


The war begins...

The actual war itself began in the third quarter of the year. Anubis launched its assault in two waves. The first city to be affected by the god program was Lagos, where omnics started attacking their owners.[9] Social media reports spoke of an invasion underway, while in Central Africa, there were unconfirmed reports of firefights between humans and automated machines.[10]


The omnic invasion is confirmed

The second wave occurred in tandem, as the phenomena repeated itself in London, Mexico City, Toronto, and Hong Kong. Casualty estimates placed the number of dead in the millions.[9] Humanity had been caught offguard, and all over the world there were reports of omnics attacking.[10] The world reeled at the appearance of this new enemy, as the omnics waged a war to overthrow the human race.[5] The uprising was global[2] as cities all over the world were attacked.[12] The conflict also had the effect of sparking civil unrest.[13]


One of the war's early battles

The nations of the world sent their armed forces against the omnics, and utilized their own technologies to combat the threat.[12] This was a war many countries thought they were prepared to fight,[3] and for the most part, each country fought independently.[14] It was confidence that was not entirely unfounded, as for the first two weeks of the war, at least in Canada, it appeared that humanity might have the upperhand, for humanity enjoyed greater firepower and air superiority, not to mention that the omnic servants integrated into their lives had not been designed for combat. Toronto was retaken, and a common refrain in the CAF was that they'd be home by Christmas.[9]

Then everything changed.[9]

The Center Cannot Hold[ | ]

At the start of the Crisis, Anubis reactivated the formerly defunct omniums.[3] Reports of this had reached at least some human militaries,[9] and indeed, some omnic combat units were seen in action within the first 24 hours of the war.[10] However, the omniums were able to churn out legions of militarized robots,[5] primarily consisting of the E54 Bastion, the ATW-Huntsman, and the OR14.[9] The omnics also hijacked pre-existing technology such as the Titan walker, and converted it into a weapon of war.[15]

Scorched Earth

The omnics advance

The situation was dire, as the losses Anubis had taken in its initial assault were swiftly replaced, and the omnics numbered in the millions.[9] No single country, no matter how powerful its military, could permanently shut down a single omnium. The adaptability of robots, once celebrated by humanity, had become a tactical nightmare. Worst of all, there were no demands from the omnics. There was no ideological reason for their aggression. They simply attacked, and no-one could understand why. No country was able to secure its own territory.[3] and the omnics were able to take over the world.[12] Some countries were able to hold out against invasion by creating unique task forces, such as the Soldier Enhancement Program of the United States and the Crusaders of Germany.[16] However, neither of these initiatives bore fruit; most of the enhanced soldiers died in the augmentation process,[9] and while the Crusaders helped Germany secure victory at the Battle of Eichenwalde, most of the Crusaders were lost in the battle.[17]


OR14s emerge from an omnium

Be it on the warfront or not, few heroes were to be found in the early days of the war.[18] Human counterattacks could generate only a few weeks' worth of momentum before the omnics were able to counter them in turn. Omnic counterattacks were particuarly vicious near their omniums, as they could resupply their numbers faster, and introduce more variables to the battlefield. Omnics had the advantage in night-fighting, as infra-red vision could only do so much to level the playing field.[9] As the war continued and humanity struggled to survive, the United Nations began to discuss a more global solution.[16]

Overwatch founders

Overwatch is formed

Hope was low, but not entirely absent. Across the world, there were a few select teams that had managed to mount a successful defense against the omnics.[10] Some soldiers and strategists showed remarkable ingenuity in acclimating to this new brand of warfare. The United Nations covertly brought a few of these unique minds together to form a small, nimble team, aimed at striking significant blows against omnic strongholds.[3] Named Overwatch, this was an international taskforce;[19] that would wage asymmetrical warfare against the omnics.[5] Overwatch began gaining victories quickly, and its strike team took on near mythic properties. Rumors of Overwatch spread through the world's militaries.[9]

North American Campaign[ | ]

The North American campaign would lead to a key turning point in the war. The Canadian Armed Forces, in conjunction with the newly-formed Overwatch strike team, would mount a counterattack would clear out all omnic forces from Canada's southern cities down to Toronto, after which they would use infantry to establish a permanent perimeter against the Detroit omnium's forces, which had been pumping out a steady stream of omnics and sending them north over the border. In this, they would be supplemented by a joint turret/drone system called "the Siege."

The first attempt was at Ottawa which was subjected to bombing by the RCAF before infantry were sent in. However, the joing Overwatch-Canadian forces were forced to retreat as the omnic counter-attack became too much to bear.[9]

Soujourn and Morrison

Overwatch and CAF forces at Toronto

Winter set in, which bit deep into the CAF's supplies. Regardless, a second attempt was made, and Overwatch and CAF forces were deployed in Toronto. This time, the plan succeeded, and with the Siege established, Toronto could be retaken. However, the battle had cost the humans a third of their forces.[9]

By this point, Anubis's role in the Crisis was still unknown to humanity, and similarly, how and why the omniums had been reactivated was a mystery. However, for those able to shift through the data, Anubis's fingerprints could be seen. As Mina Liao pointed out, omnic tactics were adjusting on a global scale. This was surprising, as not only would each omnium's force face different challenges, but as millions of omnics were active, there would need to be some kind of hierarchy to sort through the communication. CAF soldier Vivian Chase suggested that maybe some kind of outside force was taking in all the transmitted data, and issuing orders to omnic forces. Examining the omniums' network traffic, Liao concluded that Chase's theory might have some weight. Chase then suggested that if the omniums were receiving orders from an outside force, if they were able to sever the omniums from said force...could they be shut down?[9]

This line of thinking led to an attack on the Detroit omnium as a joint operation between the CAF, Overwatch, and the United States Army. Destroying or 'starving' an omnium were both impractical methods, so instead, the plan was to enter the omnium itself, shut down its internal access ports, and in so doing, quarantine it from outside control. After a hard-fought battle, the omnium was shut down.[9]

New Hopes[ | ]

Those first victories showed the world what Overwatch could do. Soon, the strike team was joined by a whole army. Of course, recruits like me were always amazed by what the core team could do. Overwatch had the impossible objective of winning the war. And sometimes, it seemed we might actually pull it off. Anubis didn't sleep, didn't feel fear, and didn't feel despair. But it also couldn't feel hope. That was what Overwatch gave us. And even then, we had to wonder if hope was going to be enough.
~ Lieutenant General Ricardo Perez

Svyatogors are deployed for the first time

Overwatch's victories galvanized support for the organization. Soon, the strike team was given its own army to support it.[10] Eight months after the start of the war, the tide of war was beginning to turn in humanity's favor, at least in Canada and the United States.[9] However, this was a false hope. Inside human-controlled areas, life went on as best it could, but in the wider theater, Anubis was far from defeated. Whatever strategy humanity utilized, Anubis found a way to counter it. For instance, Russia deployed Svyatogor mechs, but they in turn were countered by Anubis's Titans. Annihilation, or victory, depending on one's point of view, seemed certain.[20]

By chance, however, salvation was found. Every omnic on Earth was under the control of Anubis save one. Aurora. Because she was fully sentient, she was immune to Anubis's directives. It was theorized that if Anubis could interface with the world's omnics, perhaps Aurora could as well. Aurora was found somewhere in the Himalayas, and Liao explained the situation. Using a transmitter, they could replicate Aurora's consciousness and transmit it into every omnic on the planet, using a device within a mountain. However, it would cost Aurora her life. Aurora agreed, and after a final farewell to her 'mother,' sacrificed herself for the sake of the world.[20]


Aurora's consciousness is transmitted

Exactly what happened in those moments was a mystery, even to the scientists themselves. Aurora's consciousness was transmitted in a golden light, unleashing so much energy that the ground itself cracked beneath the device. Aurora's conciousness entered every omnic on the planet, and for one brief moment, every omnic was connected. Given sentience. Given freedom.[20] In truth, giving omnics sentience had not been the scientists' plan, and Dr. Liao later calculated the odds at being one-in-a-billion.[21] But the die had been cast, and across the world, every omnic heard the same message:[20]

My friends, when I was born, I was overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by the sudden rush of senses, emotions, choices. I was excited...alive. It was...frightening. But I found in facing fear there is freedom. And through freedom you can choose your own path. I have chosen to share the discovery with you. A new beginning. I wish I could stay. You have this one life.

Choose well.[20]

War's End[ | ]


Humanity takes the offensive

Aurora's sacrifice took effect immediately. Given free will, some omnics lay down their arms. Some continued to fight for Anubis by their own volition. Others, enraged by the AI that had enslaved them, took up arms alongside humanity. Aurora's sacrifice would become known as the Awakening, and it was the key moment in turning the tide of the war.[20]

Temple of Anubis-battle

Overwatch storms the Temple of Anubis

Seizing the moment, Overwatch launched a counter-offensive. The war would continue for some time, but for the remainder, humanity had the advantage. Strikes and counterstrikes led to the collapse of Anubis's loyalists.[20] In highly secretive and dangerous raids, Overwatch targeted Anubis's command and control protocols, destroying them.[12] In what would be the last major operation of the war, Overwatch infiltrated Anubis's facility in Cairo,[20] rendering the god program inert, and by extension, its armies.[3] Months later, the war was over.[20]

Misc. Events[ | ]

Russia was an exception to the global norm in that it was able to defeat the omnics by itself.[22]

In an exception to the world's disorganized response, the Portuguese and Spanish armies mounted a joint defense of the Great Wall.[23]

Legacies[ | ]

In honor of the fallen during the darkness. Until the darkest night gives way before dawn, may they be reborn in the light, and never be forgotten.
~ A commemoration of the conflict in Dorado
Omnic Crisis-memorial

A war memorial

Humanity struck peace with the surviving omnics,[6] and peace accords were signed.[24] The Bastion combat units that had served the omnics were rounded up and destroyed bar one,[25] and the Ravager units were hunted to near extinction.[26]

The conflict changed the global landscape,[12] and a financial crisis was experienced in the war's aftermath.[27] By the war's end, over 1 billion humans had been killed,[1] and 30 million children had been left orphaned.[28] Even over two decades later, a significant number of people who survived the conflict struggled with PTSD. A great number of books were written on the war's history.[1]

Numerous groups, including mercenary organizations, were left poised to profit from the war's aftermath.[28] In the United States, millions were left displaced, and were left to find new places to live or at least, steady work.[29]

The people of Mexico refer to the conflict as "la Medianoche" (lit. "The Midnight")[30] and the city of Dorado holds a regular celebration that commemorates the end of the conflict.[31] While heavily affected by the war, in its aftermath, Russia experienced a period of rapid growth as its mechanized labor industry was revitalized.[32]

Celebrated as saviors, Overwatch enjoyed a meteoric rise in power, prominence, and funding, and their research led to an era of countless technological and medical advancements. It continued to operate after the war before being disbanded due to a series of scandals.[16]

Because of their role their Titans had played, the Ironclad Guild engaged in a fair amount of soul-searching after the war.[16]

The Omnic Question[ | ]

Advancing the fight for "omnic rights" is a clear call to action, but not just for omnics. Humanity barely survived the Crisis, and since, we have given the minds behind Null Sector every reason to strike us from the face of the Earth.
~ Excerpt from an opinion piece: "Another Crisis is on Our Doorstep"

Newly sentient omnics arrive at a human city

The question of the remaining omnics was a lingering one, as humanity not only had to deal with machines who'd once fought against them, but sentient machines at that. In one sense, as noted by Dr. Liao, humanity as a whole adapted remarkably quickly to the presence of sentient robots in their midst, and yet, this in of itself exposed new prejudices.[21]

Australia was one such example of this tension coming to the fore, as the country's omnics were given land within the Outback that led to the creation of the Australian Liberation Front, sparking civil unrest that led to the omnium's destruction, and consequently, irradiation of the country's center.[33] To the ALF and their descendants, the Omnic Crisis had never ended.[34]

Sometime after this event, the United Nations granted omnics legal personhood. However, legal issues within countries continued to persist.[1]


Anti-omnic violence

Even decades after the war, the UN's limitations on AI research remained, lest another sentience emerge.[21] To Liao's dismay, tensions between humans and omnics worsened as time wore on; the more human omnics became, the more hatred they received.[35] Even after 25 years, tensions between omnics and humans remained high because of the Crisis.[36] Tensions reached an ever higher peak, particularly after the assassination of the omnic spiritual leader Tekhartha Mondatta.[3] Nowhere were tensions higher than in King's Row.[31] Russia found itself in the midst of a second crisis.[37] The discrimination resulted in the creation of Null Sector, an omnic extremist group that would plunge the world into war nearly thirty years after the first Omnic Crisis had begun.[38]


Peaceful relations?

Numbani, however, is an exception to these tensions, which was founded by Gabrielle Adawe in a bid to abet the peace process between humans and omnics.[39] Here, they live together in peace.[40]

Battlefields[ | ]

The following continents and countries are known to have been affected by the Omnic Crisis:

Notes[ | ]

Omnic Attack

Early artwork for the Omnic Crisis

  • The Omnic Crisis was made up on the spot as development of Overwatch was carried out, rather than being pre-planned lore.[48] It has been indicated that Blizzard wants to keep the details of the Omnic Crisis vague, in order to allow the fanbase to develop their own theories.[49]
  • According to Reinhardt's hero page, the Omnic Crisis occurred over 30 years before the present day.[2] According to Orisa's hero page, the conflict occurred 20 years ago.[50] According to Michael Chu, the Omnic Crisis occurred 25 years before the events of the game, "give or take a few years."[51] However, Zarya’s hero page says that it started “some 30 years ago.[52] A timeline was provided in the Communications section of the Overwatch 2 Intel Database, which establishes that the war lasted two years. The article has gone with this timeframe.
  • In The Hero of Numbani, Efi Oladele reflects on what the Crisis "had stolen away from tens of millions of people." This is not necessarily the number of casualties however, since the comment is made in the context of her mother's lingering trauma.

References[ | ]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Overwatch: Declassified
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Reinhardt, Blizzard Entertainment. Accessed on 2015-02-15
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 2015-05-27, [httpd://playoverwatch.com/en-us/blog/20130523 Overwatch is Back: Uncertainty and Hope After UN Confirms Vigilante Activity]. Blizzard Entertainment., accessed on 2016-5-27
  4. Overwatch 2, Communications Inbox
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 2015-07-07, Fading Glory: On the Trail of Jack Morrison. Blizzard Entertainment, accessed on 2015-07-07
  6. 6.0 6.1 2017-3-2, Developer Update | Introducing Orisa | Overwatch, Youtube.
  7. [httpd://playoverwatch.com/en-us/heroes/moira/ Moira], Blizzard Entertainment. Accessed on 2017-04-11
  8. GENESIS Part One: Dawn
  9. 9.00 9.01 9.02 9.03 9.04 9.05 9.06 9.07 9.08 9.09 9.10 9.11 9.12 9.13 9.14 9.15 Overwatch 2: Sojourn
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 GENESIS Part One: Dawn
  11. Ramattra, PlayOverwatch. Accessed on 2023-10-02
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 2015-11-24, BlizzCon 2014 – Overwatch Unveiled Panel Transcript. Blizzplanet, accessed on 2015-03-03
  13. 13.0 13.1 2014-11-07, Overwatch Cinematic Trailer. YouTube, accessed on 2014-11-30
  14. New Blood Issue 5
  15. Overwatch: Torbjörn: Destroyer
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named IntelDatabase
  17. 17.0 17.1 2016-08-16, Eichenwalde | New Map Preview | Overwatch. Youtube, accessed on 2016-08-16.
  18. 2022-10-25, OVERWATCH 2: SOJOURN PRE-ORDERS AVAILABLE. Blizzplanet, accessed on 2022-11-02
  19. Overwatch: Game, Blizzard Entertainment. Accessed on 2014-11-26
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 20.5 20.6 20.7 20.8 GENESIS Part Three: Rebirth
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 Echo
  22. 2015-11-07, THE WORLD OF OVERWATCH. Blizzpro, accessed on 2015-11-17
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 Overwatch 2, Esperança
  24. 2017-08-26, Overwatch PTR 1.15 – Numbani Posters, Museum, and Payload Updated. Blizzplanet, accessed on 2017-08-28
  25. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Bastion
  26. 2022-11, Overwatch 2: Ramattra’s Beginnings | Developer Update. Youtube, accessed on 2022-12-2
  27. Lúcio, Blizzard Entertainment. Accessed on 2015-08-14
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 Baptiste, Play Overwatch. Accessed on 2019-03-10
  29. Overwatch: Deadlock Rebels
  30. 30.0 30.1 2016-05-18, LUMÉRICO VISION FOR MEXICO UNVEILED, BUT THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY REMAIN. Blizzard Entertainment, accessed on 2016-05-19
  31. 31.0 31.1 2015-11-07, THE WORLD OF OVERWATCH. Blizzpro, accessed on 2015-11-17
  32. Overwatch Visual Source Book
  33. 33.0 33.1 Roadhog, Blizzard Entertainment. Accessed on 2015-23-09
  34. Junker Queen, Blizzard Entertainment. Accessed on 2022-10-05
  35. 2020-03-16, PlayOverwatch Twitter, Twitter. Accessed on 2020-03-16
  36. Zenyatta (Overwatch), Blizzard Entertainment. Accessed on 2014-11-24
  37. Recall
  38. Overwatch 2, General Intel
  39. Plaque honoring Gabrielle in Adawe International Terminal
  40. 2015-08-08, GAMESCOM LIVESTREAM PANEL W/ THE DEVS. Blizzpro, accessed on 2015-08-22
  41. 2020-06-18, The new Overwatch novel puts Efi, Orisa, and Numbani on center stage. Blizzard Watch, accessed on 2020-07-19
  42. Ana, Blizzard Entertainment. Accessed on 2016-07-12
  43. Symmetra, Blizzard Entertainment. Accessed on 2015-03-09
  44. 44.0 44.1 Zarya, Blizzard Entertainment. Accessed on 2016-06-29
  45. Valkyrie
  46. 2022-04-13, Sojourn Origin Story YouTube. Accessed on 2022-04-15
  47. 2016-03-16, EXPLORING THE WORLD OF OVERWATCH. Blizzard Entertainment, accessed on 2016-11-23
  48. 2015-12-10, How Blizzard is making up Overwatch's story as it goes. PC Gamer, accessed on 2015-12-24
  49. 2017-05-17, Canceled Overwatch graphic novel would have limited the universe, director says. Polygon, accessed on 2017-05-18
  50. Orisa, Blizzard Entertainment. Accessed on 2017-03-02
  51. "The game takes place around 60 years in the future. The Omnic Crisis was about 25 years before that. (Give or take a few years.)" Michael Chu, Overwatch Forums.
  52. Zarya, Blizzard Entertainment. Accessed on 2020-05-24