- This article is about the in-game organization. For similarly titled articles, see Overwatch (disambiguation)
|“||Conflict. As the world teetered on the brink of anarchy, a new hope arose. An elite international taskforce charged with ending the war, and restoring liberty to all nations. Overwatch. Soldiers. Scientists. Adventurers. Oddities. Guardians who secured global peace for a generation. Under its unwavering protection, the world recovered. And today, though its watch has ended, its soaring ideals of freedom and equality will never be forgotten.||„|
|~ A description of Overwatch from its museum|
|Petras (director, formerly)|
Gabrielle Adawe (founder)
Gabriel Reyes (commander, formerly)
Jack Morrison (commander, formerly)
Winston (de facto leader, currently)
|United Nations (formerly)|
|Overwatch Headquarters, Switzerland (formerly)
Watchpoint: Gibraltar, Gibraltar (currently)
- 1 History
- 1.1 Origins
- 1.2 Post-Omnic Crisis
- 1.3 Post-Overwatch
- 1.4 Resurgence
- 1.5 Reformation
- 1.6 A New War
- 2 Known Bases
- 3 Known Members
- 4 Trivia
- 5 Videos
- 6 References
Overwatch was founded at the behest of the United Nations during the Omnic Crisis. A war against robots that was unlike any humanity had faced before. No single country was successfully holding its territory, but it had been observed that some soldiers and strategists were thriving in this new style of warfare. As the nations of Earth struggled against the omnics, the UN pooled together their best soldiers and technologies to form an elite strike unit.
Overwatch was that unit, consisting of "scientists, soldiers, adventurers, and oddities," and was intended to carry out asymmetric warfare against the omnics. Gabrielle Adawe was one of the key architects of its formation, while command of the unit was given to Gabriel Reyes, a member of a super soldier program carried out by the United States. However, while Reyes had overall command, Overwatch's overall structure was molded by Jack Morrison, who molded the unit into a truly cohesive fighting force. The other founding members were Ana Amari, Mina Liao, Reinhardt Wilhelm, and Torbjörn Lindholm. Adawe had a vision for using Overwatch to negotiate peace between omnics and humans.
Finding their strength, the Overwatch strike team targeted the omnics' command and control protocols. One of their operations was in Rio de Janeiro. After great sacrifice and heroism in a series of dangerous raids, they destroyed it all, rendering the omnic armies inert. They had saved the world, and earned its adoration. For his services, Jack Morrison was given the position of Overwatch's first official commander, while Gabriel Reyes was passed over.
|“||The Omnic Crisis has been over for over ten years. Overwatch was built to win the war, but they’ve given me a new mission now: to make the world a better place. We’ve invested in research in biology, chemistry, infrastructure, climatology—every scientific endeavor that can better peoples' lives.||„|
|~ Jack Morrison|
In the years that followed, Overwatch was transformed into an international peacekeeping force. New resources and funding were given to the unit, giving it far-reaching global influence. Over the following decades, it helped to maintain peace, inspiring an era of exploration, innovation, and discovery, its range of research including space exploration, medical research, biology, chemistry, infrastructure, and climatology. In this particular regard, a series of eco-watchpoints were established to monitor the planet's changing climate. Rogue omnics, terrorism, warmongering dictators, none of them could stand for long against such a capable, dedicated force. Overwatch made global stability its goal, and the world was happy to have them.
During its years of operation, Overwatch recruitment posters were a common sight, and its members had a constant TV presence. An Overwatch cartoon was produced that starred at least some of its own members; the cartoon (still) aired in its last years.
Overwatch grew into a global institution, and new agents were recruited. Those that grew up during this period are referred to as the "Overwatch Generation," as they were given a legion of heroes to look up to. For these children, Overwatch was a symbol of hope, and they were taught that they represented the best of humanity,
Overwatch maintained a global communications network, and possessed one of the most advanced armories on the planet. New agents were brought into the organization as existing ones retired. It carried out operations against the terrorist group Talon and the ninja Shimada Clan. In the case of the latter, to its knowledge, it successfully dismantled it. It took a militaristic approach to maintaining this peace however, which generated some internal tension.
Twenty years after its founding, Overwatch's influence waned, and the organization came under suspicion of corruption and sedition. A series of allegations were made against the group, including negligence resulting in high-profile mission failures; corruption and mismanagement; weapons proliferation; human rights abuses; and more. Overwatch had never had a shortage of critics; even in its glory days, many voices called for severe restrictions on the agency's mission, insisting that such a powerful group of individuals needed careful oversight. Rumors of black-ops missions, carrying out tasks like assassination and kidnapping, were dismissed by the public as paranoid fantasies. But as time passed, criticism became harder to shrug off, and the agency seemed to be tone-deaf to public concerns. Controversial missions stoked public outrage until it reached a fever pitch, and some of Overwatch’s most famous and celebrated agents were forced to retire in disgrace. Protests broke out, the people claiming that Overwatch was the source of the world's turmoil. One event labelled "the Venice incident" led to a slew of inquiries into the organization. When it was discovered that disgraced scientist Moira O'Deorain had been working for them, high ranking Overwatch officials disavowed all knowledge of her activities.
Years later, Olympia Shaw reflected that if that had been the end of it, many might have accepted these missteps as the unavoidable signs of an aging, bloated bureaucracy, suffering under monolithic leadership that desperately needed a change in direction. The truth, however, was much darker.
The Anubis Project
The Venice Incident
|“||Our target was dead. Guess he got what was coming to him. Still, it didn't seem right. But that wasn't the end of our problems. For the first time, people knew we were out there. New faces stepped up to fill the void in Talon. I can't help but wonder if that's where it all started to go wrong.||„|
|~ Jesse McCree|
Eight years before the present day, an attack was made on Overwatch's Oslo facilities. Commander Morrison launched an investigation of the incident. He informed the media that Overwatch had identified a number of suspects, but declined to provide further details. This was followed by an attack on Blackwatch's Rome facility, where numerous staff members were killed. Both attacks were done at the behest of Antonio, a businessman with connections to both Talon and the Italian government. Overwatch commanders Jack Morrison and Gabriel Reyes were at a crossroads as to how to respond. Morrison favored working with the Italian government. However, Reyes pointed out that Antonio's connections ran deep, and he'd be exonerated if arrested. Reyes pressed for Antonio to be brought in for questioning, but Morrison pointed out that unilateral action by Overwatch would violate Italy's sovereignty. Still, he left the decision to Reyes to make.
On that note, Reyes assembled a team of Blackwatch agents, consisting of himself, Jesse McCree, Genji Shimada, and Moira O'Deorain. They headed for Rialto. In what would be known as the Venice Incident, the Blackwatch team infiltrated Antonio's manor, but Reyes killed their target instead of apprehending him. The team was forced to fight their way out through the Talon soldiers. Morrison was incensed by what had occurred, and demanded that Reyes tell him what actually happened, plausible deniability be damned. Reyes snidely responded to Morrison's demands, but nonetheless recounted the Rialto mission. In his debrief, he pointed out that things don't always go according to plan, and stood by the decisions he had made. The incident would lead to the reveal of Blackwatch's existence years later, greatly damaging Overwatch's standing.
King's Row Uprising
As allegations were mounting, a new threat had appeared. Kings' Row, an English city that was a major site of anti-omnic protests, was under attack by a rogue group called Null Sector. The group rebuilt OR14 and Bastion units, among others, and attacked the city. Thousands of lives were lost. Soon, the city had fallen. The British Prime Minister did not want any Overwatch members to get involved with the conflict. Jack Morrison, however, sent Overwatch members Torbjörn Lindholm, Reinhardt Wilhelm, Lena Oxton, and Angela Ziegler to liberate the city from Null Sector. The four members were to shut down the air defenses, infiltrate the omnic factory, and disable the units. The team successfully stopped the Null Sector uprising.
A year after the King's Row Uprising, Morrison was under pressure to disband Overwatch. This year however, they were able to apprehend Talon member Maximilien in an operation in Havana. Maximilien was successfully captured, and as part of a deal, gave them information on the location of Doomfist. He was apprehended in Singapore.
In the final years of Overwatch's existence, a top secret division called "Blackwatch" was revealed. There were stories of assassination, coercion, kidnapping, torture, and worse. Governments called on the UN to shut down the "aggressive and repeated violations of many countries' sovereignty."
A special UN committee launched a lengthy and highly secretive investigation into the claims. As the UN investigation proceeded, and public distrust swelled, Overwatch's Swiss headquarters was destroyed in an apparent accident. Among the casualties were Morrison and Reyes. The UN steadfastly maintained that there was no foul play behind this event, but anonymous reports indicate that a rebellion tore the group apart from within. On one side was Morrison, determined to hold together what remained of Overwatch. On the other side was Reyes, whose agenda remains unknown to this day. A battle raged between these men deep within Overwatch's base. At some point, their fighting triggered an explosion that destroyed the facility, killing both of them (supposedly), and numerous others. Angela Ziegler, head of Overwatch's medical research, commented in a UN hearing that the outcome was inevitable—Reyes and Morrison had drifted further and further apart, as Reyes had remained bitter that Morrison had been given the position of field commander instead of him. Years later, Ana Amari ventured that Morrison had been chosen to lead Overwatch due to looking the part, but he was, at the end of the day, a soldier. And as a soldier, Morrison had only known how to save the world, not change it.
|“||Overwatch always took me for granted. That organization was poisoned from the very start, and the longer I was there, the more I could see that it was slowly rotting from the inside out.||„|
|~ Vernand Sainclair|
The UN committee, coupled with the loss of its headquarters and key members, were the two death knells that signaled the end of Overwatch. In the wake of such an incident, little could remain hidden. The full transgressions of Overwatch's shadow operations became known, and even the most ardent defenders inside the organization bowed to the truth and called for its dissolution. The United Nations could do nothing but shut down Overwatch. The group gave into the pressure and it was eventually disbanded, thirty years after its founding, left in disgrace, its agents now the target of derision and suspicion in the media. The Petras Act deemed any Overwatch activity illegal, and liable to prosecution.
Few people at the time doubted it was the right call. The world had never been more peaceful—the biggest threat to global stability and growth was, in many minds, Overwatch itself. Its time had passed. Security privatization became more common in the wake of Overwatch's end, Helix Securities being one example.
|“||Our generation’s war is over. Every generation has one. Why do we fight? For blood, for money, for king and country, for justice, for what we believe in. It’s not always on the battlefield. Some wars last for decades, but ours was over in an instant. Gabriel built our team to save humanity, but he couldn’t rebuild afterwards. Adawe and the others thought Morrison was the one who could. He looked the part, after all. The war hero. Compassionate, brave, confident, political. But at the end of the day: a soldier. And all soldiers only know one way to live. We aren’t meant to change the world, just to save it.
That’s why the rest of us were there.
We never knew how to let the ones who followed us take up the struggle. We aren’t made for peace.
|~ Ana Amari and Angela Ziegler discussing the fall of Overwatch|
In the five years since, mystery remains as to the nature of Overwatch's fall (at least within the general population). Suspicions exist that someone took it over to its detriment. But since its end, the world has become a darker place. Tensions between humans and omnics had never been higher. Local political leaders accused certain corporations of using covert operatives to "persuade" government officials into accepting exploitive deals, and when that failed, of hiring mercenaries to enact more permanent solutions. Shadow organizations operated with impunity, often leaving a trail of dead civilians in their wake. A power vacuum was left in light of Overwatch's absence, and Talon was able to increase its strength in the group's absence.
|“||I heard Overwatch is back.
Is that so? And where did you learn that, Esther?
It's all over the net if you know where to look.
|~ Esther and Jean-Baptiste Augustin|
Overwatch bases were raided by a mysterious individual known only as Soldier: 76, who recovered technology and incapacitated, but never killed, those assigned to watch over the installations. Olympia Shaw, through anonymous contacts within the UN, was given the classified UN reports that detailed the true nature of the destruction of its headquarters, and the role Morrison and Reyes had played within the blast. She concluded (correctly) that Soldier: 76 was indeed Jack Morrison.
|“||The people decided they were better off without us. They even called us criminals. They tore our family apart. But look around. Someone has to do something. We have to do something. We can make a difference again. The world needs us now more than ever. Are you with me?||„|
|~ Winston's message to former Overwatch operatives|
Talon operatives conducted a raid on the abandoned Watchpoint: Gibraltar, hoping to gain access to the Overwatch agent database. They were foiled by Winston, who initiated an agent recall. Agent Lena Oxton immediately responded. Within two days, rumors of Overwatch's return were circulating across the 'net. Unknown to Winston, Talon also received the recall order due to having former Overwatch agents on its payroll.
Tracer and Winston went on to foil an attempted heist of Doomfist's gauntlet by Reaper and Widowmaker. It was this incident that was the last straw for the United Nations, as their actions had followed weeks of similar vigilante activities (Soldier: 76 included). The next day, the UN delivered its statement; "the United Nations has not authorized any Overwatch operations. The organization’s charter remains revoked." Further questions were met with hostility or silence. Governments across the world, ranging from Russia to the United Kingdom, gave similar condemnations. In a poll conducted by Atlas News, most people expressed anger at the thought of Overwatch agents having gone rogue, but nearly 75% of the respondents answered that they were "uncertain" as to what Overwatch's return would mean for the world.
As part of his intent to reform Overwatch, Winston returned to Watchpoint: Gibraltar, an old Overwatch outpost that had once stood guard over the Mediterranean. He intended to launch a satellite drone in an effort to restore Overwatch's communications network.The drone was successfully launched.
|“||Monsieur? Does this mean Overwatch is back?
Yes. Yes we are.
|~ A police officer and Winston after Null Sector's defeat|
When Null Sector attacked Paris, Overwatch agents who'd received Winston's recall converged on the city. Winston, Tracer, and Mei arrived at the city first via Orca, engaging the attacking omnics. While they were initially successful, they had to contend with weight of numbers, plus the firepower of a Titan. However, other Overwatch members arrived, namely Genji Shimada, Reinhardt Wilhelm along with Brigitte Lindholm, Echo, and Angela Ziegler. Combining their skills, they were able to defeat Null Sector and destroy the Titan. In the aftermath, when a police officer asked if this meant that Overwatch was back, Winston answered in the affirmative.
A New War
|“||Paris was just the beginning. This is a global invasion.||„|
After Paris, the team traveled to Watchpoint: Gibraltar, which they used as their base of operations. Around this time, Lucio and Sojourn joined Overwatch. As it turned out, Null Sector's attack on Paris was simply the prelude to a global invasion. Winston pointed out that Null Sector wasn't the only threat Overwatch had to deal with. He declared that they'd had to fight their way through one city at a time.
Note: The following events aren't necessarily in chronological order.
The Battle of Rio
|“||So how's Overwatch enjoying our city?
It's beautiful. Except for all the killer robots.
|~ Lúcio and Tracer at Rio|
- Overwatch Headquarters (Switzerland, destroyed)
- Watchpoint: Antarctica (Antarctica, eco-watchpoint, Ecopoint)
- Watchpoint: Gibraltar (Gibraltar)
- Watchpoint: Grand Mesa (Colorado, United States)
|“||Overwatch needs you. Register now.||„|
|~ An advertisment on an Overwatch poster|
Overwatch championed the greatness of individuals, regardless of their point of origin. Members faced mandatory retirement from combat operations once they reached a certain age (late 50s at the latest). In addition to its agents and scientists, Overwatch maintained peacekeeper forces, identifiable by their blue armor.
Known members included:
- Petras (director)
- Gabrielle Adawe (founder)
- Ana Amari (founding member, captain, second in command, MIA)
- Gérard Lacroix (deceased)
- Jack Morrison (founding member, first commander)
- Gabriel Reyes (founding member, Blackwatch commander)
- Angela Ziegler (head of medical research)
- Sojourn (captain)
- Al-Farouk (deceased)
- Bayless (deceased)
- Jesse McCree (Blackwatch agent, former)
- Lena Oxton (test pilot, agent)
- Emre Sarioglu (private first class)
- Genji Shimada (Blackwatch agent, former)
- Singh (deceased)
- Reinhardt Wilhelm (lieutenant, founding member, retired)
- Adams (researcher, deceased)
- Arrhenius (climatologist, deceased)
- Mina Liao (A.I. researcher, founding member, deceased)
- Moira O'Deorain (geneticist, Blackwatch member)
- Opara (captain, cryonics, deceased)
- Torres (cryonics, deceased)
- Mei-Ling Zhou (climatologist, MIA)
- D. Rosenberg (doctor)
- Vernand Sainclair (handler)
- Balderich von Adler (accepted recruitment to be a founding member, but died before induction)
Members of Overwatch that are confirmed to have joined or rejoined the new Overwatch under Winston.
- Winston (de facto leader)
- Lena Oxton
- Mei-Ling Zhou
- Genji Shimada
- Reinhardt Wilhelm
- Brigitte Lindholm
- Angela Ziegler
- Lúcio Correia dos Santos
- Jesse McCree
Members that were recalled to serve Overwatch following the reinstatement by Winston that have yet been confirmed to rejoin:
- Jeff Kaplan has described the Overwatch group as being "something like the United Nations if it had a really crazy army with talking apes in it."
- Overwatch's flag is composed of the Overwatch logo over a blue background. This arrangement is confirmed as the group's official flag in loading screens for Watchpoint: Gibraltar and Ecopoint: Antarctica, along with it flying on flagpoles in-game. It was also seen in the official Cinematic Trailer.
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