Omnic Crisis fallout: Overwatch’s Junkrat and Roadhog origins
The Omnic Crisis was pretty much that one explosive historical moment that served as the impetus for a lot of world-changing events on Earth in Overwatch. The few videos we’ve seen — like the museum footage from the Overwatch cinematic trailer — don’t really do the scope of the Crisis justice. We’re talking homicidal robots in almost every country in the world, intent on taking over and wiping humanity out. This wasn’t something you watched from afar on the news or online, this was something you watched, horrified and tense, just outside your living room window. The cinematic trailer paints a vague picture, but make no mistake — the Omnic Crisis was terrifying.
That’s part of the reason why the world evolved into such a tense and wary place by the time the Omnic Crisis was over. The Overwatch team may have rid the world of whatever made the Omnic Crisis come about, but the omnics were still there. Some tried to live in harmony among humanity — some even claimed that they had souls — but the damage had been done. Humanity had to decide whether to trust the omnics moving forward, or to prepare itself for the possibility of a second Crisis at some point in the future.
Australia after the Omnic Crisis
And nowhere was this distrust and suspicion more keenly felt than Australia. The country came under some heavy fire during the Omnic Crisis — in fact, it was almost wiped out completely. Once the Omnic Crisis was over, government officials tried to take the first tentative steps towards establishing peace with the omnics that had not so long ago been waging a war of destruction on Australian soil. They gifted the omnics with the country’s omnium, as well as the surrounding area, in the hopes of establishing some kind of long-term peace accord.
While the thought may have been wholly in the interests of establishing peace with the omnics, the government apparently overlooked the fact that the land they were handing over was actually occupied. The Outback didn’t have many residents, but they were there — survivalists, solar farmers, people that had adapted to the harsh living conditions and thrived, establishing homes far from the rest of civilization and wanting nothing more than to be left alone.
They weren’t happy. In fact, they were furious, and soon formed an organization called the Australian Liberation Front. Acting entirely on their own, the rebels staged a series of attacks on both the ominum and its omnic population in a furious attempt to reclaim the land and homes they’d lost. Tensions continued to escalate until the rebels managed to gain access to the omnium and sabotage the fusion core — which resulted in a catastrophic explosion that not only destroyed the facility, it irradiated the surrounding area, littering the region with twisted metal and wreckage for miles.
Roadhog walks away from the Outback
One of these rebels was a man called Mako Rutledge — a former Outback resident who was displaced when the omnium was given over to the omnics. On the one hand, his actions, and the actions of the Australian Liberation Front were understandable. Despite all his country had suffered during the Omnic Crisis, he’d managed to survive…only to see his home given away to the very creatures that had almost wiped out everything he’d ever known to begin with.
On the other, the resulting explosion from sabotaging the omnium’s fusion core pretty much guaranteed very few, if any, would be able to eke out a home on the land ever again. Donning a mask and taking to the broken highways, Mako struck out on a path of survival, and slowly began to forget his humanity in the process. A ruthless killer, he eventually took the name Roadhog, leaving whatever man Mako Rutledge was before the Omnic Crisis behind on the dusty roads.
Junkrat and the Junkers
Although many were wiped out in the omnium’s explosion, there were a few survivors. They called themselves the Junkers, scavenging the husk of the omnium for parts and pieces, and forming a lawless society in the shadow of the ruined facility. Among the Junkers was a man once called Jamison Fawkes in another life, before the explosion and fallout. Now called Junkrat, he spent his days reclaiming metal and components from the ruins of the irradiated omnium. Junkrat was just a little mad, affected by the lingering radiation in the area, and that little spark of madness turned into a dangerous obsession with explosives.
Junkrat wasn’t really a remarkable individual, beyond his skill with explosives…but one day, while out salvaging the omnium, he came across an incredibly valuable secret — one that immediately caught the attention of his fellow Junkers. Nobody really knew the exact nature of what he’d found, but it didn’t really matter — Junkrat immediately became the target of bounty hunters, gangs, and other mercenaries looking to get their hands on whatever it was he’d stumbled into.
That’s when Junkrat met up with Roadhog. Offering him a 50/50 cut of the spoils in exchange for his own protection, Junkrat left the Outback right along with Roadhog, embarking on an international crime spree with his new bodyguard. Now the targets of a much larger manhunt, both Junkrat and Roadhog appear to be crossing the Atlantic to North America… but their intent is completely unknown. As far as anyone can tell, they’re simply sowing chaos wherever they go in a series of bank robberies, heists, arson, and other crimes.
Junkrat and Roadhog as “heroes”
It might seem odd that neither Junkrat nor Roadhog are “heroes” according to the definition of the word, but they’re still called heroes in-game when you choose them for play. That’s the thing about Overwatch — you aren’t really playing the superhero team so much as you’re playing a series of major characters in a story that’s still unfolding. Some of them, like Winston and Tracer, are undisputed “good guys” by definition. Others, like Junkrat and Roadhog, don’t really fit that label.
But they all play a part in what’s going on. That overarching story isn’t one we’re likely to see play out in Overwatch itself, but surrounding media may help shape it a little further. One of the upcoming free digital comics features Junkrat and Roadhog, so we might see their story expanded a little further, and maybe even gain some insight into just what their international crime spree is really all about. Is it for some kind of ulterior motive, or is it really just as simple as causing mayhem?
Either way, it’s interesting to see the contrast in the various “heroes” presented in Overwatch — and the fact that these characters came into play after the Omnic Crisis was over leaves room to wonder if perhaps we’ll see some expansion of the current-day story of the game at some point in the future. There’s a contrast between these characters that really begs for more storytelling, so I hope we’ll see it eventually. While some of Overwatch’s heroes are without question on the side of good — leftovers of that bright, bygone era of do-gooding — it’s these others that I’m admittedly interested in. The characters that weren’t born of Overwatch’s former glory, but instead developed as bitter remnants of the fallout.
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